Ninth Circuit holds that ERISA does not preempt the CalSavers retirement program

Read our amicus brief on behalf of Ascensus, LLC urging the Ninth Circuit to reach this correct result holding that ERISA does not preempt the CalSavers program, which helps millions of workers save for retirement. (Our Brief | Opinion)

Washington Legal Foundation publishes Elizabeth Brannen’s commentary on the Supreme Court’s copyright decision in Google v. Oracle

Read Elizabeth Brannen’s analysis for the Washington Legal Foundation Legal Pulse on the Supreme Court’s Google v. Oracle copyright decision here.

Stris & Maher Certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

Stris & Maher LLP, a nationally recognized trial and appellate litigation boutique, is proud to announce national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by WBEC-West, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

“We are honored to join the ranks of certified women business leaders,” said Managing Partner Elizabeth Brannen. “We applaud our clients’ commitment to diversity and are pleased to offer exceptional legal services to those who wish to include women-owned businesses among their providers.”

The WBENC standard of certification implemented by WBEC-West is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women.

By including women-owned businesses among their suppliers, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier diversity programs.

About Stris & Maher LLP
We are nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyers. Headquartered in Los Angeles, we represent a wide range of clients in complex, high-stakes, and high-profile business disputes in state and federal courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit www.stris.com.

About WBENC
Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation’s leader in women’s business development and the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, with more than 17,000 certified Women’s Business Enterprises, 14 national Regional Partner Organizations, and more than 350 Corporate Members. More than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands as well as many states, cities, and other entities accept WBENC Certification. For more information, visit www.wbenc.org.

Daily Journal Publishes Article by Managing Partner Elizabeth Brannen on U.S. Supreme Court Decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio

The Daily Journal has published “Supreme Court’s media ownership ruling has silver linings,” a perspective piece by Elizabeth Brannen on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project, et al.

Read the full article here.

Leading Appellate Lawyer Tillman J. Breckenridge Joins Stris & Maher

Stris & Maher LLP is pleased to announce that Tillman J. Breckenridge has joined the firm as a partner in its award-winning Supreme Court and appellate practice.

For two decades, Tillman has represented clients before the U.S. Supreme Court, all thirteen federal circuits, and various state appellate courts. In 2018, he became the youngest person ever elected to the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an invitation-only fellowship limited to 500 attorneys nationwide. He joins Peter Stris and Bridget Asay as the firm’s third elected member.

“We’re building strength on strength,” said Peter Stris. “Our IP practice will benefit from Tillman’s patent, copyright, and Lanham Act experience. Our public interest practice will benefit from Tillman’s broad experience in that arena. And our already national footprint will benefit from Tillman’s experience leading and arguing appeals in virtually every corner of America.”

Managing Partner Elizabeth Brannen added: “Tillman is one of the nation’s best appellate lawyers and will immediately play a leading role in our practice. I’m delighted that he’s decided to join us.”

“I’m thrilled to join Stris & Maher and its award winning practice,” said Tillman. Over the last five years, the National Law Journal has repeatedly named the firm to its Appellate Hot List—alongside two dozen of the nation’s leading groups at Am Law firms and a handful of other boutiques. And in 2019, the firm was named a finalist for the American Lawyer‘s Boutique Litigation Firm of the Year.

Tillman continued: “Peter and Liz have assembled an amazing team with a shared goal: focus on interesting and complex appeals where talented, creative, and collaborative lawyers can influence the outcome. And a key part of that process is a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Liz agreed. “I’m proud to be running a small firm where, in recent years, every one of our appellate lawyers has led and argued high-stakes appeals. And I’m proud to be running a majority women-owned firm where our diverse appellate team includes Bridget Asay [the former Solicitor General of Vermont]; Radha Pathak [who received the Daily Journal’s California Attorney Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) award in a year she won two Supreme Court cases], Dana Berkowitz [who leads the firm’s healthcare practice], and Ken Halpern [an accomplished IP litigator and appellate lawyer].” Liz herself maintains an active IP litigation practice and has recently defended trial court victories in the Second, Sixth, and Federal Circuits on behalf of clients including Barnes & Noble and Cisco.

Like Stris & Maher, Tillman represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of cases, adding to the natural fit. His recent victory before the Fourth Circuit—preserving $90+ million in tort claims across dozens of cases against Smithfield Foods (now favorably settled)—is an appeal other lawyers might have felt pressured to decline. (Associated Press coverage).

As Tillman explained, “because of its size and entrepreneurial culture, Stris & Maher has fewer conflicts and more appetite for alternative fee arrangements than most of its peers.” The firm rarely has to turn down work due to position-based conflicts, and indeed, is sometimes sought out specifically for that reason.

About Stris & Maher LLP
We are nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyers. Headquartered in Los Angeles, we represent a wide range of clients in complex, high-stakes, and high-profile business disputes in state and federal courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court.

For more information, please contact Peter Stris at (213) 995-6802 or pstris@stris.com.

CLIENT ALERT: Lanham Act Challenges to Gray-Market Goods

Trademark holders may face significant issues when goods bearing their marks are manufactured abroad and legally purchased outside the United States, then imported without their consent. These are so-called “gray-market goods.” See Weil Ceramics & Glass, Inc. v. Dash, 878 F.2d 659, 662 n.1 (3d Cir. 1989); K Mart Corp. v. Cartier, Inc., 486 U.S. 281, 285 (1988). The incentive to import gray-market goods into the United States exists because goods intended for certain non-U.S. markets are often cheaper. The products may bear identical trademarks and look very similar to corresponding products authorized for the U.S. market. But the quality may differ—considerably. Gray-market goods may cause a host of problems.

