Ben Berkowitz litigates high-stakes business and intellectual property disputes on behalf of clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to Silicon Valley startups. His practice focuses on helping clients in three core areas: intellectual property litigation, complex business disputes, and government investigations.
Mr. Berkowitz is an experienced litigator and an aggressive advocate who has won numerous civil and criminal cases, including as lead counsel in more than a half-dozen jury trials. He also has a track record of winning cases early in litigation and before trial though effective motion practice.
He handles cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States. He also provides counseling and advice on pre-litigation disputes that may enable successful resolution before litigation.
IP Litigation for Leading Technology Companies
Mr. Berkowitz has litigated patent and trade secret cases involving computer architecture, software design, semiconductor manufacturing, data analysis, and Internet telephony, among others. He also has litigated cutting-edge issues in the areas of copyright, trademark, and privacy law. His clients have included leading technology companies such as Genentech, Google, eBay, Facebook, Palantir Technologies, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and Yahoo! He also has represented technology startups and their founders.
Mr. Berkowitz has helped numerous companies litigate and win their most challenging business and contract disputes, including shareholder and partnership disputes, antitrust, licensing, business fraud, professional liability, unfair competition, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and class action suits. He has represented leading companies in a variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, and venture capital.
Government Investigations & Litigation
Mr. Berkowitz has helped companies and their senior executives successfully respond to, navigate, and prevail in a variety of government inquires. He has defended clients successfully in criminal investigations involving such allegations as price fixing, securities fraud, government contracting fraud, and money laundering.
Pro Bono & Community Involvement
Mr. Berkowitz maintains an active pro bono practice and dedicates his time to several community and non-profit organizations. He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society (Bay Area Chapter), which works to promote the U.S. Constitutional values of individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy, and the rule of law. He previously served as Chair of the Advancement Committee for Asylum Access, an innovative San Francisco non-profit advocating for the human rights of refugees in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Mr. Berkowitz lives in Marin with his wife, children, and dog.
Instacart Nationwide “Gig Economy” Litigation
On behalf of Instacart, we have successfully defended against numerous class and collective actions across the country alleging that that shoppers who use Instacart’s technology platform should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. We have won a number of early dispositive motions in these cases, including motions to compel individual arbitration and to enforce class and collective action bars.
United States v. McKesson Corporation
We won a complete defense judgment in favor of McKesson after a month-long trial of a qui tam action alleging violations of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statue. The trial victory allowed McKesson to avoid paying nearly $1 billion in fines, and to avoid the collateral penalties that government agencies can impose on companies found to have paid illegal kickbacks. The Justice Department’s complaint charged McKesson with paying kickbacks to a nursing home operator in the form of underpriced services, and with submitting “legally false claims” to the government. After we had the whistleblower dismissed, a key victory, we then won dismissal of related claims that the nursing home’s supplier subsidiary failed to comply with Medicare supplier standards. With the case’s scope significantly narrowed, we lead our client through a bench trial which featured 24 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits and post-trial briefing. The judge ruled in our client’s favor, vindicating McKesson and its employees. This victory was listed by the National Law Journal as one of the year's five most significant trial wins.
Ziptronix v. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company
We won summary judgment of non-infringement for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. and its subsidiary TSMC, North America in a long-running patent lawsuit brought by North Carolina semiconductor company, Ziptronix, Inc. Ziptronix had asserted nine patents and more than 500 patent claims directed to TSMC’s manufacturing of semiconductors for use in backside-illumination image sensors used predominantly in smartphone cameras. On behalf of TSMC, we defeated Ziptronix’s claims by arguing that the territorial limits of U.S. patent law prohibited reaching TSMC’s business transactions and manufacturing operations in Taiwan.
Former Client v. Law Firm
We won summary judgment for a major international law firm in a multi-million-dollar fee dispute and professional liability action arising from its work on a federal fraud case. We successfully defended our victory on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Javorsky v. Western Athletic Clubs, Inc.
We won summary judgment for a chain of luxury health clubs, which faced a class action alleging age discrimination based upon discounted pricing for the clubs’ younger members. After winning at the trial court, we then successfully defended our victory on appeal to the California Court of Appeal. In affirming the trial court’s order, the Court of Appeal held that our clients’ pricing model was not only non-discriminatory, but in fact was supported by public policy.
