Intellectual Property Litigation

Mr. Stris litigates a wide range of copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, and other IP disputes in trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He is also retained to advise clients on the protection of valuable IP and litigation avoidance. Representative examples include:

 

Copyright and Lanham Act Litigation

Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com [Read more here]
In 2019, we prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of our client (a small Florida company operating a website, later sold to The Motley Fool, LLC) in what has been called the year’s most important copyright decision. Overcoming policy arguments endorsed by multiple circuits and treatise authors, we persuaded the Court that copyright owners cannot sue for infringement until the Copyright Office has formally granted or refused registration. (Our Brief | Opinion | Argument Audio)

Grasshopper House LLC v. Clean & Sober Media LLC, et al.
In 2019, we successfully represented defendants at back-to-back federal trials in this high-stakes Lanham Act false advertising case. (Our clients’ 7-figure pre-trial settlement offer was rejected by the plaintiff who instead sought $65 million in damages, which it asked to be trebled.) Although the jury found a Lanham Act violation, we convinced the court to exclude the plaintiff’s damages expert. A bench trial over equitable remedies and defenses followed, after which the court issued a final judgment denying the plaintiff any monetary recovery. (Order | Denial of Costs)

John Wiley & Sons v. Book Dog Books, LLC, et al.
In 2018, we were retained to appeal a Southern District of New York jury verdict and ultimate award of $39 million in this copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit against our clients (leading sellers of used textbooks). The case settled confidentially about one month after we filed our opening brief with the Second Circuit. (Our Brief)

Berreau v. McDonald’s Corporation
In 2017, we obtained dismissal of this copyright case filed against our client (McDonald’s Corporation) in the Central District of California. (Our Motion | Our Reply | Dismissal Order)

Cisco Systems v. Arista Networks
In 2017, on behalf of The Mathworks, Adobe Systems, Oracle Corporation, and other amici, we filed a Federal Circuit brief in this important case involving the scope of copyright protection for software. (Our Amicus Brief)

Smith v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., et al. [Read more here]
In 2016, the Second Circuit affirmed our 2015 Southern District of New York trial court victory for Barnes & Noble in this lawsuit alleging Copyright and Lanham Act violations. See, e.g., 2nd Circ. Dodges ‘Novel’ Cloud Storage Copyright Questions (Law360, Oct. 6, 2016) (subscription required); Barnes & Noble Beats IP Suit Over Cloud-Stored E-Books (Law360, Nov. 2, 2015) (subscription required).

 

Trade Secret and Other State Court Litigation

Roe v. Smashwords, Inc., et al. [Read more here]
In 2017, the Sixth Circuit affirmed our 2016 Southern District of Ohio summary judgment defense victory for Smashwords, Inc., the nation’s largest self-publishing platform, in this suit brought by a couple depicted on the front page of a self-published e-book based on NFL player Rob Gronkowski. The case and e-book were made briefly newsworthy after being featured on NPR and TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Our Sixth Circuit BriefSixth Circuit Opinion | Our Summary Judgment MotionOur Reply | Order Granting Motion)

GMPC v. Walker [Read more here]
As lead trial counsel, Mr. Stris successfully defended a privately held design company and its owners in this multi-million dollar trade secret dispute. After a two week trial in California state court, the jury awarded merely $47,000. For nearly 15 years since then, Mr. Stris has served as the company’s outside general counsel. In that capacity, our firm provides advice on all IP issues.

Americana Juice v. Nestle USA
As lead trial counsel, Mr. Stris successfully defended Nestle USA, a Global Fortune 100 company, in a nine-figure trade secret trial in South Texas state court, achieving a jury verdict one-tenth the size of his client’s pre-trial settlement offer. The case was extensively covered by the McAllen Monitor (Article), which colorfully described Mr. Stris’s closing argument after the jury was asked to award $100 million in compensatory damages: “Holding a lottery ticket, Stris told jurors . . . ‘She thought she had a ticket to the Texas Mega Millions.’”

 

Patent Litigation

Ongoing / various
The firm has an active patent litigation practice led by Elizabeth Brannen, the former head of IP for Barnes & Noble. Particularly on issues of strategy, Mr. Stris frequently collaborates with Elizabeth Brannen in such cases. That successful collaboration spans many years: in one of their first patent cases together (over 15 years ago), they sought and obtained summary judgment of non-infringement for a privately held technology company in a hearing held concurrently with the initial case-management conference. (Our Motion | Our Reply | Order)

Akamai v. Limelight
In 2016, on behalf of Dell Inc., Facebook, Inc., Red Hat, Inc., Vizio, and other amici, we filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief in this closely watched patent appeal concerning the standard for liability under 35 U.S.C. 271(a) on a method claim where multiple parties perform the required steps. (Our Amicus Brief)

Biosig Instruments v. Nautilus
In 2015, on behalf of Garmin International, Inc., Newegg Inc., SAP America, Inc., Xilinx, Inc., and other amici, we filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Circuit in this landmark patent case on the standard for “definiteness” under 35 U.S.C. 112. (Our Supreme Court Amicus Brief | Our Federal Circuit Amicus Brief)