B.A. (Physics), Harvard University
J.D., University of California Hastings College of the Law
State Bar of California:
- Business Law
- Intellectual Property
Bar Association of San Francisco
- Founding member, Entertainment and Sports Law Section
San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
Consumer Attorneys of California
ABA "Entertainment and Sports Lawyer"
- Visual Arts Editor 1998-2001
U.S. Court of Appeal, 11th Circuit: 2012
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California: 2009
U.S. District Court, Central District of California: 1990
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California: 1985
State Bar of California: 1984
NICHOLAS A. CARLIN
With a passion for justice, tempered by decades of experience handling high profile cases, Nick is a versatile litigator and trial lawyer specializing in class actions, complex litigation, catastrophic injury, and bet your company cases. Nick has recovered over $500 million for his clients in such areas as consumer rights, intellectual property (copyright, trademark, trade secrets, right of publicity), technology, entertainment, employment, financial fraud, business disputes, and traumatic brain injury.
Among his many achievements, Nick has handled the first high profile song infringement case to be extensively discussed on the internet and one of the largest consumer class action settlements in history. Nick was named a finalist for 2012 Consumer Attorney of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California for his work on the latter case.
Nick's background as a technology entrepreneur, chess master and performing musician gives him a unique breadth of experience, perspective, judgment and common sense. A former registered US Patent Agent, Nick worked in Silicon Valley for several years as an entrepreneur and CEO of a technology company. Mr. Carlin is a US National Chess Master and an accomplished cellist who has played with Berkeley Symphony, Verismo Opera and many other Bay Area groups.
Nick has served as vice chair of the San Francisco PUC Citizens Advisory Committee, and chair of the Civil Justice and National Security planks for the California Democratic Party Platform Committee.
Nick has been a partner at Phillips, Erlewine, Given & Carlin since 2008. He is a 1983 graduate of Hastings College of the Law. He graduated from Harvard University in 1978 in Physics. He has lectured at Hastings College of the Law, the University of California at Berkeley Law School, and the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Kapoor v. National Rifle Association. (2018) Mr. Carlin represented Sir Anish Kapoor, the world renowned British sculptor. Without his permission, the NRA used an image of his sculpture “Cloud Gate” (also known colloquially as “The Bean”) located in Millennium Park in Chicago, in a recruiting and fundraising video narrated by Dana Loesch entitled “The Violence of Lies.” The video is a naked piece of propaganda that, according to the Washington Post, was “designed to provoke fear, if not incite violence,” and according to the New York Times became “one of the latest flash points for partisan anger.” Kapoor demanded that the NRA remove his sculpture from the video, but it refused, so Kapoor sued. After the NRA lost its bid to delay discovery, it agreed to remove the sculpture of its video.
White v. Torres. (2018) Client Herman White, a 57 year old financial services executive, was out jogging in Castro Valley and came to a crosswalk. A car stopped and waved him across. As he crossed, a second car, driven by defendant Torres, slammed into the first car which struck White. White suffered a concussion/mild traumatic brain injury, PTSD, a broken wrist, and broken toe. The concussion was not diagnosed until over a year after the accident, in retrospect. The case settled for $1.45 million shortly before trial.
Wong v. Cheesecake Factory. (2018) Client Walter Wong, a semi-retired executive search professional, was celebrating his 67th birthday with his family at the Cheesecake Factory in San Mateo when he slipped and fell on a spilled drink that a waitress, after being warned about it by another customer, failed to clean up. He suffered a concussion/mild traumatic brain injury with persistent symptoms. The defendants accepted Mr. Wong’s “statutory settlement offer” of $630,000 three days before trial.
In re: Honest Marketing Litigation. (2017) Class action against Jessica Alba’s natural products company “The Honest Company,” alleging that the products were falsely labeled as “natural” when they were not. The Honest Company agreed to pay $7,350,000 to the class and to change its labeling practices. Mr. Carlin was co-lead counsel for the class.
Sutton-Williams v. Rony’s Car Pros, Inc. (2017) Client Francine Sutton-Williams, a 67 year old retired dialog coach, tripped and fell over an unsafely high threshold to a bathroom at defendant’s auto repair shop in Los Angeles, suffering a broken hip. Defendant hotly contested liability. 12-0 jury verdict of $392,310 reduced by 10% for comparative fault to $353,097. In addition, plaintiff recovered costs of $35,118, for a total recovery of $388,215.
