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Law360's Weekly Verdict: Legal Lions & Lambs

 It was a big week for patent-savvy lions, with roar-worthy victories in the smartphone wars and for lawyers representing pharmaceutical companies. Our legal lambs this week went to financial slaughter, with a series of big settlements, including one for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in an federal electricity pricing case.

Legal Lions

The tide of the smartphone patent war turned in favor of counsel for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. when it was revealed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had invalidated Apple Inc.’s “pinch-to-zoom” patent for smartphone and tablet displays. The tech rivals are arming themselves for a November trial on damages caused by Samsung's alleged infringement of Apple technology. Samsung is represented by Charles Verhoeven, Kevin P.B. Johnson, Victoria Maroulis and Michael Zeller of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

In another patent case, attorneys with Morrison & Foerster LLP, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP and Perkins Coie LLP secured a Federal Circuit ruling that patents covering a Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. multiple sclerosis drug are invalid. The decision reversed a lower court ruling and opened the door for Mylan Inc. and Sandoz Inc. to launch their own generics as early as next spring. Sandoz is represented by Deanne Maynard, Brian Matsui, Marc Hearron, David Doyle, Anders Aannestad and Brian Kramer of Morrison & Foerster LLP. Mylan is represented by Evan Chesler of Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP and Shannon Bloodworth, Brandon White, David Anstaett, David Jones and John Singleton Skilton of Perkins Coie LLP.

Meanwhile, a team from Steptoe & Johnson LLP made the register ring for retailers with a decisive victory: a federal ruling that two-year-old Federal Reserve rules limiting debit card transaction fees are overly broad and run counter to congressional intent to control the fees merchants are required to pay for processing debit card swipes. The National Retail Federation is represented by Shannen Coffin, Douglas Kantor and Linda Bailey of Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

A Kirkland & Ellis LLP team also found itself in the winner's circle when a New York federal judge threw out a $1.5 billion racketeering claim accusing Siemens AG of bribing Mexican government officials for construction contracts. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled that Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos could not pursue the case because the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act does not clearly state that it applies outside of U.S. borders. Siemens was represented by Brant Bishop, Ragan Naresh, Christopher Posteraro and Thomas David Yannucci of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Another defendant, SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd., is represented by Laura Brevetti of K&L Gates LLP and David Hille, Melissa Laferriere, Owen Pell and Robert Tiedemann III of White & Case LLP.

On the deals side, lawyers for two marketing giants landed among the lions by creating the world's largest mass marketing conglomerate. The deal between Omnicom Group Inc., represented by Mark Gerstein, Brad Faris, Joel Trotter and Jeff Hammel of Latham & Watkins LLP, and Publicis Groupe SA, advised by Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz attorneys, is also the largest between publicly traded companies this year, and creates a new multinational company with a market value of about $35 billion. Jones Day represented Omnicom's financial adviser, Moelis & Co.

Sino-Aussie powerhouse King & Wood Mallesons brokered a deal of its own this week, jumping into the big leagues with a “yea” partnership vote to merge with U.K.-based SJ Berwin LLP. The new firm, to be formally christened this winter, will include 550 partners with a combined estimated annual revenue of $1 billion, putting them among the top 25 biggest international partnerships.

Legal Lambs

Parting with money is hard, and a $230 million payout really smarts. Residential Capital LLC's subsidiary GMAC Mortgage LLC secured its place among the lambs when it got the nod from a bankruptcy judge to make the big-dollar payment to hundreds of thousands of borrowers who lost their homes due to the company's allegedly deficient mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices. ResCap is represented by Gary Lee, Lorenzo Marinuzzi, Todd Goren, Naomi Moss and James Newton of Morrison & Foerster LLP.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. couldn't duck a big tab either, agreeing this week to pay $410 million to settle the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's allegations that a subsidiary rigged electricity prices in California and the Midwest. No individual executives were targeted in the settlement, which includes $285 million in civil penalties. The consent agreement was signed by JPMorgan general counsel Stephen Cutler.

Lawyers for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. had an even bigger bill to face, as the company agreed to pay a total of $491 million to end a criminal action and False Claims Act allegations that it illegally marketed an immunosuppressive drug for unapproved uses. Wyeth also pled guilty to a criminal information alleging it misbranded the prescription drug Rapamune in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Wyeth is represented by Joshua Levy of Ropes & Gray LLP and Robert McCampbell of Fellers Snider PC.

Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader Fabrice Tourre also found himself on the wrong side of the law when the New York jury in his high-profile criminal trial found he misled investors in a “built-to-fail” financial product known as Abacus. Tourre was found liable Thursday on six of seven claims, after less than two days of deliberations. Tourre is represented by Pamela Chepiga and Andrew Rhys Davies of Allen & Overy LLP and the Law Office of John P. Coffey.

In yet more fallout from failed mortgage-backed securities, Kirby McInerney LLP saw a requested fee related to a $590 million settlement between Citigroup Inc. and MBS investors slashed by more than $25 million. U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said that the settlement amount was reasonable, but that Kirby McInerney had inflated fees, particularly for contract attorneys it hired after a proposed settlement was in place. Investors were represented by Ira Press, Peter Linden, Andrew McNeela and Edward Varga III of Kirby McInerney LLP. Proposed nonlead class counsel include attorneys from Allen Brothers PLLC, the Law Office of Kenneth A. Elan, Entwistle & Cappucci LLP, Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, the Law Office of Alan L. Kovacs, Motley Rice LLC and Kenneth Gold.

And finally, a trio of United Kingdom firms offered up their share of lambs this week by announcing staff cuts as well as some reductions in lawyers. Hill Dickinson LLP said 14 partners and 69 employees would be leaving, while London-based Taylor Wessing LLP was set to lay off 22 secretaries, despite the firm's relatively healthy revenue growth last fiscal year. DWF LLP was reportedly also losing 38 people, including associates, solicitors and secretaries in six offices in a second round of downsizing this year.