JoeThomas01 PARTNER

Joseph Thomas is the managing partner and co-founder of Thomas Whitelaw. A rare breed of trial lawyer, Mr. Thomas consistently achieves both unprecedented courtroom successes as well as rapid out-of-court settlements. Time and again, he has led his team of preeminent litigators in winning high-stakes national cases, and is recognized by general counsels at Fortune 500 companies around the country for creating a “Go-To” litigation firm, a distinction awarded by Corporate Counsel magazine to Thomas Whitelaw in both 2007 and 2008.

Mr. Thomas was selected as one of the top Intellectual Property litigation attorneys in the United States for 2015; this award was recently recognized by American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, Corporate Counsel, Law Journal Press and

Well-known for his expertise in complex business, real estate and intellectual property disputes, Mr. Thomas is deemed to be part of the magic circle of business trial attorneys who dominate state and federal courts. His extensive trial experience includes first chair in more than 20 jury trials and 25 arbitrations and court trials. These cases span a wide variety of industries and are frequently international in scope.

Mr. Thomas has been a powerful advocate for his clients, not only in achieving exceptional results, but also in delivering value. He co-founded Thomas Whitelaw on the principle that superior legal counsel should be value based primarily on results, not effort. He is a pioneer in developing alternative billing arrangements that align the firm’s interest with that of its clients.

Mr. Thomas has further distinguished the firm through his negotiating savvy and business insights. A powerful presence in the courtroom and the boardroom, Mr. Thomas is highly regarded by a loyal clientele that return to him repeatedly for representation in difficult, bet-the-company cases.

As the firm’s leader, Mr. Thomas embodies the virtues that define Thomas Whitelaw. He is hard-driving, business-savvy and client-centered. Mr. Thomas has created a culture that combines a strong work ethic with a highly collegial, entrepreneurial, and team-oriented philosophy, enabling the firm to thrive and grow despite the challenging economic environment.

Throughout his career, Mr. Thomas has been a leader and mentor to other attorneys. Previously, he was a partner and department head of McDermott, Will & Emery’s Litigation and Trial Practice Group. Prior to that, Thomas was partner and head of the Litigation and Trial Practice Group of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, LLP in Irvine, California.

Recent Representative Cases

Patent and Trademark Litigation

  • RSI Video Technologies, Inc. v. Vacant Property Security LLC, et al. (N.D.Illinois): Represented defendants against a charge of patent infringement regarding video imaging technology. Case is pending.
  • Surpass Tech Innovation LLC v. Sharp Corporation (Dist. Delaware): Counsel for VIZIO, Inc. Defended against a charge of patent infringement regarding LCD driver technology. Case is currently stayed pending outcome of review of the patents by the Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Surpass Tech Innovation LLC v. LG Display Co. Ltd. (Dist. Delaware): Counsel for VIZIO, Inc. Defended against a charge of patent infringement regarding LCD driver technology. Case is currently stayed pending outcome of review of the patents by the Patent and Trademark Office.
  • In the Matter of Certain Consumer Electronics with Display and Processing Capabilities (Int. Trade Commission): Counsel for VIZIO, Inc. Represented VIZIO against a charge of patent infringement regarding LCD panels, TV circuits, and video processing. Obtained an early settlement.
  • Graphics Properties Holdings, Inc. v. VIZIO, Inc. (Dist. of Del.): Represented the defendant against a charge of patent infringement regarding LCD panels, TV circuits, and video processing. Obtained an early settlement.
  • Innovus Prime LLC v. VIZIO, Inc. (N.D. Cal.): Represented the defendant against a charge of patent infringement regarding TV frame rate control. Obtained an early settlement.
  • Norman IP Holdings, LLC v. Lexmark International, Inc. (E.D. Tex.): Defended VIZIO, Inc. against a charge of patent infringement regarding the use of an ARM processor. Obtained an early settlement.
  • Advanced Display Technologies Of Texas, LLC, v. AU Optronics Corporation, et al. (E.D. Tex): Counsel for VIZIO, Inc. in patent infringement litigation involving LCD display technology.
  • Azure Networks, LLC, and Tri-County Excelsior Foundation v. Mediatek Inc. (E.D. Tex.): Counsel for VIZIO, Inc. Defended VIZIO against a charge of patent infringement regarding WiFi communication protocols. Case was dismissed.
  • Sansay Inc. v. Rates Technology LLC (S.D. Cal.): Prosecuted declaratory judgment claims of patent invalidity and unenforceability involving Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems.
  • Atwater Partners of Texas, LLC v. AT&T, Inc. et al. (E.D. Tex.): Represented Mindspeed against claims of infringement of five patents-in-suit for inverse multiplexing over ATM (IMA) devices. Obtained dismissal with prejudice after filing motion to dismiss challenging the complaint and threatening a motion for violation of Rule 11.
  • U.S. Ethernet Innovations, LLC, v. Acer, Inc. et al. (E.D. Tex.): Represented Broadcom in patent infringement action related to Ethernet technology.
  • Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. MOC Products Company (S.D. Cal.): Represented Illinois Tool Works in a patent infringement action involving machines for servicing automotive transmission systems and intake systems.
  • EBS Automotive Services, et al. v. Illinois Tool Works, Inc. et al. (S.D. Cal.): Defended Illinois Tool Works in a patent infringement action involving an automated system and methods for flushing and refilling automotive breaking systems.
  • On The Go v. AT&T (N.D. Ill.): Defended Cricket Communications against claims of patent infringement and prosecuting claims of patent invalidity and unenforceability involving handset-enabled electronic commerce.
  • WiAV v. Motorola (E.D. Va.): Represented the patent-owner Mindspeed Technologies, Inc., against claims of invalidity and unenforceability for eight of its patents related to speech coder technology.
  • WiAV v. Research in Motion, et al. (E.D. Va.): Represented the patent owner, Mindspeed Technologies, Inc., in a patent infringement lawsuit involving patents related to speech coder technology for use in wireless handsets.
  • MEC v. Mindspeed, Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Defended Mindspeed Technologies, Inc. in a patent infringement action involving ARM’s pipelined processor technology.
  • Inland Empire Foods v. Zateca Foods (C.D. Cal.): Prosecuted patent infringement and trade secret litigation involving claims related to a method of processing food.
  • Duhn Oil Tool Co. v. Cooper Cameron Corporation (E.D. Cal.): Represented plaintiff in a patent infringement action involving oil and gas wellhead technology.