Some of the most pressing problems associated with the unauthorized importation of gray-market products concern regulatory compliance. For example, gray-market products may:

      • Not be labeled in English
      • Lack required information or warnings on labels or packaging; and
      • Contain formulations not approved or intended for the U.S. market

The Food and Drug Administration and other federal and state regulatory bodies may seek to hold the American trademark owner responsible and impose penalties for such violations.

The presence of cheaper gray-market goods may also disrupt relations with authorized U.S. distributors. And consumers who unwittingly buy gray-market goods expecting a certain quality may be severely disappointed. Thus, even if a brand owner manages to stave off sanctions or other immediate disruptions, it can be important take swift action to stop, or at least severely curtail, the importation of gray-market goods.

The primary federal trademark statue in the United States, the Lanham Act, may provide one route to relief. Practical problems, however, such as identifying who is importing the offending goods and determining where they are amenable to suit may prove insurmountable. And in any given case, the costs and risks of litigation may outweigh the expected returns. Nevertheless, for companies facing the unauthorized importation of gray-market goods, pursuing Lanham Act relief is something to consider.

Are Lanham Act claims possible when a defendant acquired the trademark holder’s authorized products (albeit outside of the United States)? The answer, it turns out, is at least sometimes yes. Claims for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, and trademark dilution against defendants selling and distributing unauthorized gray-market goods have all recently survived dismissal. See, e.g., Nestle USA, Inc., et al. v. Ultra Distribuciones Mundiales S.A. DE C.V., et al., No. 5:20-CV-384-DAE (W.D. Tex., Feb. 1, 2021).

If you have a potential gray-market or other Lanham Act issue, contact Elizabeth Brannen.

About Stris & Maher LLP
We are nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyers. Headquartered in Los Angeles, we maintain a nationwide practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants. We resolve complex, high-stakes, and high-profile business disputes in state and federal courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court.

David Friedman Joins Stris & Maher to Launch Bay Area Office

LOS ANGELES, California (February 1, 2021) – Stris & Maher LLP is pleased to announce its expansion into Northern California with the addition of Dave Friedman and colleagues from Ogloza Fortney + Friedman LLP, a Bay Area litigation boutique.

For over two decades, Dave has represented Bay Area companies, startups, directors and officers, executives, and investors. He is frequently sought out by in-house counsel, entrepreneurs, and investors as well as Am Law partners looking to refer specific matters to an experienced and trusted litigator. Dave began his career in the San Francisco office of Latham & Watkins LLP, where he practiced for 12 years.

“We are delighted that Dave has agreed to open and lead our San Francisco office,” says managing partner Elizabeth Brannen. “We regularly handle significant litigation and intellectual property matters for Bay Area clients, including two recent trials. Now we will do so with boots on the ground.”

Dave handles a wide variety of complex disputes in courts throughout the country, including the Delaware Court of Chancery. He has extensive experience with corporate governance disputes, representing plaintiffs and defendants in breach of fiduciary duty, corporate control, and founder and partnership litigation. He also guides public and private companies as well as executives through internal investigations, government inquiries, and SEC enforcement actions.

“I’m thrilled to join forces with such a highly regarded group of lawyers,” says Dave, pointing to the firm’s recent recognition as a finalist for The American Lawyer’s Boutique Litigation Firm of the Year. “There are clear synergies between my complex litigation practice and theirs.”

Dave will be joined in the San Francisco office by associate Michelle Covington and senior paralegal Nick Bertolino. Partner Dana Berkowitz, who chairs the firm’s healthcare practice and will also spend significant time in the San Francisco office, welcomes the three to the firm: “I look forward to working side by side with each of you to deliver exceptional client service.”

Peter Stris Named “Top 100” California Lawyer

Peter Stris has been named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal. This annual award celebrates California attorneys doing cutting-edge legal work, with an emphasis on the impact their work has on their clients and the legal profession.

Mr. Stris was selected for his courtroom successes—at trial and in appeals—in a wide range of complex business lawsuits throughout the country.

Read the Daily Journal profile of Mr. Stris here.

Peter Stris Named One of Los Angeles’ “Leaders of Influence: Litigators and Trial Lawyers”

The Los Angeles Business Journal has named Peter Stris to its prestigious list of “Leaders of Influence: Litigators and Trial Lawyers.”

“Based in Los Angeles, Peter Stris represents clients in complex business cases before trial and appellate courts nationwide, including the U.S. Supreme Court,” writes the Journal. “Stris has represented parties in dozens of high-stakes and high-profile business appeals throughout the nation.”

The Journal recognizes top litigators whose practices are based in the Los Angeles region. A copy of the Journal’s special section covering this award is available here.

Peter Stris Named Legal Lion for Victory Against Volkswagen

Law360 named Peter Stris a legal lion for his victory on behalf of government clients in The Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al., No. 18-15937, a nationally watched Ninth Circuit appeal with massive economic implications. (Legal Lion). Mr. Stris was also named a runner up for The Litigation Daily‘s Litigator of the Week. (Litigator of the Week).

Case coverage
U.S. Ruling Could Mean a Flood of New Claims Against Volkswagen (The New York Times, June 1, 2020)
9th Circ. Revives Post-Sale Claims In VW Emissions Suit (Law360, June 1, 2020)