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Rubin, Thomas C.

Thomas C. Rubin

Special Counsel
Direct Tel: +1 206-905-7003
Tel: +1 206 905 7000 Fax: +1 206 905 7100

Tom Rubin is special counsel in our Seattle Office, having served for many years as Microsoft’s Chief Intellectual Property Strategy Counsel and the head of the copyright, trademark and trade secret group at the company. He has vast expertise in intellectual property, technology, licensing, internet, media law, corporate governance and investigations.

At Microsoft, Rubin spearheaded complex litigation, enforcement, product development, licensing, marketing, and global policy strategies across Microsoft’s business divisions. He also led many collaborative efforts with other leaders in the technology and content industries, including briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court, California Supreme Court, Second Circuit, Ninth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit; policy initiatives; and product partnerships. In 2010 the Los Angeles County Bar Association awarded him the Corporate Alternative Dispute Resolution Award for his leadership of the landmark User Generated Content Principles.

He is currently teaching an advanced copyright seminar as a lecturer at Harvard Law School and previously taught two advanced copyright seminars at Stanford Law School and a criminal justice seminar at Yale College. A frequent speaker on legal, policy, and business issues related to content, innovation, and the Internet, he has testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and addressed the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, International Copyright Forum in China, International Copyright Technology Conference in Korea, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and many other government, academic and industry forums around the world.

Prior to Microsoft, Rubin was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was one of the country’s first prosecutors of computer and intellectual property crimes. He argued and won three cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was awarded the Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney. Among his notable cases were:

  • A three-year international investigation and prosecution of over 40 spy shops for smuggling and selling sophisticated eavesdropping equipment, including a trial before then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor that resulted in the forfeiture of the largest chain of spy shops in the United States and convictions of the owner and other executives.
  • The first large-scale investigation under the Economic Espionage Act, involving two major corporations and proprietary information related to financial services data.
  • The first-ever prosecution involving the illegal interception of pager messages, involving cloning of pagers and interception of messages of the New York Police Department and the New York Fire Department.
  • The first-ever prosecution involving sports betting on the Internet, involving 21 defendants at nine companies located offshore.
  • Multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud involving a Bronx medical clinic.
  • Multi-million dollar fraud involving forged letters between President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.

Prior to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rubin was at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, where he represented, among others, Sony Corp. in the landmark digital audio tape recorder class action copyright litigation brought by music publishers; Time Inc. defending investigative reporter subpoenaed by subject of expose; Infinity Broadcasting Co. in libel and other matters involving Howard Stern; Video Monitoring Services of America in copyright action brought by CNN over news clipping service; New York Life Insurance Co. and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in internal investigations and compliance; NAACP Legal Defense Fund in voting rights action in Arkansas; National Center for Fair & Open Testing in litigation involving New York's Truth-in-Testing Law; and International Chamber of Commerce arbitration panel in dispute between Westinghouse and the Philippines over a nuclear reactor.

He clerked for Judge Leonard B. Sand in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Chief Judge James L. Oakes in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A graduate of Yale and of Stanford Law School, he worked in the newsroom of The New York Times prior to law school. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Creative Commons; the Steering Committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; the Board of Visitors at Stanford Law School; and the Board of Advisors of CCH’s Guide to Computer Law. He was also a member of the Intellectual Property Commission of the MIT Media Lab.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Stanford Law School
    (J.D., with distinction, 1988)
    • Stanford Law Review
  • Yale University
    (B.A., with distinction, 1983)
  • The State Bar of Washington
  • The State Bar of New York
  • United States Court of Appeals:
    • Second Circuit
  • United States District Court:
    • Southern District of New York
  • Harvard Law School
    • Lecturer on Law, 2016
  • Stanford Law School:
    • Lecturer in Law, 2010-2011, 2014-2015
  • Microsoft Corporation:
    • Chief Intellectual Property Strategy Counsel, 2008-2014
    • Associate General Counsel, 2003-2008
    • Senior Attorney, 2000-2003
    • Corporate Attorney, 1998-2000
  • United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York:
    • Assistant United States Attorney, 1994-1998
  • Debevoise & Plimpton:
    • Associate, 1990-1994
  • Yale University:
    • Visiting Lecturer, 1989-1990
  • Law Clerk to Judge James L. Oakes:
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1989-1990.
  • Law Clerk to Judge Leonard B. Sand:
    • Southern District of New York, 1988-1989
  • Board of Directors, Creative Commons
  • Steering Committee, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Fellow, Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School
  • Board of Visitors, Stanford Law School
  • Board of Advisors, CCH Guide to Computer Law
  • Member, Intellectual Property Commission, MIT Media Lab
  • Uri and Caroline Bauer Distinguished Visitor, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law