Katherine G. Minarik
Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP
Intellectual property
40 Under Class – 2014

Attorney Katherine Minarik finds creative solutions to complex intellectual property issues in order to achieve big wins for her clients in court.

At 38, Minarik is a partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP. She functions as the case manager on major patent litigation and commercial disputes for large companies, including Bayer, DuPont, and United Technologies.

Randy Henley, deputy intellectual property counsel for UTC Building & Industrial Systems, has worked continuously with Minarik since 2009. Minarik has been litigating cases for Otis Elevator Company, a business unit of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, since 2008, he said.

“Our company has had just two major U.S. patent litigation cases in recent years. Katherine’s firm, Bartlit Beck, has handled both cases, and Katherine has been a primary member of both teams,” Henley said, adding one case ended in 2013 and the other in 2014.

Henley has reviewed countless briefs Minarik has written and observed her interactions with witnesses, opposing counsel, and the court firsthand, lauding her work in all categories.

“Katherine is a lawyer you can trust,” Henley said. “She cares about winning her cases, but she also cares about doing right by her clients at every stage of litigation. The latter can often be overlooked, but it is a central tenet of Katherine’s firm that Katherine has embodied in her work for our company.”

Minarik is a powerful advocate for her clients in court. In a recent case for Bayer, Minarik successfully defeated a motion for summary judgment on the issue of indefiniteness against an opposing counsel with a decade’s more experience.

“Katherine took the time to learn our business, listen to our employees, and understand our products,” said Bayer HealthCare Animal Health’s Assistant General Counsel Jessica Monachello. “Katherine’s commitment to the details makes her a persuasive and trustworthy advocate in court.” 

Henley agreed there is no detail that is too small for her attention, and said Minarik continuously looks for opportunities to be strategic even in mundane tasks. In one case, he recalled, Minarik had primary responsibility for negotiating the jury instructions with opposing counsel.

“We lost the case at trial, but the Federal Circuit ultimately reversed the jury verdict and ruled in our favor,” Henley said. “The Federal Circuit relied heavily on the jury instructions that Katherine negotiated in order to conclude that no reasonable jury could have reached the verdict we received at trial. Katherine’s attention to detail and strategic thinking from trial through the appeal was an important piece of that result.”

There are not many women in the field of intellectual property litigation, Henley said, adding Minarik is helping to change that.

“As a female IP litigator, Katherine is already unique, but she further stands out because she is equally comfortable in a technical conversation with engineers as she is in a legal discussion with in-house counsel,” he said.

Keith J. Miller, a partner with Robinson, Wettre & Miller LLC in Newark, NJ has also worked closely with Minarik on intellectual property litigation matters for several years, and calls Katherine “the complete package as a litigator.”

“Katherine is a creative legal thinker and writes highly persuasive legal briefs,” said Miller. “She is very good on her feet during oral argument as a strong and reasoned advocate for her client’s positions. She also has an incredible work ethic which keeps her on top of all her cases.”

Minarik’s dedication extends beyond her paying clients. Minarik has handled multiple pro bono cases in her personal time. She spent four years as pro bono counsel to a low income woman who had been unlawfully fired, winning a judgment and successfully defending the judgment through multiple appeals in the Illinois court system. Minarik is also committed to expanding opportunities for women in the law, serving as a board member of the Coalition of Women Initiatives in Law and an active member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.