Thomas W. Sankey


Duane Morris LLP
1330 Post Oak Boulevard
Suite 800
Houston, TX 77056-3166

Tel: +1 713 402 3924


Thomas W. Sankey is the chair of Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group’s Intellectual Property Litigation division and the managing partner of the firm’s Houston office as well as Duane Morris’ Texas operations. He is also a member of the firm’s Partners Board and served on the firm’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Mr. Sankey has extensive commercial and intellectual property trial experience, focusing on trade secrets, patents, copyrights, unfair competition, contract disputes, employer/employee disputes and the Lanham Act. He has represented clients in many industries including the telecommunications industry, the medical device industry, auto parts industry, oil and gas industry, as well as others, including online banking entities, inventors, electronic device companies, semiconductor companies, pharmaceuticals, banks, medical supply companies, medical R&D companies and others. Mr. Sankey is board certified in Civil Trial Law by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (A.B.O.T.A.).

Mr. Sankey is a seasoned commercial trial lawyer with over 35 years of experience handling a wide variety of high-stakes disputes for defendants and plaintiffs, including many Fortune 500 companies.  He has tried more than 50 cases to verdict in trials or arbitration proceedings and has led hundreds more as lead counsel that have resolved successfully for his clients before trial.

Mr. Sankey has successfully handled lawsuits involving commercial matters, including trade secret and patent infringement cases around the country.

Mr. Sankey represents clients in disputes both in numerous state courts and in various federal district courts throughout the country. Mr. Sankey has successfully handled appeals before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court as well as Texas Appeals Courts and the Texas Supreme Court.

Mr. Sankey is a 1986 graduate of South Texas College of Law, where he was assistant technical editor of the South Texas Law Journal, and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee.

  • Obtained from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on behalf of an American multinational telecommunications corporation an affirmance of summary judgment of invalidity of a software patent with computer-implemented means-plus-function claim limitations because the patent failed to disclose corresponding algorithms.
  • Defended a major telecommunications corporation in various patent infringement disputes throughout the U.S.
  • Currently defending a major telecommunications company in patent infringement actions.
  • Currently defending a medical device company in a trade secret and patent infringement case.
  • Obtained on behalf of New Strong Group Limited a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, granting damages of attorney’s fees plus interest on interpled funds, after the court determined the opposing parties acted in bad faith, without any colorable claim, and intentionally interfered with a contract by filing a lawsuit claiming an interest in the interpled funds.
  • Co-led a team staffed across multiple offices in obtaining a jury verdict of patent infringement on behalf of a Japanese corporation in an action for infringement of a patent directed to optical disc discrimination. Won the subsequent bench trial in the Eastern District of Texas on a claim of inequitable conduct raised by the defendant. The jury returned a $52 million verdict in favor of the client.
  • Brought an action in the Eastern District of Texas on behalf of a corporate patent holder against major cable and satellite TV providers for infringement of a patent directed to DVR technology, resulting in a multimillion-dollar settlement for the client.
  • Defended a Taiwanese manufacturer of circuit board architecture in a patent infringement action brought by a non-practicing entity (NPE) in the Eastern District of Texas. The case resulted in a settlement that the client found favorable.
  • Represented defendants in the Eastern District of Texas and the Northern District of California for DRAM semiconductor chips, DVD technology and network communication controls.
  • Defended major corporations in patent infringement actions involving encryption technology.
  • Defended several pharmaceutical companies in false marking cases.
  • Defended foreign manufacturers of motorcycle grips in patent infringement action.
  • South Texas College of Law, J.D., 1986
    – Assistant Technical Editor, South Texas Law Journal
    – President, Phi Delta Phi
  • University of Tennessee, B.A., summa cum laude, 1983
Professional Activities
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • American Board Of Trial Advocates (A.B.O.T.A.)
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Texas Young Lawyers Association
  • Houston Bar Association
  • Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists (TACTAS)
  • American Association for Justice
Honors and Awards
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, America’s Top 100 Attorneys®
  • Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation
  • Million Dollar Verdict Club
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

Sophisticated consumers of legal services require certain qualities of their litigators. They look for depth, specific experience, geographic representation and a well-defined approach to complex matters. Duane Morris’ trial lawyers have the level of industry-specific litigation experience necessary to successfully manage large-case litigation for clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 100 companies.

From electric utilities to chemical, from hospitality to telecommunications, Duane Morris lawyers represent clients in many industries in state and federal trial and appellate courts in the United States and in courts throughout the United Kingdom and European Union. Our collective capabilities are both deep and wide. We assemble teams of lawyers with particularized technical practice backgrounds, as well as individual industry experience.

We call ourselves the “trial department” because we actually try cases to verdict. Whenever possible, however, we make use of alternative dispute resolution techniques such as arbitration and mediation to pursue the client’s goals.

We advise clients on how to proceed and how judges have handled similar issues previously. We utilize a structured witness preparation program to educate witnesses on giving testimony. We are able to discuss an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Our industry familiarity allows us to give on-point advice for industry-specific needs.

Our numerous offices allow us to staff each case with local talent who have had experience with the courts, the regulatory authorities and other lawyers in the jurisdiction. Each lawyer’s longstanding presence in the local legal community is supported by the firm’s lawyers in our offices across the United States and Asia and in London.

Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 900 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today’s legal and business challenges.

From a partnership of four Philadelphia attorneys in 1904, the firm has grown to be among the 100 largest in the world. Duane Morris’​ lawyers now work out of offices in North America, Europe and Asia to address clients’​ issues around the globe. Throughout all the growth, Duane Morris always has been guided by the same principle.

At the heart of the firm is a partnership, an agreement to work together in the pursuit of its clients’​ goals. Under the leadership of the firm’s founders, and the influence of past and present chairmen, Duane Morris has embraced a culture of inclusiveness, congeniality and consensus building that is rare among law firms.