John Keville is managing partner of the firm’s Houston office and member of the firm’s Executive Committee. With a background in mechanical engineering, his practice is dedicated to intellectual property litigation, including patent, trade secret, trademark, and copyright litigation. He has been lead trial counsel in patent litigation matters in a number of technologies, including mechanical and chemical oilfield technologies, electronic devices, and digital signal processing. He has also been lead or co-counsel in a number of technology-driven litigations related to the Internet involving trade secrets, trespass, the computer fraud and abuse act, and free speech rights of Internet posters.
In addition, Mr. Keville has litigated patent-related antitrust cases, including cases involving failure to disclose patents to standard-setting organizations and Walker Process antitrust claims.
Mr. Keville also counsels clients on intellectual property enforcement and procurement matters, litigation strategy, settlement negotiations, and licensing.
M-I, LLC v. Argus Green LLC et al. Obtained an $11,000,000 jury verdict against Argus Green (a company set up by two former M-I employees and an investment group to pursue technology developed at M-I) and Argus Green’s officers. The jury unanimously found for M-I on all claims, including theft of trade secrets, breach of contract, conversion, and computer fraud and abuse, and also awarded exemplary damages against each defendant. The final judgment transferred ownership of defendants’ patent applications to M-I, and granted injunctive relief.
Warehouse Assoc. Corp. v. Celotex Corp. As co-lead trial counsel, obtained a no liability jury verdict for defendant Celotex. The case involved claims for fraud and breach of contract, based on Celotex’s sale of property to Warehouse Assoc. under a contract that included an “As Is” provision. Although the case had been through ten years of litigation, including summary judgments and appeals, the jury deliberated just one hour – and explained that time was only spent because it took more than 45 minutes to receive the trial exhibits in the jury room.
eDigital v. Pentax of America et al. Representing defendant Coby Electronics in this multi-defendant patent litigation, Mr. Keville was lead counsel in claim construction and cross-examined the inventor/expert at the Markman hearing. Plaintiff’s patents were directed to the use of flash memory to record audio signals. After the court ruled against eDigital on each of the key claim terms, eDigital was forced to settle for nuisance value.
Nextsport, Inc. v. Dream Int’l USA Inc. Just six months after the case was filed, Dream obtained summary judgment that it did not infringe Nextsport’s patent. When the remaining claims could not be settled, a bench trial went forward. Following the bench trial, the district court held all the asserted patent claims invalid, held the patent unenforceable, and awarded Dream Int’l USA all of its attorneys’ fees. The case then settled (very favorably).
Performance Aftermarket Parts Group, Ltd. v. TI Group Automotive Systems, Inc. Representing declaratory judgment defendant TI Automotive, obtained a judgment of patent infringement after trial. The patent at issue was directed to electronic fuel pump control technology. The case settled prior to the damages phase.
Trace-Wilco, Inc. v. Symantec Corp., et al. Represented McAfee in a patent litigation where plaintiff asserted patents to network profanity filtering software. McAfee was the last defendant not to pay to settle, and after showing its patent invalidity summary judgment basis, the plaintiff agreed to file a dismissal with prejudice—without receiving any payment or consideration.
Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. M-I, LLC. Granted summary judgment invalidating all asserted claims of the patent-in-suit. This result not only protected the continued sales of M-I’s premier drilling fluid, but also was a rare result in the Eastern District of Texas. After argument before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the summary judgment was unanimously affirmed. Simultaneously in M-I, LLC v. Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., M-I alleged that Halliburton defrauded the Patent Office and engaged in sham litigation in prosecuting the above suit. That litigation, and a second patent infringement suit later filed by Halliburton, were settled with Halliburton paying M-I more than $6,000,000 and covenanting not to sue M-I on any related patents.
Varel International v. Graham Mensa-Wilmot et al. Obtained permanent injunctions, the return of all company materials, and more than a million dollars in settlement payments from the individual and corporate defendants. In this case that was developed and litigated rapidly, all of the involved former employees ended up subject to polygraph testing, and was settled shortly after a temporary injunction hearing.
Javelin Investments et al. v. Angela McGinnis et al. Obtained three summary judgments in the first copyright case to extensively analyze the junction between a building owner’s rights and an architect's copyright interests. The court dismissed plaintiffs’ case and awarded defendants all of their attorneys’ fees.
Stinger Wellhead Protection, Inc. v. Boyd’s Bit Services, Inc. Protected Stinger Wellhead’s trade secrets by obtaining a settlement with a total value of more than $10,000,000, including cash, an injunction, and possession of all defendant’s wellhead isolation tools.
