William D. Coston

Photo of William Coston
Bill Coston is experienced in competitor-on-competitor litigation, skillfully using a full arsenal of antitrust, consumer protection, and intellectual property disciplines in courts and agencies throughout the country. His successes in high-stakes competitive challenges throughout his career are evidenced by numerous decisions in trial and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bill enjoyed a distinguished career as an attorney in the Appellate Section of the Antitrust Division, briefing and arguing many seminal cases (e.g., United States v. Brighton Building & Maintenance Co., 598 F.2d 1101 (7th Cir., 1979); United States v. Cadillac Overall Supply Co., 568 F.2d 1078 (5th Cir., 1978); United States v. Bechtel Corp., 648 F.2d 660 (9th Cir., 1981); United States v. United States Gypsum, 438 U.S. 422 (1978) (brief only); United States v. Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, 592 F.2d 919 (5th Cir., 179) (brief); United States v. United Foam Corp., 618 F.2d 577 (1980) (brief)).

Since entering private practice, Bill has served as lead counsel in many prominent litigations pitting competitors against each other, often involving the intersection of intellectual property and competition law. His focus is always to use the power of advocacy to obtain his client’s business objective – whether allowing competitive products to remain in the market, securing an injunction against improper conduct, or invalidating or prosecuting asserted intellectual property.


Government Experience

  • Attorney, Appellate Section, Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice
  • Special Assistant to the United States Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia

Representative Matters

  • Briefed, argued, and obtained a favorable Supreme Court decision in a “trade dress” case, setting an important precedent for product configurations (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Bros., 529 U.S. 205 (2000))
  • Obtained a favorable precedent from the Federal Circuit on the patent “marking” statute (Nike Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, 138 F.3d 1437 (Fed Cir. 1988))
  • Represented the plaintiff in Compaq Computer Corporation v. Packard Bell Electronics, an unfair trade practices case involving a competitor’s sale of used computers represented as new. The client’s competitive rival changed its business model as a result of this litigation
  • Represented the plaintiff in a Lanham Act case regarding false advertising (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Firestone Tire Co.)
  • Represented Compaq in government and private antitrust cases involving Microsoft and Intel (U.S. v. Microsoft and FTC v. Intel) (e.g., 309 F.3d 193 (4th Cir. 2002)). See, generally,
  • Defended a client in the introduction of a new tire with a new “signature” brand, defeating a rival’s preliminary injunction request (Pep Boys v. Goodyear Tires & Rubber Co., 2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 5925 (E.D. Pa. 2002))
  • Represented a client in an “initial interest confusion” trademark and trade dress case involving the shape of a “single cutaway” guitar (Gibson Guitars v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, 423 F.3d 539 (6th Cir. 2005); summary judgment overruled in client’s favor by appellate court, reversing trial court)
  • Represented a vaccine manufacturer in patent infringement and conversion of biologic materials proceedings before the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court for Delaware (Bavarian Nordic A/S v. Acambis, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 353431 (D. Del. 2007))
  • Represented Software AG in computer system network architecture patent infringement litigation in Delaware (Software AG, et al. v. BEA Systems Inc., Del. Dist. Court, Case No. 1:03-cv-00739) 
  • Represented Gemmy Industries in patent litigation in federal court in New York and in the Federal Circuit (432 F.3d 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2006))
  • Represented Stellar Energy in multiple patent litigation matters in federal courts and before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, TAS Energy, Inc. v. Stellar Energy Americas, Inc., No. 8:14-cv-03145-JSM-MAP (M.D. Fl.), and TAS Energy Inc. v. Direct Energy Inc., No. 4:15-cv-00512 (S.D. Tex.). The proceedings required defense of patent litigations brought by competitor of client relating to systems designed to improve the efficiency of utility-scale power generation facilities. Successful defense of two preliminary injunction motions. Cases resolved following successful IPR proceedings invalidating primary patent claims (Stellar Energy Americas, Inc. v. TAS Energy, Inc., IPR2015-01212, Paper 39 (PTAB Sept. 8, 2016))
  • Represented national food processors in separate patent litigations involving meat-slicing process and method patents
  • Served as counsel to generic pharmaceutical manufacturer against brand drug company in multidistrict litigation including multiple class action suits and complaint by 42 state attorneys general (Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Indivior Inc., MDL No. 13-2445 (E.D. Pa. 2017)). Antitrust and false advertising claims based on alleged “product hopping” involving suboxone, the leading pharmaceutical treatment for opioid addiction. Challenged conduct included sham citizen petition and abuse of REMS process. Case resolved by settlement following successful defense of motion to dismiss (In re Suboxone (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride & Naloxone) Antitrust Litig., No. 13-MD-2445, 2017 WL 36371 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 4, 2017))
  • Served as counsel to Amneal in a brand name manufacturer challenge to FDA’s approval of ANDAs for topical skin products and requested injunction against the sale of the generic products (Hill Dermaceuticals, Inc. v. FDA and Amneal Pharmaceuticals, LLC, 2012 WL 5914516 (D.D.C. May 8, 2012), aff’d per curiam (DC Cir. 2013)). The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction and subsequently granted summary judgment in favor of FDA and our client. The DC Circuit affirmed the District Court rulings per curiam on appeal
  • Served as counsel to AARP defending against a consumer class action seeking damages for alleged false advertising of healthcare insurance (Whiting v. AARP et al., 637 F.3d 355 (DC Cir. 2011)). Case dismissed against client AARP by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia prior to any discovery and affirmed on appeal by the DC Circuit




  • J.D. cum laude Harvard Law School 1975
  • B.A. highest honors and high distinction University of Michigan 1972

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. District Courts for Arkansas, Michigan, Maryland, District of Columbia

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association, Sections of Antitrust, Litigation, and Intellectual Property
  • Member, American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Member, Intellectual Property Owners Association
  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, 2009 - 2020
  • Recognized as an IP Star in Managing Intellectual Property, 2019
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Named to IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners, 2015, 2017 - 2019
  • Recognized in Chambers USA, Intellectual Property: Litigation, Washington, DC, 2013 - 2018
  • Selected for inclusion in Washington, DC Super Lawyers, 2008 - 2019
  • Selected for inclusion in IP Stars, 2013 - 2016
  • Recognized in list of “Top Rated Lawyers in Intellectual Property Law” by American Lawyer Media, 2014
  • Recognized as a “Top Rated Lawyer” in American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel’s Washington DC & Baltimore’s Legal Leaders, Intellectual Property, 2013
  • Washington Business Journal, Top Washington Lawyers, Finalist for Intellectual Property, 2007
  • AV® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Received Attorney General Special Achievement Awards for Service in the Antitrust Division, 1977 - 1978


Pro Bono

  • Filed numerous briefs as amicus curiae for public interest groups in Deferred Action for Children (DACA) litigation
  • Filed amicus briefs in capital case
  • Participated in ABA Project to Assess States’ Opportunities to Opt Out of Habeas Reform


  • Little League baseball coach
  • Sunday School teacher
  • Michigan-In-Washington Semester in DC program mentor
  • Poll monitor in 2018 federal elections in Ohio

Personal Activities

  • Swimming, walking, kayaking, Maryland Eastern Shore relaxation, and Northern Michigan summers