The strength of our Telecommunications Litigation practice lies in its ability to combine exceptional trial and appellate capabilities with technical skill and an understanding of the industry. Several of the firm’s litigation partners have represented telecommunications companies since before the breakup of the AT&T Bell System. The unique perspective these attorneys contribute to the firm’s telecommunications practice benefits our clients who know that they are hiring not just skilled litigators, but skilled litigators with knowledge of the industry, its history, and its players.

The variety of state and federal court litigation that the firm has handled is a function of the many industry sectors and capacities in which our telecommunications clients operate. Much of the litigation we handle focuses, for example, on our clients’ roles as innovators, researchers and developers. Other cases arise from our clients’ roles as service providers and equipment manufacturers, and as advertisers, wholesalers and retailers.

The firm also represents telecommunications companies as employers. Attorneys in the firm’s labor and litigation groups handle EEOC claim investigations and collective bargaining agreement arbitrations, as well as state and federal lawsuits alleging discrimination, retaliation, and ERISA violations. Our attorneys have handled sales force commission disputes ranging from single plaintiff state court claims to federal court class actions arising from major organizational shifts.

Given the mobility of the high-tech work force, the firm also has handled numerous disputes involving industry leaders over the ability to protect intellectual property and to enforce nondisclosure agreements, covenants not to compete, and similar restrictive covenants, for example, in stock option agreements. Frequently, such controversies over departing employees erupt quickly and lead to fast-paced suits for injunctive relief ranging from restrictions in work scope to limitations on recruitment. Our ability to gain speed and advantage in these lawsuits again is a function of trial capability combined with experience learning and communicating highly technical subjects.

Our Experience

Our Telecommunications practice group provides representation in business transactions, regulatory proceedings, and litigation affecting the telecommunications industry. Our lawyers offer a level and range of telecommunications industry experience and knowledge that is unmatched in the region. In an industry where change and upheaval have long been the order of the day, Jackson Walker lawyers have been on the front lines, helping clients to anticipate and navigate the deal points and disputes arising out of extraordinarily rapid changes in the law, technology and business conditions.

Our telecommunications clients come in all shapes and sizes, from startups to some of the largest domestic and international corporations in the industry. As the telecommunications services provided over a variety of technologies converge, the firm represents providers of voice and data services, local and long distance services, narrowband and broadband services, Internet and advanced telecommunications services. Our clients deliver those services over wireline, wireless, cable, and satellite networks. We represent equipment manufacturers who serve this industry, as well as related support businesses.

Our lawyers have been at the forefront of the new breed of transactions and contested regulatory proceedings arising out of the landmark federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. The firm represents telecommunications clients in planning and executing traditional and unconventional transactions – whether the context is initial formation and financing, merger and acquisition, ongoing operations, or reorganization. We help our clients protect and enforce their intellectual property rights in complex, cutting-edge telecommunications hardware and software. And we pursue and defend our clients’ interests in court, in bankruptcy proceedings, before regulatory agencies and arbitrators, and before the legislature. To all these representations we bring not only experience in the legal issues, but a practical understanding of telecommunications businesses and technology borne of years of experience.

To meet the diverse legal needs of our telecommunications clients, the Telecommunications practice group brings together attorneys from Corporate, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Bankruptcy, Labor & Employment, Legislative & Regulatory, and other practice areas.

Our telecommunications practice group offers a one-stop shop to meet the legal needs of clients in this most dynamic industry. From the transactions to create, finance, and operate telecommunications companies, to protecting intellectual property, to resolving disputes and enforcing rights before regulatory agencies and in litigation, we can provide the edge and efficiency that come from a rich mix of professional experience and practical understanding.

Regulatory

With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress rewrote the legal structure governing the delivery of telecommunications services in the United States. The Act provided in broad terms for a transition from regulated monopoly to competition in the delivery of local telephone service. However, the Act left the actual carrying out of these changes to be determined in negotiations, contested regulatory proceedings before state utility commissions and the FCC, and litigation.

Our lawyers have played a leading role in matters arising in this region under the Telecommunications Act. They have negotiated interconnection agreements – the terms and conditions on which a retail competitor obtains essential wholesale components from the incumbent local service provider – in each of the states traditionally served by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company – Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. Where agreement on terms cannot be reached, the Act provides for arbitration before state regulatory authorities. Our lawyers have served as lead outside counsel in pivotal arbitration proceedings establishing key interconnection agreement terms that have been widely copied across the region and beyond.

The Act also holds out the opportunity for regional Bell operating companies to provide long distance service, upon demonstrating that they have met the Act’s requirements for opening the local market to competition in a state. Our lawyers have served lead roles in proceedings to determine whether Southwestern Bell should receive a positive recommendation on its applications to enter the long-distance market there. Consistent with our advocacy, each state’s regulatory commission initially found that Southwestern Bell had failed to meet the requirements for long-distance entry. Jackson Walker lawyers were at the center of the extended “collaborative proceedings” that followed to assess Southwestern Bell’s efforts to come into compliance with the Act. Our lawyers have continued to participate in these long distance proceedings as they have advanced to the Federal Communications Commission.

