VERN WINTERS is a trusted lead trial lawyer and counselor for the tech, biopharma and finance sectors. Clients rely on him to select first-rate trial teams, work closely and smoothly with in-house counsel, and mentor and develop younger lawyers.
In his latest trial win, the world’s largest freestanding biologics company entrusted him with asserting and protecting patents that cover products that generate approximately $5 billion in annual US sales, thus providing an important source of research and development funds for next-generation, innovative biologics and methods of treatment. Five minutes after the federal district court released the judgment, his client's market capitalization increased by $5 billion. By the end of the next trading day, it had increased by $12.3 billion.
In terms of economic benefit to the client, that exceeded the largest patent damages award ever by nearly a factor of five, and is among the largest civil case results ever.
The financial press described his cross-examination of the opponent’s principal expert in that trial as “resemble[ing] trench warfare in World War I,” and that “[o]ver the course of three and a half hours, Mr. Winters eventually obtained concessions that demolished all of [the expert’s] opinions.” For that win, Mr. Winters and his co-lead trial counsel, retired Sidley partner David Pritikin, were recognized as The American Lawyer’s Litigators of the Week (August 2019). That trial win earned a Managing IP’s Impact Case of the Year in 2020.
Various rankings entities have recognized Mr. Winters’ commitment to his clients and cases. For example, in 2020, Mr. Winters was one of only eight lawyers shortlisted for Managing IP’s 2020 Litigator of the Year – California, and The Daily Journal recognized him as one of the Top IP Lawyers in California, a recognition he has also previously earned. In 2017, the National Law Journal recognized him as an IP Trailblazer and, in 2020, as a Plaintiff’s Trailblazer. The UK publication IAM Patent 1000 has identified him as one of the leading patent trial lawyers in the field since 2012.
Comments from companies identify, in particular, his trial skills. Best Lawyers, for example, reported that clients regard him as a “virtuoso,” an “in-court advocate and trial lawyer of the very highest caliber” with a “natural talent for advocacy,” who is “polished and compelling in his oral advocacy,” “fantastic at cross-examining challenging witnesses, and ought to teach the class on that.” Various Chambers USA editions beginning in 2008 have reported that he “is praised by clients for being ‘able to take a very complex legal or technical subject matter and make it accessible and compelling to a lay audience’” and that he “impresses clients with his ‘charismatic and persuasive style in the courtroom - he can strike the right tone in pre-litigation too.’” IAM Patent 1000 reported in its 2019 edition that Mr. Winters is a trial lawyer “to know if you’re looking for some serious firepower.”
Mr. Winters also understands that success is about more than winning; it is also about how to achieve it. In that regard, clients report that “[b]ehind the scenes he is the consummate professional and humble leader who develops long-lasting relationships through his thoughtful, personal, and client-oriented approach,” and that he “really understands the back end of the relationship with the client and does all he can to ensure that the process of working with his team goes the way we need it to.” (Best Lawyers.)
Some of his additional trial and other wins in patent and patent licensing disputes include:
- Defeating, in the district court, all claims of three software and computer networking patents asserted by the nation’s fifth-largest patent-holder, and then protecting that win in a precedential opinion from the Federal Circuit;
- Beating, in a month-long arbitration trial, a global biopharmaceutical company’s patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation, and breach of contract claims directed to all of the recombinant organisms and materials used to manufacture several billion-dollar biologics; and
- Defeating, in a week-long trial, an infringer’s claims, which relied on the expert testimony of the former chair of a state Bar’s ethics committee, that the chief legal officer at a leading biotech company had committed fraud in a patent-based joint venture.
Outside of the courtroom, Mr. Winters invests in serving the judicial system, advancing the patent law, and training younger lawyers. He has addressed District Judges at the Federal Judicial Center, regarding patent litigation issues. Since 2011, Mr. Winters has served on the patent litigation Neutral Panel and, since 2015, Early Neutral Evaluation Panel for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. He currently serves on the Planning Committee for Stanford Law School’s Advanced Patent Law Institute, and recently completed a three-year term on the Amicus Committee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. In 2020, he became active in The Sedona Conference, focusing in particular on patent litigation issues. For eight years, he co-taught Patent Litigation at UC Berkeley's School of Law.
Mr. Winters clerked for United States District Judge Robert C. Bonner of the Central District of California and was an extern law clerk for Justice Stanley Mosk of the California Supreme Court.
Mr. Winters’ wife, Kathleen, teaches at UC Berkeley's law school, and they are the proud parents of two children: a son, a US Marine Infantryman who was deployed overseas for seven months in 2018 and is, in addition, a Combat Marksmanship Coach and Combat Swim Coach; and a daughter, an aspiring screenwriter at NYU Tisch. Mr. Winters, the grandson of immigrants on both sides of his family, is the first person in his family to attend law school.
Awards & Recognitions
- Winner, Managing IP’s Impact Case of the Year (2020)
- Shortlisted, Managing IP’s Litigator of the Year – California (2020)
- Listed, Plaintiff’s Trailblazers, National Law Journal (2020)
- Litigator of the Week, The American Lawyer (August 16, 2019)
- Listed, IP Litigation Trailblazers, National Law Journal (2017 & 2020)
- Listed, Top IP Lawyers in California, Daily Journal (2017)
- Listed, Chambers & Partners USA Guide, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2008–2013, 2015–2016
- Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, 2013–2019
- Listed, IAM Patent 1000, 2012–2019
- Listed, LMG Life Sciences, Life Sciences Star: Patent Litigation, 2012 (inaugural issue)–2019
Admissions & Certifications
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court, E.D. of California
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of California
- U.S. District Court, C.D. of California
- U.S. District Court, S.D. of California
- U.S. District Court, E.D. of Texas
- University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 1987
- University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1983
- Robert C. Bonner, U.S. District Court, C.D. of California (1988 - 1989)