CONSTANTINE L. TRELA, JR. founded the Supreme Court and Appellate practice group in the Chicago office and served as one of the leaders of the firm’s national Supreme Court and Appellate practice team for many years. He served as a law clerk to Judge Robert Sprecher on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Justice John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court. Connie joined Sidley in 1981 and became a partner in 1986. Since joining Sidley, he has argued more than 90 cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, U. S. Courts of Appeals, and state supreme and intermediate appellate courts.
Connie’s appellate practice covers a broad range of substantive areas, including patent and other intellectual property, product liability, insurance, commercial, and class action matters. Representative cases include:
- Omega Patents, LLC v. CalAmp Corp., 920 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2019), in which the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a district court judgment awarding Omega Patents $12+ million against CalAmp Corp.
- ArcelorMittal v. AK Steel Corp., 908 F.3d 1267 (Fed. Cir. 2018), in which the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a district court judgment dismissing ArcelorMittal’s patent infringement claims.
- Microsoft Corp. v. Parallel Networks Licensing, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24333 (Fed. Cir. 2017), in which the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision upholding the validity of computer technology patents challenged by Microsoft.
- Roe v. Amazon.com, et al., 124 U.S.P.Q.2d 1914 (6th Cir. 2017), in which the Sixth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment ruling dismissing claims against Amazon.com arising from an author’s use of Amazon’s self-publishing services to publish an erotic novel that featured the plaintiffs’ photograph on its cover.
- Owens Corning Co. v. Fast-Felt Corp., 873 F.3d 896 (Fed. Cir. 2017), in which the Federal Circuit reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision that had upheld a building materials patent challenged by Owens Corning, holding the patent invalid as a matter of law.
- LifeNet Health v. LifeCell Corporation., 837 F.3d 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2016), in which the Federal Circuit affirmed a $35 million patent infringement judgment in favor of Firm client LifeNet Health in a case involving a patent on a pioneering skin graft technology that has revolutionized the treatment of burn victims and cancer patients.
- City of Chicago v. Expedia Inc., et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 153402 (Ill. App. 2017), in which the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a $29 million judgment for unpaid hotel taxes against Firm clients Expedia Inc., Hotels.com and Hotwire.
- Shire Pharms. v. Johnson Matthey Pharmaceuticals, 802 F.3d 1301 (Fed. Cir. 2015), in which the Federal Circuit, in the first appellate decision to address the application of the safe harbor provision of the Hatch-Waxman Act to suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients, reversed a summary judgment ruling holding Sidley client Johnson Matthey liable for patent infringement and entered judgment of non-infringement as a matter of law.
- AstraZeneca AB v. Apotex Corp., 782 F.3d 1324 (Fed. Cir. 2015), in which the Federal Circuit affirmed an award of approximately $100 million in reasonable royalty damages against an “at risk” generic entrant into the market.
- MeadWestvaco, Inc. v. Valois of America, Inc., 731 F.3d 1258 (Fed. Cir. 2013), in which the Federal Court reversed a summary judgment ruling holding that the plaintiffs’ patent on a liquid dispenser product was non-obvious as a matter of law and remanding for a new trial.
- Chartis Insurance v. Iowa Insurance Commissioner, 831 N.W.2d 119 (Iowa 2013), in which the Iowa Supreme Court reversed decisions of the lower court and the Iowa Insurance Commission which had held that the Commissioner could declare an insurance premium unlawful even where the premium complied with the insurer’s filed and approved rate schedule.
- Peterson v. Somers Dublin Ltd. (In re Lancelot Investors Fund, L.P., 729 F.3d 741 (7th Cir. 2013), in which the Seventh Circuit, in a case of first impression in the Circuit, held that the safe harbor provisions of the Bankruptcy Code precluded a bankruptcy trustee’s claims that transfers of more than $60 million by an alleged Ponzi scheme operator were avoidable as preferences or constructively fraudulent transfers.
- Cueto v. American Bank Holdings Inc., 2013 IL App (5th) 090393-U (Ill. App. 2013), in which the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a $10 million default judgment because the Illinois courts lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant.
