Keker & Van Nest LLP
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|Keker & Van Nest LLP|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
|No. of offices||1|
|No. of attorneys||85|
|Major practice areas||Litigation|
|Key people||Steven Taylor, Managing Partner|
|Founder||John W. Keker and William A. Brockett, Jr.|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Keker & Van Nest LLP is a premier litigation boutique located in San Francisco, California. For more than thirty years, Keker & Van Nest has tried and litigated complex, high-stakes civil and criminal cases throughout the nation. Areas of practice include intellectual property, professional liability, class actions, wrongful termination defense, general contract and commercial litigation, antitrust, white collar crime, and appellate.
The firm was founded in 1978 by Yale Law School colleagues John Keker and William A. Brockett, Jr. The firm was renamed Keker & Van Nest in 1994, reflecting the addition of Robert Van Nest to the firm's leadership.
Recognition and Rankings
- American Lawyer recognized Keker & Van Nest as Litigation Boutique of the Year. It is an award American Lawyer gives out every four years and recognizes the boutique firm whose attorneys practice at the highest level, and whose cases have the biggest impact.
- American College of Trial Lawyers recognized John Keker, Robert Van Nest, Susan Harriman, Elliot Peters and Jon Streeter as Fellows. Fellowship, extended by invitation only, is restricted to the top one percent of the trial bar.
- John Keker has been named one of the National Law Journal's 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the United States since 2006.
- Keker & Van Nest attorneys have consistently been included on The Daily Journal lists of the Top 100 Lawyers in California, the Top 75 Leading IP Litigators, and Top 75 Women Litigators.
- Chambers USA lists Keker & Van Nest as a top firm in the areas of Intellectual Property: Patent; Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets; General Commercial Litigation; White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations; and -Leading Lawyers. Individual attorneys John Keker; Robert Van Nest; Jeffrey Chanin; Jan Little; and Elliot Peters were all individually recognized for their achievements.
- Legal 500: Top rankings for Leading Lawyers, White Collar Criminal Defense, Trade Secret and Patent Litigation. Legal 500 has said that Keker & Van Nest is "peopled with a preponderance of outstanding trial lawyers" and "a distinguishing feature of the firm is the ability to cut through to the essence of the case and empower juries and judges to decide complex issues." It has also written that "the firm has consistently recovered a high total value of claims for plaintiffs".
- Benchmark Appellate recognized Keker & Van Nest as a "leading Appellate Firm in the Ninth Circuit".
- In 2013, Keker & Van Nest was awarded the California State Bar's Law Firm Diversity Award, and named one of Law360's Pro Bono Firms of the Year.
- The American Lawyer chose Robert Van Nest as its Litigator of the Week in 2012 for defeating Oracle Corporation in its multi-billion dollar intellectual property battle with Google over Java technology. Stuart Gasner was chosen as Litigator of the Week in 2010 for his win against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a stock options backdating case.
- California Lawyer named Dan Purcell and Eric MacMichael as the 2012 Attorneys of the Year in the area of pro bono,  and named Jeffrey Chanin as the 2010 Attorney of the Year in the area of intellectual property law.
- The Recorder named Elliot Peters 2010 Attorney of the Year for representing the Major League Baseball Players Association in a privacy battle over federal seizure of steroid test results, and for his work on behalf of an AmLaw 100 firm.
- United States Department of Justice v. McKesson Corporation: Keker & Van Nest defeated the government’s six-year False Claims Act case against McKesson Corporation and one of its subsidiaries. The government had sought nearly a billion dollars in penalties and damages based on allegations that a McKesson subsidiary submitted "legally false" Medicare insurance reimbursement claims by violating Medicare supplier standards and charging less than fair-market value for billing services in exchange for product sales. In early 2010, Hon. Sharion Aycock dismissed the Qui Tam Relator who initiated this case, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the decision on appeal. In March 2011, Keker & Van Nest won summary adjudication on all claims relating to alleged violations of Medicare supplier standards. After a three-week bench trial, the court granted judgment in defendants’ favor.
