GCR 100 - 13th Edition

Covington & Burling

28 November 2012

The global antitrust group at Covington & Burling continues to do some of the most interesting and innovative work in the world of competition law.

16. Covington & Burling

Global heads: Thomas Barnett, Deborah Garza
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 800
No. of competition specialists: 80
Percentage of competition specialists: 10
Who’s Who Legal nominees: 7
Partners: 28
Percentage of partners in Who’s Who Legal: 25
Senior associates: 16
Associates: 27
Counsel and consultants: 9
Other: 0
No. of lateral partner hires: 1
No. of partner departures: 1
No. of internal promotions: 1

While the group is US-based, they have skilled teams in Europe and Asia able to handle major cross-border mergers and investigations – the kinds of matters that took up the majority of the firm’s time in 2012. The loss of Who’s Who Legal nominee Peter Camesasca from the firm’s Brussels office did sting, but Lars Kjølbye and the rest of Covington’s EU group have kept things running smoothly. Korean antitrust specialists William Park joined the firm last year, and an application to open an office in Seoul is pending.

The firm’s cutting-edge work this year included deals and investigations that were among the most noteworthy – and closely followed – of the year. That list begins with Covington’s representation of Expedia and Trip Advisor as complainants in the coordinated global antitrust investigation of Google. The company has continued to turn to Covington in a series of proposed class actions alleging a conspiracy between online travel agents and major hotel chains to fix the price of hotel rooms online.

Facebook has been another headline Covington client over the past year. The firm laid out a smooth path for the company’s purchase of Instagram, securing clearance in the US and the UK with no snags. The same can be said of the firm’s work for Microsoft in its purchase of Skype, which required, and received, global clearance. In Europe, the firm is also helping Microsoft in its complaint against Google’s allegedly abusive business practices, putting Covington squarely in the centre of the most closely watched antitrust investigation in the world.

Brussels

Another successful year at Covington & Burling has seen the firm continue to excel in several sectors that are caught in the antitrust spotlight. Who’s Who Legal nominee Lars Kjølbye leads the six-partner team, consisting of two further Who’s Who Legal entrants, David W Hull and Damien Geradin.

The firm lost partner Peter Camesasca in May, over what Covington says was a conflict issue. Camesasca has been regular counsel to Samsung since 2003, which conflicted with antitrust work Covington has been doing for Apple. Camesasca then left the firm to become an independent practitioner focusing solely on Samsung.

Covington’s partners each have their specialisms: Hull is experienced in pharmaceuticals and Georg Berrisch in air transport, while Kjølbye, Geradin and Miranda Cole have particular knowledge of the high-tech market among other sectors, including energy and telecoms.

The firm is regular counsel to Microsoft on merger control and antitrust matters in the US, demonstrating its strong reputation. Most recently, Cole has advised Microsoft in its US$550 million sale of a patent portfolio to Facebook; a US$1 billion patent acquisition from AOL; and, together with Kjølbye, in Microsoft’s patent abuse complaints against Motorola and Google.

Hull and Kjølbye represented AstraZeneca in DG Comp’s pay-for-delay probe, which was dropped after finding no wrongdoing, and Kjølbye is counsel to Czech electricity incumbent CEZ in DG Comp’s abuse of dominance investigation.

United States: Government Antritrust

Former antitrust division leaders and Who’s Who Legal nominees Thomas O Barnett and Deborah A Garza lead what has become a extremely impressive antitrust group at Covington & Burling in Washington, DC. Their unmatched government experience, combined with 28 antitrust partners in the office at last count – including skilled and experienced practitioners Alan M Wiseman and Theodore Voorhees – positions the team for a climb up GCR’s rankings in our next Washington, DC, antitrust bar survey.

The Covington antitrust group’s docket continues to be ripped directly from the headlines. Barnett and the team continue to advise Expedia as part of the FairSearch Coalition – a leading complainant in the FTC’s investigation of Google. The team also advised Microsoft in its role in the so-called Rockstar Bidco coalition that purchased a portfolio of Nortel patents out of bankruptcy, as well as the company’s deal to purchase Skype. The group’s long-time work for Facebook became public this year when it helped secure approval for its purchase of Instagram. Its contentious work includes advising Apple in its headline-grabbing litigation against Motorola Mobility/Google surrounding the enforcement of standard essential patents. It is also working for Citibank in the ongoing Libor class action in New York, Pixar in the follow-on private suit stemming from the DoJ’s closed Silicon Valley hiring case, and scores of other matters.

 

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