- eBay, Inc. et al. v. Kelora Systems, 2013 WL 111107 (Fed. Cir. 2013), in which the Federal Circuit affirmed a summary judgment decision holding invalid as obvious the plaintiff’s patent on a computerized search method.
- ArcelorMittal v. AK Steel, 700 F.3d 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2012), in which the Federal Circuit overturned a jury verdict holding invalid and not infringed an ArcelorMittal patent on a type of steel used by every major automobile manufacturer, and remanded for a new trial.
- Krippelz v. Ford Motor Co., 667 F.3d 1261 (Fed. Cir. 2012), in which the Federal Circuit reversed a $58 million willful infringement judgment against Ford Motor Co. and directed that judgment be entered for Ford based on the invalidity of the asserted patent.
- Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Blagojevich, 651 F.3d 722 (7th Cir. 2011) (en banc), in which the en banc Seventh Circuit reversed a panel decision and held that the federal Tax Injunction Act barred claims asserted against Illinois horse racing facilities arising out of the “pay-to-play” scandal involving Illinois’s former Governor.
- Hochstein v. Microsoft Corp., No. 2010-1551 (Fed. Cir. 2011), in which the Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment rulings holding that two patents asserted against Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system were, in one case, invalid and, in the other case, not infringed.
- Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co., 955 N.E.2d 1138 (Ill. 2011), in which the Illinois Supreme Court reversed an award of $43 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Ford Motor Company in an action alleging that Ford vehicles had been negligently designed, and directed that judgment be entered for Ford, a case Law360 described as “a significant victory for product manufacturers.”
- Georgia-Pacific Consumer Prods. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 647 F.3d 723 (7th Cir. 2011), in which the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment dismissing trademark infringement claims involving embossed toilet paper.
- Leyshon v. Diehl Controls North America, 946 N.E.2d 864 (Ill. App. 2010), app. denied, 949 N.E.2d 1098 (Ill. 2011), in which the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed an award of $8 million in compensatory and punitive damages for defamation entered in favor of the firm’s client, Wallace Leyshon.
- Lucent Techs. v. Microsoft Corp., 580 F.3d 1301 (Fed. Cir. 2009), in which the Federal Circuit vacated an award of more than $500 million in patent infringement damages and remanded for a new trial.
- Fry v. Exelon Corp. Cash Balance Pension Plan, 571 F.3d 644 (7th Cir. 2009), in which the Seventh Circuit rejected a $1 billion ERISA claim challenging a pension plan’s definition of “normal retirement age.”
- Ortho-McNeil Pharms., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. Indus., 93 USPQ2d 1125 (Fed. Cir. 2009), in which the Federal Circuit vacated summary judgment rulings holding Ortho-McNeil’s patents invalid and not infringed.
- Schumacher v. Swift Beef Co., 515 F.3d 867 (8th Cir. 2008), in which the Eighth Circuit reversed a $4 million judgment under the Packers & Stockyards Act.
- Harbor Commuter Services, Inc. v. Aon Risk Services, Inc., 951 A.2d 198 (N.J. App. Div. 2008), in which the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed a $9 million judgment for insurance broker malpractice and directed that the action be dismissed.
- Warren v. Rollins, Inc., 653 S.E.2d 794 (Ga. App. 2007), in which the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the certification of a class in a purported consumer class action challenging pest control contracts.
- AFG Indus., Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 224 Fed. Appx. 956 (Fed. Cir. 2007), in which the Federal Circuit reversed a $43 million patent infringement judgment.
- Kannapien v. Quaker Oats Co., 507 F.3d 629 (7th Cir. 2007), in which the Seventh Circuit affirmed a summary judgment that an employer’s early retirement program had not violated ERISA.
- Winstar Comms. LLC v. Equity Office Properties, 170 Fed. Appx. 740 (2d Cir. 2006), in which the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of antitrust claims involving cellular telephone towers.