- Oracle Corporation v. Google, Inc.: Keker & Van Nest represented Google in a high-stakes patent and copyright infringement trial brought by the Oracle Corporation, billed as the "smartphone trial of the century." The case was a battle between two of Silicon Valley's most respected and powerful companies in which Oracle initially sought nearly $6 billion in damages and an injunction forcing Google to change the way it used and distributed the popular Android operating system, which powers more than 300 million smartphones and tablet computers. Prior to trial, Keker was able to significantly narrow the scope of the case and potential damages claims, by having five of the seven patents Oracle asserted against Google ruled invalid by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A sixth patent was ruled invalid on a preliminary basis.
- Filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Oracle alleged that the Android technology Google developed for smartphones and tablets infringed Oracle's Java API patents. Oracle bought the Java programming language through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January 2010. On behalf of Google, Keker argued that unlike complete programs, the API's are simply building blocks that are comparable to letters or words in a language, and therefore aren't covered under U.S. Copyright Law because they aren't a form of creative expression. If Oracle had prevailed, it could have created havoc in the software industry by throwing up legal hurdles to the common use of APIs.
- Following repeated rounds of motions and briefing, the judge dismissed the bulk of Oracle's copyright claims, and at trial the jury rendered a unanimous verdict rejecting all claims of patent infringement. Although the jury decided that Google infringed on Oracle copyright on nine out of millions of lines of source code, the case is considered a sweeping victory for Google, with zero damages.
- State of New York v. Intel Corporation. Keker & Van Nest was lead trial counsel for Intel Corporation in a high-profile antitrust case. The New York Attorney General claimed Intel violated federal and state antitrust statutes by maintaining an illegal monopoly in the microprocessor market. Keker won several key motions near the start of trial that severely limited the scope of New York's case. The matter settled shortly thereafter with a payment by Intel of only $6.5 million in partial repayment of some of New York's costs.
- Company Founders v. Majority Shareholder. Keker & Van Nest defended the founders of an environmental startup company with the ambitious goal of creating biofuels from algae, in a breach of fiduciary lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court. Soon after investing, the company’s majority shareholder lost interest, abandoned his position on the company’s board of directors, and set about trying to get his investment back. He used a “blocking right” to thwart future fundraising in an effort to force the company to either liquidate or be pushed into bankruptcy, so he could secure a generous buyout. When that failed, the majority shareholder filed a derivative lawsuit accusing the founders of breaching their fiduciary duties. Keker successfully moved to dismiss those claims with prejudice, and moved forward with counterclaims alleging breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, promissory fraud, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. High profile experts weighed in on the fiduciary duties of majority shareholders, including a former Delaware Supreme Court justice and the author of a leading treatise on oppression of minority shareholders. The case settled shortly before trial with a substantial payment to the founders.
- Securities and Exchange Commission v. Brian Stoker. Keker & Van Nest defended former Citigroup executive Brian Stoker in one of the rare financial crisis cases to go to trial. Mr. Stoker, who worked on the structuring desk at Citigroup, was charged with securities fraud in connection with Citigroup’s 2007 marketing of a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation (CDO) backed by assets tied to the housing market. In its enforcement action the SEC contended that Citigroup had played a role in the selection of the CDO’s underlying mortgage securities and had taken a short position in those securities. The SEC contended that Mr. Stoker was negligent for not disclosing information about Citigroup’s actions in its marketing materials. After a two-week jury trial in the Southern District of New York with Judge Rakoff presiding, the federal jury rejected the SEC’s case and found Mr. Stoker not liable on any of the SEC’s claims.
- VS Technologies LLC v. Twitter Inc. By winning a defense verdict in this federal jury trial, Keker & Van Nest protected Twitter Inc. from a patent infringement suit and a $40 million damages claim. Virginia-based VS Technologies had obtained a patent on creating “an interactive virtual community of famous people,” and sued Twitter over its virtual community technology. During the six-day trial, Keker argued that Twitter's Browse Interests feature did not infringe the terms of the patent and that, in fact, the patent was invalid. The jury agreed, and found Twitter not liable for patent infringement.
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company v. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation. Represented the world's leading semiconductor foundry TSMC against China's leading semiconductor manufacturer SMIC in the largest trade secret misuse case ever tried in which SMIC faced a damages claim of $2 billion. Following a jury verdict in favor of TSMC TSMC settled with SMIC. In the settlement, SMIC agreed to pay $200 million in cash and approximately $130 million of its company stock. For foreign companies that market their goods and services in the U.S., this case established that California's trade secret statute will protect the intellectual property essential to those goods and services, even if the theft occurred in Asia.
