An experienced partner for complex problems
Munger, Tolles & Olson regularly represents technology companies in industry-shaping litigation before federal and state courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. We have earned a national reputation for successfully guiding clients through seemingly insurmountable crises, whether they involve threats to the regulatory landscape, economic stability, trade secrets, intellectual property or the reputation of the business.
Operating in spaces that include semiconductors, software, gaming, media, entertainment and biotechnology, we help clients to avoid legal pitfalls, even in new technology areas where the law is unsettled, such as product liability, mass arbitration, consumer rights and employee mobility.
Our work in technology covers matters that include:
Platform Liability & Protection
- Communications Decency Act
- Secondary Liability Claims
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
- Class Actions
- Breach of Contract
- Unfair Competition Claims
- Fraud Claims
Consumer/User Claims & Class Actions
- False Advertising
- Automatic Renewal Laws
- Unfair Competition Claims
- TCPA Claims
- Discrimination Lawsuits
Privacy Claims & Class Actions
- California Invasion of Privacy Act and other state privacy laws
- Wiretap Act
- Stored Communications Act
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
Trade Secret & Employee Mobility
- Restrictive Covenants
- Investigations of Misappropriation & Theft
- TROs & Preliminary Injunctions
- Trade Secret Protection Programs
- Invention Assignments
Our client list includes a broad swath of software, hardware, platform, gaming, FinTech and start-up companies, including:
- Weta Digital
- LG Display
- Applied Materials
- Cisco Systems
- LG Electronics
- Quotient Technology
- View, Inc.
A range of Munger, Tolles & Olson intellectual property, appellate, media and employment attorneys work closely with our technology clients, including:
|Ginger D. Anders
|Jonathan H. Blavin
|Zachary M. Briers
|Rose Leda Ehler
|Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke
|Jordan D. Segall
|Gregory P. Stone
|Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.
As needed, we draw on other practices at Munger, Tolles & Olson to support our technology clients, including:
We represent a wide spectrum of technology clients in a variety of challenges.
Platforms, Software and Consumer Technologies
- Meta in:
- Obtaining dismissals of lawsuits brought by accounts that were shut down or companies labelled as Russia state-controlled media in efforts to address election interference.
- Obtaining dismissals of class action lawsuits involving targeting tools on Facebook’s advertising platform, including a class action relating to Facebook’s alleged collection of users’ location-related information.
- An online service provider in:
- Obtaining dismissal of all statutory damages claims and alleged violations of the federal Wiretap Act, and negotiating a favorable settlement to a class action lawsuit challenging its importing of users’ email contacts and sending them connection invitations.
- Several matters against parties using bots or other technologies to scrape the provider's website, create fake or unauthorized accounts, or otherwise disrupt its platform.
- Airbnb in:
- Affirming a trial court decision that long-term San Francisco hotel residents have no causes of action against Airbnb for nuisance at properties caused by Airbnb users or unfair competition claims.
- Obtaining an injunction enjoining a Boston ordinance requiring Airbnb to remove listings to operate in Boston and turn over private user data without any legal process.
- Snap in obtaining dismissal of claims alleging it is liable for individual defendants taking snaps of an assault of the plaintiff.
- Quotient Technology in defeating a temporary restraining order sought by a former business partner in a contract dispute over digital promotions services.
- Google in obtaining a favorable settlement in the first patent infringement litigation involving Google Pay.
- Mattel in a class action alleging that operators of YouTube channels aimed at children collected personal information from users under the age of 13, in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and other laws.
- Lyft in:
- Compelling arbitration of claims relating to use of Lyft app.
- Multiple cases asserting that drivers using Lyft’s service should be treated as employees.
- An antitrust challenge to its hiring and pricing practices brought by a purported class of private car service providers.
Video Games, Interactive, and Streaming Entertainment
- Microsoft in antitrust and intellectual property litigation concerning technological measures in the Xbox 360 videogame console designed to preclude unauthorized accessories.
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in dismissing a lawsuit filed by Yout LLC, alleging RIAA improperly sent anti-circumvention notices to YouTube because Yout circumvents RIAA's rolling cipher anti-piracy technology.
- Disney in copyright litigation, successfully challenging the rental kiosk company Redbox’s unauthorized sale of digital movie redemption codes.
- Disney, Lucasfilm, Fox, Warner Bros., Marvel, New Line, and Turner Entertainment, in winning a $62.4 million jury verdict in a copyright infringement and circumvention action against the streaming service VidAngel.
- Alliance for Creativity in Entertainment, an organization that includes Amazon Studios, Netflix and other streaming services, in litigating multiple enforcement actions to shut down pirate streaming services.
