Attorneys

Brooke Oliver
Senior Counsel
Contact
1117 S California Ave, Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1106
Practice Areas

Admissions: California ; United States Supreme Court ; U.S. District Court, Central, Northern, Eastern and Southern Districts of California ; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Languages: Spanish


Professional Summary

Brooke Oliver, a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Reviewed AV® rated attorney since 1998, is respected at the highest levels of the art world internationally and on the streets. She served as co-chair of a national Visual Arts & the Law Conference for twelve years, is sought as one the nation’s experts on the Visual Artists’ Rights Act, and has lectured on art law in the U.S., Mexico, and Rome. Brooke has been called “a folk hero of copyright law” for her role in landmark court decisions that protect visual artists. Brooke was recognized as a top-rated lawyer in Intellectual Property Law in several years by American Lawyer.com, and among the Top Women Lawyers in Northern California, and the top 1% of lawyers nationally in 2020 and 2021 (the American Registry).  She is a cultural justice lawyer.

Her knowledge of tax-exempt organizations is sought by people who want to follow the rules yet be innovative. She counsels on the entire life cycle of tax-exempt organizations, and defends clients in Attorney General or IRS challenges to exempt status.

Representative Matters

  • Protecting the trademark “Dykes on Bikes”: Prosecuted registration of the trademark “Dykes on Bikes” all the way to the United States Supreme Court twice. This was a major victory for the LGBT community and a landmark trademark law decision. McDermott v. San Francisco Women’s Motorcycle Contingent, 240 Fed. Appx. 865 (Fed. Cir. 2007), cert denied 552 U.S. 1109 (2008).  The case has been cited in treatises, at least four Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decisions, and numerous law review articles. 9-300 Gilson on Trademarks 303, 309 (Matthew Bender & Co. 2013); 1-3 Intellectual Property Counseling and Litigation 3.02 (Matthew Bender & Co. 2013)  As amicus counsel, Brooke lead the briefing on nonprofits’ political speech through their trademarks, ultimately resulting in the Slants’ win, overturning a 70 year-old law that allowed the USPTO to decide what is or is not derogatory.  Matal v. Tam, 582 U.S. (2017).
  • Landmark decisions for Visual Artists’ Rights Act claims: In Baca and SPARC v. LA Metro and Caltrans, Brooke achieved an unprecedented settlement whereby those transportation agencies agreed to pay for the restoration of Judy Baca’s iconic Hitting the Wall mural in downtown LA (2021).  In one of the earliest VARA cases about the monumental Lilli Ann Mural in San Francisco’s Mission District., Brooke obtained a Temporary Restraining Order, a preliminary injunction, a mandatory injunction, and finally a $200,000 public settlement before a magistrate judge, which was at that time the highest VARA damages award.
  • Freeing Greek gods to inspire gamers: Brooke successfully defended Sony Computer Entertainment America’s God of War video game in a high-stakes copyright infringement case, securing. summary judgment for defendants SCEA and game creator David Jaffe, upholding the right of game developers and artists to draw freely from the inspiration of public domain Greek myth. Bissoon-Dath v. Sony Computer Entm’t Am., Inc., 694 F.Supp.2d 1071 (N.D. Cal. 2010), aff’d. Dath v. Sony Computer Entm’t Am., Inc., 653 F.3d 898 (9th Cir. 2011).
  • Building a future for Burning Man: served as legal architect of Burning Man’s nonprofit infrastructure, including securing 501(c)(3) status for the Burning Man Project and handling the nonprofit’s acquisition of Black Rock City, LLC (now a subsidiary of the nonprofit), which included extensive due diligence and related transactions. She did the transactional legal work that helped Burning Man Project embrace the nonprofits Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Arts Foundation as subsidiaries. Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey called Brooke’s approach “law in the service of soul.”
  • Legal victory for music legends: Litigated and successfully resolved a diversity jurisdiction publicity rights action by the estates of music legends Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Barry White and Miles Davis against a national restaurant franchisor, creating an unprecedented collaboration among those legends’ heirs and successor companies.

Recognitions

  • Teddy Witherington Award for Outstanding Service to the LGBT Movement
  • Cesar E. Chávez Legacy Award
  • Certificate of Recognition, California State Senate, for commitment to celebrating diversity, beauty, and promoting global equality for all
  • Certificate of Honor, City and County of San Francisco, for outstanding leadership and community engagement with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community
  • Sainted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (St. Brooke of the Patent Leather Legal Briefs)
  • Cambridge Who’s Who
  • Northern California Super Lawyers Selection – 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Community

  • American Bar Association
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
  • Calle 24 Latino Cultural District Council (A Founder)
  • International Trademark Association
  • San Francisco Pride

Education

  • J.D., Golden Gate University, School of Law, 1994
  • B.S., Organizational Development, University of California, Davis

News Coverage

Seminars

  • Panelist. “Is it Art? I’ll Know It When I See It. Does Copyright Protect It? I’ll Tell You When I Know.” Webinar, 2021 USC Gould School of Law Intellectual Property Institute, September 22, 2021.

Publications