John O’Quinn’s practice focuses on litigation, including intellectual property disputes, regulatory matters, commercial litigation, and other complex litigation matters at the trial and appellate levels. He has argued nearly a hundred appeals in courts throughout the country, including over fifty in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He is recognized in Chambers, and for each of the past eight years he has been named in the IAM Patent 1000, particularly for his work in the Federal Circuit. Clients have described him as an “appellate high flier” who “is outstanding as both an oral advocate and brief writer.” His work was recognized by Managing Intellectual Property, which named Kirkland its Appellate Firm of the Year in 2019. He has also been recognized in the National Law Journal, The Legal 500, the Financial Times and in Law360, where he was named a “Rising Star” in appellate litigation. Representative clients include Abbott, BASF, Charter Communications, Eli Lilly, GSK, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Schlumburger and Teva.

From 2006 to 2009, John served in the U.S. Department of Justice. As Deputy Associate Attorney General, he was responsible for helping to oversee much of the government’s civil litigation and reviewing proposed settlements of multi-million dollar civil cases brought by or against the government. As the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, John supervised more than 100 attorneys charged with defending the constitutionality of federal statutes and regulations, representing the diplomatic and national security interests of the United States in court, and conducting significant Title VII, personnel, social security, Medicare and Medicaid-related litigation. John worked with counsel from virtually every federal agency on complex civil litigation matters and personally directed significant cases defending the government’s interests, arguing more than 20 cases in federal court. In February of 2009, John was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for his leadership in defending the Department of Defense in lawsuits challenging the detention and trial of enemy combatants captured abroad by United States Armed Forces.

John was previously an associate with Kirkland from 2003 to 2006. While on leave from the Firm, he served as special counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary for the nomination of Chief Justice Roberts. Prior to joining the Firm, John was a law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

While at Kirkland, John has also provided legal counseling and representation for individuals and organizations on a pro bono basis, including arguing a habeas petition on behalf of a defendant convicted of capital murder; submitting FOIA requests on behalf of a civil rights organization; challenging a state’s involuntary medication of competent patients on behalf of a disability rights organization; representing federal judges challenging Congress' failure to provide guaranteed COLAs as violating the Compensation Clause of the U.S. Constitution; and representing raisin farmers in their Supreme Court case challenging the federal government’s unconstitutional taking of a portion of their crops.


Thought Leadership

Press Mentions:

Quoted, “4 Proposed Fed. Circ. Rule Changes Attorneys Should Know,” Law360 (April 29, 2020)


What’s Next For Issue Preclusion And Patent Invalidity, Law360 (June 28, 2018)

A Spectrum of Abuse at FCC?, The Washington Times (July 25, 2004)

Three Strikes for the FCC: Government regulation stifles the telecom industry, National Review Online (March 18, 2004) (with Jay Lefkowitz)

Protecting Private Intellectual Property from Government Intrusion: Revisiting SmithKline and the Case for Just Compensation 29 PEPP. L. REV. 435 (2002)

There's No Place Like Home: Finding Personal Jurisdiction in ANDA Patent Cases After Zeneca v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, 10 FED. CIR. B. J. 335 (2000), reprinted from 13 HARV. J. L. & TECH. 129 (1999) (Second Place Winner of the Federal Circuit Bar Association's 2000 George Hutchinson Writing Competition)

Note, Not-So-Strict Liability: A Forseeability Test for Rylands v. Fletcher and Other Lessons from Cambridge Water Co. v. Eastern Counties Leather plc, 24 HARV. ENVTL. L. REV. 287 (2000)


Speaker, "Federal Circuit Appeals and Remands to the PTAB: Recent Lessons and a Look Ahead," IP Chat Channel webinar, Intellectual Property Owners Association (November 8, 2018)


Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2022–2023

Managing Intellectual Property, Finalist, Appellate Practitioner of the Year, 2022

The Am Law Litigation Daily, Litigator of the Week, March 19, 2021 

LMG Life Sciences Impact Case of the Year 2020

The Legal 500 United States for Patents: Litigation (Full Coverage), 2020–2022

Managing Intellectual Property, Appellate Firm of the Year, 2019

The Legal 500 United States for Trademarks: Litigation, 2018–2019

IAM Patent 1000 – The World’s Leading Patent Professionals, 2014–2022

The Legal 500 United States for Appellate, 2017–2018, 2020–2023

The National Law Journal, Litigation Trailblazers of the Year, 2015

Financial Times, North America Innovative Lawyers, 2015

The Am Law Litigation Daily, Litigators of the Week, October 8, 2015

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi National Board of Directors, 2012–2014 

Law360 Appellate Rising Star, 2013

The Legal 500 United States for Trade Secrets, 2013

Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, 2009

Special Commendation, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 2008

Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America


Admissions & Qualifications

  • 2004District of Columbia
  • 2001North Carolina


  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia


  • Harvard Law SchoolJ.D.magna cum laude2001

    Fay Diploma (graduated first in class)

    Sears Prize (awarded to the two students with highest GPA in second year)

    Editor-In-Chief, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy

  • Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyM.S., Chemical Engineering Practice1998
    National Science Foundation Fellowship
  • University of OxfordM.Sc., Environmental Change and Managementwith Distinction1997
    Fulbright Scholar
  • North Carolina State UniversityB.S., Chemical Engineering; B.A., Multidisciplinary Studiessumma cum laude1996


    Phi Beta Kappa

    Phi Kappa Phi

    Student Body President, 1995–1996