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Bruce Copeland is a partner in the firm’s commercial litigation practice, and is a former deputy department head for the firm’s entire litigation practice. He is also the team leader of the firm’s Beverage Alcohol practice. He represents and counsels a variety of businesses with respect to trade secrets, complex commercial litigation in federal and state court litigation, litigation avoidance and in a broad range of areas in the beverage alcohol industry.

What do you focus on?

I focus my practice on three main areas—unfair competition and trade secret misappropriation, commercial litigation and beverage alcohol—leveraging more than 25 years of experience to help clients manage their most complex and sensitive matters.

Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets

I represent a variety of businesses in unfair competition matters, with a focus on misappropriation of trade secret counseling and litigation, ranging from counseling financial institutions, foreign and domestic technology companies, and other businesses regarding trade secret issues, and both prosecuting and defending trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition claims. Most recently, I successfully represented a foreign technology company and its US subsidiary in the semiconductor industry against claims of trade secret misappropriation, conspiracy and unfair competition, and routinely advise clients regarding pre-litigation protection of trade secrets and avoidance of trade secret claims.

Beverage Alcohol

I chair the firm’s Beverage Alcohol practice and advise suppliers, importers, wholesalers and retailers in the wine, malt beverage and spirits industries in litigation, transactional and regulatory matters at both the federal and state levels, most notably a publicly held company that produces premium wine and beer, and a number of leading craft brewers.

Other Commercial Litigation

I also represent a variety of clients in commercial litigation, with a focus on complex business disputes, including commercial contract disputes, licensing and distribution disputes, corporate and fiduciary liability matters, unfair business practices, partner and shareholder disputes, corporate raiding issues, patent infringement disputes, class action defense and labor relations matters.

What do you see on the horizon?

I see a continuing increase in unfair competition and trade secret litigation as technology continues to advance at a dramatic pace. I work with clients on practical solutions for minimizing these risks before litigation ensues and, if there is litigation, on aggressively and practically handling the litigation.

I also see continuing consolidation in the Beverage Alcohol industry, which creates both transactional opportunities but also litigation risk. I work strategically with clients in this industry to prepare for and minimize these risks and to take advantage of these opportunities.

Presentations and Articles

Bruce has been a presenter before the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) General Counsel meeting, and has authored numerous publications, including commentary regarding California Business and Professional Code section 17200 (“Proposed California Ballot Initiative Could Eliminate Representative Lawsuits Brought by Uninjured Litigants under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200”), Proposition 64 ("California First District Court of Appeal Rules Prop. 64 Is Not Retroactive", "Prop. 64 Is Not Retroactive, San Francisco Trial Court Rules", and "Second and Fourth District Courts of Appeal Weigh In on Proposition 64 Retroactivity"), and tort liability for recruiting employees (“Tort Liability in California for Recruiting of Employees”).

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • “Griping About Grapes: The Law of Wine (and Other Spirited Drinks),” Nixon Peabody’s Eighth Annual California MCLE Seminar for Corporate Legal Executives, January 15, 2013 (co-presenter)
  • “Social Media Giveaways and the California Wine Industry,” Practical Winery & Vineyard Journal, September 22, 2012 (co-author)
  • “Allergen labeling in wine: compulsory regulations imminent in the European Union—will the U.S. be next?” Nixon Peabody Beverage Alcohol Brief, June 26, 2012 (co-author)
  • “Lightweighting wine bottles: an eco-friendly trend becomes mandatory in Ontario, Nixon Peabody Beverage Alcohol Brief, June 5, 2012 (co-author)




Bruce E. Copeland