VERN WINTERS is a trusted lead trial lawyer and counselor for the tech, biopharma and finance sectors. Companies 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. 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 . . . obtained concessions that demolished all of [the expert’s] opinions.”
Five minutes after the federal district court released the judgment, the company’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 value to the company, that exceeded the largest patent damages award ever by nearly a factor of five, and is among the largest civil case results ever. When the Federal Circuit affirmed that trial win, the company’s market capitalization again increased by more than $12 billion in one trading day.
Mr. Winters’ trial results have earned national and other significant recognitions. A trial win earned a Managing IP’s Impact Case of the Year in 2020. The American Lawyer recognized Mr. Winters and his co-lead trial counsel, retired Sidley partner David Pritikin, as Litigators of the Week in August 2019. Best Lawyers in America recognized him as the Lawyer of the Year – Patents (San Francisco) for 2020-2021. In 2020, LMG Life Sciences shortlisted Mr. Winters as the General Patent Litigator of the Year – California, and he was likewise shortlisted for Managing IP’s Litigator of the Year – California. The National Law Journal has recognized him as both an IP Trailblazer (2017) and a Plaintiff’s Trailblazer (2020). The Daily Journal has recognized him, multiple times, as one of the top patent lawyers in California. 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.”
Comments from clients identify, in particular, his trial advocacy and witness examination 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” who is “polished and compelling in his oral advocacy,” and in particular that he is “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.’”
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.)
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 in 2019 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. He is the co-author, with noted patent trial lawyer Matt Powers, of the treatise “Modern Patent Litigation: Strategies for Turning Losing Cases into Winning Ones” (Thomson Reuters 2007).
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 is the first person in his family to attend law school.
Awards & Recognitions
- Winner, Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year—Patents, San Francisco (2021)
- Shortlisted, LMG Life Sciences General Litigator of the Year – California (2020)
- 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 (2020 & 2017)
- 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, 2013–2021
- Listed, IAM Patent 1000, 2012–2020
- Listed, LMG Life Sciences, Life Sciences Star: Patent Litigation, 2012 (inaugural issue)–2020