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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, special counsel in our Seattle office, has worked in leading roles at the cutting edge of technology and the law for over 25 years. He was one of the very first computer crimes prosecutors in the country as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York in the 1990s; served as Microsoft’s Chief Intellectual Property Strategy Counsel and the head of its copyright, trademark and trade secret group for over 15 years; and is a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, where he has taught over a dozen technology-focused courses on data, privacy, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, antitrust, and intellectual property.

As a federal prosecutor, he pioneered and led the investigation and prosecution of computer and electronic crimes in SDNY, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (computer trespass and hacking), the Economic Espionage Act (theft of proprietary information), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (sale of eavesdropping and surveillance devices), the Wire Act (sports betting on the internet), and criminal copyright infringement. He was awarded the Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney for a series of landmark nationwide cases that culminated in a trial before then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor, during which the defendants all pled guilty and forfeited their corporation. He also argued and won three cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

At Microsoft, Rubin spearheaded complex litigation, product development, licensing, marketing, enforcement, and global policy strategies across Microsoft’s business divisions and for Microsoft Research, including intellectual property, data, artificial intelligence, and antitrust. 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; numerous U.S. and international 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 also architected Microsoft’s first comprehensive corporate compliance program, building on work he did as an AUSA.

In addition to teaching courses on technology law and policy at Stanford for over a decade, he has taught seminars at Harvard Law School and Yale College. A frequent international speaker on legal, policy, and business issues related to technology, innovation, and the internet, he has testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and addressed the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, the International Copyright Forum in China, the International Copyright Technology Conference in Korea, and many other government, academic, and industry forums around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prior to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rubin was a lawyer 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 that led to the enactment of the Audio Home Recording Act; Time Inc. defending an investigative reporter subpoenaed by the subject of an expose; Infinity Broadcasting Co. in libel and other matters involving Howard Stern; and Video Monitoring Services of America in a copyright action brought by CNN over its news clipping service.

A graduate of Yale and of Stanford Law School, he worked in the newsroom of The New York Times prior to law school. After law school, 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.

Rubin currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, on the Board of Visitors at Stanford Law School, as a Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and on the Innovation Advisory Council of the City of Seattle. He has also served on the board and as Vice Chair of Creative Commons, on the Board of Advisors of CCH’s Guide to Computer Law, and as a member of the Intellectual Property Commission of the MIT Media Lab.

  • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Data Privacy & Security
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Antitrust & Competition
  • 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:
    • Western District of Washington 
    • Southern District of New York
  • Stanford Law School:
    • Lecturer in Law, 2010-present
  • Harvard Law School
    • Lecturer on Law, 2015-16
  • 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
  • Executive Committee, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Board of Visitors, Stanford Law School
  • Fellow, Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School
  • Innovation Advisory Council, City of Seattle
  • Former Vice Chair and Board of Directors, Creative Commons
  • Former Board of Advisors, CCH Guide to Computer Law
  • Former Member, Intellectual Property Commission, MIT Media Lab
  • Uri and Caroline Bauer Distinguished Visitor, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law