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Williams, Michael E.
Direct Tel: +1 213-443-3251
Los Angeles
Tel: +1 213 443 3000 Fax: +1 213 443 3100

Michael Williams is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.  He was elected partner in December 2000 after only four years at the firm, and is the youngest person to be made a partner in the firm's history.

Michael’s practice is diverse, covering a wide range of complex business litigation issues.  His trial experience is extensive and equally diverse, serving as lead trial attorney in dozens of federal and state trials and arbitrations.  He has tried cases in nearly every major practice area of the firm, including patent, antitrust, copyright, class actions, general commercial litigation, employment, wrongful death, banking disputes, fraud, piracy, entertainment disputes, defamation, and criminal cases.  Much of Michael’s practice focuses on intellectual property issues, including patent, copyright and trademark/false advertising matters, as well as antitrust, and commercial business disputes.  Michael has successfully defended dozens of class actions, frequently obtaining dismissals with prejudice at the pleading stage.  He has a number of published appellate opinions to his credit, creating new law in areas involving the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, California's anti-SLAPP statute, the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and the permissibility of classwide arbitrations under the Federal Arbitration Act.  Michael was honored both by The American Lawyer as a "Litigator of the Week" and by The Recorder in its "Antitrust Litigation Department of the Year" competition for his successful trial representation of TransWeb in a patent and antitrust case against 3M in which 3M was found to have committed Walker Process fraud on the patent office and engaged in inequitable conduct.  Additionally, Michael has been repeatedly recognized as a Super Lawyer.

