When faced with the most serious of legal problems, individuals, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies regularly turn to Steven Ragland, whose extensive experience in both civil and criminal matters offers a unique perspective and novel approach to any case. Mr. Ragland has been lauded for his work across a broad spectrum of cases, and is particularly recognized for expertise in trade secret misappropriation, legal malpractice, and criminal IP matters. Whatever the dispute may involve, Mr. Ragland is singularly focused on getting the best outcome for the client as soon possible.
Mr. Ragland has litigated criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts throughout California and the nation. His significant appellate experience includes cases in the California Courts of Appeal, the Supreme Court of California, numerous Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Ragland has also represented individuals and companies before investigative agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Inspector General, State Attorney General, United States Attorney’s Offices, and District Attorney enforcement units.
Clients praise Mr. Ragland’s “extremely thoughtful” approach to litigation, his “effective, concise, and persuasive” communication, willingness to “take hard positions,” and ability to “swim against strong currents on behalf of clients.”
Cases of Note
Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc.: We represented Google in what Oracle claimed to be a multi-billion dollar patent and copyright war concerning the use of the Java programming language in Google’s Android platform. When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in January 2010, it acquired Sun’s rights to Java. In August of that year, Oracle sued Google, claiming its Android mobile technology infringed Oracle patents and copyrights. We defended Google against all the patent and copyright claims, and also argued that the damage estimates were wildly inflated. Following repeated rounds of motions and briefing, the judge dismissed the bulk of Oracle’s copyright claims, and at trial the jury rendered a unanimous verdict rejecting all claims of patent infringement. Although the jury decided that Google infringed an Oracle copyright on nine out of millions of lines of source code, the case was a sweeping victory for Google, with zero damages. After an appeal by Oracle, the case returned to district court for a trial on fair use. After a two-week trial, the federal jury unanimously found that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java programming language in the Android operating system was a fair use, thereby rejecting Oracle’s claims of infringement in their entirety.
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.
People v. Construction Services Company: We obtained complete dismissal of a felony charge related to an on-the-job worker death. We were retained after a criminal complaint was filed and an arraignment date was set. We immediately engaged prosecutors and successfully postponed arraignment. Following months of discussions with the prosecutors and investigation into the incident, we convinced the government to voluntarily dismiss the case for insufficient evidence without ever proceeding to arraignment and without levying any fines or penalties whatsoever against the company.
Patent Holding Company v. Law Firm: A patent-holding company alleged our client, a prominent national law firm, misappropriated trade secrets. The company claimed our client violated various court protective orders and interfered with settlement obligations. In less than three months, we obtained a dismissal of all claims.
Entrepreneurs v. Law Firm: We secured the dismissal of legal malpractice claims brought against our client, a prominent international law firm. Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs hired our client to assist with the negotiation and sale of their technology company in exchange for cash and stock in the acquiring company. After the deal was finalized, the acquiring company's stock dropped sharply. The entrepreneurs sued our client and two of its partners. We mounted an aggressive defense that convinced opposing counsel to dismiss the case with prejudice with no payment or other concession by our clients.
Venture-Backed Biotechnology Company v. Pharmaceutical Company: We represented a biotechnology company developing a drug for a rare genetic disease in arbitration proceedings over its rights to develop its sole product under a collaboration agreement with a large pharmaceutical company. With our assistance, on the first day of the arbitration the parties reached a favorable settlement, which provided for our client’s acquisition of the life-saving drug it is developing. The FDA has now approved the drug and our client successfully conducted an IPO.
Heller Ehrman LLP v. Davis, Wright Tremaine and Foley & Lardner: We won summary judgment for Davis, Wright Tremaine and Foley & Lardner, which were targeted by the Heller Ehrman bankruptcy estate. Law-firm bankruptcy trustees had argued unfinished hourly legal work is an asset that belongs to the failed firm, citing a 1984 California that involved the breakup of the Jewel, Boxer & Elkind firm. However, a federal judge rejected the 'Jewel' doctrine, and ruled Heller Ehrman cannot claim profits earned from hourly rate matters that its former partners brought with them to new law firms. The decision will likely influence future litigation over failed law firms.
