Mark Scarsi – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is a very busy court.  However, it is particularly shorthanded at present, as a mix of retirements and deaths have left the court nine judges short. Ongoing negotiations between California’s Democratic senators and the White House, as well as mistrust from the White House’s Ninth Circuit nominations, have left the few district court picks in California hanging in limbo.  Among them is Mark Scarsi, an experienced intellectual property attorney in Los Angeles.

Background

Mark Christopher Scarsi was born in Syracuse, NY in 1964.  Scarsi attended Syracuse University, getting a B.A. in 1987 and an M.S. in 1993.[1]  He then received a J.D. magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1996.[2]

After law school, Scarsi joined Christie, Parker & Hale LLP in Pasadena as an Associate.[3]  In 1998, he moved to the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.  He became a Partner with the firm in 2003.

In 2007, Scarsi joined Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP in L.A. as a Partner and serves as Managing Partner of the L.A. office since 2013.[4] 

History of the Seat

Scarsi has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to a seat vacated on January 6, 2017, by Judge George King’s move to senior status.  Scarsi had broached his interest in a judicial appointment in April 2017 with the White House.[5]  He interviewed with the White House in August 2017 and then with selection committees set up by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.[6]  In October 2018, Scarsi was nominated by the White House.

Legal Experience

Scarsi has spent virtually his entire career focusing on intellectual property law, and has tried twenty eight cases throughout his career, including fifteen jury trials.[7]  Notably, Scarsi has served as Apple’s attorney in defending a number of patent infringement claims.  For example, Scarsi helped defend Apple against an infringement suit brought by California inventor Richard Ditzik based on his 1997 patent for a wireless handset device.[8]  He also represented Apple in defending a suit brought by Netairus Technologies relating to the ability of Apple smartphones to communicate with cell towers and wifi signals.[9]  He also successfully defended Apple against an infringement suit brought by Wi-LAN Inc. relating to Apple’s alleged infringement of patents relating to the use of 3G technology.[10]

In other cases, Scarsi has represented Google,[11] and Lockheed Martin.[12] 

Writings & Commentary

Scarsi has occasionally commented on issues of law and policy through his career, including weighing in on the confirmation process for Justice Elena Kagan.[13]  Notably, Scarsi expressed his optimism following the 2010 midterm elections that a divided Congress would be able to enact patent reform, stating:

“Maybe a divided Congress creates a perfect storm in which patent reform can be passed.”[14]

Overall Assessment

The White House and California’s Democratic Senators have already had some public clashes over the three California Ninth Circuit nominees confirmed so far.  While Feinstein and Harris had limited control over appellate confirmations, they have considerable power over Scarsi.  As such, his confirmation will ultimately turn on whether the White House can reach an agreement with the senators over California’s district court judges.  Such a deal may ultimately include a nominee to fill a Fourth California seat on the Ninth Circuit as well.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Mark Scarsi: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] See id.

[3] See id. at 2.

[4] See id. 

[5] See id. at 24.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 15.

[8] Jason Frankovitz, Apple Patent Trial Goes to Jury: Why Fight When You Can License, TechZulu, Nov. 20, 2013.

[9] Netairus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., Civ. No. 2:10cv03257-JAK-E (C.D. Cal.), aff’d, 587 F. App’x 658 (Fed. Cir. 2014).

[10] Wi-LAN Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., Civ. No. 2:12-cv-600-JRG (E.D. Tex.), aff’d, 811 F.3d 455 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

[11] See Callwave Communications v. Google, Inc. et al., C.A. No. 12-cv-1701, 1704, 1788-RGA, 207 F.Supp.3d 405 (D. Del. 2016).

[12] See Space Sys./Loral, Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., C-95-3530 SI (N.D. Cal.).  

[13] If I Were a Senator, I’d Ask Kagan . . . , Law360, May 10, 2010.

[14] Mark Scarsi Comments on the Impact of the Elections on Intellectual Property Law and Policy, Milbank.com, Nov. 4, 2010, https://www.milbank.com/en/news/mark-scarsi-comments-on-the-impact-of-the-elections-on.html.