- United States Department of Justice v. Major League Baseball Players Association. Represented the Major League Baseball Players Association in a high-profile battle with the U.S. government. In August 2009, an en banc panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the federal investigators unlawfully seized drug-testing records of more than 100 athletes. In September 2010, the court issued a revised opinion that upheld its ruling.
- Apple Inc. v. HTC Corporation. Keker & Van Nest served as lead counsel for HTC, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of handheld devised, in its battle with Apple over smartphone technology. Apple first sued HTC in district court and before the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming HTC had infringed on 20 patents related to various computer-related technologies, including user interfaces, operating systems, power management and digital sign processing. The ITC hearing that went to decision resulting in a favorable ruling, and HTC obtained a settlement to become the first Android handset maker licensed by Apple.
- United States v. Michael Shanahan, Jr. In a criminal options backdating case, Keker & Van Nest secured a dismissal before trial for Michael Shanahan, Jr., who served on Engineered Support Systems Inc.'s board of directors and was a member of the company's compensation committee. A federal judge in Missouri granted a motion for judgment as a matter of law.
- In Re NCAA Name & Likeness Litigation. Representing Electronic Arts (EA) in a right-of-publicity case brought by a putative national class of current and former student athletes. The athletes sued EA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Collegiate Licensing Company, claiming that EA improperly used their likeness and biographical information in its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball video games. The case is currently on appeal at the U.S. Circuit court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. At issue is what legal test the circuit will adopt when balancing the right of publicity against EA's first amendment rights.
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation v. Semiconductor Company. Representing a semiconductor company in a case where CSIRO asserted patent infringement claims against more than a dozen of the world's leading technology companies. CSIRO contended the defendants' Wi-Fi products infringed on CSIRO's patent, and sought nine to ten figure royalty payments. All parties settled a week into the jury trial.
- John J. Tennison v. City and County of San Francisco. Representing John Tennison in his habeas corpus case where it was discovered that exculpatory evidence hidden by the police which proved Mr. Tennison's innocence - including a taped confession by another man. A civil rights claim was brought against the City and County of San Francisco, the police and prosecutor responsible for the wrongful conviction. The civil rights case was settled for $4.6 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was the largest amount the city has ever paid to a wrongly convicted person.
Pro Bono Work
- In 2012, Dan Purcell and Eric MacMichael were named California Lawyer "Attorney of the Year" in the area of pro bono. They dedicated five years to exonerating Caramad Conley, a man who was wrongfully convicted of a double homicide and spent 18 years in prison.
- In 2009, the Northern District and San Francisco Bar Association's Volunteer Legal Services Program gave Keker & Van Nest an award for its pro bono service, particularly for its representation of prisoners pursuing civil rights cases.
- Overturned the murder conviction of Caramad Conley, wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years, by uncovering prosecutorial and police misconduct.
- Represented John J. Tennison in his habeas corpus case and won an order reversing his conviction, after which he was set free. Keker then represented John J. Tennison in a civil rights claim for wrongful conviction against the City and County of San Francisco, the police and prosecutor involved in his criminal trial. Tennison settled the civil rights case.
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- PYA Reform Loupe. "U.S. Court in Mississippi Finds Government Failed to Prove AKS Violation", October 12, 2012 
- Karabin, Sherry. , "Keker Team Won a $1 Billion Bet for McKesson", National Law Journal, August 12, 2013.
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- Barnett, Griffin. , "Twitter Prevails in ‘Virtual Community’ Patent Lawsuit", American University Washington College of Law Intellectual Property Brief, November 1, 2011.
- Decker, Susan. , "Twitter Wins Patent Trial Over Virtual Internet Community", Bloomberg, October 31, 2011.
- Elinson, Zusha. , "Keker Wins Trade Secret Theft Case", The Recorder, November 5, 2009.
- Elinson, Zusha. , "Semiconductor Trade Secrets Case Settles for $200 Million", The Recorder, November 10, 2009.
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- Van Derbeken, Jaxon. , "Man wrongfully convicted of SF killings to go free", San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 2011.
- Berton, Justin. , "S.F.: Man wrongfully convicted of 2 murders freed", San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2011.