One of the driving forces behind the life sciences practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is its representation of medical device manufacturers and successful medical device entrepreneurs and investors. WSGR's experience in the sector dates back to the industry's formative years, when exciting new companies first began to invent, develop, and commercialize breakthrough medical technologies.
A substantial number of the practitioners in the firm's medical device practice—including attorneys, patent agents, and scientific advisors—have advanced degrees in biology, chemistry, engineering, or other scientific fields. Similarly, a large number of our professionals have experience working in laboratory, medical, or research facilities. The team also includes attorneys who have served as in-house legal counsel for major life sciences companies.
WSGR has consistently represented medical technology companies at all stages, from formation to exit. Our work with emerging medical device companies is typically focused on two areas that are vital to early-stage enterprises: intellectual property and finance.
Patents and Innovation
WSGR offers medical device clients the benefit of working with the highly skilled intellectual property professionals in our patents and innovation practice. In addition to advising on strategic matters, this team handles a significant number of patent filings, averaging 35 U.S. patent application filings per week. In fact, in San Diego alone, WSGR files several patents on a daily basis for life sciences clients, including companies located in the U.S., Canada, South America, and Europe.
WSGR consistently represents more venture-backed companies than any other law firm in the U.S., according to annual rankings published by Dow Jones VentureSource and PitchBook. A large percentage of our clients that receive venture funding are medical device companies. In fact, WSGR represents more medical device and equipment companies that receive venture financing than any other U.S. law firm, according to Dow Jones VentureSource, based on 2014 financings.
One reason for the firm's unmatched standing in the venture finance space is the long-standing relationships we have built working alongside innovative entrepreneurs to launch successful medical device companies. Another key driver of our success is our experience working with influential sources of funding: WSGR represents more than 100 venture capital and private equity firms.
Collaborations, Partnering Agreements, and Joint Ventures
WSGR has extensive experience advising maturing medical device companies as they reach important developmental milestones. Dating back to some of the most significant, landmark collaborations and partnering deals between industry pioneers, WSGR's attorneys have helped medical technology clients structure and execute all manner of sophisticated, strategic transactions, working closely with each client to leverage their valuable intellectual property assets to achieve diverse market objectives.
The firm has advised life sciences companies on the structure of more than 150 major corporate collaborations. Our experience includes developing, negotiating, and implementing:
- Co-branding and promotional agreements
- Cross-border agreements
- Research and development agreements
- Strategic alliances
- Joint development agreements
- Co-investment agreements
- Joint marketing agreements
In addition, our team has vast experience with a broad range of joint venture transactions involving medical device clients. We have also recently introduced clients to novel, creative agreements—such as build-to-buy agreements—aimed at benefiting multiple parties.
Regulatory and Compliance
Regulatory approvals are critically important to growing medical device companies. WSGR has a dedicated regulatory team that helps place medical device clients in a favorable position to clear regulatory hurdles and secure timely approvals. Our team also helps such clients remain in compliance with strictly enforced regulatory laws in the U.S. and international markets.
Initial Public Offerings
Many of WSGR's successful medical device clients have opted to enter the capital markets, most often through an initial public offering. Since 1998, WSGR has advised companies and investment banks in more than 50 public offerings involving life sciences companies that have raised more than $7 billion.
Since 2014, WSGR has represented several medical device and equipment companies as issuer's counsel in initial public offerings, including:
- TriReme Medical
In the same timeframe, WSGR also represented biotech and biopharmaceutical clients as issuer's counsel in initial public offerings. In July 2015, WSGR represented NantKwest, a clinical-stage immunotherapy company, in its IPO. According to news reports, which cite data published by Renaissance Capital, NantKwest's initial public offering is the largest biotech IPO ever, based on market cap. In 2014, WSGR represented biotech and biopharmaceutical clients Pfenex, Otonomy, and Juno Therapeutics in their successful IPOs. Juno's initial public offering was the largest biotech IPO in 2014 based on market capitalization.
WSGR also represents medical device and equipment companies in follow-on public offerings, including successful offerings for Inogen and NanoString.
Mergers and Acquisitions
An acquisition can often be an ideal exit strategy for a medical device company, because it can signal the continued viability of a developing product line, as well as broader, even global distribution options that may not have otherwise been available to the company. WSGR has represented a number of medical device and equipment clients that reached a point in their development where either selling part or all of the company proved to be the best strategic option.
In the past five years, our attorneys have advised life sciences clients in more than 80 M&A transactions valued at $35 billion. While WSGR has represented medical device clients in hundreds of smaller M&A transactions and limited intellectual property asset acquisitions, the firm has also been involved in some of the largest M&A deals in the life sciences industry. For example, WSGR represented Pharmacyclics in its sale to AbbVie for approximately $21 billion, a transaction announced in March 2015.
As medical device and equipment manufacturers grow, they often become involved in a proportionately larger number of business disputes. Our attorneys have successfully represented medical device companies engaged in litigation with competitors, suppliers, service providers, employees, and other entities, with disputes ranging from employment-related lawsuits to high-stakes patent litigation. We have also successfully defended medical device and equipment companies in class actions, including antitrust, consumer, and securities litigation matters. In addition to representing companies in federal and state courts throughout the U.S., our attorneys represent companies in arbitrations and mediations.
In short, with more than 700 attorneys, WSGR provides comprehensive representation to medical device and equipment clients across a broad range of practices, including:
- Corporate Governance
- Employee Benefits and Compensation
- Employment Litigation
- Finance and Structured Finance
- Intellectual Property
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Real Estate
- Regulatory and Compliance
- Tax and Tax Equity
- Technology Transactions