Laurence Pulgram's experience spans twenty seven years as trial, appellate and arbitration counsel in intellectual property and complex commercial disputes. His practice emphasizes technology related litigation and frequently involves novel legal issues generated by cutting-edge information technologies and the Internet. Laurence is also Managing Partner of the firm's San Francisco office and has been appointed co-chair of the Federal Practice Task Force of the ABA's Section of Litigation for the 2013-14 year.
Laurence's copyright litigation practice includes copyright enforcement for prominent rights holders as well as defense of new Internet and cloud computing technologies. He represented ReplayTV, Inc. in defense against actions brought by 28 major television networks and movie studios contending that digital video recorders contribute to copyright infringement, and he defended Napster, Inc. in its multi-district and class action copyright litigations in the trial and appellate courts. In the last several years he has obtained summary dismissal of claims in three actions alleging infringement of copyrights in software components. Last year he prevailed in a jury trial resulting in defense favorable award of damages of less than five percent of the sums demanded in a case of admitted infringement.
His recent trade secret successes include prevailing against lawsuits that claimed misappropriation in the web analytics, IT automation, and online sales markets, and, conversely, obtaining protection of trade secrets in the project management, customer relationship management and video gaming markets. He has also recently obtained a preliminary and then permanent injunctions, as well as a substantial cash settlement, against unfair advertising and illegal access to computer systems by a client's competitor.
In class action litigation, Laurence has successfully defended numerous claims for unfair business practices, false advertising and other claims under California Business and Professions Code § 17200. Recent matters include winning dismissal of a class action complaint and recovery of costs in an action alleging that digital rights management software contained "spyware," and current defense against claims of computer fraud and invasion of privacy through smart-phone applications' collection of user information. He also recently obtained dismissal of claims alleging unlawful trade practices in Internet advertising, and gained favorable settlements of class claims against search engines and hardware manufacturers.
In the last two years, Laurence has twice defeated class certification, won summary judgment, and recovered attorneys' fees against claims for misappropriation of celebrities' rights of publicity that challenged the licensing by copyright owners of photos depicting the celebrities.
Laurence also regularly represents clients in technology licensing disputes and merger and acquisition controversies. Two recent cases in these areas include winning dismissal and summary judgment, respectively, in two matters in which a major software company severed its relationships with business partners. In a third matter, he defeated a motion for TRO and preliminary injunction that sought to enjoin a $900 million merger on antitrust grounds, resulting in the plaintiff's abandoning the action.
Laurence served as judicial clerk for Chief Judge Sam C. Pointer, Jr., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama from 1983-1984. He joined Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in 1984, was elected a partner in 1989, and practiced in its San Francisco office through 1999. He joined Fenwick & West in 2000 to help open a San Francisco litigation practice.
Laurence was recently recommended by Legal 500 for copyright litigation as a "strong litigator with very sound business sensibilities and obvious commitment to the best interests of clients." He has also been named by the Daily Journal as one of the top 75 IP litigators in California, recognized by Managing Intellectual Property as an IP Star, honored in Best Lawyers in America for IP, commercial and patent litigation, and regularly selected as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” in the area of IP litigation. Frequently sought out as a thought leader on a variety of emerging IP issues, he has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg News, Reuters and The National Law Journal, among other publications.
Laurence has been a longtime member of the Leadership of the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation, including positions on the Executive Committee and as Budget Officer, as Co-Chair of the Section's ABA Annual Meeting in 1997 and 2003, as a member of the governing Council, and as member of various task forces. He chaired the Committee for the Minority Trial Lawyer, the Diversity Committee of the Council, and the Task Force for the Independence of the Judiciary. Laurence is Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee of The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center in San Francisco. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the San Francisco Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights, a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law. He is also on the Board of Advisors for the SSanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
Laurence also enjoys an active pro bono practice, frequently focusing on copyright fair use issues as well as civil rights. He has represented a number of film makers, technologists and activists with respect to copyright and fair use issues, including an amicus brief cited by the Supreme Court in the Grokster case. He also led the successful litigation against copyright "troll" Righthaven LLC, in which the Courts rejected efforts to assign to Righthaven newspapers' rights to sue against those who excerpted or blogged copyrighted works. In 2012, Managing IP magazine subsequently awarded the firm, in partnership with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Intellectual Property Case of the Year for defending Democratic Underground in Righthaven v. Democratic Underground.
Laurence has also prosecuted several class action cases involving constitutional rights of privacy for employees, including cases involving drug testing, psychological testing, and political affiliation testing. With the ACLU, he represented citizens challenging the Bush Administration warrantless collection of electronic communications and records in the aftermath of 9/11.