Smith v. Digirad. (2017) Wage and hour class action against Digirad Corporation for failure to provide compliant meal and rest breaks for its workers (nuclear medicine technicians and EMTs conducting mobile cardiac testing). The case settled for $1.3 million. Mr. Carlin was lead counsel for the class.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town. (2016) Mr. Carlin represented the heirs of John F. Coots, the composer of the classic Christmas song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, in an audit claim against music publisher EMI Feist Catalog, Inc. The heirs contended that EMI was overcharging them for royalties earned overseas by paying themselves twice: 50% to their foreign affiliates (“sub-publishers”) and then 50% of the remainder to the US entity; in other words, they were double dipping. EMI agreed to reduce the sub-publishing fees to 25% going forward and to pay back royalties.
Busch v. Dulcich. (2015) Right of publicity action on behalf of model/actress Cyndra Busch against Jakov Dulcich & Sons LLC, one of the largest grape producers in the country. Ms. Busch contended that Dulcich used her image for years without permission as the face of its “Pretty Lady” grapes marketing campaign. After conducting preliminary discovery, the case settled for a confidential amount.
DCH Auto Group Cases. (2016) Mr. Carlin represented employees of DCH Auto Group, subsequently acquired by Lithia Motors, Inc., in a number of related wage theft actions, for failing to provide its employees meal and rest breaks, falsifying time records and other Labor Code violations. The cases settled for a combined $11.5 million.
Paley v. Twist Animation. (2016) Mr. Carlin represented Emmy and Grammy award winning composer Andy Paley in a copyright infringement action against Twist Animation, an Israeli company, for allegedly using his music in a series of animated children’s videos which had over 1 billion views on Youtube. The parties ultimately reached a confidential settlement.
Stewart v. Screen-Gems-EMI Music, Inc. et al. (2015) Mr. Carlin represented Stephanie Ford (“Buffy”) Stewart against EMI Music Publishing, the world’s largest music publisher, challenging EMI’s practice of paying its own foreign affiliates 50% of foreign royalties before remitting the balance to itself, to split 50/50 with its legacy songwriters. Stewart, the widow of John Stewart, former member of the Kingston Trio and composer of hit tunes such as The Monkees’ classic "Daydream Believer," alleged that EMI's self-dealing results in a drastic reduction in her (and others') share of such royalties. The case settled on confidential terms shortly after the Court (US District Court for the Northern District of California) denied EMI's motion to dismiss the complaint.
Given v. M&T Bank. (2015) Consumer class action against M&T Bank for unfair overdraft fee practices: $4 million settlement.
In Re Warner Music Group Corp. Digital Downloads Litigation. (2014) Class action on behalf of musical performing artists against Warner for underpayment of digital download royalties. $11.5 million settlement.
Orallo et al. v. Bank of the West. (2013) Consumer class action against Bank of the West for unfair overdraft fee practices: $18 million settlement.
Yourke et al. v. Bank of America. (2012) Consumer class action against Bank of America for unfair overdraft fee practices: $410 million settlement.
Restaurant workers v. Restaurant group (names confidential). (2013) Class action and PAGA action on behalf of minimum wage restaurant workers for wage and hour violations under the California Labor Code. $1.9 million settlement fund for 525 class members.
Pyramid Interactive v. Wayneco. (2013) Commercial lease dispute. Arbitration award of approximately $250,000 and defeated $300,000 counterclaim.
Think Computer v. Facebook. (2009) Trademark proceeding on behalf of former Harvard classmate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The case settled on confidential terms.
Dunbar v. Gottwald. (2010) Represented songwriters for the pop group The Rubinoos in a lawsuit against pop superstar Avril Lavigne and her producer and co-writer Lukasz (“Dr. Luke”) Gottwald for copyright infringement, alleging that the Lavigne/Gottwald song “Girlfriend,” which was a No. 1 worldwide hit song for much of 2007, infringed on The Rubinoos’ 1979 hit song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." Case settled for a confidential amount.
GPP v. Baerwald. (2003) Song authorship dispute. Represented estate of co-author of six time platinum hit song "Come What May" from hit film Moulin Rouge against co-author who falsely claimed sole authorship. Case settled for a confidential amount.
Vinyl v. Education Dynamics. (2009) Leaving employee/trade secrets case on behalf of employer, obtaining Preliminary Injunction against defendants; case settled shortly thereafter.
Potrero Media Corporation v. Matthew Jones et al. (2012) Represented Potrero Media Corporation against leaving employee and the employee’s new employer for misappropriation of trade secrets. Obtained Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions and Judgment of over $1,100,000. The action was subsequently settled.
SELECTED SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
The Public Clash of the Titans: How The Lessons from the Entertainment Industry’s Litigation Against Technology Companies Affect Your Risk Assessment on Business Decisions and Point to Solutions for Working Together. Entertainment Technology Law Summit (August 16-17, 2007; Seattle, Washington)
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