April 6, 2012 8:24 PM

Megaupload Hires High-Profile Quinn Emanuel Laterals for Criminal Defense

Posted by Brian Baxter

Having a new Washington, D.C., office is coming in handy for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan, with several of the firm’s recent hires entering appearances this week on behalf of file-sharing Web site Megaupload and its millionaire founder, Kim Schmitz, better known as Kim Dotcom.

The Justice Department shut down Megaupload in January, seized its various domain names, and charged Dotcom as well as several other company executives with violating federal copyright and online piracy laws.

The government’s 72-page criminal indictment, filed in U.S. district court in Alexandria, Virginia on January 5, accuses the defendants of reaping more than $175 million in illicit profits from their activities and causing more than $500 million in damages to copyright owners, making it the largest online piracy case ever brought by the government.

Prominent Beltway litigator Robert Bennett of Hogan Lovells was initially retained to represent Megaupload and its executives, but was forced to drop the matter because of a client conflict, according to our previous reports.

On Thursday, Quinn Emanuel lawyers filed a motion in federal court in Alexandria to appear on behalf of Megaupload to connection with the government’s case.

Quinn Emanuel partners William Burck and Paul Brinkman are listed in court documents as counsel to the company. CNET reported Thursday that Quinn Emanuel name partner John Quinn and partner Andrew Schapiro would also be part of the firm’s team in the litigation.

Burck, Brinkman, and Schapiro are all relatively new to Quinn Emanuel. Brinkman joined the firm in September along with two other IP partners from Alston Bird to open Quinn Emanuel’s new D.C. digs, along with local managing partner Jon Corey, who transferred from the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Schapiro, a former Harvard Law School classmate of President Barack Obama, left Mayer Brown in October and currently divides his time between Quinn Emanuel’s Chicago and New York offices. In January, Burck, who once served as a deputy counsel to former President George W. Bush, left Weil, Gotshal Manges to join Quinn Emanuel’s nascent D.C. operation.

A source with knowledge of the matter says Quinn Emanuel is still sorting out which of its attorneys will take the lead representing Megaupload.

Schapiro, who was out of the country Friday and not immediately avaiable for comment, has a bit of a full docket lately. On Thursday, he received a bit of unwelcome news in a key case he brought with him from Mayer Brown: Viacom’s massive copyright infringement suit against Google’s YouTube, which Schapiro represents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit revived Viacom’s suit against YouTube, according to sibling publication The Am Law Litigation Daily. The decision reversed a 2010 summary judgment win for YouTube and Schapiro and sent the case back to a lower court.

It’s worth noting that after the government unveiled its charges against Megupload in January, the company’s longtime outside lawyer, Ira Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm in Novato, California, compared his client’s business to that of YouTube.

Rothken, a Silicon Valley veteran, is serving as global coordinating counsel for Megaupload and will work closely with Quinn Emanuel in representing the company, which has assembled a worldwide team of lawyers as it fights the Justice Department’s charges.

Earlier this year, prominent New Zealand barrister Paul Davison helped Dotcom secure bail while he fights extradition to the U.S. Dotcom remains confined to his palatial New Zealand home, recently winning the right to log on to the Internet once again.

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