Gross & Belsky has a diverse civil practice and, in particular, enjoys a national reputation in media, intellectual property, constitutional and international law. The firm regularly holds leadership positions in plaintiffs’ consumer and antitrust class actions. The combined depth and breadth of its attorneys’ general civil litigation experience allows it to offer high caliber, nimble and tenacious representation in business litigation of all types. Experienced in both state and federal trial and appellate courts, its attorneys are also skilled negotiators when settlement becomes an option. Gross & Belsky also offers its clients business and transactional expertise, both general commercial and related to intellectual property issues.
The firm represented The New York Times and several Business Week journalists against Hewlett-Packard, seeking and obtaining damages when HP illegally obtained private telephone records of the journalists in an attempt to learn the trade secrets of the identities of the journalists’ sources. As General Counsel to the Burning Man arts and performance festival, the firm negotiates, advises and litigates numerous trademark, copyright and privacy matters on its behalf.
Other representative engagements include:
- the joint representation of Spike Lee in obtaining a preliminary injunction against Viacom for infringing on Spike Lee’s right of publicity when it used his name for a cable channel;
- the joint representation of Gianni Versace s.P.a. and the Versace family in successfully stopping the publication of a defamatory book that also invaded the Versace family’s privacy;
- obtaining a significant settlement on behalf of child abuse victims who testified at the criminal trial of their abuser, from two television stations that broadcast images identifying the victims.
In a special appointment by the California Attorney General, the firm represented the People of California and the listeners of Pacifica Radio in successfully overturning a takeover of the Pacifica corporation. The firm also advises media entities and authors on defamation and libel clearance. The firm regularly represents journalists and authors in areas concerning their work and their employment by media entities. The firm represents plaintiffs in defamation and privacy actions against national and local news media. The firm also actively represents clients prior to the publication of potentially inflammatory articles in negotiations with news media to ensure that inaccurate information is not published.
The firm works extensively in cryptocurrency and blockchain governance and litigation. For example, Mr. Gross is general counsel to the EOS Alliance, a nonprofit addressing governance issues in the EOS blockchain ecosystem, general counsel to Gox Rising Ltd., a company seeking to resurrect the Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange, and general counsel for Brock Pierce, an entrepreneur and early adopter of blockchain technology, founder of numerous blockchain-related companies and funds, and Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation. The firm represents Stellar Development Foundation and Jed McCaleb, a pioneer in cryptocurrency and the co-founder of Ripple and of Stellar, in various litigation matters. Mr. Gross regularly advises on numerous matters relating to blockchain, including monetary policy and development of stablecoins, development of advisory agreements, funding for cryptocurrency ventures, and analysis of fintech issues relating to cryptocurrencies.
The firm regularly advises festivals and large gatherings on constitutional, land use and related issues. The firm has served as general counsel to Burning Man, the internationally known arts and community event, for more than twenty years. The firm has assisted Burning Man in its relationships with, and securing necessary event permits from, federal, state and local government agencies and Native American tribes, has represented the event in litigation over the event’s trademarks, successfully defeating competing claims to the marks, and regularly has advised and represented Burning Man in both negotiations and litigation concerning trademark, copyright and privacy issues, including enforcing Burning Man’s intellectual property rights against individuals and companies attempting to utilize photographs from the event for commercial purposes, or otherwise misuse or infringe Burning Man’s trademarks and copyrights both domestically and internationally. As part of G&B’s long-standing representation of Burning Man, the firm successfully litigated against Pershing County, where the event is held on federal land, resulting in a ten-year agreement addressing the cost and provision of law enforcement at the event, and protecting the First Amendment rights of event participants. The firm was also instrumental in securing passage of a bill by the Nevada Legislature authorizing Pershing County to exempt Burning Man from regulation under Nevada state and county laws governing permitting of outdoor assemblies. The firm has engaged in similar representation of the Spiritweavers Gathering and the Oregon Country Fair.
The firm has an active practice in trademark, copyright, trade secrets, unfair competition, and other intellectual property rights, including expertise in Internet-related issues.
Mr. Gross has been counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization focused on freedom of speech on the Internet, advising and litigating on behalf of the EFF on numerous technology and Internet issues. Recently, as co-counsel with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the firm defended Reverend Billy, an anti-consumerism activist, against copyright infringement claims. Reverend Billy and his organization demonstrated in New York City’s Union Square Park, a traditional center for community and labor gatherings, against attempts by the local businesses to privatize and gentrify the Park, and created a website parodying the local business improvement district, which then sued for copyright infringement. The firm filed a counterclaim under the New York anti-SLAPP statute and prepared a motion for judgment on the pleadings, leading to a successful settlement and capitulation.