State of California v. Gas Pipeline Operator: We defended, and then favorably resolved a lengthy homicide investigation of a nationwide gas pipeline operator. The case stemmed from a horrifying explosion and firestorm in Northern California, and involved alleged negligence after a backhoe tore open our client's gas pipeline and laborers working nearby with blow torches caused the explosion.
John J. Tennison v. City and County of San Francisco: We pursued John Tennison’s civil rights claim against the City and County of San Francisco and the police and prosecutor responsible for Mr. Tennison’s wrongful conviction. We had previously represented Mr. Tennison in his habeas corpus case, where we unearthed exculpatory evidence hidden by the police which proved Mr. Tennison’s innocence - including the taped confession of another man. As a result, we won an order reversing Mr. Tennison’s conviction, after which he was set free. After several years of hard-fought litigation, we settled the civil rights case for $4.6 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was the largest amount the city has ever paid to a wrongly convicted person.
United States v. Executive: We defended a high-ranking company official in one of the nation’s first criminal stock options backdating cases to go to trial. We obtained the dismissal of the majority of the charges. Our client was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment on the remaining charges.
Discover v. Visa USA, Inc.: We defended Visa USA, Inc. in one of the largest private civil antitrust matters in U.S. history. Discover sued MasterCard and Visa for alleged antitrust violations, claiming that credit card network rules affected member banks’ ability to issue American Express and Discover cards. The case settled on the eve of trial for billions less than Discover claimed. We also defended Visa in a similar action brought by American Express.
Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We represented an Am Law 100 firm and one of its former partners in suits over the alleged mishandling of a patent application relating to electronic billboard technology. We won the complete dismissal of a state court action which was upheld by the California Court of Appeal. The plaintiff then filed a certiorari petition, however the U.S. Supreme Court denied it. We also secured the dismissal of four federal court claims, and won summary judgment on the remaining federal claim.
Plaintiff v. Consumer Finance Company: We represented a major consumer finance company in a nationwide class action lawsuit concerning allegations of improper consumer lending practices. The case was settled on very favorable terms.
Awards and Honors
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers, 2014
- Northern California Super Lawyer, Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, Criminal Defense: White Collar, Professional Liability, 2013 - present
- Mussey-Gillette fellow, American University's Washington College of Law
- Senior articles editor, American University Law Review
- Chair, Computer Fraud & Abuse Act reform subcommittee, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Member, White Collar Crime Committee, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Board of Directors, Criminal Trial Lawyers Association of Northern California
- Board of Directors, Families of SMA
- Advisory Board, Disability Rights Advocates
Publications and Speaking Engagements
- "A Motion and Trial Practice Skills Program," Pincus Professional Education's Annual Superior Court Boot Camp, 2015
- Panelist, "Safeguarding Confidence: Ethical Strategies for Preventing and Addressing Privilege Problems," NACDL's West Coast White Collar Conference, 2015
- "Superior Court: From the Complaint to Motions and Everything In-Between," Pincus Professional Education's Annual Litigation Boot Camp, 2014
- Panelist, "When There Are No Other Options: Dispositions Without Trials," NACDL White Collar Conference, 2013
- Panelist, "Federal Court Boot Camp Conference: How to Practice in Federal Court," 2011, 2013
- Panelist, “California Superior Court Boot Camp: Motions and Trial Practice Conference,” 2009-2011
- “Representing ‘Those People’: Notes on Criminal Defense,” Daily Journal, 2007
- “Obstruction Seduction: The increasingly long reach of the obstruction of justice statutes,” Second Annual White Collar Crime Seminar, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2006
- Panelist and organizer, “Police Misconduct and Institutional Reform Litigation in California,” 2005
- Panelist and conference organizer, “Patriotism in a Time of War – Defending the Bill of Rights and the Individual Accused in Terrorism Cases,” 2003
- “Using the Master’s Tools: Fighting Persistent Police Misconduct with Civil RICO,” American University Law Review, 2001