Danielle Tully has been dreaming of a life in law for as long as she can remember. Her childhood game of choice? Conducting mock trials during her 5th grade summer break. Her practice has paid off – her childhood ambitions, now a reality.
Now, Tully isn’t just at the top of her game, she is changing the game. Intellectual property and patent law are historically male dominated spaces but Tully is etching a new narrative. She recently led her team at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft to a huge victory in a post-trial win for their client, AngioDynamics, in a long and labyrinthine patent dispute.
Tully’s triumph marks the first time since 2019 that a federal judge in Delaware has ruled to set aside a jury win for being contrary to the law. The judge ruled in favor of Tully and team, unable to deny the evidence they so deftly displayed, letting the facts and figures and well – the law – do the talking.
The impact of this win isn’t lost on Tully. She says, “It's an important victory not only because we've finally been vindicated after all these years, but because AngioDynamics’s products remain available to people who need them the most.” AngioDynamics designs innovative and vital medical devices that elevate the standard of care for patients and are used by healthcare professionals in vascular, peripheral vascular and oncology medicine.
Tully has been on the case since it started, back when she was an associate – from document collection to closing arguments, she has touched every corner. Tully explains, “It's really a unique opportunity that allowed me to know the case as well as I do, and to have a say in the strategy that came from a place of really understanding the facts.” This multi-tiered intimacy with the case details is precisely what made Tully such a successful leader in this litigation.
Over the years, the case evolved alongside her career, holding hands with her own growth within the industry and seeing her move from protégé associate to partner, team leader and mentor. Tully is an esteemed member of the 2023 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America.
Lawdragon: Congratulations on the AngioDynamics case. What a victory!
Danielle Tully: Thank you. It really is.
LD: Could you tell us about your rise to leadership in that case?
DT: I had been working on the case since the beginning. I was an associate and then slowly got promoted along the way. Eventually I was promoted to partner and became one of the lead partners at trial. It was an exciting opportunity that I don't think comes along all that often for associates, and it was one that I was very grateful for.
LD: And what was at issue in the case?
DT: This case had been going on for a number of years, but the issue at its core was a patent infringement dispute where we did not believe any of the patents were valid. Bard asserted several patents directed to identifying a power injectable port using a radiographic marker and an ID card that gets sold with the port. The FDA didn't approve ports for power injection until 2006, right around the same time Bard filed its patents, and it wasn’t until that point in time, that the industry started marketing and labeling their ports as power injectable. But that didn't mean that their ports that were sold before were not power injectable. In fact, both Bard's and AngioDynamics’ prior ports were capable of being used for power injection. And the evidence at trial showed that both companies’ ports were used for power injection.
We focused on all of the evidence that had come in, and then on some of the gamesmanship that went on at trial.
So on the basis of that evidence, the court ultimately held that Bard's patents were invalid because both Bard's own ports and our ports invalidated their patents. The judge found that the evidence showed that both AngioDynamics and Bard were really using their own old technologies here.
LD: Can you tell me about the importance of this victory for the client?
DT: It's a big victory for our client because not only do they get to continue to sell their products and keep them on the market, but it gives people in the healthcare industry the ability to choose our client’s products. Our client has important technologies that are incorporated in its products and now those products can stay on the market and clients will benefit from AngioDynamics’ innovations. It's an important victory not only because we've finally been vindicated after all these years, but because the products remain available to people who need them the most.
LD: This is the first time since 2019 that a Delaware judge set aside a jury verdict to invalidate patent claims as a matter of law, correct?
DT: That's right. After the jury verdict came in, the judge reversed it and said that the evidence did not support the jury verdict and that no reasonable jury could have found for Bard.
LD: Wow. So, can you talk a little about the steps that you and the team took to convince the court?
DT: It was through a careful presentation of evidence at trial. We made sure that the evidence showed that the prior ports were in fact power injectable. We did that by pointing to Bard's submissions to the FDA that demonstrated that at least one of Bard’s prior ports sold before it filed its patents was in fact power injectable. So, we were able to point to those admissions from Bard itself, and we were also able to point to our own internal evidence showing that our ports were in fact power injectable before the priority date of any of Bard's patents. And each of these ports was readily identifiable both on X-ray and based on items sold with it, like ID cards.
On top of that, we pointed to other evidence of practitioners using both our ports and other ports for power injection before the priority date. After trial we put forth our best arguments in briefing and at oral argument. We focused on all of the evidence that had come in, and then on some of the gamesmanship that went on at trial. The judge was receptive, and in his opinion noted that Bard actually reconstrued the claims at trial and, we believe, that led the jury to discount the evidence in the way that it did.
LD: Interesting. Can you talk a bit about the case from a career perspective? Did you know that this would be the case to make you partner?
DT: I never thought that this was the case that would make me partner, but I did take ownership of everything, and I did come up with ideas and pursue those ideas. I'd present my ideas to the partners who led the case early on, and I would make the projects that sprung from those ideas my own. I think that was part of what led me to make partner – I showed my abilities. I've done everything from document collections to the closing arguments at trial on this case. It's really a unique opportunity that allowed me to know the case as well as I do, and to really have a say in a strategy that comes from a place of really understanding the facts.
LD: Did you always know you wanted to do IP?
IP was the perfect marriage of my STEM background and my love of litigation.
