Financial Markets Intellectual Property

Financial Markets Intellectual Property


We know the financial markets — and the myriad IP issues in those markets

Technology is transforming the financial markets. With microseconds now mattering more than milliseconds and trading decisions growing ever more complex, sophisticated technology and technological innovation have become indispensable to success. Firms active in the financial markets need to be able to monetize their technological innovations, to protect their inventions from others, and to beat back spurious efforts to claim property rights where none should exist.

We have been advising financial market firms about intellectual property since the earliest disputes over electronic trading in the 1990s. We have been helping our clients successfully overcome these intellectual property challenges ever since. Our attorneys who practice at the intersection of financial markets and intellectual property are known nationwide for their skill and strategy in protecting our clients’ technological innovations and preventing IP entanglements from interfering with their business goals. 

  • Experience

    Our experience spans all types of IP issues in the financial markets

    Our experience is as diverse as the types of trades, typical and exotic, made in the markets. As a sampling, we have:

    • Protected exclusive license rights from challenges that competitors were free to operate without a license
    • Negotiated licenses for patents on electronic trading systems, rights to use financial indexes, and access to and use of market data
    • Established ownership of intellectual property in trading strategies, algorithms and methodologies created by employees and consultants
    • Obtained patents for clients on various aspects of electronic trading and hedging risk
    • Defended clients against claims of patent infringement for electronic trading systems
    • Protected clients’ trading strategies through the use of trade secrets, copyrights, and patents
    • Protected clients’ trademarks from infringement by those creating false association with well-known financial publications
    • Assisted clients in developing contracts for distribution to third parties of market data and index values

    Examples of recent outcomes are:

    • Our client, CBOE, faced an attack on its exclusive license rights to offer trading in options on the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Another options exchange claimed that the federal Copyright Act precluded any enforceable property right in those index options and that any exchange was free to trade those options without a license. We prevailed in every court where the competing exchange attacked — including the trial and appellate courts in both New York and Illinois, up to obtaining a denial of certiorari by the United States Supreme Court.
    • A former trader at a brokerage-firm client claimed rights in the trading strategy he developed while working at the firm. We helped the firm reach a successful resolution and avoid future disputes of this nature.
    • Our client created a set of indexes that tracked the interest rate paid for overnight fixed income securities. We provided comprehensive counseling on how to protect and commercially exploit the indexes and helped to negotiate licenses for the use of the indexes by banks, an exchange, a government agency and other third parties.

    In several instances, our clients hired us to replace other counsel. Given our specialized experience, we also have been hired to advise where “traditional” IP lawyers have been handling matters for a financial markets client.

    We are widely recognized for our capabilities

    We are regularly called upon to share our capabilities by speaking and writing on IP issues. Our audiences have included the 27th Annual Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; the Center for Technology in Government and the Institute for Financial Market Regulation, Working Group on Information Sharing and Coordination Challenges in Financial Market Regulation; the Futures Industry Association Annual Conference, Law & Compliance Division; the Chicago Bar Association Committees for Futures and Derivatives Law, Financial and Investment Services, Securities Law and Intellectual Property Law; Chicago-Kent College of Law Continuing Legal and Professional Education; and the Center for International Law at John Marshall Law School.

    We can help you navigate the complicated IP issues in the financial markets

    We understand our clients’ business objectives and tailor our solutions to meet them. Based on significant experience handling intellectual property issues involving financial markets and products around the country (and across the globe), and our broad and deep work in the industry, we can offer the best advice where financial markets intersect intellectual property.