Benjamin Nix has extensive experience litigating complex business disputes, including trade secrets, non-compete agreement disputes, Lanham Act claims, unfair competition, consumer class actions, trade dress and trademark, copyright, and fiduciary duty.
He also counsels clients on a variety of pre-litigation matters, particularly on issues related to trade secrets, employee departure issues, non-competition agreements, and unfair competition.
Ben served as Chair of the Business Litigation Group for seven years and currently serves on the firm’s Management Committee, which sets firm strategy and growth plans. He is a leader of a team that handles trade secrets matters, employee departure disputes, and disputes over non-competition agreements. He has been the lead lawyer on numerous cases in which the firm successfully defended misappropriation of trade secrets, including defeating applications for emergency relief and preliminary injunctions. Ben and his team also have successfully prosecuted trade secret claims and related matters, including obtaining temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and permanent injunctions on behalf of the firm’s clients. Ben’s recent successes for his clients include multiple millions of dollars in awards and settlements, as well as recovery of attorney’s fees and costs.
Before joining Payne & Fears, Ben was an associate in the litigation department at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP. Prior to that, he served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Stanley Mosk, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.
Ben enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters when they are home from college. As empty nesters, Ben and his wife Karrie spend more time getting outdoors to hike, and ride bikes when the weather is nice.
- Prevailed in an arbitration on behalf of our clients resulting in a nearly $40 million arbitration award in their favor in a complex business dispute between owners of a limited liability company.
- Successfully defended a trade secret misappropriation case brought by a company against three of its former executives and their new employer. In connection with the trade secret claim, the court found in favor of our clients and ruled that that the former employer brought the case in bad faith, finding both that the claim was subjectively in bad faith and objectively specious, and awarded attorney’s fees to our clients. The Court of Appeal, in SASCO v. CSI Electrical Contractors, Inc., et al., No. B322686 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2022), affirmed the court’s ruling in favor of our clients in its entirety, including the award of nearly $300,000 in attorney’s fees.
- Represented an electronic parts manufacturer against a former employee who started a competing business, and began to make knock-off products using proprietary design. Obtained a preliminary injunction stopping the defendant from further sales of the products, and later settled the matter.
- Represented a large reprographics firm in an action against former employees and a competitor for breach of duty of loyalty, misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition. After conducting discovery and obtaining substantial evidence of the defendants’ violations, Ben successfully moved for a preliminary injunction and obtained an order preventing the defendants from conducting further business with the plaintiff’s customers. In addition, Ben and his team engaged in months of hard-fought litigation, including more than 100 depositions. They uncovered evidence resulting in a confidential settlement that included entering into a public, permanent injunction similar to the preliminary injunction issued by the court.
- Represented the largest wholesale distributor of music in the U.S. in an action against a competitor that had raided employees from its import division and wrongfully diverted business away from our client. After the case was initially handled by another firm, our team of attorneys, led by Ben, stepped in to reverse the course of the case in favor of the client, including defeating summary judgment motions. The defendants ultimately agreed to settle the matter and based on the results of the litigation, our client was able to subsequently acquire the defendant corporation.
- Defended a misappropriation of trade secrets case brought by a large, national office supply retailer against our client. Payne & Fears defeated the national retailer’s application for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. In addition, we prevented the national retailer from pursuing aggressive and obtrusive discovery in the matter. The firm then used other means to bring the matter to an early, favorable resolution for our client, which avoided unnecessary expenditures.
- Successfully resolved several Lanham Act claims against manufacturers for alleged false statements and violations of California Business and Professions Code Section 17500 et seq.
- Successfully defeated a motion for preliminary injunction against a client for alleged Lanham Act violations which, if successful, would have harmed the business.
- Successfully resolved a consumer class action claim in early stages before multiple six figures in attorney’s fees were incurred by our client.
- Obtained pre-trial dismissal of all claims against aerospace defense contractor Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) for alleged $1 million in unpaid invoices, resulting in a published California Court of Appeal opinion.
- After a four-week jury trial, prevailed on claims against a former manager of our client for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and fraud, with a finding in favor of punitive damages.
- Obtained numerous temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions regarding theft of trade secrets.
- Successfully handled numerous trade secret litigation matters under California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, which resulted in favorable settlements or other resolutions on behalf of our clients.
- Prevailed on numerous motions to dismiss, demurrers, and motions for summary judgment, which terminated cases short of trial in both state and federal courts.