Our lawyers have contributed to the procedural innovations that the Act has spawned. Our lawyers have helped make it possible to try the complex technical, economic, and policy disputes presented by the Act within the short time frames permitted by client business needs, the statutory timetable, and limited state regulatory resources. The Texas Public Utility Commission recognized our principal telecommunications regulatory lawyers “for meritorious service to the people of Texas” in connection with the Southwestern Bell long distance proceeding, citing their technical telecommunications skills as well as their legal experience and trial skills. With this experience, Jackson Walker is uniquely qualified to provide counsel and representation in matters arising under the Act.

We serve as counsel in FCC-related proceedings dealing with fulfillment of the SBC/Ameritech Merger Conditions. Jackson Walker plays a lead role in ongoing state proceedings to review the performance standards under which Southwestern Bell provides wholesale service, and we represent clients in matters to enforce those performance standards. We assist clients in applying the Act to rapidly changing technology and business arrangements, negotiating, arbitrating and enforcing the rates, terms and conditions on which competitors may obtain wholesale services from the incumbent carrier. We provide counsel and representation in telecommunications regulatory matters outside of the Act. Jackson Walker advises clients across the range of state telecommunications regulation – from certification and telephone number management to consumer protection and quality of service regulation. We represent our clients before state public utility commissions in rule making proceedings, as well as formal and informal dispute resolution. We assist its clients in working with municipalities on matters of access to public rights-of-way. Our lawyers have advised both carriers and property owners regarding federal and state law related to building access for providing telecommunications services.

Regulatory proceedings require a perspective that accounts for the long-term outlook, as well as today’s victory. Even in an industry that is being “deregulated,” a business’s ongoing relationship with the regulatory authorities is vital, and credibility before the regulators is essential. We bring to telecommunications regulatory matters a combination of extensive experience with the regulatory process, first-rate trial skills, and a serious understanding of the telecommunications business itself.

Transactions

Our attorneys have successfully completed a broad range of transactions for domestic and global telecommunications clients, and are adept at handling issues faced by companies of all sizes, from start-up emerging-growth companies to industry leaders. Our transaction lawyers represent telecommunications buyers, sellers, investors, shareholder groups, boards of directors, and financial advisors in structuring, negotiating and consummating complex domestic business combinations and in transactions ranging from small privately negotiated transfers of shares or assets to venture capital investments, leveraged buyouts, large public company combinations, contested takeovers and public offerings.

We are a leader in telecommunications, media, and technology financing. Our attorneys are able to provide assistance in locating venture capital funding from our database of venture funding partners and contacts. We have represented clients in this industry in high yield, equity finance, project finance, senior debt, mezzanine debt, acquisition, finance, securitization, bridge loans, private placements and public offerings. We represent both private and public companies, and have extensive experience in federal and state securities laws reporting and compliance.

Our telecommunications attorneys understand that people, and the information that they possess, are often our clients’ most valuable assets. Given today’s highly mobile telecommunications workforce, protecting these assets is increasingly important, and demanding. Our attorneys are skilled in drafting employment agreements, non-competition agreements, confidentiality agreements, and other documents which ensure, to the extent possible, that our clients are protected when key employees pursue other opportunities.

We assist its telecommunications clients in drafting and negotiating the contracts that are essential to growing and sustaining their businesses, from the ordinary to the unusual. For example, our attorneys have acquired significant experience in drafting and negotiating agreements for the licensing of proprietary technology, purchasing, leasing or maintaining equipment, and systems integration services. Our attorneys also have extensive experience in structuring and negotiating strategic partnerships and alliances. We are knowledgeable about the purchase and sale of retail and wholesale telecommunications services. We help carriers work with municipalities to obtain use of public rights-of-way. We advise our clients as traditional property law concepts intersect new technology and business arrangements – from indefeasible rights to use optical fiber, to terms and conditions of building access for telecommunications carriers, to the commoditization of broadband.

Intellectual Property

Our attorneys help clients obtain and protect intellectual property rights in the United States and abroad. These attorneys work closely with a variety of businesses and inventors, including Fortune 500 companies and emerging companies with technological assets. The firm’s attorneys regularly counsel clients about patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets; practice before government agencies to secure those rights; render patentability and patent, trademark, and copyright infringement opinions; litigate to protect intellectual property; handle arbitration, mediation, and other litigation alternatives; and negotiate licenses to maximize the value of such property. Several of the firm’s intellectual property attorneys also hold degrees in engineering or applied science, including MS and three PhD degrees, and are licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Patent Office. This technical skill is balanced with considerable litigation and business experience.

