Renowned litigators Darryl Woo and Mortimer Hartwell have joined Vinson & Elkins in San Francisco, expanding the firm’s capabilities in intellectual property, complex product liability, toxic tort and environmental cases.
Woo joins V&E from Fenwick & West LLP, where he previously served as chair of the firm’s Patent Litigation Practice and more recently headed its firmwide Litigation Practice. He concentrates his practice on intellectual property litigation and other complex technology litigation, principally in the areas of semiconductors, information technology, life sciences and biotechnology.
Hartwell, who focuses on complex products liability, toxic tort, catastrophic incident, environmental and class action cases, comes to V&E from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.
“The addition of Mort and Darryl advances our strategic goal of growing V&E’s litigation practice in San Francisco and across the nation,” said Jim Thompson, head of V&E’s Global Litigation Department. “Darryl brings more than 30 years of patent and technology litigation experience and is widely recognized as one of the Bay Area’s leading IP lawyers, while Mort has a stellar reputation as a first-chair trial lawyer. We are extremely confident in their ability to enhance our already deep bench.”
Woo has appeared as lead counsel in patent litigation across the country, including the ITC and federal district courts in more than 10 states, involving technologies ranging from software to semiconductor fab equipment, materials chemistry, voice over IP, fiber optic networking, bio assays, diagnostic tools, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and recombinant DNA.
“California and Texas are two of the most active forums for patent litigation in the U.S., and with V&E’s deep Texas roots and international reach, we have the opportunity to build an exceptional IP litigation practice here on the West Coast,” Woo said. “This is a great next step in my career, and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”
Among Woo’s many notable victories was a jury verdict in a patent case tried in the Northern District of California for client Asyst Technologies. The case was ranked by VerdictSearch as the fourth largest IP litigation verdict of 2007, and one of the top 20 largest verdicts overall in the U.S. He also obtained a defense summary judgment in Boston for a well-known company’s Internet satellite mapping product that lets more than 250 million users “fly anywhere on Earth.” In addition, he has represented a range of clients, including the original Napster, in copyright, trademark and trade dress infringement cases, trade secret and licensing disputes, unfair competition, trade libel, false advertising, and other complex litigation.
“Though Darryl and Mort have very different practices, they share many common traits, with each being an entrepreneurial lawyer with a demonstrated ability to win big cases on behalf of clients,” said Matt Jacobs, managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office. “Both also have strong connections, spanning from the Bay Area to Asia and Europe, along with a commitment to providing excellent client service, making them exactly what we look for in a V&E partner.”
Hartwell has handled a multitude of class action suits and has served as national coordinating counsel for a variety of companies in the products liability and mass tort fields. Included among the matters he’s handled as national counsel are advising a beverage manufacturer in a mass food contamination case, in which he coordinated the defense of hundreds of cases across the Western United States, handled the product recall by the FDA, and defeated class certification in federal court in Washington State.
Additionally, Hartwell represents a variety of clients including manufacturers, importers, private equity groups, technology companies and individuals, typically shareholders and officers of corporations. He has also represented a variety of Asian clients in breach of contract cases, American and European antitrust investigations and shareholder disputes. In 2013, he served as first chair trial attorney in a complex breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract case involving a Chinese textile manufacturer and former business partner, resulting in a verdict of over $40 million on behalf of the client; this was one of the largest in the state of California last year and ranked in the top 10 plaintiffs verdicts by impact for 2013 by the Daily Journal.
“V&E’s global network of clients and lawyers combined with the firm’s unique culture and focus on cross-selling and collaboration across practice areas really attracted me to this opportunity,” Hartwell said. “The firm is committed to growing its national litigation presence and I’m extremely excited to be a part of that effort.”
Hartwell received his J.D. degree from University of California, Davis School of Law. He holds a B.S. degree from University of Southern California. He was recently named a Class Actions and Mass Torts “Powerhouse” in BTI’s Litigation Outlook 2014 report. Woo, who most recently was named one of 2014’s Top 75 IP Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal, obtained his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley.
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