Growing up in rural Kansas, the youngest of seven, Roger Denning enjoyed science and debate. One day, as a junior in high school, he decided he should become a patent trial lawyer.
“Looking back, I really don’t know what I was thinking. I’d never met a patent litigator, and you could travel 250 miles in any direction from my hometown without ever running into one,” Denning admits. He followed through on his plan, though, earning degrees in engineering and law and then focusing his career on intellectual property litigation, a decision he’s never regretted.
“There’s nothing like going to trial,” says the Fish & Richardson principal. “The adrenalin rush is great, and in a patent case, in particular, there are so many opportunities to be a real advocate and explain to the judge and jury why your client should win.”
The enthusiasm that Denning brings to the courtroom is found in all aspects of his practice. In addition to being a much-sought after trial lawyer, Denning is also the managing principal of Fish’s San Diego office, and last year he was elected to the firm’s seven-member Management Committee, which oversees the activities of Fish’s 12 offices worldwide. Just recently, he handed over the reins as the firm’s recruiting chairman after six years.
"Roger is one of those people who puts his heart and soul into everything,” says Juanita Brooks, a fellow Fish IP litigator. “His intelligence, combined with his natural ability to connect with people, make him a great leader and a strong contender in the courtroom.”
In his 17-year career, Denning has worked on many notable cases. When Callaway Golf famously clashed with Acushnet over the Pro V1 golf ball design, he had a leading role in the litigation. In headline-making lawsuits between Microsoft and Lucent, Denning was at the heart of three trials, including serving as lead counsel in a six-week trial, delivering a non-infringement verdict for Microsoft.
Currently, he is handling several cases for San Diego-based medical device manufacturer ResMed. Denning was lead counsel for ResMed in a trial this April in the U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking to exclude a competitor’s infringing products from importation to the country.
Denning is also a devoted family man. “My wife, Michelle, and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this month, and we have three young kids at home. When I’m not working, I want to spend as much time as I can with my family,” he says.
Before heading off on his most recent work trip to Australia, Denning spent a week in Kansas visiting family. “We go back to Kansas twice a year, never fail. We want to let our kids make some of the same connections and memories that we have, and going back to the farm always refocuses and re-energizes me.”
Says Brooks, “Roger maintains a hectic schedule, but he always takes the time to do things the right way, whether it involves a client or his family.”
And what would this farm boy-turned-IP litigator be doing if he weren’t a lawyer?
“I think I’d be a teacher of some sort,” he’ll tell you.
-Submitted by Fish & Richardson