As General Counsel to Burning Man, the internationally known arts and community event, the firm has represented the event in litigation over the event’s trademarks, successfully defeating competing claims to the marks, and regularly has advised and represented Burning Man in both negotiations and litigation concerning trademark, copyright and privacy issues. The firm has also represented Cubatabaco, the Cuban cigar company, in defending its U.S. trademark rights. Other representative engagements include successfully representing an Internet journalist wrongfully sued by Apple Computer for trade secret misappropriation; representing The New York Times and several Business Week journalists against Hewlett-Packard, seeking and obtaining damages when HP illegally obtained private telephone records of the journalists in an attempt to learn the trade secrets of the identities of the journalists’ sources; representing the estate of Norma Millay Ellis relating to the sale of the literary properties of Edna St. Vincent Millay; and litigation relating to the sublicense of patent rights and contract negotiations for the sale of biotechnology development rights for a French biotechnology company. The firm represented the Republic of South Africa concerning the domain name southafrica.com, and before the World Intellectual Property Organization and ICANN obtained a change in domain name rules so that southafrica.info and all country names in the .info domain were transferred to the foreign sovereigns. Members of the firm have also litigated on behalf of one of the world’s largest computer companies in a landmark arbitration involving allegations of copyright infringement and antitrust violations; a large construction company whose former employees misappropriated trade secrets in forming a competing firm; and a software development company in claims against a business associate for unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets.
The firm represents the rights of consumers in class actions, primarily those involving consumer fraud or antitrust violations. The firm holds or has held leadership roles in the following cases:
- Chair, Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, In re DRAM Antitrust Litigation, a nationwide class action concerning price-fixing of computer memory, resulting in a $400 million recovery;
- Co-Lead Counsel, Lea v. Pacific Bell, a consumer fraud and unfair competition class action;
- Executive Committee, Old Republic Title Company Class Action Litigation, an unfair competition and consumer fraud class action;
- Liaison Counsel and Settlement Class Counsel, Perish v. Intel Corporation, a consumer fraud class action;
- Liaison Counsel for the end-user class, In re Automotive Paint Antitrust Action;
- Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, Microsoft Antitrust Class Action Litigation, based on Microsoft’s monopolization of the personal computer operating systems and software market;
- Executive Committee, Flat Glass Antitrust Litigation, Sanitary Paper Antitrust Litigation, Vitamin Cases Antitrust Litigation, and Cosmetics Antitrust Litigation, antitrust actions challenging price-fixing in the glass, sanitary paper, cosmetics and vitamin industries;
- Executive Committee, Providian Class Action Litigation, an unfair competition, false advertising and consumer fraud action;
- counsel in numerous class actions challenging price-fixing, particularly in the technology and travel industries, including
- In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation
- In re Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation
- In re Automotive Wire Harness Systems Antitrust Litigation
- In re Keurig Green Mountain Single-Serve Coffee Antitrust Litigation
- In re Generic Pharmaceutical Pricing Antitrust Litigation
- In re Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation
- In re Transpacific Passenger Air Transportation Litigation
- In re Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) Antitrust Litigation
- In re Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation
- In re International Air Transportation Surcharge Antitrust Litigation
- In re Airline Ticket Commission Antitrust Litigation
The firm represents public and private clients on international law issues. The firm has an active practice in defending sovereign nations against private party lawsuits and attempts to execute on sovereign property, as well as in enforcing judgments against foreign nations. In its most recent international engagement, the firm represented the Bolivian national telephone company and, in proceedings in New York and London, successfully overturned attachment orders seizing the telephone company’s assets, issued after it had been nationalized. In representation of Cuba’s national telephone company, the firm successfully overturned the attempted garnishment of the telephone company’s assets to satisfy a judgment against the Republic of Cuba. (Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 183 F.3d 1277 (11th Cir. 1999)). The firm represented the Ukrainian space agency in defending against execution of an arbitration award based on a failed satellite launch, and the Republic of South Africa concerning the domain names southafrica.com and southafrica.info. The firm represents and advises other sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities on issues of sovereignty and constitutional law. Members of the firm have represented foreign companies in contract negotiations with U.S. companies and in matters relating to their U.S. subsidiaries. The firm has an active practice in providing advice and obtaining licenses for transactions with countries subject to trading restrictions.