FinTech, Cryptocurrency, NFTs
- Block (formerly Square) in dismissing or compelling to arbitration two class actions brought under the Unruh Act by gun store owners and bankruptcy attorneys challenging restrictions in Square’s terms of service.
- Stripe in obtaining a dismissal of all statutory damages claims in a privacy class action alleging that the company improperly collects financial and other information from consumers using the payment form and subjects them to future tracking and profiling.
- NFT marketplace OpenSea in several matters, including concerning allegations of third-party theft of NFTs.
- An entertainment company in outlining an NFT strategy for licensing and enforcing its IP rights.
- A copyright and trademark owner in shutting down multiple infringing NFTs through DMCA notices and successful cease-and-desist efforts.
Hardware and Semiconductors
- Applied Materials in a federal criminal case and a civil lawsuit against former executives who conspired to misappropriate Applied trade secrets and two companies started by one of the executives. In the civil case, we successfully argued the matter should move ahead as a unified proceeding and resisted efforts to compel it to arbitration.
- Intel Corporation in:
- Its agreement to sell its NAND flash memory solid state drive and wafer businesses to SK Hynix, a South Korean semiconductor manufacturer, for $9 billion USD through an unconventional, two-close structure.
- Obtaining temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions against engineers who misappropriated trade secrets and confidential information and then destroyed evidence to cover it up.
- LG Electronics in its successful defense against multi-district antitrust litigation based on allegations that international manufacturers of cathode ray tubes conspired to fix prices. The plaintiffs sought billions of dollars in damages.
We specialize in challenging matters that set important precedents, which is why clients turn to us when the stakes are high and they need a knowledgeable partner to help guide matters to an efficient resolution. Our work includes:
- Facebook: Dismissing a Lawsuit over Labeling Russian State-Backed Media
Munger, Tolles & Olson secured a victory for Facebook with the dismissal of a lawsuit accusing the social media company of mislabeling pages created by Maffick LLC, a digital content company, as “Russia state-controlled media.” The decision in Maffick LLC v Facebook, Inc. was announced by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in May 2021.
Maffick filed the complaint after Facebook identified its three channels as “Russia state-controlled media” on the social media website’s the ‘Page Transparency’ section. Maffick claimed that the notice was false and would harm its reputation and business, and applied for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The court denied the TRO, because Facebook “tendered a substantial amount of evidence” in support of its view and thus “Maffick had failed to establish a ‘likelihood of success on the merits’” or even “a ‘serious question’ for injunctive purposes.” The court also noted that Maffick had failed to demonstrate irreparable harm stemming from the labeling.
After the TRO proceedings, Facebook moved to dismiss the complaint. The court agreed, dismissing Maffick’s sole federal claim under the Lanham Act, and declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Maffick’s remaining state law claims. As the court stated in finding the Lanham Act inapplicable, “[b]y posting the Russia media advisory comment, Facebook is certainly not making a false representation of origin or sponsorship about its own goods or services, and such a claim would be inherently implausible.”
- Block: Defending Terms of Service Against Discrimination Claims
Block, Inc., (formerly Square, Inc.) in White v. Block, an important lawsuit for numerous internet services companies facing claims of discrimination regarding their terms of service. Plaintiff Robert White, a bankruptcy attorney, claimed that Square’s terms of service, which excluded accepting payments in connection with certain businesses and business activities, including bankruptcy attorneys, discriminate on the basis of occupation and thus violate the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
The case has a long procedural history, dating back to 2015, and involves multiple appeals at both the Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court, where we were appellate counsel on the issue of standing. Numerous technology companies, such as Google, PayPal, Microsoft and Facebook, weighed in via the Internet Association in an amicus brief, reflecting the importance of the issues involved. The California Supreme Court held that to bring a claim like White’s against a web-based service, the plaintiff must allege that they visited the business’s website with the intention of making use of the business’s services and encountered discriminatory terms. The Court held that White’s allegations satisfied that standard, but emphasized that it was not addressing whether White’s claim of occupational discrimination was cognizable.
On remand, White voluntarily dismissed his federal complaint to refile in state court. We filed a demurrer arguing, inter alia, that White had failed to allege intentional discrimination on the basis of his status as a bankruptcy attorney, and that facially legitimate justifications underpinned Block’s terms of service. The San Francisco Superior Court agreed, dismissing the complaint on both grounds without leave to amend. White appealed and the California Court of Appeal, First District, heard the argument on July 14, 2021.
The Court’s opinion, dated July 22, 2022, affirmed, finding that the terms of service were focused on transactions, not personal characteristics, and that Block had a legitimate business interest in avoiding the legal and financial risks associated with bankruptcy and debt collection payments.