DT: Yes, I actually have. I have a biology degree and I always wanted to stay in the sciences but go into law. IP was the perfect marriage of my STEM background and my love of litigation. I was fortunate enough to end up at an IP boutique called Morgan & Finnegan when I graduated law school. I had some great mentors and they gave me the opportunity to work on some excellent matters there. They took me under their wings and then I went with them to join Cadwalader where I could continue to grow in my practice. We moved over to Cadwalader as a group and started the IP practice group here.
LD: And how has Cadwalader been as a platform for you as a trial attorney?
DT: It’s an excellent litigation platform. We have a good base of support with excellent attorneys at all levels, and we’re continuing to grow. Within the IP group, nearly all of our attorneys, including our associates, have been to trial or have some kind of trial experience. We're an experienced group. We know how to run matters lean, but well, and a lot of that is because of our depth of experience and the way we're able to put our teams together.
LD: How have you seen the practice change since you started?
LD: Patent litigation used to be something that people saw as a very highly technical slog, but in recent years, it's become an industry driver. It's important for companies to secure their IP and protect it in the marketplace. You used to see more companies protecting traditional assets, like patents, copyrights and trademarks, but now they've expanded what they consider their IP – it's grown into AI and data protection. It's really continued to evolve. I find the evolution very exciting and always interesting.
LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer?
DT: I'm very collaborative. I believe that litigation especially is a team effort, and the team is only as good as all its members are. So, I strive to involve the team frequently and early. We bounce ideas off one another, and we enjoy working together and make it fun. It also really helps with mentorship and developing junior lawyers. We don’t want group think, but we want everyone’s thoughts in the group. I think that the team appreciates that effort, and we get really good results because of it.
LD: It sounds like you enjoy being a mentor.
DT: For sure. In addition to everyday collaboration, I am a mentor in the Cadwalader sponsorship program. The sponsorship program focuses on making sure that women and diverse attorneys get opportunities within the firm. I was a protégé in that group. You get hands-on mentoring from different partners across the different practices. It's everything from informal meetings, to working together with somebody on a brief or some other assignment. I went through that program and graduated from it when I became partner, and now I give back to that program by mentoring in it. I work closely with our protégés. There's an associate in our group who just entered into the program and I'm very excited to get to mentor her. It's a very rewarding program and I'm very happy to give back.
LD: How did that program affect your trajectory?
DT: It was such a great opportunity for me. It introduced me to so many partners here at Cadwalader that I might not have had a chance to meet so early on in my career. It’s important to make sure that women especially feel supported in their roles and have exposure to many different people. That's really how you learn. It's also really how you get promoted within your own firm – the more people who know you and know your capabilities, the greater chance you have of being promoted. That's an important part of making sure that we not only retain excellent, diverse talent, but that we promote it within too.
Companies have expanded what they consider their IP – it's grown into AI and data protection.
LD: Do you find patent law to be better or worse as a practice for women?
DT: I've been very fortunate in my career that I've worked with great mentors who always supported me, whether they were men or women. I’m actually still lucky enough to work with my first mentor. One of my now-partners did my on-campus interview way back when, worked with me at my first firm, and encouraged me to join Cadwalader when the IP group was first formed. We’ve continued to work together over the years and just worked on the AngioDynamics case together. I’ve continued to form new mentoring relationships at every point in my career, including now. Mentors are invaluable. They just want you to succeed, and they’re very supportive. And that’s what I hope I can give to the next generation of women lawyers – the kind of support that allows someone to perform at their best.
Still, I know that in the patent field, women tend to be underrepresented. I'm glad to see that some things are changing. Cadwalader is definitely leading the charge. Our team that just won the post-trial victory for AngioDynamics was 50 percent women. So, I think that says a lot about us as a group and Cadwalader’s dedication to promoting women and other diverse attorneys. We want everybody to succeed here, and we are focused on growing our diversity, and I think that shows. We get great results because of it.
LD: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
DT: I’d say perseverance. Over the years we've gotten some great rulings in our favor, and we've also had some not-so-great rulings that went against us. But throughout that time, we just kept marshaling our evidence and sticking to our arguments and really honing them under the law, adapting to the different rulings that we got. And that's what has taken us to where we are now. At the end of the day, what's most important is to make sure you know the record, you know your facts, keep doing what you're doing, keep persevering and you’ll get great results for your clients.
LD: Where did you first get the idea to become a lawyer?
DT: I grew up in New Jersey and I was doing mock trials and moot court since I was in elementary school. I was really passionate about it, and my mom actually found a program for me when I was in 5th grade where I could go to a summer program and do mock trials. Then when I was in high school, I was on the mock trial team and that really cultivated my love for the law. My interest in science was also since I was a kid. I remember I got a chemistry set for Christmas one year, and all I ever wanted to do was make potions and experiments. So, it was such a natural fit to go into IP law for me.
LD: That's really cool. Outside of work, what do you do for fun? What do you do on the weekends?
DT: I have two young daughters, so they take up most of my weekends. My older daughter is 16, so we're just getting started looking at colleges for her. We're headed up to Boston this weekend to start looking for schools for her. My younger daughter is 11, and about to go into sixth grade. They are very involved in dance and school activities. They keep me very busy, and fortunately they also share a love for STEM. One is going to be a camp counselor and one is going to be a camper in the Patent Office’s summer camp – I call it patent camp, but it's really the National Inventors Hall of Fame Camp Invention that they put on throughout the country.
LD: That’s adorable.
DT: I'm very lucky that they're as interested in what I do as I am. They always want to come to work. They love to ask questions about it. My little one is always asking me to come into school and talk about it. So, I'm glad that they're proud because it means that I'm doing something right.