Plaintiffs v. Founders of Digital Currency Startup
In classic David vs. Goliath litigation, we defended the founders of a digital currency startup against allegations of intellectual property theft brought by a large, international company. The litigation spanned multiple jurisdictions and involved conflicts between U.S. and foreign law. After we won an early strategic motion bringing a full stop to the plaintiffs’ California litigation, and after we filed counterclaims on behalf of our clients against the original plaintiffs in a new action in Delaware Chancery Court, the multi-jurisdiction litigation reached a confidential settlement. The company our clients founded has now raised more than $40 million in venture capital funding.
Fundme, Inc. v. GoFundMe, Inc.
We represented GoFundMe, one of the world’s leading crowdfunding platforms, in trademark litigation in federal district court in Utah. In pursuing an aggressive defense of GoFundMe’s trademark rights, we filed an early motion for summary judgment asking the federal court to cancel and invalidate the plaintiff’s competing registered mark. Shortly after our motion for summary judgment was filed, the case reached a confidential settlement.
International Airline v. Internet Search Engine
In a case filed in the Northern District of Texas, we defended a leading search engine against copyright and trademark claims. The case was resolved on favorable terms for our client.
Internet Startup Shareholder Dispute
We represented an individual in a shareholder dispute between two former partners of an Internet startup that was acquired by a multinational corporation. We reached a confidential settlement before significant sums were spent on litigation, and before a single deposition was taken.
State of Arizona v. Financial Services Company
A criminal grand jury investigated our client, a financial services company, for money transfers in the Southwest border region. We reached a settlement with four state attorneys general that included establishing a multi-state alliance to combat illegal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Former Chief Executive Officer v. Bank
We represented a bank’s former CEO in a fraud and breach of fiduciary duty case against his former employer. We won two separate petitions before the California court of appeal and ultimately reached a confidential settlement.
United States v. U.S. Healthcare Company
We represented a major United States healthcare company in a federal criminal investigation conducted across multiple jurisdictions by the United States Department of Justice. Ultimately, no charges were filed against our client.
Plaintiff v. WorkBrain
We defended WorkBrain, a Canadian workplace management software developer, against claims of patent infringement brought in the District of Utah. After developing non-infringement positions, we obtained a cross-license settlement favorable to our client.
Plaintiffs v. National Security Agency
Working alongside the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we represent AT&T customers pro bono in their suit challenging the U.S. government’s warrantless surveillance of electronic communications. Our clients assert that this surveillance violates their constitutional rights and various statutes designed to limit executive power. Following an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the case is currently in discovery before the district court.
Viacom International Inc. et al. v. You Tube Inc. et al.
We filed an amicus brief in support of leading Internet companies, regarding the application of the Section 512(c) safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The final judgment was entered in favor of the position advocated by our clients and against the plaintiffs on all claims.
May 26, 2020
Keker, Van Nest & Peters’ Ben Berkowitz and Nic Marais have obtained an important settlement on behalf of Bryan Carmody, a journalist whose reporting materials were seized in an illegal raid on his home by the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) last May. Read more
February 19, 2020
In a major arbitration over self-driving vehicle technology, plaintiff Google LLC sought to hold former employees Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron accountable for alleged breaches of contract and unfair competition. Read more
August 07, 2019
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc. has escaped the majority of the claims brought by a proposed class of investors accusing it of artificially inflating bitcoin cash prices in a botched launch, after a California federal judge gutted the suit. Read more
August 06, 2019
Unsealed warrant applications make clear that the SFPD knew Bryan Carmody was a journalist when they sought illegal warrants. Read more
June 17, 2019
Two SF attorneys champion a freelance journalist whose home was raided after he refused to name a confidential source Read more
June 03, 2019
San Francisco police obtained a warrant to search a freelance journalist’s phone records and were authorized to “conduct remote monitoring” on the phone more than two months before a controversial raid on his home. Read more
May 25, 2019
Police Chief William Scott of San Francisco called the raid of a journalist’s home illegal and apologized for it. Read more
May 24, 2019
Following the San Francisco Police Department’s raid of Bryan Carmody’s home, Keker,
Van Nest & Peters has agreed to represent the journalist on a pro bono basis. Read more
May 24, 2019
Keker, Van Nest & Peters partner Ben Berkowitz says it’s a really alarming time for journalists in this country, which is why he’s defending journalist Bryan Carmody, whose home office was the subject of a police raid earlier this month. Read more
August 17, 2018
A federal judge on Friday rejected an attempt by the state of California to dismiss much of a lawsuit that seeks to make public all portions of executions. Read more
August 17, 2018
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit by news organizations seeking to let media and public witnesses view more of the process of executions in California, which could resume soon. Read more
June 26, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court has held the FBI violated a cellphone user's constitutional rights when it obtained four months' worth of location information from his cellular providers via a subpoena rather than a warrant supported by probable cause. Read more
April 12, 2018
The LA Times and two San Francisco-based non-profit news organizations are suing to keep executions from resuming in CA. The Times, NPR-member station KQED and the San Francisco Progressive Media Center want guaranteed full access to executions before they resume.
