Intellectual Property


Vern Norviel is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he leads the patents and innovations counseling practice. Vern has three decades of experience in formulating successful strategies for life science companies and the development of their IP programs. He represents a wide variety of companies, as well as venture capital firms, in areas such as therapeutics, diagnostics, nanotechnology, genomics, proteomics, and personalized medicine. In fact, Vern's interest in the field of personalized medicine prompted him to become the first attorney to have had his or her entire genome sequenced and made available in a public database.

Before joining the firm in 2003, Vern was the general counsel and corporate secretary of Perlegen Sciences, Inc., a start-up biotechnology company that scans the entire human genome for important therapeutic and diagnostic products. Previously, as senior vice president and general counsel, he was an early employee of Affymetrix, the biotechnology company that pioneered and developed DNA chip technology. He also had been a partner at Townsend and Townsend and Crew in Palo Alto.

During his career, Vern has authored or prosecuted more than 20 patents that have been litigated in the United States and abroad, and has overseen intellectual property lawsuits throughout the world.

Vern previously served as a member of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's board of directors and currently serves on the board of the WSGR Foundation. In addition, he is a lecturer in biotechnology law at UC Berkeley School of Law.

  • Served as a patent expert for Brigham Young University in connection with the school's settlement of a long-running, multibillion-dollar lawsuit with Pfizer involving the drug Celebrex
  • Developed and oversaw the patent portfolios of Cirina, Delinia, Guardant, and Genia Technologies
  • J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law
    With Honors
  • Master's degree, University of Santa Clara
  • Undergraduate degree, University of Colorado, Boulder
    With Honors
  • Lecturer, "Biotechnology Law," UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Board Member, Morris Animal Foundation
  • Board Member, The Parkinson's Institute
  • Present Advisory Board Member, Center of Science, Technology, and Society, Santa Clara University
  • Past Advisory Board Member, The Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Member Emeritus, Advisory Committee, School of Engineering, University of Colorado
  • Inaugural Member, Public Advisory Committee, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Member, American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Honored with the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services by the State Bar of California, 2018
  • Recognized among the Daily Journal's "Top Intellectual Property Attorneys" in California for 2017
  • Named in the 2013-2018 editions of Northern California Super Lawyers
  • Honored among the "Top 25 Intellectual Property Portfolio Managers" in California for 2012, 2013, and 2014 by the Daily Journal
  • Recognized as a "Life Science Star" in the intellectual property section of LMG Life Sciences in 2012 and 2013
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Recognized as a "Top Rated Lawyer in Intellectual Property" for 2013 by Martindale-Hubbell and American Lawyer Media
  • Named among the country's top life sciences attorneys in the 2011-2019 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business
  • Selected for inclusion in the life sciences category of The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers 2011
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2007 edition of The Legal 500 US
  • Named to the 2006 Lawdragon 500 "New Stars, New Worlds" list
  • Panelist, "Start Your Start-Up: Resources for Energy Entrepreneurs," Silicon Valley Energy Summit 2015, Palo Alto, CA, June 25, 2015
  • Panelist, "The Supreme Court and DNA Patents: A Myriad of Ramifications," Palo Alto, CA, July 1, 2013
  • Panelist, "Patent Pending: Corporations, the Constitution, and the Human Gene," UC Hastings College of the Law, February 20, 2013
  • Moderator, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Biotech Startup & Walking the Line Between the University and the Venture Investor," Wharton San Francisco and QB3 panel discussion, April 25, 2012
  • Speaker, "Back to School: The New Patent Law Explained," Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, October 21, 2011
  • White House participant, Transparency Task Force of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), August 11, 2009
  • Participant, Federal Trade Commission hearings on the evolving IP marketplace, May 4-5, 2009
  • "From Drug Discovery to Drug Approval: Working with the FDA," Yale University
  • "Building a Life Science Enterprise in Current Market Conditions," The Johns Hopkins University
  • "Real Life Case Studies Where The Due Diligence Went Terribly Wrong," 3rd National Conference on Life Sciences IP Due Diligence
  • "Bio MEMS: Opportunities and Barriers," MIT Symposium
  • "More Way to Market With Your BioPharma Technology," Larta Venture Forum – BioPharma
  • Participant, President's Counsel on Personalized Medicine Panel
  • Moderator, Algae Biomass Summit
  • Bar of the District of Columbia
  • State Bar of California
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Contact Information

One Market Plaza
Spear Tower, Suite 3300
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone | 415-947-2020

12235 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130
Phone | 858-350-2300

28 State Street
37th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
Phone | 617-598-7800

Email | Vern

Areas of Expertise

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