Chris First

[ associate ]

Chris First

Chris practices complex litigation, primarily in antitrust and patent matters. He is often consulted for his ability to combine outside-the-box thinking with a unique breadth of knowledge of technology, procedure, and local practice.

Selected Legal Successes

  • When a computer security pioneer faced an adverse Federal Circuit decision in a suit against industry giant IBM, most observers thought the case was over. Instead, Chris saw an opportunity, and stepped in to design a groundbreaking strategy to allow his client to dispute the lower court’s erroneous claim construction for a second time before the Federal Circuit due to the summary nature of the Court’s prior decision. After accepting his argument, the Federal Circuit reversed the lower court decision, saving the case and allowing Chris’s client to proceed. The United States Supreme Court denied IBM’s petition for certiorari. Legal commentators have since written about the significance of the Federal Circuit’s decision. Chris’s work on the case was a major reason he was one of the youngest attorneys ever to be selected as a “Rising Star” by Washington Superlawyers magazine.
  • Chris worked with lawyers from AZA to represent a patent holder in the cutting-edge HD voice space against Motorola. Chris provided guidance through a difficult issue that required a combination of detailed technical knowledge and intimate experience with the local rules and practices of the Eastern District of Texas. With Chris’ help, AZA secured a $9 million-plus verdict against Motorola. The jury also found that the infringement was willful, allowing the judge to potentially triple the damages award. Read more here.
  • A Fortune 200 financial company was sued for patent infringement in a case that was alleged to be worth over $1 billion at the outset. Chris and his team set to work, and obtained a number of advantageous rulings and claim construction findings that were devastating to the plaintiff’s case. Soon after, the plaintiff relented and decided to settle rather than risk trial. After the settlement, in an attempt to escape the specter of its prior case gone awry, the plaintiff relocated its litigation campaign against other parties to a new venue. The relocation was unsuccessful.

Background

Chris began his career practicing at a large international law firm in Washington, DC. His practice included representing some of the largest companies in the world in high-stakes technology litigation and handling a broad array of legal matters for a growing education technology startup.

In 2013, Chris was asked to serve as a law clerk to the Honorable Roy S. Payne of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, Texas – the busiest federal trial court in the United States at that time. While in Marshall, Chris handled over a thousand cases and assisted with large jury trials in antitrust, intellectual property, catastrophic personal injury, and civil rights matters. During his time at the Court, Chris also served as an acting law clerk to District Judge Rodney Gilstrap and then-Chief Judge Leonard Davis.

Chris graduated cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he earned the highest overall grade in Advanced Patent Law and Intellectual Property Litigation, as well as serving as a board member on the Journal of Technology Law and Policy. Chris was also named Pro Bono Student of the Year in 2010 for his pro bono work with indigent defendants in the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Chris obtained a breadth of experience prior to attending law school, spending a year as the only undergraduate research assistant in a groundbreaking search and rescue robotics lab, serving on the Board of Directors of a major entertainment venue, and working for two years as a management intern for the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.