A seasoned litigator with a background in complex civil matters, Ann Fort oversees and protects the intellectual property rights of clients in the United States and abroad. Her practice encompasses patent infringement, licensing disputes, trade secret protection and unfair competition. She tries cases in both federal and state courts and represents clients in alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration and mediation. Her recent experiences include defending claims brought by non-practicing entities, also known as patent holding companies or patent assertion entities.
Many of Ann’s clients are in the technology industry. Her technology cases range from loan and deposit pricing software, Internet-based information management systems and ground fault circuit interrupters, to power management unit chips, interactive television program guides, computer network security protection systems and medical information systems. She also counsels businesses in complex multiparty litigation. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, Ann represents both patent owners in licensing disputes and accused infringers of formulation patents, including in Hatch-Waxman litigation. Ann’s clients vary from large corporations and start-up businesses to universities and research institutes.
An active leader in Sutherland’s pro bono program, Ann achieved clemency for a client on death row, representing him for more than 11 years before he was granted clemency just hours before his scheduled execution. She serves on American Bar Association and Georgia Bar committees charged with considering capital defense representation and related policy issues.
Sutherland successfully defends IT firm against a non-practicing entity.
Sutherland presented invalidating prior art and pleaded in indemnitors as third party defendants, resulting in the voluntary dismissal with prejudice of a patent infringement suit. The non-practicing entity sought damages for alleged infringement of a portfolio of patents purported to cover networked use of optical scanners to convert paper documents to electronic files. Sutherland continues to advise dozens of targets of this patent assertion entity.
Sutherland prevails in three-front patent litigation for international electronics manufacturer.
Sutherland successfully defended a three-front patent dispute by winning a preliminary injunction in a New Mexico action and subsequently defending it on appeal. The preliminary injunction dismissed the plaintiff’s International Trade Commission action against our client and plaintiff’s patent infringement claims in a California action. The preliminary injunction was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and plaintiff’s motion for rehearing en banc was also denied.
Sutherland successfully settles trade secret matter for Z-Line Designs, Inc.
Sutherland counseled a cutting-edge furniture manufacturer in a trade secret case against a key competitor and former officer that involved protecting the company's confidential sourcing information. We obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that led to a settlement.
Awards and Rankings
Named to The Best Lawyers in America in the area of litigation – intellectual property (2013-2014)
Intellectual Property Community Service Award (2010)
Named among the “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine (2006, 2007)
Recipient of Sutherland’s first annual Charles T. Lester Pro Bono Award (2009)
Patent Strategy & Management, Board of Editors
Southern Center for Human Rights, Board of Directors
American Bar Association, Litigation Section, Woman Advocate Committee
State Bar of Georgia, Intellectual Property Section, Litigation Committee
State Bar of Georgia, Post-Conviction Representation Committee
Atlanta Intellectual Property Inn of Court, Master of the Bench
American Intellectual Property Law Association, Women in IP Committee
International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association
Women in Technology, Board of Directors
TurningPoint Women’s Healthcare, Board of Directors and Executive Committee
Hagar’s House, Decatur Cooperative Ministries, Volunteer