Warren Braunig's practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, ranging from patent, trade secrets and trademark law, to administrative and water law, to consumer class actions, employment and contract disputes. He has represented Google, SanDisk, Electronic Arts, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Taiwan Semiconductor and other individual, corporate and government clients.
Mr. Braunig was trial counsel for the San Diego County Water Authority in its successful challenge to unlawful rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which resulted in the invalidation of MWD’s water rates over four separate years. He was also part of the team that won a trial victory for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in one of the largest trade secrets cases in California history, resulting in a settlement for TSMC publicly valued at more than $300 million. Mr. Braunig has also represented individuals under investigation or indictment by the Department of Justice. He successfully argued an appeal of a civil contempt order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, winning a complete reversal. He has represented individuals and businesses in federal and state courts throughout the United States.
Mr. Braunig also manages an active pro bono practice. He won summary judgment on behalf of Western Watershed Project and a consortium of environmental groups against the United States Forest Service, forcing the Forest Service to withdraw dozens of grazing permits on sensitive habitat in national forests throughout the western United States. He has successfully represented indigent individuals in both criminal and immigration cases.
Cases of Note
SanDisk Corp. v. SK Hynix Inc.: We represented SanDisk in a massive trade secret misappropriation and corporate espionage case. SanDisk, a global leader in flash memory storage solutions, sued competitor SK Hynix for misappropriating approximately ten gigabytes of highly confidential trade secret information and using that information over the course of six years to revamp Hynix’s technology and unfairly compete with SanDisk. We obtained a sweeping preliminary injunction that barred Hynix from any further use or disclosure of stolen SanDisk information, and fought back efforts to dismiss the case, to send it to arbitration, to transfer it overseas, and to remove it from the court that granted the preliminary injunction. Following a series of courtroom victories for our client, the parties reached a confidential settlement and entered into a product supply agreement.
San Diego County Water Authority v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: In 2015, we won the largest plaintiff's award of the year in California for the San Diego County Water Authority in its long-running fight with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD is the regional water wholesaler for most of Southern California. San Diego sued MWD for charging San Diego inflated and illegal water transportation rates, and breaching a contract between the parties. After a three-week bench trial that played out in two phases over the course of fifteen months, the court found that MWD’s rates violated numerous California statutory and constitutional provisions, and awarded our client $188 million in contract damages, plus $43 million in prejudgment interest, and other declaratory relief, including a forward-looking writ of mandate directing MWD to set future rates in compliance with the court’s order.
Lam Research Corporation v. Former Employees: We helped Lam Research Corp. bring and successfully resolve a trade secrets misappropriation and breach of contract claim against two employees who departed for their lead competitor, taking with them Lam’s confidential information relating to its R&D prototyping program. Within three months of filing suit, we obtained the return of all stolen materials and a preliminary injunction preventing future use of Lam’s information and trade secrets.
Internet Company v. Google: An Internet company based in Lafayette, Louisiana filed suit in its local federal court against Google for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The plaintiff alleged Google's various uses of the term "gadget" infringed the federal trademarks "website gadget" and "gadget." We represented Google, and counterclaimed to cancel both marks as not protectable under either federal or Louisiana law because they are generic or at best descriptive and have not attained secondary meaning. The court agreed with us and granted summary judgment, canceling the marks and dismissing the lawsuit.
Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc. et al: We secured a favorable settlement for Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) in this groundbreaking antitrust and right of publicity class action. Current and former student-athletes claimed EA improperly used the athletes’ likenesses and biographical information in its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball video games.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company v. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation: We represented TSMC against China's then-leading semiconductor manufacturer, SMIC, in the largest trade secret misuse case tried to date. SMIC owed its very existence to technology stolen from our client. Following a jury verdict on liability in favor of TSMC, SMIC agreed to pay $200 million in cash and approximately $130 million of its company stock. The case serves as precedent for the strong protection afforded by California's trade secret statute, even where the actual theft occurred in Asia.
In re Qvale Estate: We represented the Qvale Auto Group and its president Bruce Qvale in bitterly-contested litigation concerning the $100 million + estate of auto industry pioneer Kjell Qvale. We successfully defended our clients against claims of elder abuse and undue influence, ultimately obtaining a highly favorable settlement on the eve of trial.
Plaintiff v. Cepia, LLC: A toy developer sued our client Cepia for allegedly using misappropriated trade secrets to develop Cepia’s award-wining line of ZhuZhu robotic toys. We obtained Rule 11 sanctions for the pleading of factually baseless allegations as well as the dismissal of five of the plaintiff’s six claims. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the final claim and issue a public acknowledgement of no misconduct and independent development by Cepia.
United States v. Attorney: We represented a nationally-known Mississippi trial attorney in multiple federal criminal cases alleging judicial bribery and honest services fraud. Our client received favorable plea agreements.
Awards and Honors
- Top Plaintiff's Verdict by Dollar, The Daily Journal, 2016. On behalf of the San Diego County Water Authority, we won more than $230 million in damages and prejudgment interest against Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The ruling will save San Diego water customers as much as $2 billion over the next several years.
- Barrister, Edward J. McFetridge American Inn of Court
- Board Member, Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco
- Team Winner and Best Oralist, Marden Moot Court Competition, 2005
- Order of the Coif, New York University, 2005
- Phi Beta Kappa, Yale University, 1997
Presentations and Publications
- "What the Defend Trade Secrets Act Means for California," The Recorder, 2016
- "Recent Developments in the Case Law of Damages," American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 2014
- “Reflexive Law Solutions to Factory Farm Pollution,” New York University Law Review, 2005
- Co-inventor of software patents, U.S. 7,302,431, and U.S. 7,139,757