John B. Quinn enjoys a unique, dual status in the legal profession. Widely regarded as one of the top trial lawyers in the world, he is equally well-known as the founder of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP – a global litigation colossus without equal. Since founding the firm with three other lawyers in Los Angeles in 1986, Quinn has built an institution which the Wall Street Journal has termed a “global litigation powerhouse.” Meanwhile, his reputation as a “legal titan” (Los Angeles Daily Journal) and a “known litigation genius” (Chambers) has only grown.
Chambers and Partners calls Quinn “One of California’s Leading Litigators.” Quinn has consistently been ranked Band 1 by Chambers USA for General Commercial and Trial Litigation in California & Nationwide. In 2009, he was named “California Attorney of the Year” by California Lawyer for “extraordinary achievements” in intellectual property law. California Law Business recognized Quinn as “One of the Top 3 Trial Lawyers of Choice by General Counsel in California. But his recognition extends far beyond California. Euromoney Institutional Investor calls Quinn “One of the World’s Leading Litigation Lawyers” and he is listed for litigation in Euromoney’s Best of the Best (Global) Expert Guide 2018. The National Law Journal named him among its “Litigation Trailblazers & Pioneers.” He was identified as “Legal Legend” in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Lawdragon: The 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Most recently, he was named “Litigation Star” in the 15th edition of Benchmark Litigation. A 2016 poll of journalists conducted by Bloomberg LP’s Big Law Business named him one of the two “most famous practicing lawyers in the world” at large law firms – with Quinn winning the readers’ poll outright.
Quinn has also won extensive recognition as a law firm leader. The American Lawyer’s Transatlantic Legal Awards have twice named him “Transatlantic Law Firm Leader of the Year.” In 2013, The American Lawyer named him one of the top 50 legal innovators of the last 50 years. Describing him as a “master strategist,” American Lawyer hailed Quinn for his unique vision in building a litigation-only global firm and for his decision not to represent major banks so that the firm could go against them in court.
Under Quinn’s leadership, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has seen staggering success, growing to 25 offices on four continents, with over 800 lawyers generating more than $1.3 billion in annual revenue. For the last several years, it has been ranked by The American Lawyer as the second-most profitable law firm in the world. Remarkably, it has achieved this growth without a single merger. Skilled trial lawyers from all over the world flock to the unique culture that Quinn has created.
That culture has been integral to the firm’s success. Partners are encouraged to pursue their passions for cases in financial litigation, white-collar defense, intellectual property, antitrust, entertainment, professional sports, and other areas. Meanwhile, they win. In addition to winning defense verdicts in cases others thought unwinnable, the firm has in recent years recovered over $50 billion for clients in plaintiffs’ cases. The firm has consistently been listed among the “Most Feared” – BTI Consulting Group’s annual list of the four most feared litigation firms in the world.
Quinn served as General Counsel to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 33 years. His firm currently acts as the primary outside counsel for the organization, regularly advising on issues of intellectual property, contracts, non profit corporate governance, and myriad issues related to the annual Awards broadcast and the soon to open Academy Museum. Over the years, on behalf of the Academy, Quinn has litigated and prevailed in cases that establish the copyright protection of the “Oscar” statuette, the enforceability of the “winner’s agreement” that prevents award winners and their heirs from selling Academy Award statuettes, and the enforceability of the Academy’s rules for award eligibility, among other issues.
He is an avid hiker and co-owner of Q, an omakase sushi restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.
Video, Litigation Strategy: a Secret Key to Victory (June 18, 2019).
Video, The Witness Needs Help: Preparing a Witness for Deposition (April 25, 2019).
- Lead trial counsel for Samsung Electronics Company in Apple Inc.’s “holy war” against the Android smartphone operating system. Apple alleged that Samsung infringed five patents and owed Apple $2.2 billion in damages. In a trial held in Apple’s backyard, the jury found two of Apple’s patents were not infringed and total damages were less than 5.5% of the amount Apple sought. Mr. Quinn’s trial team further convinced the jury that Apple itself was an infringer of one of Samsung’s counterclaim patents.
