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MVP: Mayer Brown's Paul Hughes

29 November 2018
Law360
Paul Hughes, a Mayer Brown LLP partner in the firm's Supreme Court and appellate practice, has scored a number of intellectual property victories at the Federal Circuit, including one that clarified the standard of divided infringement, landing him a spot as one of Law360's 2018 Intellectual Property MVPs. 

His biggest accomplishment this year:
Hughes said his biggest success this year was persuading the Federal Circuit to find that lockmaker Travel Sentry Inc., along with the luggage companies that license its lock system, could be jointly liable for infringing lockmaker Safe Skies' patented "dual-access" luggage lock that can be opened by airport security workers.

Hughes was brought on to represent Safe Skies after a lower court judge had granted summary judgment of noninfringement to Travel Sentry and the other luggage makers, and in December 2017, he delivered a victory for his client when the appeals court chose to vacate that ruling. The Federal Circuit later declined to review the case en banc in February.

"I think Safe Skies is an important victory, because it helps move and shape the law moving forward — it's the sort of decision that has significant precedential effect that will impact not just the facts of our case, but many other cases in the years to come," Hughes told Law360. "Winning a case that helps move the law forward in an important useful direction is a very satisfying victory to achieve."

His biggest challenge:
Hughes said that coming from a nontechnical background has posed "additional challenges at the outset," including having to work with his team and his client to learn the technology behind each case, but that it has ultimately brought some advantages to his practice.

"I think overcoming that challenge to making sure I understand it, and then I can explain to those who similarly don't have the same technical background, actually has ultimately real advantages and in some ways make me a better advocate on these issues before the court," Hughes said.

Why he's an IP attorney:
Hughes said that clients who face intellectual property problems often need creative solutions that "think outside of where the Federal Circuit has been" on certain legal questions, and that this involves not only thinking about where the courts currently are, but where they might be on an issue in the years to come.

"That's a skill that I use outside the intellectual property space, but I think it's exceptionally important and valuable within intellectual property, given some of the significant changes we've seen, and what I would call an ongoing conversation between Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit about the proper calibration of intellectual property rights," Hughes said.

Other notable cases:
In addition to his intellectual property work, Hughes has been involved in several immigration cases, including a suit brought in October by a group of higher education institutions, including Haverford College and The New School, over the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' new policy that changes how the agency calculates the number of days a nonimmigrant foreign student has been present in the U.S without legal permission.

Hughes also said he recently filed a motion to intervene in a case over optional practical training, which he said was an important issue that affects "companies across the spectrum," including tech companies.

"It's a very close parallel to the work I do in intellectual property, because it is ensuring that tech companies have a company where innovation can thrive in the U.S.," he said. "I think the immigration work I do is many ways quite parallel to the work I do in intellectual property."

— As told to Tiffany Hu

Law360's MVPs are attorneys who have distinguished themselves from their peers over the past year through high-stakes litigation, record-breaking deals and complex global matters. A team of Law360 editors selected the 2018 MVP winners after reviewing nearly 1,000 submissions.
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