C. Erik Hawes serves intellectual property clients in litigation and pre-litigation counseling, patent prosecution, management of patent and trademark portfolios, trade secrets and confidentiality issues, due diligence concerning IP issues in transactions, and day-to-day counseling concerning IP issues of every size and shape. While he has a strong background in other industries, Erik works primarily with clients in the energy industry. He currently serves as the head of Morgan Lewis’s IP practice in the Houston office and co-head of the oil & gas subsector within the firm’s energy industry team.
In the field of upstream oil & gas, Erik has experience in virtually every area of technology for both onshore and offshore operations, including those relating to exploration, drilling, completions, production, and OCTG. He also regularly advises clients concerning issues specific to the midstream sector (including pipeline construction and inspection), downstream sector (including LNG processing and plant monitoring), and offshore exploration & production.
As the energy industry enters a transitional phase, Erik also assists clients with renewable energy projects and other efforts to reduce carbon emissions. He has experience advising clients seeking to reduce emissions from the exploration & production of oil & gas, including the use of electric power, the reduction of flaring, and increased efficiency through data collection and analysis. Erik also has experience with more traditional renewable energy technologies, including wind turbines, geothermal power, and deep-sea mining of rare earth metals.
Erik is an active industry participant, having completed numerous certificate courses offered through the University of Texas Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX). He regularly attends and speaks at events such as the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), the Data Driven Production Conference, and the Energy Industry Intellectual Property Law Conference. Erik’s familiarity with the industry and its commercial realities enables him to protect his clients' valuable IP by drafting and prosecuting – and, when necessary, litigating – patents that are enforceable notwithstanding oilfield-specific challenges such as extraterritoriality, patent-eligible subject matter, and divided infringement.
In the arena of IP disputes, Erik handles all aspects of patent cases in jurisdictions across the country. He has also handled numerous matters at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, including appeals from the PTO and IPR proceedings as both patentee and petitioner. He has managed numerous patent disputes between direct competitors, as well as large, multidefendant suits brought by nonpracticing patent owners. He has tried multiple patent cases and argued 13 Markman hearings.
In addition to patent prosecution and litigation, Erik has experience with complex commercial contract matters relating to intellectual property, including the negotiation, interpretation, and enforcement of agreements concerning confidentiality, licensing, research & development, and indemnity. He also advises clients and handles cases involving trade secret misappropriation, as well as trademark and copyright infringement.
Beyond the energy industry, corporate clients from the consumer products, retail, e-commerce technology, and computer hardware and software industries seek Erik’s counsel.
Erik worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where he helped to design and test structural components for the space shuttle program before going to law school.
University of Minnesota, 1992, B.S.
University of Minnesota Law School, 1995, J.D.
US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit
US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
US District Court for the Southern District of Texas
US District Court for the District of Nevada
US District Court for the District of Minnesota
Texas Supreme Court
Nevada Supreme Court
Minnesota Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
US Patent and Trademark Office
Awards and Affiliations
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Energy, Law360 (2019)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Intellectual Property, Law360 (2019)
Member, Litigation Department of the Year–Intellectual Property, The American Lawyer (2019)
Member, Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association
Member, Litigation and Intellectual Property Law Sections, American Bar Association
Member, American Intellectual Property Law Association
Member, Federal Circuit Bar Association,
Member, Houston Intellectual Property Law Association