Overview

Jon Michaelson is the Managing Partner of the firm's Silicon Valley office. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation. He acts as trial counsel in cases which span a wide variety of disciplines, including all forms of intellectual property, employment law, class actions, competition issues, and other types of complex commercial controversies. He has particular experience in the fields of semiconductor design and manufacture, electronic components, business application and entertainment software, video games, broadcast equipment, medical laboratory testing, and e-commerce. He has represented corporations and individual board members in connection with internal investigations involving securities issues and foreign corrupt practices act concerns. He has substantial experience in arbitration and other forms of alternative disputes resolution, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Michaelson was the managing partner and founder of the Palo Alto, California office of an international law firm where he practiced intellectual property and commercial litigation. Previously, he was a partner at a regional law firm for over 20 years and then managing partner of the Palo Alto office of another international law firm.

While attending law school, Mr. Michaelson served as Articles Editor and Managing Editor of the Industrial Relations Law Journal.

Mr. Michaelson was recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® in 2018 for Commercial Litigation.

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Experience

Led team which successfully represented a major e-commerce concern in addressing claims of misrepresentation and overcharging brought under California’s Unfair Competition and Consumer Legal Remedies Laws. The federal district court upheld the client’s defenses on summary judgment, and that result was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Counsel for the prevailing party in Birbrower v. Superior Court, 17 Cal. 4th 119 (1998), considered to be one of the most significant decisions in the legal ethics arena over the past several decades. A suburban New York law firm attempted to represent an unsophisticated Silicon Valley software developer to deal with a dispute regarding a licensing arrangement with a publicly held computer company. After the client discharged the lawyers because of their failures to perform and mistaken advice as to matters of California law, and negotiated a resolution directly with the licensee, the lawyers sought to collect a large fee pursuant to a contingency agreement. The trial court rejected this attempt based on the New York lawyers’ violation of California Business & Professions Code section 6125, which requires membership in the State Bar in order to provide legal services in California. The California Supreme Court affirmed, and in its opinion provided some helpful guidelines which courts both in and outside California have followed since in dealing with issues of practice of law across state lines.

Successfully represented a number of technology companies in matters involving charges of trade secret misappropriation venued in state court (for example obtaining dismissal of claims on summary judgment) and in federal court in connection with charges brought under the Economic Espionage Act. Effectively defended patent infringement cases involving semiconductors, electronic components, software, and video broadcast equipment variously venued in Virginia (case dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction), in Utah (settled favorably following claim construction), and in the Northern District of California (matters resolved on advantageous terms after obtaining helpful pre-trial rulings).

Handled disputes arising from the licensing and sale of technology, including multiple cases involving allegations of defective software and several controversies involving earn-out provisions. In one instance, the earn-out controversy (which involved the interpretation and application of GAAP revenue recognition rules) consumed over 20 days of arbitral hearing and resulted in an award of nearly $20 million for the client plus recovery of its attorneys’ fees.

Obtained dismissals of charges brought against California employer clients for sexual harassment and for racial and religious based discrimination, as well as for violation of federal and state pregnancy disability laws. While most of these claims were defeated on summary judgment, several were taken to and through trial with favorable outcome.

For nearly three decades the California prison system has been under federal court supervision because of its unconstitutional treatment of mentally ill inmates. Those inmates, who number roughly 35,000 individuals and comprise a growing percentage of the State’s prison population, nonetheless continued to be subjected to inhumane -- if not barbaric -- treatment in many forms. In early 2013, the State attempted to end federal oversight of its prison system. Along with other lawyers from several firms, represented the class of mentally ill inmate-patients on a pro bono basis to defeat this request. Based on evidence developed through that effort, then made successful motions to the U.S. District Court to make specific findings that the State’s treatment of these prisoners continued to violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and directing the State to undertake further remedial actions to protect members of the class.

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Education

University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D. (1978)

University of Texas at Austin, M.A. (1973)

Pomona College, B.A. (1969)

Admissions

California (1978)

Court Admissions

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Courts in all Districts of California

U.S. District Courts in various other states, including Colorado, Virginia, and Texas

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Professional & Community Activities

Boy Scouts of America, Santa Clara County Council, Board of Directors, Former Member and Legal Counsel

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