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Robert W. Unikel

Robert W. Unikel

Robert W. Unikel is a Partner in the Intellectual Property Department with a diverse practice that includes litigating patent, trade secrets and trademark cases in a variety of industries, including digital media distribution, consumer products and brands, financial products and services, and medical devices. Rob is ranked and recommended as an Intellectual Property practitioner in Chambers USA 2014, with peers praising him “as an ‘innovative, tenacious, organized and persuasive’ litigator.” Rob also is recognized as an “IP Star” by Managing IP Handbook 2015.

Rob’s extensive experience includes trying patent and trade secret cases involving such varied products as a digital distribution platform for mobile “apps,” a digital media store, thin film transistors, LCD panels, vascular stents, compiling computer software, office products, baby strollers, minicell vaccines, anti-aging cosmetics and casement window operators, and such diverse business methods as a method for tracking promotional mailings, a method for implementing consumer rewards programs, a method for configuring products through an electronic interface, and a method for automatically executing securities and derivatives trades. Additionally, Rob has unique experience in successfully defending against claims of false patent marking under 35 U.S.C. §292. He has managed disputes involving various well-known trademarks and has litigated numerous trade dress matters implicating product and packaging designs and non-traditional source indicators (including color and scent).

Rob has handled appeals to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and to the United States Supreme Court. Further, he regularly counsels businesses and individuals on intellectual property development, protection, and licensing strategies.

In addition to speaking frequently on issues relating to intellectual property litigation, Rob is the author of “Protecting Inventors, Not Fortune-Tellers: The Availability of Patent Protection for After-Developed Technologies,” 84 American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal 81; “Better by Design: The Availability of Trade Dress Protection for Product Design and the Demise of Aesthetic Functionality,” 85 Trademark Reporter 312; and “Bridging the Trade Secret Gap: Protecting Confidential Information Not Rising to the Level of ‘Trade Secrets,’” 29 Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal 841, each of which has been cited extensively by courts and commentators. Rob is also a member of the prestigious Sedona Conference’s Working Group 10 on Patent Litigation Best Practices (WG10). WG10 will develop best practices and recommendations for patent litigation case management in the post-America Invents Act environment.

Representative Matters

  • Representing Google, Inc. and Motorola Mobility in various patent infringement/invalidity cases in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District of Texas and Northern District of California.
  • Represented SourceLink LLC in connection with patent infringement/invalidity action relating to claimed systems and methods for mail tracking using barcode scanning.

  • Represented Wolverine Trading LLC and Wolverine Execution Systems LLC in patent infringement/invalidity actions relating to claimed methods for automatically executing securities and derivatives trades.

  • Represented Solo Cup Co. in successful defense of precedent-setting qui tam action for alleged false patent marking of products under 35 U.S.C. §292.

  • Represented OptionsXpress Holdings, Inc. in an infringement/invalidity action relating to patents claiming various electronic trading systems and methods.

  • Represented OptionMonster Holdings, Inc. in a trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract action relating to development of electronic retail trading platforms.

  • Represented Avery Dennison Corp. in patent infringement/invalidity actions relating to self-adhesive label assemblies.

  • Represented Foley & Lardner LLP against allegations that it acted negligently and in breach of a fiduciary duty by missing an international filing deadline for a patent application claiming certain medical uses of minicell technology.

  • Represented Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. in a patent infringement/invalidity matter involving thin-film transistor and LCD panel technology.

  • Represented Tristrata Technologies, Inc. in a patent infringement/invalidity case involving use of alphahydroxy acids in anti-aging skin products.

  • Represented VLIW, LLC in a trade secret misappropriation case involving proprietary computer compiler software and related technology.

  • Represented Rewards Networks, Inc. in a patent infringement/invalidity case involving methods for structuring and implementing consumer loyalty/rewards programs.

  • Represented Cook, Inc. in patent infringement/invalidity cases involving stent and stent-graft technology and embolization coils. 

  • Represented Ashland Products, Inc. in a patent infringement/invalidity and inequitable conduct case involving casement window hardware.

  • Represented U.S. Surgical Corp. in precedent-setting patent infringement/invalidity case involving trocar technology.



Northwestern University School of Law, JD, cum laude, 1993; Recipient, Lowden-Wigmore Prize for Legal Scholarship; Finalist, Julius H. Miner Moot Court Competition; Northwestern University Law Review, Note and Comment Editor

Dartmouth College, AB, cum laude, 1990


Adjunct Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law (Trial Advocacy)


Hon. George M. Marovich, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (1995–1996)


Illinois, 1993

US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Northern District of California

Southern District of California

District of Delaware

Southern District of Indiana

Eastern District of Michigan

Eastern District of Missouri

Southern District of New York

Middle District of North Carolina

Eastern District of Texas

Eastern District of Virginia

Western District of Wisconsin

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