Mr. Gross was lead counsel and adviser to the Republic of Panama, its agencies and its Mission to the United Nations when the United States government froze all Panamanian assets. He has also represented a foreign telephone company in negotiating an underwater construction and maintenance agreement and telephone service agreement with AT&T; represented the Cuban Olympic Committee and Cuban television agency in the negotiations to sell the television rights to the Pan American Games; and participated in advising the African National Congress on the drafting of a post-apartheid constitution in South Africa. Mr. Belsky is the co-author of a frequently cited comment published in the California Law Review on suing foreign governments in U.S. courts for violations of international law.
The firm represents individuals and companies on constitutional issues, primarily in the areas of free speech, police misconduct, freedom of religion, and due process. Recent highlights include representing two different photo-journalists in cases against the police concerning media access to and ability to cover breaking news events; representing a Stanford professor resisting subpoenas for private documents; providing pro bono representation to an internet journalist sued by Apple for trade secret misappropriation where the journalist was reporting newsworthy information lawfully obtained through normal newsgathering techniques; and representing individuals in police misconduct civil rights actions. Members of the firm served as lead counsel in a First Amendment and equal protection challenge to the large-scale relocation of Navajo elders from their ancestral homelands at Big Mountain, Arizona; represented the widow of Salvador Allende, the slain president of Chile, in the first successful challenge to the government’s ideological exclusion policy; represented Muslim inmates in a successful appeal in a religious discrimination case; and served as special counsel in criminal cases on constitutional issues such as double jeopardy and free speech. Clients include the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, the Bill of Rights Foundation, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The firm represents victims of sexual abuse and clergy abuse in litigation against their abusers. The firm was a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the coordinated litigation of all cases in Northern California against the Roman Catholic Church for childhood sexual abuse by clergy members, and actively represents other individual plaintiffs in matters involving childhood sexual abuse and abuse by clergy of other faiths.
The firm engages in general commercial litigation on behalf of private clients. The firm recently represented Tesla Motors in an arbitration; Quokka Sports and the America’s Cup in a successful action to regain the americascup.com domain name involving trade secrets and breach of contract; an international commercial arbitration that resulted in a $26 million award; and Chronicle Books in numerous commercial disputes. The firm’s attorneys have also represented a successful internet data center in unfair trade litigation against a major telecommunications company; the estate of Norma Millay Ellis relating to the sale of the literary properties of Edna St. Vincent Millay; a French biotechnology company in litigation relating to the sublicense of patent rights and contract negotiations for the sale of biotechnology development rights; and foreign banks, primarily government-owned, in litigation involving suits against the banks, as well as in litigation for the banks against borrowers to recover funds.he firm regularly advises clients in seeking and negotiating business resolutions to disputes short of litigation.
The firm provides corporate and transactional advice on most aspects of commercial law, including entity choice and formation issues (e.g. corporation vs. limited liability company), corporate governance, capitalization strategy and documentation, and other types of business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions. The firm also represents corporations and dissident shareholders in corporate control fights and defending against corporate takeovers.
The firm represents authors, musicians, artists, circus performers and their agents in negotiating contracts, including contracts for performance, publication, and sale of motion picture and television rights. Representative clients have included Spike Lee (obtained an injunction against the use of his name for the name of a cable channel); Robin Finck, lead guitarist for the bands Guns ‘N Roses and Nine Inch Nails; Negativland, an experimental music band that originated in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1970s; and the Center for Cuban Studies in New York.
The firm actively represents both employers and employees in suits for employment discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment. The firm also provides counseling with respect to matters of hiring, compensation and severance.
The firm represents and advises clients in civil and criminal state appellate proceedings at the federal and state levels. Significant representations include a Section 1983 action for a wrongfully convicted exoneree who spent 21 years in prison before being released, Caldwell v. City of San Francisco, 889 F.3d 1105 (9th Cir. 2018); overturning the conviction of a wrongfully convicted indigent defendant because the conviction was based on improperly admitted evidence of poverty, United States v. Mitchell, 172 F.3d 1104 (9th Cir. 1999); overturning the attempted garnishment of a Cuban telephone company’s assets to satisfy a judgment against the Republic of Cuba, Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, 183 F.3d 1277 (11th Cir. 1999); upholding dismissal of a lawsuit against the Republic of South Africa that buy viagra online sought a declaration that South Africa has no rights to the internet domain name southafrica.com, Virtual Countries, Inc. v. Republic of South Africa, 300 F.3d 230 (2d Cir. 2002) [PDF]; reversing the district court’s determination that a district attorney was entitled to absolute immunity for directing the wrongful arrest of an innocent couple for murder, Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218 (9th Cir. 2009) and upholding a trial award of $21 million in a consumer fraud class action, State v. Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, 125 Cal. App. 4th 1219 (2005) [PDF].
The firm represents both claimants and personal representatives in estate and trust litigation, including will contests and claims against estates.