David Nimmer

Firm: Irell & Manella LLP
Location: Los Angeles - CA

  • 1800 Avenue of the Stars Suite 900
    Los Angeles, CA 90067
  • Tel : 310.203.7079
  • Fax : 310.203.7199

Widely recognized as a foremost expert in copyright law, David Nimmer represents clients in the entertainment, publishing and high technology fields. He has twice served as co-counsel representing clients before the U.S. Supreme Court. On the first occasion, a unanimous decision in favor of his client drew the boundaries between copyright and trademark protection. In the second, another unanimous decision in favor of his client set the stage to compensate all freelance journalists in the country for their past articles.

David gave congressional testimony at the invitation of the House Judiciary Committee in 2014, on behalf of the United States Telephone Association in 1997 and on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters in 1992. He also delivered Parliamentary testimony on behalf of the Combined Newspaper and Magazine Copyright Committee of Australia in Sydney.

Since 1985, David has authored and updated Nimmer on Copyright, the standard reference treatise in the field, first published in 1963 by his late father, Professor Melville B. Nimmer. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Nimmer on Copyright on numerous occasions, as has every federal appellate court, countless district and state courts, as well as courts confronting copyright cases in countries across the globe. Cases within the United States have relied on Nimmer on Copyright as authority in over 3,500 judicial opinions.

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized in The Legal 500 for Intellectual Property – Copyright (2008-2019)
  • Named “Lawyer of the Year” in the areas of copyright law (2018), IP litigation (2013) and information technology law (2011) by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named one of “The 25 Most Influential People in IP” by The American Lawyer (2010)
  • Recognized as the “Intellectual Property ‘Lawyer of the Year’” by the Century City Bar Association (2010)
  • Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers list every year since the list’s inception
  • Named one of California’s “Top 10 Copyright Lawyers” by the Daily Journal (2008)


David has contributed to numerous books, including Le lisibile et l’illsibe (2003), Cases and Materials on Copyright and Other Aspects of Entertainment Litigation (2002), Artefacts and Intellectual Property (2001), Copinger and Skone James on Copyright (1991), OnMultimedia: Technologies for the 21st Century (1990), Droit des affaires (1989) and International Copyright Law and Practice (1989-1998).

David has also published a series of influential articles on the subject of U.S. and international copyright. Kluwer International published one anthology of his articles in 2003 under the title Copyright: Sacred Text, Technology and the DMCA and a second in 2008 entitled Copyright Illuminated. A roster of his articles includes:

  • “Introduction,” Chambers Global Practice Guide: Copyright (2021-2022)
  • “Volition in Violation of Copyright,” 43 Colum. J.L. & Arts 1 (2019)
  • “Investigating the Hypothetical ‘Reasonable Royalty’ for Copyright Infringement,” 99 B.U. L. Rev. 1 (2019)
  • “Juries and the Development of Fair Use Standards,” 31 Harv. J. L. & Tech. 563 (2018)
  • “Breaking Down the Barrier Separating Copyright from droit d’auteur,” Entertainment, Issues Nos. 1 and 2 (2017)
  • “Innocence of Copyright: An Inquiry into the Public Interest,” 63 J. Copyright Soc’y 367 (2016)
  • “Aereo, Disruptive Technology, and Statutory Interpretation” SCOTUSblog and Daily Journal (June 26 and June 27, 2014, respectively)
  • “Copyright and the Fall Line,” 31 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 803 (2013)


Yale Law School (J.D., 1980); Editor of the Yale Law Journal

Stanford University (A.B., 1977), with distinction and honors


  • California, 1980
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Irell & Manella LLP

For more than 40 years, our Intellectual Property Litigation practice has delivered exceptional results for plaintiffs and defendants in complex intellectual property disputes. Our experience includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, unfair competition and antitrust issues. We are also brought in to resolve significant commercial disputes involving technology.

Our team helps industry leaders, startups, leading academic institutions and multinational biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies solve their most challenging problems. Many of our clients are pushing the frontiers of technology, and we partner with them at the frontiers of the law to help them achieve their most important business goals.

As lead counsel, we have litigated patents from nearly every technology discipline, including software, semiconductors, computer peripherals, visual effects, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical products, telecommunications, industrial machinery, video games and e-commerce. Our victories range from jury verdicts in the billions of dollars to multiple wins recognized as defense verdicts of the year. The breadth of our work is international in scope, and we have substantial experience coordinating global litigation strategies for clients spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Key to our success is the incredible talent and relentless drive of our litigators, who are nationally known as leaders in the field and praised by clients and colleagues:

  • “Highly creative—Irell never just uses the same old playbook.” – Chambers USA
  • “Irell’s lawyers are some of the most thorough, diligent and detailed-oriented practitioners you could hope to have on your side. They turn out brilliant results as a matter of course.” – Intellectual Asset Management‘s IAM Patent 1000
  • “The lawyers here are some of the most intellectually rigorous around, so while cases are staffed leanly, clients are never left wanting for the finest legal insight.” – World Trademark Review‘s WTR 1000

Our team brings extraordinary qualifications and a high level of creativity to every matter. Many of our litigators have advanced technical degrees and professional experience in private industry, and all of them boast extraordinary academic records. We work collectively to solve the kinds of problems other firms can’t solve, and we draw upon the minds of our entire group—including associates and partners—to come up with the most novel and successful approaches to legal strategy. We are often brought in to take over and turn around “unwinnable” cases after serious losses by other firms.

Our practice includes more than 20 registered patent attorneys who practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), representing clients in all manner of post-issuance proceedings, including inter partes review (IPR), covered business method, post-grant review and ex parte reexamination. The group includes the former undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as a former chief administrative patent judge of the PTAB who was instrumental in drafting the post-grant provisions of the America Invents Act. Frequently, our group handles patent cases before the PTAB along with co-pending infringement litigation in federal district courts. Our tight-knit team coordinates closely, thinking one step ahead on issues such as claim construction to provide a unified legal strategy for both paths of litigation.

In addition to patent litigation, we regularly represent clients in high-profile copyright and trademark litigation in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. We represent clients before the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Court of Appeals to bring and defend oppositions and petitions to cancel. We represent both plaintiffs and defendants in copyright and trademark litigation, seeking and defending temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions and trials on the merits.