William "Bill" LaFuze is a principal in McKool Smith’s Houston office. Bill’s practice has been directed to a broad range of intellectual property law issues, with a particular focus on patent and other intellectual property litigation and transaction work in the oilfield equipment, telecommunications, smartphone, computer, healthcare, electronics, internet, and a broad range of technical fields. He has represented clients in many district courts throughout the United States and in cases appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. Bill has also served as arbitrator in many intellectual property cases and has substantial experience in IP strategic counseling and licensing.
Bill currently serves as an officer of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Intellectual Property Law and is a delegate from that section to the ABA House of Delegates. Over the years, he has led many national and regional professional associations, including serving as the president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association and chair of the Section on Intellectual Property Law of the ABA. He has testified several times in hearings before Congressional Committees and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with regard to patent law reform issues.
Bill was selected as one of only two IP lawyers in the country to advise the Bush/Cheney administration through its Presidential Transition Team to counsel the then-new administration on patent policy, the operation of the USPTO, and patent reform issues. By appointment of the U. S. Secretary of Commerce, he later served a 3-year term on the Patent Public Advisory Committee of the USPTO.
Bill has been ranked every year since inception as a "Band 1" intellectual property lawyer or "Senior Statesmen in Texas" by Chambers USA and has been ranked "Band 2" for U.S. intellectual property by Chambers Global. He is also highly rated in many other leading legal publications and directories.
- Defended a major oilfield service company in connection with fracking and drilling technology patents in multiple suits.
- Represented a major oilfield services company in connection with asserting patents in multiple suits in connection with drilling technology patents.
- Represented clients on a broad range of topics regarding intellectual property strategy, policy, licensing and counseling issues.
Prior to joining McKool Smith:
- Represented clients on a broad range of technologies and issues involving intellectual property transactions, strategy, policy, legislation, licensing, and counseling.
- Represented clients and negotiating a wide array of contracts common in the supply chain of computers, computer components, computer software and the like for small and large companies, including computer manufacturers, value added resellers, OEMs, component manufacturers, subcomponent manufacturers, memory manufacturers, and related software.
- Represented clients in the smartphone industry involving a wide variety of electronic, computer-related, and telecommunication inventions.
- Represented clients in the healthcare field with respect to patent, trade secret and other litigation and business transaction issues
- Represented a major software manufacturer in a patent infringement suit involving software for monitoring and managing distributed computer resources.
- Represented a major vehicle manufacturer in a patent infringement suit involving computer proposals for selling products and parts.
- Represented a worldwide leader of semiconductor devices in a trade secret and employee raiding case against multiple defecting employees.
- Defended major oilfield service companies in patent and trade secret litigation and counseling dealing with drilling technology.
- Represented a major electronics firm in defending a patent infringement suit in connection with printed circuit board technology.
- Defended an energy company from a claim of patent infringement in connection with a directional drilling method patent.
- Defended a manufacturer of touch screens and related equipment from claims of infringement of various touch screen patents.
- Defended a manufacturer of oil tools from a claim of patent infringement in connection with apparatus and methods for monitoring the connection of threaded pipe for oil and gas wells.
- Defended a client from claims of breach of a patent license agreement.
- Defended a manufacturer of passenger loading bridges from claims of breach of contract, trade dress infringement, and misuse of confidential information.
- Handled several cases on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Handled numerous Markman Claim Construction Hearings before various federal district courts.
Rankings & Honors
- Recognized in Chambers USA as a Senior Statesman for intellectual property litigation. The 2018 edition notes that he is "engaging, professional and committed." 2003-2020.
- Ranked in the Best Lawyers in America as a leading lawyer in Intellectual Property, Patent Litigation and Trade Secrets Law (2018, 2020)
- Recognized in the U.S. Legal 500 as a leading lawyer in patent litigation, 2009-2017. The 2017 edition describes Bill as the "dean of the Texas IP bar."
- Recognized as a leading U.S. patent litigator in World Intellectual Property Review’s (WIPR) directory of “World IP Leaders," 2016-2019
- Ranked a "Top 100 Super Lawyer" in Houston by Texas Monthly
- Listed in the Legal Media Group’s Expert Guide to the Leading Patent Practitioners
- Listed in the Legal Media Group’s Expert Guide to the World’s Leading Patent Experts
- Recognized as a Super Lawyer in Texas, 2003-2020
- Ranked in Chambers Global as a leading lawyer for Intellectual Property – Patent Litigation (Band 2), 2006-2015
- Received Gold Star ranking for Texas Patent Litigation by IAM Patent 1000: The World's Leading Patent Practitioners, 2013 and 2014
- Recognized as an “IP Star” by Managing IP
- Member of Swarthmore's Who's Who
- Recognized in the guide to The Best Lawyers in America® for intellectual property law, 2005-2019
- Recognized in The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers
- Recognized in Who's Who in American Law; Who's Who Legal (for Texas patent law) and Who’s Who Worldwide
Community & Professional Activities
- Past president and founding fellow, American Intellectual Property Law Association
- Past president and member, Houston Intellectual Property Law Association
- Past chair, officer, and council member, American Bar Association, Section of Intellectual Property Law
- President's Advisory Council, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas, 2014-present
- Advisory director, Houston Technology Center
- Founding president, Houston Intellectual Property Inn of Court
- Member, House of Delegates, American Bar Association
- Past president, National Inventors Hall of Fame
- Member (appointed by the Secretary of Commerce), Patent Public Advisory Committee, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce, 2002-2005
- National Council of Patent Law Associations — Past President
- Member, Presidential Transition Team for Department of Commerce, USPTO Matters 2000-2001 (Only two IP lawyers were appointed to the transition team)
- President's Advisory Board, University of St. Thomas, Houston
- University of Houston School of Law, IPL Program, Advisory Board
Media & Events
- 21 McKool Smith principals recognized in the 2021 Edition of "Best Lawyers in America" and 12 attorneys recognized in "Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch"08.18.2020
- Chapter Author, Patent Litigation Strategies Handbook, Bloomberg BNA, 2015 (a best-seller on the subject of patent litigation used widely by judges and patent litigators throughout the country)
- Lecturer and author of more than 140 articles and presentations dealing with intellectual property law and patent litigation
J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 1973
M.S., Applied Science (Systems Engineering), Southern Methodist University, 1971
B.S., with highest honors, Physics, University of Texas, 1969
- Phi Beta Kappa
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Claims
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- District of Columbia