California Institute of Technology

O'Melveny has represented California Institute of Technology in multiple matters, including:

    • O’Melveny achieved a victory in patent trial over Caltech’s DNA sequencer. The case centered on an inventorship dispute for the automated DNA sequencer, arguably one of the most important advances in biology in the 20th century. The automated DNA sequencer was the scientific breakthrough that enabled mapping of the human genome. The plaintiff in the case was a former Caltech employee from the early 1980s who filed suit, claiming that he should be substituted as the inventor on four patents covering the technology of the automated DNA sequencer.  Caltech owned three of the patents at issue because the inventors on the patents conceived of the DNA sequencer while working at Caltech. The plaintiff named Caltech and the individual inventors, as well as the company that manufactures and markets the sequencers under license from Caltech, as defendants in the suit, which in addition to the inventorship claims, also asserted supplementary state law tort and contract causes of action. The Court had previously bifurcated the case so that the trial focused exclusively on plaintiff’s assertions that he was an inventor. In its ruling, the Court found that the plaintiff had failed to meet his burden of proof, that his story was largely uncorroborated, and that the evidence presented did not justify his inventorship claims.
    • O’Melveny won a major victory for Caltech in a high-profile wrongful death case involving the suicide of a Caltech student. Summary judgment was granted after we successfully argued that university administrators have no legal duty to protect a student from harming him or herself. This ruling, which Caltech had lost on a demurrer with prior counsel, represented a huge win for Caltech and for O’Melveny. The plaintiffs claimed that the Caltech Deans of Students were liable for the wrongful death of the plaintiffs’ son who committed suicide while a student at Caltech. The plaintiffs sought US$10 million in damages against the Deans individually and against Caltech through vicarious liability.