Feb 8, 2017Legal
Patexia Insight 27: Analysis of Firms Representing Apple in IPR Challenges

In last couple of weeks we reported thatApple, with 267 IPR challenges filed since 2012, has been at the top, responsible for almost 5 percent of all challenges filed. This week, we decided to review the company’s cases and see who has been winning its IPR business and how they have been performing. Our study revealed thatSidley Austin with a total of 93 cases (or almost one-third of all challengesApple filed) has been the go-to firm for the company for IPRs. However, the filing trends show that recently Sterne Kessler is becoming Apple’s favorite firm. We also identified the top 10 most active attorneys working on Apple’s IPR cases.

Over the past four years, Apple has used 29 different firms to file 267 IPR challenges. In some cases, the firm only filed a single case. But in other cases, it filed many related to a single company or lawsuit (e.g.,Ruffin Cordell from Fish & Richardson was onEricsson IPR Cases). In some cases, a firm seems to be the preferred vendor when it comes to IPR filing. Overall, a total of 136 attorneys have been named on different petitions filed by Apple.

Apple’s IPR Stats

IPR Challenges267
Law Firms29

Last week we reported that47 percent of IPR challenges filed by Apple were denied at the case-level. This percentage rises to about 55 percent at the claim-level. Some readers indicated that this percentage may be artificially high, as in some cases the petitions denied were 315(b) barred (the IPR one-year bar).

Assuming that the case-level denial rate is 47 percent, we looked at the law firms who represented Apple in all 267 cases, studying who has been above or below this denial rate. We looked at which firms have done better with more of their cases instituted or reaching the final decision phase.

The top five most active firms – Sidley Austin, Fish & Richardson, Sterne Kessler, DLA Piper and Haynes & Boone – represented Apple in more than two-thirds of all challenges. However, their denial rates varied significantly. Sidley Austin cases were denied at 70 percent, while Haynes & Boone has had zero denied cases so far.

The filing dates of recent cases suggest that Apple has recently shifted to Sterne Kessler and WilmerHale for the majority of its filings.

FirmCasesFinal DecisionInstitutedDeniedSettledOthers
DLA Piper241 (4%)2 (8%)14 (58%)3 (13%)4 (17%)
Haynes & Boone130 (0%)7 (54%)0 (0%)3 (23%)3 (23%)
Sidley Austin9318 (19%)2 (2%)65 (70%)4 (4%)4 (4%)
Fish & Richardson413 (7%)9 (22%)20 (49%)5 (12%)4 (10%)
Sterne Kessler 343 (9%)0 (0%)6 (18%)0 (0%)25 (74%)


We decided to measure the performance of the firms by taking into account both the quality and quantity of the cases filed. We came up with a weighted function that calculates the average of the total number of cases and the cases that were instituted or received the final written decision for each firm. Both variables were normalized relative to the numbers from all other firms. We excluded the cases that were recently filed and had not been yet instituted (i.e., pending).

Going with this function of quality and quantity, we found that Sidley Austin with almost 35 percent of cases was at the top. However, the next four had all their cases instituted and received the final written decisions. The following table shows the scores of the top five firms.

FirmScoreFinal DecisionInstitutedDeniedSettledOthers
Latham & Watkins76%50000
Turner Boyd76%30000
Sidley Austin81%1826544
Finnegan Henderson76%50000


We then looked at the top 10 attorneys involved in Apple’s IPR cases. Jeffrey Kushan from Sidley Austin has been named in 81 petitions, or almost 30 percent of all cases Apple filed. Next in the list were attorneys from Fish & Richardson, DLA Piper and Sterne Kessler.

AttorneyCasesFinal DecisionInstitutedDeniedSettledOthers
Jeffrey Kushan


Joseph Micallef26801800
Walter Renner2328544
Michael Franzinger23002300
Thomas Broughan, III1992314
Edward Sikorski15001230
Brent Yamashita15001230
Yasser Mourtada14000014
Steven Peters14000014
Lori Gordon14000014


Since IPR became available, Apple has filed 267 challenges through the end of 2016. The company has used 29 law firms and 136 attorneys to file these petitions. However, the top 5 firms represented Apple in more than two-thirds of the cases. Sidley Austin has been the company’s favorite firm when it came to IPR. However, recently Apple has engaged Sterne Kessler on more cases. Although PTAB has been an evolving area both for companies and law firms, and so many factors – including the technology area and/or quality of prior art – can impact the outcome of an IPR, our review indicates that not all law firms have had similar performance. Some work resulted in higher denial rates than the average, while some others reached the final decision phase more often.

Some of our readers suggested that we look at the most attacked companies and identify claims that survived, as in many cases, although Apple’s IPR was denied and/or claims survived, the same claims may have been invalidated by another IPR filed by a different company. They believe that looking from this angle may reveal surprising results about IPR and patents survival rates for some companies (e.g., NPE vs. non-NPE). We plan to perform a similar analysis on one of the most active defendants in IPR challenges to see if the system causes irreparable damages to a handful of companies.

We have done these calculations for all the firms and companies covering existing IPR challenges since 2012. If you are interested to understand the performance of your company / law firm relative to other companies / law firms – or the performance of your competition, as to how they manage their cases and whether their strategies are effective – please contact us for more info.



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