Complex Business Litigation

  • Pabban Development, Inc. v. Kyphon Sarl (C.D. Cal.): Lead trial counsel for Pabban in a complex case for damages arising from Pabban’s sale to Kyphon of its patent and state-of-the-art Natrix System, a bone cement delivery system used to treat vertebral compression fractures. Following four years of intense litigation and a seven-day trial, the jury agreed with Pabban and concluded that Kyphon owed $15.417 million in damages. In addition, Mr. Thomas successfully defensed Kyphon’s fraud and breach of contract counter-claims against Pabban, two affiliates, and its CEO, seeking $17 million plus punitive damages. Pabban was also awarded over $8.5 million for all of its attorneys’ fees and costs, bringing the total judgment to $23,979,400.
  • RE3W, Inc. v. First American Corp. (California Superior Court, Orange County): Lead trial lawyer defending against claims of trade secret misappropriation, breach of oral joint venture agreement, and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Perini Building Co., Inc. v. MGM Mirage Design Group, et al. (Nevada State Court, Clark County): Lead trial lawyer for Tutor Perini, one of the world’s largest general contractors, in $650 million dispute with MGM over the construction of the CityCenter in Las Vegas.
  • Davis v. Electronic Arts (N.D. Cal.): Represented putative class of retired NFL players in lawsuit seeking in excess of $100 million plus punitive damages for breach of right of publicity in connection with Madden NFL video games.
  • Colonies Partners, L.P. v. San Bernardino County Flood Control District (California Superior Court, San Bernardino County): Represented landowners in contemporaneous quiet title and inverse condemnation action against the Flood Control District and the County. A lengthy court trial in the spring of 2006 resulted in a decision quieting title in favor of the client’s property. Following sustained efforts to resolve the case after trial, the County Board of Supervisors approved a $102,000,000 settlement of the client’s claims.
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit District (B.A.R.T.) v. Tanforan Park Shopping Center (California Superior Court, San Mateo County): Prosecuted and defended claims of condemnation and severance damages in the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, resulting in a favorable jury verdict in excess of $33 million.
  • Clear Channel Communications v. City of Mountain View (California Superior Court, Santa Clara County): Obtained summary judgment in favor of the City on claims for breach of lease, fraud and inverse condemnation in connection with an outdoor amphitheater. Obtained a settlement during the trial on the City’s cross-complaint for fraud, breach of lease and RICO violations, on terms valued at $50 million.
  • In Re Orange County Bankruptcy (C.D. Cal.): Represented class of all non-Orange County public entities that invested in Orange County. Obtained $115 million settlement, which represented a full return of capital invested, plus all attorney’s fees and costs.

Practice Areas

Trials, Intellectual Property, Real Estate/Construction Litigation, Securities Litigation, Product Liability


Supreme Court of the United States of America

State Bar of California

United States District Courts

  • All Federal District Courts within the State of California
  • Eastern District of Virginia
  • Eastern District of Texas
  • Southern District of New York
  • District of Connecticut

Awards/Professional Activities

Mr. Thomas was a judicial extern to the Honorable Terry S. Hatter, District Court Judge for the Central District of California. He was named a Top IP Lawyer for 2015 and is a member of Seven Figure Lawyers.


Mr. Thomas received his JD, magna cum laude, in 1981 from Pepperdine Law School, where he was the Articles Editor of the Law Review. Mr. Thomas received his BA, magna cum laude, in 1977 from Lehigh University.