John Thorne represents plaintiffs and defendants in commercial litigation in federal and state court and before law enforcement agencies. In antitrust cases, he won Supreme Court decisions affirming that dominant firms may freely switch suppliers (Discon) and may make investments without sharing (Trinko), and that antitrust complaints must be plausible (Twombly). He has brought affirmative antitrust actions, defended and initiated investigations by the competition agencies, and cleared significant mergers. In patent cases, he won one of the first injunctions following eBay; he has represented tech companies in seeking to improve patent quality; he represented both complainants and respondents at the USITC. In other IP cases, he won a decision overturning ICANN’s refusal to award Amazon the domain name “.amazon” and he won a first‑ever rate reduction at the Copyright Royalty Board. In constitutional litigation, he won a First Amendment decision striking down a statutory ban on video speech. In 1983 he represented pro bono Harold Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago. He was the founding board chair of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, a tuition-free private school for boys living southeast of the Anacostia River; he is currently co-chair of its capital campaign. He co-authored the principal telecom law treatises and published antitrust articles in the University of Chicago Law Review, the George Mason Law Review, and the Federalist Society’s Engage. He taught telecom law for ten years at Columbia Law School and for two years at Georgetown University Law Center.
Prior to joining Kellogg Hansen, he was Verizon’s Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in charge of competition, intellectual property, and privacy. Global Counsel Awards named his IP group one of the top five in the world in 2008 and 2010, and the world’s best in 2011. Global Counsel Awards named him the world’s best corporate competition lawyer in 2009.
He is a member of the Illinois and District of Columbia bars, the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court and the DC, Federal, Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits, and a member of the Northern District of Illinois trial bar.
After a two-day hearing with live testimony, Mr. Thorne won a decision overturning ICANN’s refusal to award to Amazon the top-level domain name “.amazon” and its equivalents in Chinese and Japanese characters. Amazon EU S.à.r.l. v. ICANN, Final Declaration (July 11, 2017).
With a team of his partners and associates, Mr. Thorne won a first‑ever CRB rate reduction in Webcasting IV. Broadcasters won a 32 percent reduction in the rates they paid. The client, “iHeartRadio, the second-largest webcaster in the country, got a big win.” Billboard, Inside the CRB’s New Streaming Rates (Dec. 17, 2015) (original emphasis).
Mr. Thorne won three Supreme Court antitrust cases. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007); Verizon v. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004); and NYNEX v. Discon, 525 U.S. 128 (1998). He won two dozen consumer antitrust class actions and half a dozen competitor antitrust cases. E.g., Siti-Sites.com v. Verizon, No. 11-65 (2d Cir. July 5, 2011); The New Phone Co. v. Verizon, No. 06-5276-CV (2d Cir. Dec. 7, 2009); Covad v. Bell Atlantic Corp., 398 F.3d 666 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Cavalier Tel., LLC v. Verizon, 330 F.3d 176 (4th Cir. 2003); In re Wireless Tel. Servs. Antitrust Litig., 385 F. Supp.2d 403 (S.D.N.Y. 2005); Greco v. Verizon, 2005 WL 659200 (S.D.N.Y. 2005); Robinson v. Verizon, No. 01-98-KSF (E.D. Ky. 2003); Verizon v. Ntegrity Telecontent Servs., Inc., 219 F. Supp.2d 616 (D.N.J. 2002); Yellow Page Solutions v. Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages Co., 2001 WL 1468168 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). With then-Kellogg partner Neil Gorsuch, he won a fraud case against one of the antitrust plaintiffs. Verizon v. Covad Communications Co., 377 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2004).
He obtained clearance for the mergers of Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, AirTouch, GTE, MCI, Alltel, and Terremark that created Verizon and Verizon Wireless.
He won a patent jury verdict and an injunction in Verizon v. Vonage Holdings Corp., 503 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2007). The jury verdict was one of the largest in the nation that year.
He won elimination of restrictions against Bell companies providing information services. United States v. Western Elec. Co., 900 F.2d 283 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
He won a First Amendment case striking down a federal statute banning telephone company video programming. Chesapeake & Potomac Tel. Co. v. United States, 830 F. Supp. 909 (E.D. Va. 1993), aff’d, 42 F.3d 181 (4th Cir. 1994), dismissed as moot, 516 U.S. 415 (1996).
He brought offensive plaintiff antitrust cases in 1994 and 1997 against AT&T and Lucent. He brought an antitrust case in 1999 against AirTouch, eliminating a noncompete that had threatened to bar closing of Bell Atlantic-GTE merger. He brought an antitrust case in 2001 against Sumitomo for copper price fixing. He brought an antitrust and First Amendment case in 2006 against Montgomery County, Maryland for restricting Verizon’s entry into the video business.
PUBLICATIONS AND TESTIMONY
With his partners, Mr. Thorne co-authored the principal telecom law treatises. He has published antitrust articles in the University of Chicago Law Review, the George Mason Law Review, and the Federalist Society’s Engage. Two of his speeches on antitrust policy were reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day. He testified in 2005 before the Antitrust Modernization Commission regarding antitrust in regulated industries; in 2007 before a joint hearing of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission regarding antitrust remedies; in 2010 before a joint hearing of the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission regarding the revised horizontal merger guidelines; in 2010 before the House Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy regarding antitrust in regulated industries; in 2016 before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet regarding patent litigation at the International Trade Commission; and in 2017 before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet regarding patent venue.
Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1981
- Order of the Coif
- Articles Editor, Northwestern University Law Review, 1980-1981
Kenyon College, A.B., summa cum laude, with high honors in mathematics, 1978
- Phi Beta Kappa
Law Clerk, Chief Judge Walter J. Cummings, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1981-1982