- Represented two dozen hedge fund plaintiffs—including Elliott, Davidson-Kempner, Appalloosa, and Angelo Gordon—as holders of Yosemite and Enron Credit-Linked (ECLN) Notes in the Yosemite v. Citibank action in the Enron MDL. The noteholders sought damages in excess of $1.4 billion. With the Citibank’s motion for summary judgment pending, Citibank and Enron agreed to a joint settlement of more than of $2.1 billion to the plaintiffs.
- Lead trial counsel for Japanese entertainment company Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd. in a contractual dispute concerning ownership of rights in Tsuburaya’s iconic “Ultraman” superhero character in all countries outside of Japan. The “Ultraman” universe comprises dozens of movies and television shows dating back to the 1960s, as well as countless products based on “Ultraman” characters. The parties had disputed the validity of the alleged contract in multiple foreign countries for almost 20 years. After a two-week trial, the jury unanimously found that the document was a forgery, thus paving the way for Tsuburaya to greatly increase its exploitation of “Ultraman” in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Lead counsel for Michael Milken in a $135 million suit brought by Ronald Perelman's companies alleging fraud in an educational software company transaction. Mr. Quinn’s team successfully (1) removed the case from Texas state court to Texas federal court, (2) transferred the case to Delaware federal court, and (3) obtained summary judgment that the contract at issue disclaimed any right of the plaintiffs to rely on the alleged misrepresentations. The Third Circuit unanimously affirmed, barring any suit against Mr. Milken.
- Lead counsel for the University of Southern California (“USC”) in an arbitration brought by its former head football coach, Steve Sarkissian, after he was terminated in October 2015. Sarkissian sought over $30 million from USC under a variety of theories including disability discrimination, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate, breach of contract, invasion of privacy, and negligence arguing that he was improperly terminated due to his alcoholism. The arbitrator denied each of Sarkissian’s claims, resulting in a complete victory for USC.
- In a widely covered decision, argued by Mr. Quinn, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal vacated a preliminary injunction issued against Samsung in the Apple-Samsung smartphone wars, holding that Apple failed to show a causal nexus between the infringing feature and irreparable harm. For products like smartphones, which contain hundreds or thousands of patented features, this decision makes it more difficult for any patent holder to obtain an injunction based on infringement of a single feature patent.
- Defended a former director and majority shareholder of Peregrine Systems, Inc. against federal class claims, two state-court lawsuits by investors, and claims by the Peregrine Litigation Trust, seeking over $2 billion. (A dozen insiders pleaded guilty to charges based on the same facts.) Obtained complete dismissal with prejudice in the largest of these cases. The action was pending for more than three years, and the plaintiffs’ claim never progressed beyond the pleading stage.
- Obtained a dismissal for Mattel with prejudice of a Sherman Act suit brought by a competitor seeking $3 billion.
- Obtained a $150 million settlement from Deloitte & Touche on behalf of Dr. Enrico Bondi, Extraordinary Commissioner of Parmalat S.P.A., in three separate lawsuits against Grant Thornton, Bank of America, and Citigroup arising out of the largest bankruptcy in European history (“Europe’s Enron”), for aiding and abetting Parmalat’s insiders in the commission of fraud and for auditor malfeasance.
- Lead trial counsel for the University of Southern California in a retrial against a dental implant manufacturer who sought more than $1 billion in lost profits arising out of a failed clinical study. The plaintiff was not awarded any lost profits.
- Lead trial counsel for Southern California real estate developer Donald Bren in a jury trial against his children and their mother, who accused Bren of cheating them out of millions of dollars in child support payments. Mr. Quinn successfully defended all claims for fraud and breach of contract and obtained a jury verdict in favor of Bren, which was later affirmed by the California Court of Appeal.