- Eolas Techs., Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 399 F.3d 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2005), in which the Federal Circuit vacated what was then one of the largest patent infringement verdicts in history, $565 million, based on claims that the Windows® operating system infringed the plaintiff’s patent.
- Microsoft Corp. v. Multi-Tech Sys., Inc., 357 F.3d 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2004), in which the Federal Circuit, in a case CNET.com described as “a case that could have roiled the computer and Internet industries,” held that the plaintiff’s patent was limited to transmissions over telephone lines and did not extend to Internet communications.
- Joint Medical Products Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc., 783 N.E.2d 1287 (Ind. App. 2003), in which the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment holding that a license agreement covering joint replacement technology had been breached.
- Rollins, Inc. v. Butland, 852 So.2d 895 (Fla. App. 2003), in which the Florida appellate court vacated a class certification order in a purported consumer class action.
- America Online, Inc. v. AT&T Corp., 243 F.3d 812 (4th Cir. 2001), in which the Fourth Circuit affirmed in substantial part a judgment holding that AT&T had not infringed “you’ve got mail” and other asserted AOL trademarks.
- Morley-Murphy Co. v. Zenith Electronics Corp., 142 F.3d 373 (7th Cir. 1998), in which the Seventh Circuit reversed a $2.4 million jury verdict under the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law.
- Sander v. Dow Chemical Co., 651 N.E.2d 1071 (Ill. 1995), in which a unanimous Illinois Supreme Court reversed an Appellate Court decision to allow claims alleging acquired chemical sensitivity to proceed against 13 chemical manufacturers.
In addition to his work at the appellate level, Connie is a member of the trial bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and has substantial experience in federal and state trial courts. By way of example, he represented former officers and directors of Emerald Casino in adversary proceeding brought by Emerald’s bankruptcy trustee, he defended Ferruzzi Finanziaria, an Italian conglomerate, and various of its affiliates, against charges of commodity manipulation; he represented True North Communications in litigation challenging a merger transaction; he represented directors of various corporations in shareholder suits alleging mismanagement and officer misconduct; he represented a Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Phar-Mor, Inc., formed to investigate alleged misconduct on the part of senior management; and he represented the Chicago Board Options Exchange in litigation that sought to block its initial public offering. Connie was part of a Sidley team that obtained a $137 million securities fraud jury verdict on behalf of a subsidiary of Continental Grain Company. He also has defended Deloitte & Touche USA, LLP, in an action brought by the Liquidator of a failed life insurance company, the Walt Disney Company in an intellectual property action, and Warner-Lambert and Johnson & Johnson in patent infringement actions.
Connie has been recognized as a leading lawyer in his field in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, in the Patent-Appeals section of The Legal 500, and as a leading patent litigator by IAM Patent Litigation 250: The World’s Leading Patent Litigators (2011); the 2012 edition of The Legal 500 describes Connie as “a gifted appellate advocate.” He was named a 2013 IP Star by Legal Media Group. He was named American Lawyer’s “Lawyer of the Week” for the decision in Lucent Techs. v. Microsoft. In 1993, Chicago Lawyer magazine named him its “Person of the Year.” In 2002, Connie received the Walter J. Cummings Award for excellence in pro bono advocacy from the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He has also been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America as the 2020 Chicago “Lawyer of the Year” in Appellate Practice, and as a “Best Lawyer” in Appellate Practice (2011–2014, 2016–2020) and Commercial Litigation (2011–2019).
Connie serves as an instructor in the Supreme Court Practicum at Northwestern University School of Law and speaks frequently on appellate practice, intellectual property law and other topics. He is also an experienced distance runner, having completed 11 Chicago Marathons and having qualified for and completed the Boston Marathon.
Admissions & Certifications
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois - General
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois - Trial Bar
- Northwestern School of Law, J.D., 1979 (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif)
- Northwestern University, B.A., 1976 (with highest distinction, Phi Beta Kappa)
- John Paul Stevens, United States Supreme Court (1980 - 1981)
- Robert Sprecher, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit (1979 - 1980)