Page 21 - RWU Law / Issue#4 Fall 2012

The Magazine of Roger Williams University School of Law
19
I
n the fierce war among technology
companies for dominance in the
fast-changing market for smartphones
and tablets, platoons of lawyers form the
front lines.
Intellectual property is a very important
and very exciting area of law, and it’s widely
misunderstood,” says Eric Schweibenz ’98,
a partner who specializes in patent litigation
at Oblon Spivak in Alexandria, Va. “High-
tech companies use intellectual property
law as a weapon to try to get as much
market share as they can and exclude their
competitors.”
Apple grabs headlines for going after
its competitors with legions of lawyers,
fighting with HTC, Google and Samsung
over software, smartphones and tablets in
courtrooms around the world. Some analysts
say Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, was driven
by a personal vendetta against competitors
he said had stolen his ideas and designs.
But Schweibenz has been involved
in some of these skirmishes, and he says
there’s more behind these cases than pride:
For example, if you have a technology that
is changing very quickly, and the market is
fleeting, there’s a real advantage in delaying
the U.S. launch of competitive products.
Timing is Everything
Because timing is so crucial, many of these
high-profile cases are being tried at the
International Trade Commission.
Typically, district court takes two years
from the time you file a complaint to when
you get a decision, and that does not even
include an appeal,” Schweibenz says. “The
ITC proceeding is typically completed
in about 16 months. For most attorneys
practicing in federal court, this is akin to
light speed. It’s a very fast forum.”
Ronald A. Cass, of RWU Law’s Board
of Directors, is a former commissioner and
vice-chairman of the ITC, as well as a dean
emeritus of Boston University School of
Law and currently a consultant based in
Washington, D.C.
The ITC is a favored venue for
litigating patent cases, in part because it
is faster than U.S. district courts, in part
because it’s easier to get injunctive relief, in
From
smartphones to
pharmaceuticals,
intellectual
property lawyers
are on the front
lines of today’s
big-business
litigation
By Mary Grady