Q&A With Morrison & Foerster's Michael Ward


Michael R. Ward, Ph.D., is a partner in Morrison & Foerster LLP's San Francisco office. He is the head of the firm's patent practice and co-chairman of the intellectual property group. He is founder of the firm's plant IP practice and is a member of the steering committee for the firm's cleantech practice. Ward has a background in agronomy and plant biochemistry. His practice consists of preparing and prosecuting international life science patent applications, performing patent due diligence in connection with mergers and acquisitions and other financing transactions, development and management of patent portfolios, counseling clients regarding patent infringement and validity issues, assisting in patent litigation, counseling in a wide range of licensing and joint venture arrangements, handling patent re-examinations and supporting patent interference projects.

Q: What is the most challenging case you have worked on and what made it challenging?

A: The most challenging case that I worked on was an arbitration related to infringement of a lettuce plant variety certificate. We had the burden to prove that the infringing lettuce variety was essentially derived from our client’s protected lettuce variety. Our expert was able to convince the arbitrator that the infringing variety retained the essential characteristics of our protected variety. We were not able to prove to the arbitrator’s satisfaction that the infringer used our protected variety to produce the infringing lettuce variety. It was a very frustrating outcome.

Originally published in Law360 on July 8, 2013.

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