April 11, 2018
Keker, Van Nest & Peters and The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California filed suit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation challenging its execution viewing procedure. Read more
Ben Berkowitz will give a presentation on trade secret litigation to the Marin County Bar Association. Read more
Ben Berkowitz will serve as a faculty member for this conference, which will cover everything from complaints to discovery to case management conferences, motion writing and tricks, trial prep, and trial techniques. All from the Federal Court perspective. Read more
The awards recognize California litigation practices that delivered exceptional results on their clients' most critical and challenging matters. Read more
A Bay Area company that operates fitness centers isn’t violating age-discrimination laws by charging reduced membership fees to 18- to 29-year-olds, who tend to have lower incomes than older adults, a state appeals court has ruled. Read more
A California federal court crushed a proposed labor class action against smartphone-based grocery delivery service Instacart by ordering workers to individually arbitrate their claims. Read more
Faculty member Ben Berkowitz will present "Defending FCA Lawsuits Based on the “Swapping” Theory of Anti-Kickback Liability." Read more
While many suits against entrepreneurs can never be foreseen, you can take steps now to protect yourself when waters are calm. Read more
Ziptronix had asserted nine patents and more than 500 claims over TSMC’s manufacturing of semiconductors. Read more
Keker & Van Nest filed a brief in the Jewel v. NSA case claiming that backbone surveillance violates the 4th Amendment at the time of seizure and at the time of the search for selectors. Read more
June 22-28, 2014
Ben Berkowitz will serve as a faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy's Trial Skills program. Read more
Ben Berkowitz will present at a one-day seminar on federal court practice. Read more
Ben Berkowitz will moderate this panel, featuring perspectives from lawyers on the front lines of the restorative justice movement and debate. Read more
Ben Berkowitz and his fellow speakers will offer concrete, practical ideas ranging from discovery, depos and motions, to voir dire and jury instructions, to powerful opening statements. Read more
Jeff Chanin and David Silbert overcame tough odds and high financial stakes to prove their client was innocent of kickback charges. Read more
A diverse group of political, religious and environmental entities claim the government's sweeping collection of telephone communications data chills their members' First Amendment right to free association. Read more
New partners all served on several significant trial teams, attended elite law schools, and completed prominent clerkships. Read more
Keker & Van Nest filed an amicus brief on behalf of eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., InterActiveCorp and Yahoo Inc. Read more
Ben Berkowitz discussed recent copyright decisions and the implications for public policy and private rights. Read more
Mr. Berkowitz addressed when and how post-sale copyright restraints are justified in a digital and global economy, and its effect on creativity, prices and consumer choices. Read more
Ben Berkowitz addressed when and how post-sale copyright restraints are justified in a digital and global economy, and its effect on creativity, prices and consumer choices. Read more
- Co-Author, "Trade Secret Law: A Brief Guide for In-House Counsel," InsideCounsel, 2016
- Faculty, "Federal Court Boot Camp," Pincus Professional Education, 2016
- Faculty, "Defending FCA Lawsuits Based on the “Swapping” Theory of Anti-Kickback Liability," American Health Lawyers Association Fraud and Compliance Forum, 2015
- Author, "An Entrepreneur's Guide to Getting Sued and Fighting Back," Entrepreneur, 2014
- Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2014
- Faculty, "Federal Court Boot Camp," Pincus Professional Education, June 2014
- Moderator, "Restorative Justice and Our Communities," American Constitution Society and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2014
- Faculty, "Superior Court Boot Camp," Pincus Professional Education, October 2013
- Moderator, "Forty Years after Roe: Examining the Social, Political and Economic Impact of the Constitutional Right to Abortion," March 2013, American Constitution Society
- Lecture, "Digital Property, Extraterritoriality, and the Evolution of the First Sale Doctrine," March 2011, University of California Berkeley Center for Law & Technology
- Lecture, "Hot Topics in Copyright Law," October 2011, University of California Berkeley Center for Law & Technology