William Solander is a first-chair trial lawyer and partner at IP firm Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto, expected to merge with Venable later in the year under the name Venable Fitzpatrick. He has decades of experience in the IP space, with a particular focus handling patent litigations for pharmaceutical companies. Below Solander discusses the firm’s practice in the life sciences space.
What are Fitzpatrick’s core values in relation to client service?
It’s a privilege to help our clients safeguard their intellectual property assets, which are the most valuable assets for many of them. All of our work is driven by our commitment to give clients the highest-quality representation, which includes giving them the best client-service experience possible. Toward that end, we are always mindful of being highly responsive, cost-effective, and efficient in our work. Another major and sometimes-overlooked aspect of client service is maintaining a very open, authentic dialogue with our clients.
In what ways has Fitzpatrick identified trends and stayed ahead of the law?
In areas of law that our clients care about, we’re not content to just stay current on the latest developments. Instead, we are performing original research that is unearthing valuable new data for our firm, our clients, and even other lawyers practicing in these areas.
In recent years, post-grant reviews at the PTAB have become an alternative to patent litigation in the courts. Articles about the post-grant review process are a dime a dozen, but Fitzpatrick did something different. On our “Post-Grant HQ” microsite, we calculate and display a wealth of hard facts about those proceedings, like the survival rate of patent claims challenged in inter partes reviews. Likewise, we created a “Biologics HQ” site filled with statistics on challenges to patents covering biologics. These are valuable resources that offer data upon which litigation strategies can be based.
What key traits do you think make a great IP trial lawyer? How do you exhibit these traits in everyday practice?
Occasionally, you hear tales of trial lawyers “parachuting” into a case at the last minute. Some successfully do that, but to me it sounds like a dangerous way to approach a trial. I’m much more comfortable when I’m involved from the start, and know the facts and nuances of law that might impact trial strategy. My clients appreciate my involvement from the beginning. I know that when we discuss their cases, they understand that I know the patents inside and out, that I’ve met personally with key witnesses, and that I have the full background of the case at my command.
Can you talk about a recent successful case you had, and what key strategies led to the win for your client?
By way of background, in November of 2017, the Federal Circuit affirmed a victory on behalf of Fitzpatrick’s client Sanofi against Watson and Sandoz in a Hatch-Waxman patent lawsuit concerning a patent covering the use of Sanofi’s Multaq® product. That patent claims the use of Sanofi’s Multaq® product reduces the risk that certain patients with atrial fibrillation will need to be hospitalized.
At the district court level, my partner Dan Minion and I, along with the rest of our team, were presented with a unique set of facts involving infringement. We carefully constructed discovery and expert strategies that gave us the ammunition we needed at trial to convince US District Judge Richard G Andrews of Delaware that the defendants would induce infringement of Sanofi’s patent. We also defeated the defendants’ claims that the patent was invalid. On appeal, a panel composed of Chief Judge Prost and Judges Taranto and Wallach, upheld Judge Andrews’s decision on validity and infringement.
Important to the pharmaceutical industry, the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Andrews’s holding that Watson and Sandoz intended to encourage infringement of the ’167 patent claims through the product labels that would be included with their generic products if those products were marketed, even though the indication section of the label did not directly instruct doctors to carry out the claimed method. We believe this expanded the types of conduct that provides evidence of an affirmative intent to induce infringement as it applies to pharmaceutical product labels.
How does this case demonstrate Fitzpatrick’s success as an advocate for life sciences companies?
This demonstrates our ability to shape the law as it goes forward. We have, with this case, as others before it, moved the law in a way that benefits not just our client in a specific case, but the industry as a whole.
Describe Fitzpatrick’s practices in developing younger talent.
This is something we are asked a lot, because of our results in retaining and developing talent. Six of the seven members of our firm’s management committee began in our summer program, and that phenomenon is not limited to our leadership. Five of the partners who work with me, for instance, began as summer associates. Our tactics are not revolutionary — like other partners here, I give associates significant responsibility for implementing strategy and try to get them on their feet in the courtroom, which I know both associates and judges appreciate. Our great secret is probably this: when we say we’re interested in developing associate talent, we mean it.
Do you have any advice for emerging life sciences IP attorneys?
Yes: Apply to work with us.
Your profile says you were mentored by Robert Baechtold, can you talk about his role in your development and the impact he has had on the life sciences practice as a whole?
Bob was the nation’s premier pharmaceutical patent litigator when I was lucky enough to work under him, beginning with my first Hatch-Waxman case 20 years ago. I spent the next ten years at his side, litigating pharmaceutical cases for a number of clients I continue to serve today, and absorbing as many lessons as I could. Bob taught me the importance of knowing the pharmaceutical industry (both the branded and generic side), the law, and—most importantly—the facts. He had a knack for anticipating how cases would be tried before the complaint was even filed. I try to do the same.
How is Fitzpatrick positioning itself for the future in life sciences law?
We’ve just announced our plan to combine with Venable, which is exciting for many reasons. A primary one is that it will allow us to serve our life sciences clients in new and expanded ways. As Law360 put it, the merger will “form a ‘powerhouse’ in the intellectual property realm.”