Areas of Practice
Education
  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D.
  • Stanford University, A.B.
Bar & Court Admissions
  • California
  • US Supreme Court
  • US District Court, Central District of California
  • US District Court, Eastern District of California
  • US District Court, Northern District of California
  • US District Court, Southern District of California
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Texas
  • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

William F. Abrams

Partner
1 Market Street
Steuart Tower, Suite 1800
San Francisco CA 94105
TEL: +1 415 365 6701
FAX: +1 415 365 6699

William F. Abrams is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer and advisor to technology and other businesses. Chambers USA described Mr. Abrams as “frankly brilliant at what he does; he finds the fight his client can fight, and performs very well,” and a “wizard of the patent bar… a courageous litigator who understands both the broader picture and the social context surrounding issues.”  Clients value his experience in and out of the courtroom, his success in crafting effective brand protection strategies, his ability to steer them away from undue risk, and his creative problem-solving skills.

Mr. Abrams has been lead counsel in more than 90 federal and state patent, trade secret, and other IP cases since 2000, including trials, arbitrations, and appeals involving trade secrets, interference, unfair competition, false advertising, licensing, patent infringement, defamation, privacy, and trademarks. He represents public and private companies, start-ups and emerging companies, and individuals in industries such as software, hardware, Internet and media, higher education and research, artificial intelligence, satellite and space, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, financial institutions, and telecom. Mr. Abrams founded Steptoe’s office in Northern California in 2014, and is the managing partner of San Francisco office.

Mr. Abrams devotes more than 500 hours as lead counsel on pro bono cases every year, in addition to managing his full-time IP practice. His cases have involved representation of death row inmates, wrongful convictions, cases involving special education, foster care, First Amendment issues, privacy, affirmative action, gun regulation, asylum, and adoption. Most recently, Mr. Abrams won a victory for the City of Seattle over the National Rifle Association in the Washington State Supreme Court that upheld Seattle’s tax on gun sales.

Representative Matters

Trade Secrets

  • Representing E. & J. Gallo Winery in a trade secret action against European defendants who have misappropriated trade secrets for fruit processing technology.
  • Represented SK Hynix in trade secret litigation alleging the misappropriation of trade secrets regarding NAND flash memory manufacturing processes. At the time of the case, it was being called the largest pending trade secret litigation and received substantial press coverage, here and here (subscription required).
  • Represented Hewlett-Packard in trade secret/breach of NDA and breach of contract case brought by HP’s vendor of anti-counterfeiting services and software, including employee raiding allegations.  Case settled on the eve of trial after a week of mediations.  Law360 coverage can be seen here and here (subscription required).

Patent

  • Represented Google in case alleging infringement of patents for software for updating Chrome browser. Mr. Abrams led a team that won in the trial court and in the Federal Circuit.
  • Represented Google in consolidated cases alleging that Google infringed over 20 patents related to location technology used by Google Maps. Numerous patents were declared invalid during claim construction, and cases settled before trial.
  • Represented Alere Medical in consolidated cases in which Health Hero, a Bosch subsidiary, alleged that Alere infringed over 20 patents. Case settled favorably for Alere Medical before trial.

Trademark and False Advertising

  • Represented Stanford University in actions against Stanford Financial for false advertising, Lanham Act and trademark infringement for unauthorized use by a corrupt investment company that was using the Stanford name, colors and logo to lead people to believe that the company was affiliated with or endorsed by Stanford. During the civil case, the principal of Stanford Financial was arrested and convicted for numerous fraud violations and is serving a lengthy prison term.
  • Represented defendant SharkNinja in false advertising and Lanham Act action brought by competitor selling blenders. Case settled shortly before trial.

Confidential Advice

  • Counsel in an internal investigation for computer hardware company regarding allegations that its employees misappropriated trade secrets of a competitor.
  • Counsel in an internal investigation for hardware/chip company of theft of trade secrets and employee poaching by a competitor.
  • Ongoing advice to software, hardware, and other technology companies on trade secret and confidential information matters, including trade secret compliance and management policies, employment policies and IP protection.
  • Advice to start-up companies on business formation, freedom to operate, and IP protection.

International Arbitration

  • Lead counsel in an ICC arbitration under New York law regarding claims of trade secret misappropriation and breach of NDAs between two major competitors in the life sciences industry.  Case was arbitrated to decision by panel of three ICC neutrals after two years of litigation and a several week arbitration.
  • Lead counsel in a confidential arbitration under New York law regarding claims of trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract and unfair competition between competitors in the telecommunications and aerospace industry.  Case settled after a year of litigation before a single ICC arbitrator.

Noteworthy

  • Chambers USA, Intellectual Property: Patent (California), 2006–2017
  • Chambers USA, Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (California), 2011-2013; 2015–2017
  • The Legal 500 US, Litigation:  Commercial Litigation; Intellectual Property:  Patent Litigation – Full Coverage; Intellectual Property: Trade Secrets, 2016-2017
  • Daily Journal's "Top Intellectual Property Attorneys in California," 2009–2014, 2016-2017
  • IAM Patent 1000, Litigation: California, 2014-2017
  • Named Lawyer of the Year, The Best Lawyers in America, Technology, 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Intellectual Property Litigation, Patent Litigation, and Technology Law 2009–2018
  • Managing Intellectual Property's "Stars" in California, 2013-2017
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2004–2017
  • “Silicon Valley’s Top 300 Lawyers” and “Silicon Valley’s Top Legal Eagles,” San Jose Magazine, 2001–2013
  • Named one of the top 100 lawyers in California, Daily Journal, 2010
  • Named California attorney of the year CLAY Award, California Lawyer Magazine, 2010
  • John J. Curtin Jr. Public Service Award, 2009

Select News & Events

Selected Publications

Professional Affiliations

  • Board of Directors, Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Board of Directors, Youth Law Center
  • Advisory Board, Stanford Law School Center for the Legal Profession
  • Consulting Professor, Stanford University