- Obtained favorable settlement of objections filed by the Lehman Brothers Creditors’ Committee and the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. estates to claims asserted by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. in bankruptcy cases. Approximately $700 million in funds were returned to the LBHI estate and $80 million in claims were re-characterized from secured to unsecured claims.
- Won jury verdict establishing liability in insurance coverage case for Occidental Petroleum regarding business interruption losses from over two hundred terrorist bombings of an oil pipeline in Colombia. Case settled for nine figures before the damages phase of the trial. Mr. Quinn was lead counsel at trial.
- Represented Genentech when Columbia University demanded that Genentech license its “new” patent on a widely used recombinant DNA technique for producing protein in a host cell. Genentech sued the University for obviousness-type double patenting. With a summary judgment motion looming, the University agreed to a broad covenant not to sue Genentech for past, current or future infringement of the “new” patent or any reissued patent with the same or similar claims.
- Represented two former Bertelsmann AG executives against Bertelsmann AG. The former executives had been the driving force behind the creation and development of AOL Europe. When Bertelsmann sold its interest in AOL Europe for $6.75 billion, it refused to compensate them. Mr. Quinn obtained a $295 million verdict for the Plaintiffs.
- Represented General Motors in an action against Volkswagen, certain VW directors and officers, and GM’s former head of sourcing in Detroit for stealing secret GM documents. Working closely with in house counsel from GM and lawyers in Germany, the team led by Mr. Quinn defeated all Volkswagen’s jurisdictional and substantive motions. On the eve of the Volkswagen chairman’s deposition, Mr. Quinn obtained a $1.1 billion settlement for General Motors.
- Represented Avery Dennison Corporation and obtained an $80 million jury verdict in theft of trade secret case against Taiwanese competitor and its chairman. Mr. Quinn was lead counsel at trial.
- Represented an aerospace company in the retrial of a tortious interference suit brought against it in which the plaintiff had won $15 million in the previous trial and had rejected a $1 million settlement offer before the second trial. At retrial, Mr. Quinn was lead trial counsel and obtained a defense verdict.
- Represented Nestlé USA, Inc. and Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream Company in an antitrust action involving an alleged conspiracy to exclude competition in a claimed market for ice cream. The Court granted Nestlé’s motion for summary judgment dismissing all plaintiff’s claims.
- Antitrust & Competition
- Lender Liability & Other Banking Financial Institution Litigation
- Construction Litigation
- Domestic U.S. Arbitration
- Employment Litigation & Counseling
- Energy Sector Disputes
- Entertainment & Media Litigation
- Intellectual Property Litigation
- Real Estate Litigation
- Copyright Litigation
- Patent Litigation
- Trade Secret Litigation
- Trademark, Trade Dress, Unfair Competition/False Advertising, and Publicity Rights Litigation
- Crisis Law & Strategy Group
- Shareholder Activist Litigation
- International Arbitration
- Corporate Governance Litigation
- Harvard Law School
(J.D., cum laude, 1976)
- Knox Fellow, Harvard University, 1976-1977
- Harvard Law Review:
- Editor, 1974-1976
- Editor, 1974-1976
- Claremont McKenna College
(B.A., magna cum laude, 1973)
- The State Bar of California
- The State Bar of New York
- Chambers Global, USA: Litigation: Trial Lawyers – Band 1, 2023
- Best Lawyers, Bet-the-Company Litigation (2006)
- Best Lawyers, Commercial Litigation (2006)
- Other Accomplishments:
Finisher, Ironman Triathlon World Championship, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, 1999 & 2004
- Chair, Panel “Do Investors Finally Understand ESG?”, Milken Institute, Beverly Hills, USA (May 2, 2022).
- Chair, Panel “What Policies Most Encourage Foreign Investment?”, Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudia Arabia (October 27, 2021).
- Video, Litigation Strategy: a Secret Key to Victory (June 18, 2019).
- Video, The Witness Needs Help: Preparing a Witness for Deposition (April 25, 2019).
- Fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
- Lecturer on Federal Practice, California Continuing Education of the Bar
- Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- General Counsel, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1987- present