Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox

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Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox PLLC
Headquarters 1100 New York Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
No. of offices 1
No. of attorneys 130
No. of employees 239
Major practice areas Intellectual property law
Date founded October 2, 1978
Founder Robert Greene Sterne
Edward J. Kessler
Jorge A. Goldstein, Ph.D.
Samuel Fox
Company type Professional Limited Liability Company

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C., is a law firm specializing in the protection, transfer and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Since its founding in 1978 with only two attorneys and a handful of employees, Sterne Kessler has grown to become one of the 7 largest IP specialty law firms in the United States. The firm, based in Washington, DC, currently employs over 170 patent attorneys, agents, and technical specialists representing a broad range of entities, including emerging and established companies, venture capital firms, universities and select individuals. Attorneys represent clients such as Adidas, Google, Reebok, The University of Pennsylvania, and The Washington Post in many areas, including patent prosecution, litigation and appeals, and reexamination.

Areas of Practice[edit]

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox offers a variety of services including patent prosecution, patent office litigation, litigation and appeals, design patents, business methods, strategic IP advice, licensing, and trademark, advertising, and anti-counterfeiting.

The firm's experienced patent professionals are divided among various industry groups including biotechnology, chemical, clean technology, digital healthcare, electronics, medical devices, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and software.


In 1978, Robert Greene Sterne set out to create a law firm that would "recognize the contribution every person makes and would place a high value on technical competency and service."

It took a few years and the addition of Edward Kessler, Jorge Goldstein, and Samuel Fox before the goal was reached with the establishment of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. Founded in Washington, DC to serve U.S. companies in the field of intellectual property law, the firm now has over 130 IP professionals serving clients around the globe. They are backed by a team of experienced staff and managers.

In 1998 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox secured a win on appeal in In re Wands. This case is the fundamental decision on enablement for biological patent claims. In 1991 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox expanded their operations to include Silicon Valley clients. In 1999 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox responded to demands for highly qualified, technically adept candidates by developing the "Technical Specialist" position. In 2004 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox formed a Stem Cell Task Force in response to California's Proposition 71.

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox's expansion continued with the launch of the Nanotechnology group, the CleanTech Industry Group, The Grid Industry Group, the Communications Industry Group the IP and Human Rights Pro Bono Practice, the Patent Office Litigation Practice, and the Digital healthcare Industry Group.

Notable Alumni[edit]

Kenneth C. Bass III, the first chief of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, was of counsel to Sterne Kessler from 2002 until his death in 2009.[1] Bass helped write the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and served on an advisory panel reviewing Judge Robert Bork's U.S. Supreme Court nomination.

Notable Cases[edit]

  • In re Beauregard (1995) - Robert Greene Sterne served as lead attorney on this landmark case that signaled the end of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's resistance to allow patent applications that contained algorithms. The case resulted in the United States Patent and Trademark Office issuing new proposed software patent guidelines which expanded the scope of patent protection for software.
  • KSR v. Teleflex (2007) - Robert Greene Sterne served as co-counsel in this case deemed "one of the most significant patent cases heard by the Supreme Court in 40 years." The case addressed the fundamental question of when an invention is “obvious” and therefore not patentable.
  • i4i v. Microsoft (2011) - Robert Greene Sterne provided counsel on this case questioning the standard of proof necessary to invalidate an issued patent based on issues not considered by the US Patent and Trademark Office during examination. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a patent-infringement verdict that will cost Microsoft Corp. $300 million and already has forced changes in its Word software.[2]
  • Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International (2014) - Robert E. Sokohl provided counsel on this case questioning the validity and enforceability of patents referring to a computerized system for creating and exchanging financial instruments. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that computerized abstract ideas are not patent eligible.

Rankings and Awards[edit]

Sterne Kessler is consistently nationally ranked by a number of legal and business journals. Recent accolades include "Top Workplace" from The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal's "Best Places to Work," the National Law Journal's "IP Hot List," Corporate INTL's "IP Law Firm of the Year" and "Licensing Law Firm of the Year," U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyer's "Best Law Firm," Global Law Experts' "Law Firm of the Year in Washington, D.C.," Managing Intellectual Property's "IP Stars," and Intellectual Asset Management Magazine's "IAM 1000." Additionally, individual employees are regularly cited for their "unique combination of legal and technical skills."[3]


A scene in the 1994 movie True Lies was filmed at Sterne Kessler offices. The movie starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Charlton Heston, and Art Malik and was directed by James Cameron. The movie was the third highest-grossing movie of 1994 behind Forrest Gump and The Lion King.[4]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (2 May 2009). "Justice Department Official Kenneth C. Bass III Dies at 65". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Stohr, Greg; Susan Decker (9 June 2011). "Microsoft Loses at Top U.S. Court on $300 Million I4i Award". Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C". Chambers and Partners. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "1994 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 

External links[edit]