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Practice Areas

Business & Commercial

Expertise in Business Law for today's competitive market

Commercial Law and the modern business environment are changing rapidly. The emergence of electronic commerce and technology creates new challenges and opportunities for all businesses. Burnham Brown's Commercial Law Practice Group provides the experience and adaptability needed to assist businesses in today's competitive market. Our firm has a long history of providing skilled and knowledgeable advocates in civil litigation involving a wide variety of commercial and business issues. Our attorneys are currently active in many dynamic industries, including construction, employment, health care,  retail/hospitality, insurance, reinsurance, technology, healthcare and transportation.

Areas of Expertise

Commercial Litigation

  • Breach of contract claims
  • Unfair business practice claims
  • Trade secret misappropriation claims
  • Commercial arbitration and administrative hearings
  • Antitrust

Class Actions

  • Employment
  • Mass tort
  • Products liability
  • Consumer/unfair business practice
  • Civil rights

Retail and Hospitality

  • Represents retailers of all sizes ranging from Fortune 50 companies to regional retailers and grocers
  • Represents iconic US chain restaurants and local restaurants and bars
  • Hotels, restaurants, resorts, casinos
  • Recreation and sporting events
  • Property acquisition and management contracts


  • Workplace discrimination
  • Termination
  • Workplace privacy
  • Advice and counsel
  • Employer/Employee disputes
  • Class action
  • Litigation

Real Estate

  • Commercial landlord-tenant disputes
  • Environmental contamination
  • Lender liability
  • Commercial and investment purchase and sale transaction
  • Commercial and residential leases
  • Environmental matters
  • Mobile home park law
  • Property and facilities management
  • Real estate finance and loans
  • Construction
  • Mold
  • Professional Liability/Errors & Omissions

Advice and Counsel

  • Contract Preparation and Negotiation
  • Consulting agreements
  • Pre-transactional strategic planning and negotiations
  • Real estate transactions
  • Risk Management
  • Licensing and Option Agreements
  • Loss Control and Risk Management Services
  • Risk Management audits, investigations, and training seminars
  • Insurance coverage and indemnity agreements
  • Counseled contractors and subcontractors on business formation, contract preparation and risk management
  • Represented winery owners in insurance claims, trademark claims and business partnership didsputes
  • Assisted wine-makers and other small business owners with LLC formation, property acquisition, lease reviews, risk management and business litigation

Emerging Companies and Technology Law

  • General corporate law counseling
  • Deal negotiations and contract drafting
  • Outside general counsel services
  • Electronic commerce transactions
  • Licensing and service provider agreements
  • Business to business internet transactions
  • Protection of trade secrets
  • Equipment Procurement and License contracts

Insurance and Reinsurance

  • Insurance coverage and bad faith
  • Reinsurance arbitration
  • Insurance regulation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Commercial arbitration
  • Mediation

Broad Resources/Advanced Technology

The modern business world is rapidly changing with the market forces and the development of innovative new technologies. Burnham Brown has established a network of expert witnesses and consultants experienced in accounting, economic and market analysis, and strategic planning to provide assistance and complement our legal services. These skills are further enhanced with Burnham Brown's state-of-the-art information and communication systems.

Representative Achievements

  • Defense verdict at trial in San Francisco federal district court, which was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in favor of a United States electronic company that was sued for breach of contract, fraud, and unfair business practices by a Chinese distributor and prevailed on a counterclaim to rescind the contract. (click link for more details)
  • Defense verdict, which was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, which was sued on a variety of theories including, anti-trust, group boycott; the "false advertising prong" of the federal Lanham Act and state unfair business practices statutes.  (click link for more details)
  • Successfully defended technology company executive against alleged misappropriation of photographs on the Internet.  Defense team presented expert testimony from private sector and law enforcement regarding e-mail tracing and IP address origination.  Court ruled in favor Defendant and denied Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief and civil penalties. (click link for attorney who tried this case, Thomas Downey)
  • Defense ruling from a panel of three Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") arbitrators.  Claimant was a compliance manager for Respondent and alleged that his termination was based on his age, race and sexual orientation.  Claimant's request for an award of $2.4 million was unanimously rejected. (click link for attorney who defended this case at arbitration, Cathy Arias
  • Summary Judgment, obtained one month before trial in Oakland federal district court dismissing a misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, fraud and breach of contract claim.  (click link for more details)
  • Successfully guided a national mechanical, electrical and structural steel fabricator through the arduous and detailed process for obtaining SAFETY Act protection and certification by the Department of Homeland Security for its work installing explosive detection devices in baggage and cargo handling systems at airports. (click link for attorney who handled this matter, John Verber
  • Successfully defended claims of negligent design and formulation filed against a national paint and coatings manufacturer in a federal court trial brought by the manufacturer of specialty exterior building moldings and trim. Although plaintiffs sought tens of million dollars in damages from warranty repairs, business interruption, lost profits and lost business reputation, Burnham Brown persuaded the jury to award less than 10% of the damages sought. (click link for attorneys who tried this case, Richard Finn and Gregory Brown)
  • Obtained judgment at trial in favor of manufacturer of homeopathic remedy allegedly engaged in false advertising Represented established vendor in dispute with start up competitor regarding trade mark and proprietary infringement claims. (click link for attorney who tried this case, Richard Finn)
  • Successfully defended technology-based trade disparagement lawsuits reached through negotiating stipulated injunctions that resolved litigation in an early and cost-effective manner.  (click link for attorney who handled this matter, Richard Finn)

To speak with a Burnham Brown attorney specializing in Commercial Law, please call 510-444-6800 and ask to speak with a member of the Commercial Law Practice Group.