Keker & Van Nest’s Matthias Kamber used his knack for storytelling to help secure patent defense victories for tech heavyweights including Google Inc. and Broadcom Corp. when billions were at stake, landing him among the top nine young intellectual property attorneys recognized by Law360.
At 36, Kamber is enjoying his third year as partner at Keker, where he regularly scores wins in high-stakes patent wars for those on his client roster, including HTC Corp. and Comcast Cable Communications LLC, earning him a spot on Law360's Rising Star list of top attorneys under 40.
Kamber, who joined the firm in 2004 as an associate, said that his success depends on his ability to identify the strong points of a given case that can carry a “thematic ring” throughout trial.
“We deal with complicated, technical problems and … trial lawyers are always looking for a good analogy,” he said. “We are the translators between these high-tech companies and engineers and low-tech juries.”
During Google’s 2012 defense of Oracle Corp.’s $6 billion suit over Google's Android platform, it fell upon Kamber to educate the jury on foundational technology concepts.
“The interesting thing about the Google case was that one of the patents was so complicated, there was no analogy, so we decided we would have to just tell it how it is,” he said. “The key to telling that story was having the right witnesses.”
But witnesses alone couldn’t illustrate Google’s defense in a manner relatable to jurors, so Kamber came up with demonstrative graphics — which became the focal point of the trial — that explained why Google did not infringe Oracle’s patents.
“Oracle’s attorneys ended up abandoning their own diagrams and defaulted to using ours,” he said.
In late May, a jury found that Google's Android software, which powers 300 million smartphones and tablets, did not infringe Oracle’s patents, dealing Oracle a significant blow in the tech companies' ongoing battle over mobile device technology.
Just before the Google trial, Kamber and a team of Keker attorneys went on the offensive for Broadcom, which was seeking to invalidate several patents held by Australia’s national science agency, in a massive defense of the wireless industry.
The Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation had previously asserted patent claims that covered a vast number of wi-fi products and demanded 10-figure royalty payments from more than a dozen of the world's leading technology companies. CSIRO eventually scored a $229 million settlement as a result of the litigation.
CSIRO then launched a second wave of attacks, going after wireless chip manufacturers, laptop manufacturers and cellular network carriers, leading Broadcom and others to have the agency’s patents declared invalid. Among other things, Kamber led the damages analysis in the suit and “marathon negotiations” that ultimately yielded a favorable settlement.
And Kamber played a pivotal role in defending HTC before the U.S. International Trade Commission against Apple Inc.’s claim that the company infringed 20 patents related to various computer-related technologies, including user interfaces, operating systems, power management, and digital signal processing.
His presentation of witnesses and trial and appellate briefing helped position HTC to negotiate a November settlement that included the dismissal of all claims and a 10-year license agreement making HTC the first Android handset maker licensed by Apple.
Kamber is currently defending Comcast in a dispute brought by Innova Patent Licensing LLC over the cable company’s use of email filtering technology.
A common thread to all of Kamber’s wins has been to avoid “unfocused litigation” by taking the time to work through cases with his colleagues at Keker and identify conflicts in the story he wants to tell a judge or jury, he said.
“I think it’s great advice for any patent lawyer to think about things like whether the facts of a nonvalidity defense conflict with a noninfringement theory,” he said. “If you pick one over the other, it often helps focus the theme of the case.”
For Kamber, who explains to law students that intellectual property law “got in his head” as a kid who liked playing with Legos and reading philosophy, he not only enjoys considering those challenges, but they more often than not reveal the path to victory.
“You as the lawyer are more comfortable telling the story,” he said.