Communications, multimedia, and computer technology raise a host of legal issues for our clients, both those who develop such technology and those who use it. Our IP attorneys counsel developers regarding the best methods for protecting their intellectual property, be it patent, copyright or trade secret. They negotiate and draft, on behalf of both vendors and users, software licensing, telecommunications, program development, systems acquisition, and similar agreements. Our IP attorneys also regularly represent the firm’s clients in prosecuting or defending litigation involving claims of software copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation, and computer product failure.

Litigation

The strength of our telecommunications litigation practice lies in its ability to combine exceptional trial and appellate capabilities with technical skill and an understanding of the industry. Several of the firm’s litigation partners have represented telecommunications companies since before the break-up of the AT&T Bell System. The unique perspective these attorneys contribute to the firm’s telecommunications practice benefit our clients who know that they are hiring not just skilled litigators, but skilled litigators with knowledge of the industry, its history, and its players.

The variety of state and federal court litigation that we have handled is a function of the many industry sectors and capacities in which our telecommunications clients operate. Much of the litigation we handle focuses, for example, on our clients’ roles as innovators, researchers and developers. Other cases arise from our clients’ roles as service providers and equipment manufacturers, and as advertisers, wholesalers and retailers.

We also represent telecommunications companies as employers. Attorneys in the firm’s labor and litigation groups handle EEOC claim investigations and collective bargaining agreement arbitrations, as well as state and federal lawsuits alleging discrimination, retaliation, and ERISA violations. Our attorneys have handled sales force commission disputes ranging from single plaintiff state court claims to federal court class actions arising from major organizational shifts.

Given the mobility of the high-tech workforce, the firm also has handled numerous disputes involving industry leaders over the ability to protect trade secrets and to enforce nondisclosure agreements, covenants not to compete, and similar restrictive covenants, for example, in stock option agreements. Frequently, such controversies over departing employees erupt quickly and lead to fast-paced suits for injunctive relief ranging from restrictions in work scope to limitations on recruitment. Our ability to gain speed and advantage in these lawsuits again is a function of trial capability combined with experience learning and communicating highly technical subjects.

Bankruptcy

We maintain a very active bankruptcy, reorganization and creditors’ rights practice, representing clients in bankruptcy cases and out-of-court workouts throughout the United States.

Our attorneys represent many types of participants in bankruptcy cases, debt restructurings, liquidations and workouts, including secured and unsecured creditors, financial institutions, indenture trustees, official and unofficial committees, debtors, receivers, trustees and asset purchasers. Our attorneys have a wide range of experience in proceedings ranging from complex corporate reorganization cases to liquidations of individuals and small business entities.

Our lawyers have had significant involvement in several recent proceedings filed by major domestic and international telecommunications companies, as well as debtors in other high-tech and internet-related industries. In these industries, Jackson Walker has represented debtors and both secured and unsecured creditors. Issues that have arisen in these cases include the sale of telecommunications assets, assumption and rejection of telecommunications agreements, renegotiation of IRU agreements, perfection of security interests in intellectual property, purchase and sale of intellectual property and related equipment, and financing of technology companies to support reorganization. Jackson Walker attorneys also have experience in bankruptcy-related litigation and are regularly involved in preference and fraudulent transfer actions, valuation and automatic stay proceedings, and objections to discharge.

  • Harton v. Canyon Oaks Unit Four Homeowners’ Assoc., AT&T Mobility Texas, LLC, and Concan Water Supply, Uvalde County, TX (pending). Representing AT&T Mobility, Jackson Walker successfully opposed plaintiffs’ application for a preliminary injunction to block the operation of a recently constructed cell tower.
  • Texas Cable & Telecommunications Assoc. v. Rick Perry, PUC Commissioners, TCCFUI, GTE Southwest, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Grande Communications Networks, W.D. TX (pending). Jackson Walker represents Grande Communications in this federal court challenge to the constitutionality of the Texas Cable Act. The 2005 legislation introduced the ability to obtain statewide franchise authority for cable and video.
  • Accutel et al. v. AT&T Corporation, 5th Cir. (2008). Representing AT&T, Jackson Walker obtained summary judgment in the Western District of Texas on all state and federal counts relating to Accutel’s interstate and intrastate switched access service charge claims. While Accutel’s appeal to the Fifth Circuit was pending, the parties settled the dispute.
  • Consolidated Communications v. PUC of Texas, Sprint Communications Company L.P.’s, W.D. TX (2007). The federal court affirmed a final order of the Texas PUC granting Sprint’s petition for a waiver of Consolidated’s rural exemption, which Consolidated claimed limited its obligation to interconnect with Sprint. In the administrative appeal from the PUC’s Final Order, the federal court rejected Consolidated’s argument that Sprint was not a “telecommunications carrier” entitled to interconnection because of its wholesale service business model.
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