vacy/cybersecurity. He also sits as both a lawyer and business
adviser on the “specialty leadership team,” which oversees five
of the company’s household and food brands.
One recent litigation victory included a case that could
have affected many producers of consumer goods as well as
Clorox’s business model. In the case, a Midwest grocery store
chain brought antitrust claims against Clorox for refusing to
sell large package sizes that it reserves for wholesale stores
such as Sam’s Club and Costco. The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Seventh Circuit ruled last August in Clorox’s favor,
overturning the trial court and saying the large sizes were not
a “promotional service” that had to be offered to all competing customers.
The issue was important enough that the court granted an
interlocutory appeal, and the Federal Trade Commission filed
a friend of the court brief supporting Clorox.
Although the case is still pending on a lesser claim in federal district court in Wisconsin, Danis says the appeals court
ruling “was the heart of the case” and a
significant victory for the entire industry
as well as Clorox.
Asked how his team’s “continuous
improvement,” Danis cites the creation of
“affirmative recovery programs” to identify where the company is owed money
and better outside counsel management.
“We are always looking for ways to
more closely partner with outside counsel,
with an increase in fixed fee/contingency
fee/and risk sharing arrangements to
keep the legal spend down significantly,”
Danis also has a long-term commitment to pro bono and community service activities, including with the Marin
County Youth Court program and as a
board member of the Family Violence
Vice president, associate general counsel
and global chief counsel for intellectual
property, Thackray is another legal team
“Our brands are one of our most valuable assets,” Thack-
ray says. “Registering trademarks is the least of our work. We
have to think about how to ensure our brands stay strong.”
Thackray says several patent attorneys work hand in
hand with research and development to identify and pro-
“They have the freedom to guide the business to make
sure we’re not infringing on anyone else, while protecting our
own brands,” says Thackray.
A group of trademark lawyers do similar work in their
One of her team’s biggest accomplishments came through
working with a business unit on critical patent protection for
a key ingredient in Clorox bleach that makes it more stable
with a longer shelf life, she says.
The original patent was going to expire, so her legal team
worked with the unit to come up with a new compound that
could extend the original patent while adding other benefits
to the product.
“We built out a patent portfolio around that molecule to
keep our new ingredient from being copied in the marketplace,” she says.
Clorox recently notched another victory by successfully
resolving a trademark dispute through what Thackray calls
“adopting an innovative strategy.” Clorox brought the case
before the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency that handles
unfair trade practices. Such cases often involve patents but
seldom trademark cases.
“It was one of the first significant trademark cases to be
filed with the ITC,” she says. The strategy led to significantly lower costs than
court litigation “and almost immediately
brought the other company to the negotiation table for the first time—ultimately
resulting in a great win for Clorox,”
Overall, Thackray says she is most
proud “of our low level of patent and
trademark litigation. It shows we are
doing a good job of guiding the company
through the risks. We do a lot of proactive
work to make sure people respect our IP
that we are not spending on unnecessary
But when litigation is necessary, she
says Clorox primarily relies on outside
counsel to go to trial.
“We will get involved with negotiating with opposing counsel, or in prelitigation talks. But for the actual litigation we work alongside outside counsel,”
“Internally we are crafting the litigation strategy by looking at what the
business goals are,” she adds. “Then
BEST LEGAL DEPARTMENTS 2017
2016 revenue: $5.76 billion
net sales for fiscal year
ending June 30, 2016
2016 income: $648 million
net earnings for fiscal year
ending June 30, 2016
Number of U.S.
Number of in-house
the U.S.: 6
Main law firms: Kilpatrick
Townsend & Stockton;
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher;
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
ITS STRONG EFFORTS IN DIVERSITY AND PRO BONO
COULD DO BETTER:
THEY CAN BE A TAD CONTROLLING IN THEIR
INTERACTION WITH THE MEDIA.