Viasat asks judge to release Gibson Dunn from patent case after hiring attorney

The change of legal counsel from Western Digital to Gibson Dunn was announced this week. According to Viasat, the law firm represents the company in related matters

June 9 (Reuters) – Satellite communications company Viasat has asked a federal judge to disqualify Western Digital’s lead attorney and her new law firm in a Texas patent dispute between the companies, on the grounds that the firm is in ethical conflict because it already owns Viasat represents in relevant legal disputes.

In a court filing released Thursday, Viasat said the conflict arose when Western Digital’s attorney, Kieran Kieckhefer, left her former law firm, Shearman & Sterling, to join Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, as announced Monday.

Carlsbad, California-based Viasat sued Western Digital in 2021, alleging that its data storage devices infringe patents related to error correction technology.

Viasat said in its disqualification motion that it has been a Gibson Dunn customer since 2017 and that the company is representing it in another lawsuit involving the same technology.

“Both alone are enough to disqualify Gibson Dunn,” Viasat said. “Overall, the conflict – and the threat of Viasat information being misused against Viasat – is overwhelming.”

Kieckhefer and representatives from the law firms and companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Viasat said Gibson Dunn is representing it in a separate lawsuit against Acacia Communications over related error correction technology. Viasat won a $49.3 million jury verdict in this case in 2019. The filing, filed Thursday, said a California state court awarded him nearly $100 million more last month.

According to Viasat, in the Acacia case, Gibson Dunn received confidential information relevant to the Western Digital case, and both cases relate to the value of Acacia’s patent license.

Gibson Dunn will plead on behalf of Western Digital to “cut the Acacia license, on which the company has provided extensive legal advice to Viasat,” Viasat said.

Viasat also said it has been a Gibson Dunn client since 2017 and that the firm also represents it in commercial and administrative matters.

Viasat’s filing states that Gibson Dunn rejected his proposal for an “ethical wall” to keep conflicted attorneys out of the Acacia case.

The case is Viasat Inc v. Western Digital Corp, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 6:21-cv-01230.

For Viasat: Scott McBride from Bartlit Beck

For Western Digital: Kieran Kieckhefer of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Continue reading:

Viasat is suing Western Digital and Kioxia over data storage patents

Shearman & Sterling’s IP partner is leaving the company to join Gibson Dunn

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Blake Britain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced law. Contact: 12029385713