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Thomas P. Murphy

Thomas P. Murphy

Of Counsel

San Jose Office 408.286.5800 Vcard Email

Areas of Focus:

Mr. Murphy has over thirty-five years of experience in representing a variety of clients from individuals to large, publicly-traded corporations in appellate and extraordinary writ proceedings in state and federal courts and in litigation involving commercial, intellectual property and real estate matters.

Mr. Murphy is a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law, State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an election-only organization devoted to excellence in appellate practice.

In 2014-2022, Mr. Murphy was recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer in Appellate Law.

In 2020, 2021, and 2022, Mr. Murphy was recognized as an honoree included in the 27th -29th editions of Best Lawyers in America® in Appellate Practice.

Mr. Murphy also represents clients in intellectual property protection matters, including copyright and trademark counseling, registration, maintenance and enforcement, and agreements regarding intellectual property rights.

Mr. Murphy has counseled clients regarding the availability and use of trademarks and service marks, prosecuted applications for trademark registration before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, represented clients in inter partes proceedings before the Trademark Trial Appeals Board, advised clients regarding the use, protection and maintenance of marks, and handled domain name disputes. He also has advised clients regarding copyright matters, particularly in the software, database and Internet contexts, including the availability of protection, ownership and licensing questions, infringement analysis, analysis of potential antitrust and misuse issues, fair use, and enforcement.

Representative Cases

  • California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose, 61 Cal.4th 435 (2015), cert. denied 136 S.Ct. 928 (2016)
    Successfully defended the City of San Jose in a challenge to the City’s affordable housing ordinance, after having also obtained in the court of appeal a reversal of the trial court’s judgment invalidating the ordinance.
  • Construction Industry Force Account Council v. Ross Valley Sanitary District, 244 Cal.App.4th 1303 (2016)
    Successfully obtained reversal of judgment against sanitary district in proceedings challenging the district’s right to use its own employees to perform work on sewer system under its jurisdiction.
  • Sharabianlou v. Karp, 181 Cal.App.4th 1133 (2010)
    Successfully obtained reversal of net judgment of more than $1 million in action to rescind contract for purchase of commercial building; clients later obtained award of attorneys' fees and costs on remand
  • Fonseca v. City of Gilroy, 148 Cal.App.4th 1174 (2007)
    Successfully defended the City of Gilroy in a challenge to the adequacy of the housing element of its General Plan under California's Housing Element Law and Least Cost Zoning Law
  • Gilroy Citizens for Responsible Planning v. City of Gilroy, 140 Cal.App.4th 911 (2006)
    Successfully defended a challenge brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the City of Gilroy's certification of an Environmental Impact Report
  • Mel Doney v. TRW Inc., an Ohio corporation, 33 Cal.App.4th 245, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 292 (1995)
    Action brought against TRW and its subsidiary ESL by relatives of several ESL employees who were the victims of an unforeseeable violent rampage by a former ESL employee, Richard Wade Farley; successfully defended an appeal of the judgment for TRW
  • Groner v. Bank of America (published sub nom., Bloom v. Martin) 77 F.3d 318 (9th Cir.1996)
    Successfully defended mortgage company in class action brought against several lenders under Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA), in which the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that RESPA did not apply to demand or reconveyance fees
  • Doug North v. City of Gilroy, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Docket No. 94-15283 (decided 1996)
    Successfully defended the City of Gilroy in the federal appellate court against a First Amendment challenge brought by an adult bookstore operator to the City of Gilroy's adoption of a moratorium on the expansion or establishment of adult businesses in Gilroy
  • Regional Enterprises v. Allivato, Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H014075 (decided 1996)
    Berliner Cohen won a jury verdict in favor of an employer on its claims against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets and on the employee's claims against the employer for wrongful termination; on appeal, successfully defended against the employee's allegations that a non-competition and non-solicitation agreement that she signed was invalid under California law and that she was terminated from her employment in violation of public policy for refusing to sign the invalid agreement
  • Castellucci v. Siligo, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H01492 (decided 1996)
    Successfully defended a former property owner against claims by secured creditor for nuisance and trespass based on environmental contamination to real property; on appeal, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the beneficiary under a deed of trust covering the allegedly contaminated property could not bring causes of action for nuisance and trespass based on the contamination
  • Wilson v. Food Machinery Sales and Service, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Docket No. H011760 (decided 1995)
    Successfully defended appeal of order granting a new trial in breach of contract action based on erroneous jury instruction
  • Ignacia Gaeta v. City of Gilroy, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Case No. H015457 (1997)
    Successfully defended the City of Gilroy in a challenge to the adequacy of the housing element of its General Plan.
  • In the Matter of Fenton F. O'Connel Trust Dated July 30, 1971, As Amended, Sixth District Court of Appeal Case No. H016244 (1997)
    On behalf of co-trustees of a revocable trust, prevailed in a proceeding to establish the trust's ownership of certain real property and promissory notes
  • Abbate v. Espinoza, et al., Sixth District Court of Appeal Case No. H017809 (2000)
    Successfully defended the County of Santa Clara, the County of Santa Clara Department of Corrections and certain individual employees of the Department of Corrections in an action based on federal claims for violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and state law claims
  • Empire Computer & Components v. Pioneer/Technologies Group, Inc., Sixth District Court of Appeal Case No. H019148 (2000)
    Successfully asserted the defense of commercial impossibility against a claim for breach of contract to deliver erasable programmable read-only memories (EPROMS)


  • Born in Royal Oak, Michigan
  • Married with three children

Professional Admissions

  • State Bar of California, 1985 – present

Activities / Memberships

  • State Bar of California
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association, 1985 - present
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association, Appellate Courts Committee, Member
  • St. Thomas More Society of Santa Clara County, Board Member and Past President


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J. D., 1985
  • University of California, Berkeley, A.B., with Distinction, 1981