Parker Barber & Beauty Supply, Inc. v. The Wella Corp. Successfully defended a leading manufacturer of hair care products in a $13 million dollar trade secret misappropriation suit filed by a non-renewed distributor. The take-nothing judgment was affirmed in 2006 by the Austin Court of Appeals.
Forney Corp. v. Reuter-Stokes, Inc. et al. Represented a Dallas-based industrial combustion equipment company in patent infringement litigation involving digital signal processing technology applied to flame scanners, and obtained two multi-million dollar settlements for the plaintiff.
In re Feinberg. In a case involving Internet defamation, obtained pre-suit discovery which enabled the plaintiff to determine that many false and improper Internet posting about the plaintiff were in fact posted by a single individual using multiple aliases. The critical discovery was obtained only after overcoming multiple motions, appeals and requests for mandamus that were filed by the website owner – who was supported and joined in the suit by the ACLU. In a later suit, a permanent injunction was entered against the individual.
American Airlines, Inc. v. Farechase, Inc. Co-counsel in the first Texas case to apply trespass theories to the Internet, resulting in an injunction granted in favor of American Airlines against the use of robots and screen scrapers on the airline’s website.
Cooper Cameron Corp. v. Kvaerner Oilfield Products, Inc. Affirmed a summary judgment of patent invalidity.
Great Barrier Reef v. Copeland. Successfully represented the plaintiff, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) whose former vice president of sales and marketing set up a competing ISP using trade secrets and copyright-protected information. After the federal district court issued summary judgment rulings that defendant breached his fiduciary duties, and dismissed defendant’s counterclaim, the case was settled with defendant agreeing to a permanent injunction and to pay damages.
Tamko Roofing Products, Inc. v. Ideal Roofing, Inc. Affirmed a jury verdict of trademark infringement and upheld a substantial award of attorneys’ fees.
Mr. Keville received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology in 1988 and a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 1995.
Honors & Awards
In 2013, Mr. Keville was named the Best Lawyers’ Houston Litigation - Intellectual Property “Lawyer of the Year” and an “IP Star” by Managing Intellectual Property in 2013 and 2014. In 2012, IAM Patent 1000 described Mr. Keville as “an extraordinarily diligent, no-nonsense straight shooter who has a great sense of what will be persuasive to any particular judge.” Chambers USA recognizes Mr. Keville as a top tier intellectual property litigator, and noted his “unique combination of dedication to the client, knowledge of the law, experience and technical skill that makes him one of the best in the country.” He has been selected by Chambers USA in every year since 2007, and over that period in-house counsel and opponents have told Chambers he is “an exceptional leader and formidable opponent,” “unbelievably talented,” “truly formidable” in the field of intellectual property, and noted he has “impressed his peers with his successes in litigation in the Eastern District [of Texas].” Texas Monthly has selected him as a Texas Super Lawyer in every year since 2007, and he was chosen as one of the Best Lawyers in America in intellectual property in every year throughout the same period.
Mr. Keville is a member of the American Bar Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association, Houston Bar Association, and Houston Intellectual Property Law Association. He is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a current member of the board of directors of Trees For Houston, and previously served on the board of directors of the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Association.
Publications & Speaking Engagements
Mr. Keville is a frequent author and speaker on intellectual property issues. Notable articles and speeches include:
- “Intellectual Property Law: A Matter of Opinion.” Texas Lawyer(December 20, 2004)
- “Internet User Identity Privacy.” Houston Business Journal(March 2004).
- “Retire at Your Own Risk—ERISA’s Return on Investment?” St. John’s Law Review (1995)
- “Alternative Fee Arrangements—What Has Not Worked.” Texas Bar CLE, Advanced Patent Litigation Course, Houston, TX (March 2012)
- “Intellectual Property Issues.” Association of Corporate Counsel, Back to School Symposium, Houston, TX (August 2011)
- “Inventor Depositions.” Texas Bar CLE, Advanced Patent Litigation Course, Austin, TX (July 2011)
- “Patent and Antitrust Issues in Standard Setting for High Tech Industries.” Utah State Bar Annual Convention (July 2010)
- “Strategic Use of PTO Proceedings in Litigation.” Managing Patent Prosecution and Litigation Seminar, Houston, TX (May 2007)
- “A Circuit Split Within the Federal Circuit, Dissension and Decisions on the Written Description Requirement.” Advanced Patent Law Institute, (October 2004)
- “Third Party Discovery.” Litigation in High Tech Industries Course, (March 2004)
- “The Decline of Festo and the Rise of All Elements Rule.” Advanced Patent Law Institute, (March 2003)
- US Patent & Trade Office
- St. John's University, JD, 1995
- New York Institute of Technology , BS in Mechanical Engineering, 1988