  • Michael has handled extensive matters for DIRECTV, on both the plaintiff and defense side. On the plaintiff-side, Michael has pursued satellite piracy claims, trademark, false advertising, unfair competition and cybersquatting claims and various contractual disputes. Michael has also successfully defended DIRECTV in numerous class actions, as well as patent, RICO, antitrust, unfair competition, trademark and copyright infringement claims, false advertising claims, fraud, malicious prosecution, abuse of process claims, and various contractual disputes.
  • In patent infringement and other intellectual property matters he has represented The Recording Industry Association of America, DIRECTV, Napster, Real Networks, Fox, CLARCOR and TransWeb.
  • He has also represented such clients as the University of Southern California, American National Insurance Company, Mallinckrodt, TRW, Time Inc., numerous law firms, including Snell and Wilmer, Greer Herz and Adams, Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo, in various business litigation matters.
  • Obtained a complete victory for the University of Southern California following a 7 day arbitration against its former head football coach Steve Sarkisian.  Sarkisian was terminated with cause in October 2015 after a series of public incidents involving his apparent use of alcohol and resulting media speculation.  After being terminated and completing inpatient rehabilitation treating, Sarkisian—claiming he was improperly terminated due to his alcoholism—brought claims against USC for wrongful termination, disability discrimination, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, invasion of privacy, and negligence.  Sarkisian sought over $30 million from USC.  The arbitrator denied each of Sarkisian’s claims, resulting in a judgment in USC’s favor.
  • Defended Haymon Sports and its CEO, Alan Haymon, the most prominent boxing manager in the sport today, in a $300 million antitrust lawsuit by Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy promotion companies.  The plaintiffs alleged that Haymon attempted to monopolize the market for promotion of Championship-Caliber Boxers through a “tie-out” clause in their management contracts, as well as a series of exclusive contracts with free network television and basic cable networks.  On summary judgment, we demonstrated to the Court that Golden Boy’s claims were factually and legally meritless, and the Court agreed, dismissing all antitrust claims with prejudice and throwing the case out.
  • Represented TransWeb in TransWeb v. 3M as co-lead trial counsel in which a unanimous jury returned verdicts in favor of TransWeb for Walker Process fraud on the patent office, attempted monopolization, invalidity, non-infringement and inequitable conduct in the District of New Jersey, resulting in a $26 million judgment consisting of damages and attorneys’ fees.  As a result of this verdict, Michael was named Litigator of the Week by the American Lawyer.
  • Represented DIRECTV in Garcia v. DIRECTV, obtaining a grant of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court on the propriety of classwide arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, reversing the California Court of Appeal.  On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeal held for the first time in a published decision that whether or not an arbitration agreement governed by the FAA permits classwide arbitration must be determined by the arbitrator, not the courts, reversing long-standing decisions under California law.
  • Represented the University of Southern California in obtaining a landmark unanimous decision from the California Supreme Court in Sargon v. USC which upheld the trial court’s exclusion of plaintiff’s lost profits expert, seeking in excess of $1 billion arising out of a failed clinical study related to a dental implant, and reaffirming the trial court’s gatekeeping responsibility related to expert testimony.
  • Represented DIRECTV in obtaining summary judgment of antitrust claims brought by a former retailer under California’s Cartwright Act.  The plaintiff alleged that after it was terminated, DIRECTV illegally conspired with its retailers not to bid on or purchase plaintiff’s sales leads generated from telephone directory listings, which plaintiff alleged were worth nearly $30 million, so that it could obtain them for itself as a significantly reduced price.  Plaintiff argued that DIRECTV’s conduct constituted an illegal monopsony, price fixing, bid rigging and a group boycott.
  • Represented DIRECTV in a patent case brought by Phoenix Technologies involving voice recognition technology used in connection with call center technologies.  Obtained summary judgment based on divided infringement which was affirmed by the Federal Circuit.
  • Represented DIRECTV in a multi-district patent litigation brought by inventor Ronald Katz involving patent claims covering technologies used in interactive voice response (“IVR”) call center technology.  Obtained summary judgment of invalidity and non-infringement on nearly all asserted claims, resulting in a favorable settlement.
  • Represented CLARCOR in a false advertising case brought by 3M involving product packaging claims related to air filters for home HVAC units.  Successfully defeated a preliminary injunction motion after expedited discovery, resulting in a favorable settlement.
  • Represented Moldex-Metric in a false advertising lawsuit against 3M involving performance based claims related to safety ear plugs.
  • Represented DIRECTV in pursuing and defending multiple false advertising lawsuits against competitors in the cable and satellite television industry.
  • Represented DIRECTV in a class action matter against claims of extortion and unfair business practices arising out of DIRECTV's anti-piracy campaign.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court's Order granting DIRECTV's anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed, with prejudice, the complaint.  The Court of Appeal held that plaintiffs' claims do not seek to vindicate the public interest and are, therefore, not exempt under a recent amendment to the anti-SLAPP statute.  The Court of Appeal also upheld an award of $97,000 in attorneys' fees and awarded additional fees on appeal.
  • Represented the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA") in a patent infringement action brought against it by the operators of peer-to-peer networks concerning the RIAA's efforts to monitor and combat illegal copyright infringement. 
  • Represented DIRECTV in Sosa v. DIRECTV, a class action RICO matter.  Obtained a published decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upholding the dismissal, with prejudice, under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.
  • Represented DIRECTV in Freeman v. DIRECTV, a class action matter alleging violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA").  Obtained a published decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirming the dismissal of the complaint.  In a case of first impression, the Court concluded that the ECPA did not permit liability for aiding and abetting or conspiracy to violate Section 2702 of the Act.
  • Represented DIRECTV in DIRECTV v. NWS, which resulted in a multi-million dollar arbitration award for DIRECTV based on claims of fraud, signal theft and commercial misuse.
  • Represented Napster in a patent infringement action brought by SightSound Technologies in the Western District of Pennsylvania involving three patents that purported to cover the transmission of audio and video files to internet users for a fee.
  • Represented DIRECTV against claims of unfair business practices arising out of DIRECTV's policies relating to its Pay-Per-View programming.  Obtained a complete defense award in a putative classwide arbitration.
  • Represented DIRECTV against an individual trafficking illegal signal theft devices designed to decrypt and intercept satellite signals without authorization.  Obtained a unanimous federal jury verdict finding 102 violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Federal Communications Act, and the Electronic Privacy Communications Act resulting in statutory damages in excess of $2,300,000.
  • Represented DIRECTV in two class action antitrust cases alleging theories of monopolization, horizontal and vertical price fixing, illegal exclusive distribution, and restricted output, relating to the sale and distribution of DIRECTV's NBA League Pass and NHL's Center Ice programming packages.  Obtained a dismissal on the pleadings and a published decision in Kingray v. DIRECTV.
  • Obtained six figure jury verdict and punitive damage award in business defamation case after being retained only one week before trial.
  • Represented real estate developer Rick Caruso in a trial against General Growth Properties which resulted in an $88 million dollar jury verdict after being retained two weeks after the start of the trial.
  • Represented Fox subsidiary kSolo in two separate patent infringement actions arising out of its internet music distribution website.
  • Represented HealthMarkets, Inc. in a class action lawsuit alleging fraud and other tort claims arising out of a nationwide health insurance program.  Obtained a dismissal of the class action at the pleading stage.
  • Harvard Law School
    (J.D., cum laude, 1995)
    • Harvard Journal of Law and Technology:
      • Staff member, 1994
  • University of Southern California
    (B.A., summa cum laude and Salutatorian, Phi Beta Kappa, 1992)
    • Skull and Dagger Honor Society 
    • President, Mortar Board Honor Society 
    • Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi
  • Member, The State Bar of California
  • California Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals:
    • Ninth Circuit
    • Federal Circuit
  • United States District Courts:
    • Central District of California
    • Southern District of California
    • Eastern District of California
    • Northern District of California
    • Western District of Michigan
    • District of Colorado
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • Extern to the Hon. Ronald S. W. Lew:
    • United States District Court for the Central District of California, 1993
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Richard A. Gadbois, Jr.:
    • United States District Court for the Central District of California, 1995-1996
  • Member, American Bar Association Member
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association