After generic auto parts manufacturer LKQ Corp. began challenging 25 of those patents several years ago, a Fish & Richardson team led by Joe Herriges came together to defend General Motors. Other Fish & Richardson lawyers on the team included Craig Deutsch, Dorothy Whelan, Grace Kim, and Jennifer Huang. Ultimately the law firm protected 23 patents, although the case continues in the appeal process.
The case began after General Motors Global Technology Operations and LKQ’s licensing deal fell apart, leading LKQ to challenge the patents. The company argued patents were invalid because the designs were too “obvious and not innovative,” Herriges said.
LKQ brought the case before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, where GM defended the patents by pointing out that they came from years of “innovation and design effort,” he said. Experts hired by both companies testified during the trial, debating the merits of the patents.
General Motors considered the patent threat important because if LKQ prevailed, other patents could be questioned. “The importance to this case for GM was not limited to the 25 proceedings that we had,” Herriges said. “GM has over 3,000 design patents that cover all aspects of its entire vehicle line and the ability to protect those was really what was at stake.”
Fish & Richardson’s litigators and prosecutors came together to defend General Motors. “I’m a litigator and led the team. It was a huge collaboration with our prosecution group, which can dig deeply into the nuances of these kinds of cases,” he said.
Fish & Richardson provides legal counsel to the automaker in many other areas. Protecting patents against infringement honors General Motors’ personnel “who spend their careers coming up with these designs,” Herriges said.
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.