design LAB — a Decade of Success

The Challenge

Defending a start-up in a bet-the-company jury trial brought by a competitor.

The Engagement

design LAB, Inc. is a private-label design and manufacturing company that was co-founded over ten years ago by Adam Beatty, a Harvard Business School graduate. Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was brought by one of the company’s primary competitors alleging, without merit, that design Lab’s co-founders had improperly solicited clients and misappropriated trade secrets. The lawsuit, tried before a Santa Monica jury, was an existential threat to the company. Mr. Beatty chose Peter Stris to serve as lead trial counsel.

The Result

Mr. Stris successfully defended this bet-the-company suit by persuading the jury to award the plaintiff only a nominal sum. And, in the decade since, Mr. Stris and his partners have served as outside general counsel as design LAB has grown to become one of the nation’s preeminent private-label designers and manufacturers of pet and theme-park merchandise.

Smashwords — Victories in Ohio and the Sixth Circuit

The Challenge

Defending Smashwords, Inc., the nation’s largest self-publishing platform, against a meritless intellectual property suit.

The Engagement

An Ohio couple sued Smashwords and several well-known booksellers for selling an e-book with their picture on the cover without obtaining their permission. The e-book was a self-published, erotic novel featuring football star Robert “Gronk” Gronkowski, which achieved notoriety when it was featured on National Public Radio and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Smashwords retained Stris & Maher to defend it in the suit. An early summary judgment motion asserting constitutional and other defenses secured a swift and complete victory before the district court. The Ohio couple appealed to the Sixth Circuit, where we continued to represent Smashwords. 

The Result

We obtained early summary judgment for our client and preserved that ruling on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.