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George M. Sirilla
Mr. Sirilla has led teams that successfully upheld as well as invalidated patents in numerous cases, both in the federal courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission ("ITC"). He has considerable experience in technology licensing, patents and trade secrets, and in litigating disputes over such licenses. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He led the Pillsbury team that was selected in a nationwide beauty contest conducted by a group of the nation's leading retailers to represent them as lead trial counsel in a civil action charging them with infringement of Lemelson's patents that allegedly cover the use of bar codes in retail transactions. The retailers' group included over 50 of the nation's leading retailers. At the time the group was formed, the Lemelson partnership had already collected over 1.3 billion dollars in settlements from over 900 other U.S. companies. The Federal Circuit has now affirmed that all of the 14 asserted Lemelson patents are unenforceable, a defense that we had previously stressed to the court in an amicus brief.
He succeeded in securing a complete reversal on appeal, without remand, of a jury verdict that had found a large retailer liable for allegedly violating intellectual property rights of one of its vendors. The jury had also assessed substantial punitive damages against the retailer. That loss was perceived as potentially causing serious damage to the retailer's good will. After considering 12 IP litigators to handle the appeal, the client chose Mr. Sirilla.
In another recent appeal he secured a victory on all six counts where the patented technology involved software providing security for financial transactions.
Mr. Sirilla led the Pillsbury team that tried three jury trials in federal court in Delaware, involving allegations of infringement of four separate patents, each dealing with fiber optic system technology. After filing post verdict motions, the case was settled favorably to our client before any final judgment issued.
Mr. Sirilla successfully concluded complex patent infringement litigation in the office furniture industry, involving electrified office panels used to form cubicles or "workstations." He led the Pillsbury team in having his client's patents upheld in a case that resulted in a damages award of $211.5 million for the client against the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world. This is one of the highest damages award in patent litigation history. (Indeed, it was recognized as the second highest damage award in the first 20 years since the establishment of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals). He led the same Pillsbury team that completely defeated retaliatory infringement claims brought against our client by the same defendant on two of its patents, which could have offset a significant portion of the damage award. Finally, he led the same Pillsbury team that pursued other infringers of the same patents in the office furniture industry to settlements so that, with the $211 million judgment, a total of about $300 million was generated for our client. Notably, after the original liability trial ended in a holding of non-infringement, Mr. Sirilla succeeded in securing a complete reversal on appeal, with the decision coming down only twenty days after his oral argument to the appellate court, still believed to be the shortest time for securing a complete reversal on appeal at the Federal Circuit.
Mr. Sirilla also led the team that succeeded in having patent rights on non-detachable easy-opening devices for beverage cans upheld against the largest beverage can manufacturer in the world. Our client's two patents were held valid, enforceable, and infringed and the opposing company's cross-claim was defeated with its patent held invalid, not infringed and unenforceable in the same lawsuit. The entire beverage can industry took licenses from our client for their production of some 60 billion beverage cans per year.
Mr. Sirilla has also helped clients establish and expand technology licensing programs which constituted the core of their business operations. One of those programs was the sole source of income for the client, with royalties exceeding $100 million dollars a year.
Another of Mr. Sirilla's more notable litigation victories involved a patent covering the first successful mechanized tobacco harvester. The patent had been held valid and infringed through appeal in prior litigation against a different party. The patent owner then sued its principal competitor, a firm client, on the same patent. Mr. Sirilla led the team that developed a new defense and had the patent declared invalid on summary judgment, by the very same court that previously had held it valid. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the summary judgment of invalidity.
He has litigated extensively before the ITC. Some of his more notable ITC cases include the following:
- He represented the foreign respondent in the first ITC case in which patent invalidity was recognized as a defense. Succeeded in having the patent in suit invalidated and having that decision affirmed on appeal.
- He represented the Swiss company Omega in a case brought against them involving four patents on large video matrix scoreboards for sports stadiums. His team was successful in defeating all four patents. They then sued the patent owner for bringing a baseless action against Omega at the ITC and, in a settlement, received for Omega a significant portion of their attorneys fees in the ITC action.
- He represented Komatsu in a patent case brought by Caterpillar—a case that involved the world’s two largest construction equipment vehicle manufacturers. He developed a non-infringing design that resulted in a settlement on extremely favorable terms for Komatsu.
- He represented Toyota in a patent case brought against them, and after developing good defenses worked out a favorable settlement for Toyota.
- He represented Ventra Automotive in a patent case brought against them. After developing good defenses secured a settlement on very favorable terms.
- He represented the Korean government in an ITC action brought by the United States government based on Korea’s intellectual property laws. He led the team that brought about a successful resolution of the controversy.
Mr. Sirilla has lectured extensively throughout the country on federal court patent litigation at national, local bar and trial lawyers' associations. He was on the faculty for the first patent litigation program sponsored by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He and other members of the firm have given seminars on patent litigation sponsored by the Patent Resources Group. Additionally, he served on the faculty of the National Law Center at George Washington University as a professorial lecturer on advanced patent law topics.
He is the author of a comprehensive book-length article on 35 U.S.C. 103, the non-obviousness standard of patentability, Vol. 32, John Marshall Law Review, 1999, No. 2, 437-580. Judge Giles S. Rich, who helped draft that legislation and who has been called the father of modern day patent law jurisprudence, wrote a complimentary foreword to the article. Mr. Sirilla also has authored several other articles on patent litigation that appeared in the Federal Circuit Bar Journal and the Journal of Patent and Trademark Office Society.
- Chambers USA, Intellectual Property—Northern Virginia (2007-2012)
- Best Lawyers in America, Litigation – Intellectual Property, Litigation – Patent (for 20+ years)
- Who's Who Legal, Intellectual Property—Northern Virginia (2010-2013)
- Washington's Top Lawyers, Intellectual Property, Washingtonian (2007, 2009)
- The Legal Elite: Virginia's Top Lawyers, Virginia Business
Bar Association of the District of Columbia
American Bar Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association
Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit