Services & Industries
Corporate & Business Owner Disputes
Intellectual Property Litigation
Contract & Commercial Disputes
Real Estate Litigation
Constitutional Law & Civil Rights
Information Privacy & Security
Media, Sports & Entertainment
J.D., University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, 1990, Order of the Coif
M.S.Ed., University of Pennsylvania, 1987
B.A.,cum laude, University of Pennsylvania, 1986
Bar & Court Admissions
Oregon State Bar
State Bar of California
Washington State Bar Association
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th, 9th, 10th, D.C., and Federal Circuits
U.S. District Courts for the District of Oregon, the Northern, Central, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California, and the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington
U.S. Tax Court
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Steven is Co-Chair of Tonkon Torp’s Litigation Department and Information Privacy & Security Practice Group and Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice. He counsels clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, media communications and technology, information security, energy, corporate governance, real estate, and finance issues. An AV-rated litigator, Steven is also a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property and Financial Services & Investment Management practice groups.
He handles complex litigation in trial and appellate courts and in arbitration, and advises clients on transactional and information security matters as well. He represents clients in local, regional, and national matters.
Steven’s extensive experience in intellectual property matters includes representing former employers, departing employees, and new employers in trade secret litigation and advocating for both plaintiffs and defendants in trademark, copyright, and patent litigation.
As an advisor to media, publishing and communications clients, such as KOIN-TV and EO Media Group, Steven addresses issues such as applicability of media shield laws, reporters’ privileges, prior restraints on publication, defamation, invasion of privacy, news gathering methods, public records, public meetings, licensing, and copyright.
Steven advises clients regarding their information security and privacy issues, including appropriate responses to actual and potential breaches of data security, and providing notice to affected persons in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. He also advises clients on the mitigation of litigation risk in connection with incident responses. In addition, Steven serves as the firm’s Information Security Partner and serves on the firm’s internal IT Security Committee.
Steven has broad experience in securities litigation and arbitrations for issuers, brokers, and customers. He also has substantial experience in disputes concerning valuations, earn-outs, indemnities, and other issues arising out of corporate and financing transactions.
A strategic advantage Steven brings to his client’s matters is his skill in presenting technical issues and financial data in an accessible and compelling manner.
Steven has extensive appellate experience, having briefed and argued multiple appeals at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Oregon Court of Appeals. He has also briefed and/or argued appeals at the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth, Tenth, and Federal Circuits, the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, the Oregon Supreme Court, the Washington Supreme Court, the Washington Court of Appeals, and the California Court of Appeal.
After law school, Steven served as a law clerk for the Honorable Stephen V. Wilson, United States District Court, Central District of California, and the Honorable Edwin J. Peterson, Chief Justice / Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court.
Tonkon Torp was lead counsel for a former executive officer and board member of Enron in dozens of federal and state court lawsuits in more than 20 states. We represented our client in civil lawsuit proceedings involving the Department of Labor and SEC, and a myriad of other proceeds obtaining favorable settlements to resolve all the proceedings before trial.
PEBB v. OHSU
Successfully pursued Oregon Health & Science University’s right to recover a proportionate share of approximately $25 million, including interest, received by the state from the 1999 demutualization of Standard Insurance Company.
Cano v. Schreiner
Obtained a favorable jury verdict for a retiring shareholder who challenged the appraisal value of his shares in several closely-held corporations.
Guydish v. U.S. Bakery
Defended successfully, in trial court and on appeal, a class action seeking unpaid overtime on behalf of route salesperson for a regional company.
Watson v. Northwest Cascade
Successfully defended a regional company facing claims for defamation, false advertising, trespass, and property damage.
Walker v. Metro One
Obtained damages for an investor at trial; successfully defended appeal.
Praegitzer v. Andersen
Defended successfully, at trial and on appeal, claims by one 50-percent shareholder against the other 50-percent shareholder for unjust enrichment, fraudulent conveyance, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Miller v. KOIN-TV
Successfully defended KOIN-TV against claims that political advertising aired by the station was false and misleading.
Sustained venue (after a full day evidentiary hearing) in federal action for a regionally-based client suing a company headquartered in the eastern United States, leading to a favorable resolution for the client.
Obtained affirmance of a summary judgment decision holding that a bakery's compensation system for a class of route sales drivers provided the reasonable equivalent of overtime and was therefore exempt from Washington's overtime laws. (Washington Court of Appeals, Washington Supreme Court)
Civil Rights/First Amendment
Represent the plaintiffs in Moss vs. U.S. Secret Service, a civil rights case arising out of the demonstrations in southern Oregon during President Bush's 2004 campaign visit. (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
Represent the ACLU of Oregon in an appeal under Oregon’s Public Records Law. The ACLU is seeking records concerning a Eugene Police Department investigation on public interest grounds. (Oregon Court of Appeals)
Represented the plaintiffs in Obsidian v. Cox, a defamation case against an Internet blogger that received national attention from media, bloggers, and constitutional scholars. The case involved the difficult balance between First Amendment speech and press protections and state defamation laws in the Internet age. (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
(Multnomah County Circuit Court) – Successfully represented local investment management firm in dispute with a Los Angeles based finance company concerning a structured finance transaction. The opponent sought more than $20 million in compensatory damages plus additional punitive damages, alleging fraud and breach of contract. Successfully prosecuted Client's damages claims for more than $1.8 million for breach of contract and non-payment of note obligations.
(NASDR Arbitration) – Achieved a favorable result in arbitration in the defense of a local, family-owned securities brokerage against claims of unauthorized and unsuitable trading.
Bell Data v. Symbol Technologies Inc.
(USDC, E.D. Mich.) – Successfully defended technology client accused of misappropriation, copyright infringement, and unfair competition by a software developer.
Dillon v. Symbol Technologies, Inc.
(USDC, N.D. Cal.) – Contract dispute involving sale of bar code scanning equipment.
Symantec Corp. v. CD Micro; Symantec Corp. v. Unik Associates
(USDC, D. Or.) – Defeated third party claims for indemnity for copyright and trademark infringement; successfully limited direct claim for damages for copyright and trademark infringement where defendant admitted sales of products found to infringe.
Ranger Enterprises v. Leen & Associates
(USDC, D. Or.) – Successfully defended company against claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information.
Wessa v. Watermark Paddlesports Inc.
(USDC, W.D. Wash.) – Contract dispute over asset purchase and earn-out where primary asset purchased was patent.
Patent Group, LLC v. Yakima Products, Inc.
(USDC, E.D. Texas) – Retained to defend claims for false patent marking. Negotiated settlement.
Orion IP, LLC v. Thule AB, et al.
(USDC, E.D. Tex.) – Defended Yakima Products patent infringement action involving client's website.
Bell Data v. Symbol Technologies Inc
Successfully defended a technology client accused of misappropriation, copyright infringement, and unfair competition by a software developer.
Achieved a favorable result in arbitration in the defense of a local, family-owned securities brokerage against claims of unauthorized and unsuitable trading.
Successfully represented local investment management firm in dispute with a Los Angeles based finance company concerning a structured finance transaction. The opponent sought more than $20 million in compensatory damages plus additional punitive damages, alleging fraud and breach of contract. Successfully prosecuted Client’s damages claims for more than $1.8 million for breach of contract and non-payment of note obligations.
Sustained venue (after a full day evidentiary hearing) in federal action in Portland for a regionally-based client suing a company headquartered in the eastern United States, leading to a favorable resolution for the client.
Ignite v. CamelBak
Successfully defended CamelBak against claims for patent infringement. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the patent claims alleged against our client were invalid. That decision was appealed to the Federal Circuit, which ruled in favor of CamelBak, too. The final patent issue that was pending in district court was ultimately dismissed with prejudice.
Wholesale Electricity Antitrust Cases I and II and the People of the State of California v. Portland General Electric Company, et al
Defended a utility in a variety of litigation arising out of the California energy crisis.
Steven led a trial defending a client from accusations of trade secret misappropriation, ultimately obtaining a complete victory for the client on appeal. Short of trial, he also helped to defend a local manufacturer against a competitor’s claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of a license agreement, knocking out a substantial portion of the competitor’s claims on summary judgment, and enabling the case to settle.
A recent dispute between a Tonkon Torp client and a Los Angeles-based finance company was the very definition of “complex commercial litigation.” The case involved a structured finance transaction documented through multiple agreements among multiple parties. Untangling the deal gave Tonkon Torp’s litigators an opportunity to demonstrate their value.
Tonkon Torp has won a significant patent case for its client, CamelBak Products. CamelBak, based in Petaluma, California and founded in 1989, invented the hands-free hydration category and is the global leader in personal hydration gear. In November 2014, CamelBak was sued for patent infringement on a lid assembly for a beverage container that included cleaning features.
Balancing Free Speech and Presidential Security – Wilker Argues at the U.S. Supreme Court on First Amendment Issue
On March 26, 2014, Tonkon Torp litigator Steven Wilker argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon in Wood v. Moss, a political viewpoint discrimination case. Find details and more featured cases here.
Steven Wilker recently presented arguments to the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon. At issue is the ACLU’s request for the release of public records from the City of Eugene relating to an incident in 2008 in which a Eugene police officer twice “tased” protestor Ian Van Ornum while he was prone on the ground at an anti-pesticide rally.
Tonkon Torp’s Government Solutions Practice Group is celebrating a successful effort on behalf of the Oregon Farm Bureau seeking changes to an Attorney General’s ballot title, caption and summary.
Tonkon Torp attorneys Steven Wilker, Sarah Einowski and Gwen Griffith, working on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon, won a large victory in the Oregon Supreme Court that strengthens the public’s right to records. Find details and more featured cases here.
Community Involvement & Activities
American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Inc. and ACLU Foundation of Oregon, Inc.
Board of Directors
2010–2015, Vice President, Litigation
2015-2017, Vice Chair
Classroom Law Project
Board of Directors
2018–Present, Vice Chair
First Growth Children and Family Charities, dba Classic Wines Auction
Board of Directors
2019-2020, Treasurer, Executive Committee
2020-Present, Secretary, Executive Committee
Metropolitan Family Service
2015-Present, Investment Committee
2010-2018, Board of Directors
2017-2018, Immediate Past Chair
2013-2015, Vice Chair
Oregon State Bar – Bar Press Broadcasters Council
Multnomah Bar Association
American Bar Association
Federal Bar Association
The Best Lawyers in America
2013-2022, Commercial Litigation
2013-2022, Litigation: First Amendment
2017, 2019, Lawyer of the Year – Litigation: First Amendment, Portland
Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers
2022, Litigation: General Commercial
2015-2022, Oregon Super Lawyer – Intellectual Property Litigation
2013-2014, Oregon Super Lawyer – Business Litigation
Don H. Marmaduke Pro Bono Service Award
2019 (Inaugural Recipient)
Portland Business Journal
2005, Forty Under 40
Thirty-one Tonkon Torp attorneys in 11 practice areas have been included in the 2022 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars
In May 2022, the Portland Business Journal celebrated the 25th anniversary of its popular Forty Under 40 award program. Since its inception, 10 Tonkon Torp attorneys have been recognized as Portland area business and community leaders who were under 40 years old at the time of their recognition.
Chambers USA has recognized 28 Tonkon Torp attorneys in eight practice areas in its Chambers USA 2022 Guide.
Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 39 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022
Twenty-six Tonkon Torp attorneys in nine practice areas have been included in the 2021 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars lists.
JOBS Act Directs SEC to Lift Ban on General Solicitation and General Advertising in Rule 506 Offerings
The recently enacted Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) directs the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to adopt rules that remove the existing prohibition against general advertising and general solicitation in private placements exempt from registration under Rule 506 of Regulation D, as long as the securities are sold only to accredited investors.
As discussed in a previous Tonkon Tip, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an order raising the financial thresholds of Rule 205-3 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which provides that only “qualified clients” may be charged a performance-based fee.
On February 2, 2012, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued final regulations requiring service providers to ERISA retirement plans to disclose information about the service providers’ compensation and potential conflicts of interest. The final rules replace interim final ERISA section 408(b)(2) regulations that were to go into effect on April 1, 2012.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 has significantly changed how investment advisers are regulated. Among other things, the Act (a) increased the amount of assets under management required for SEC registration and (b) eliminated the so-called “private adviser” exemption, obligating many managers of private investment funds to register with the SEC or report to the SEC as “exempt reporting advisers.”
Are you an investment adviser currently registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)? If so, you may have to de-register with the SEC and register instead with one or more states, as required by the recently passed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank”).
Publications & Presentations
“Business Entities as Parties,” Chapter, Oregon Civil Pleading and Litigation (2020 Edition), Oregon State Bar
“Separation of Church and State after American Legion v. American Humanist Association,” Humanists of Greater Portland, January 2020
“Social Media and Websites – IP Pitfalls and Cautionary Tales,” September 2018
“Privacy Policies and the GDPR,” June 2018
“Know Your Rights – Fair Use or Copyright Infringement?” Society of American Travel Writers, November 2017
“Legal and Moral Questions in The Nether,” Third Rail Repertory Theatre, October 2016
“The Supreme Court Inside and Out,” OSB Business Litigation Section, November 2015
“Presidential Security Trumps First Amendment: Wood v. Moss,” Oregon Civil Rights Newsletter, OSB Civil Rights Section, November 2014
“Is Big Data Giving you a Big Headache?” OSB Corporate Counsel Section, October 2014
“Legal Issues with the Internet of Things and Drones,” OSB Technology Law Section, October 2014
“Behind the Curtain: Inside the U.S. Supreme Court,” U.S District Court of Oregon Historical Society, September 2014
“Data Security and Breach Response 101: A Primer for Corporate Counsel,” Association of Corporate Counsel, June 2014
“First Amendment Speech and Assembly and Fourth Amendment Search and Privacy,” American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, May 2014
“Hot Box: NSA Spying Rules,” KGW News’ Hot Box, January 2014
“Public Records, But Not For Public Employees,” Jefferson Public Radio’s Jefferson Exchange, January 2014
“A Deeper Look Into Government Surveillance Programs and Your Right to Privacy,” KGW News’ Straight Talk, June 2013
“What You Need to Know About Public Records and Open Meetings in Oregon,” Lorman Education Services, June 2013
“Warranties and Indemnifications,” Daily Journal of Commerce, December 2012
“Privacy, Piracy and Patents: Computer Law 2012,” OSB Computer and Internet Law Section, September 2012
“Representative Capacity,” Oregon Civil Pleading and Practice, 6th edition, Oregon State Bar, April 2012
“Are Corporations People? The Impact and Future of ‘Citizens United,'” City Club of Portland, January 2012
“Binding Arbitration: Oregon Dealers Cannot Require Binding Arbitration of Warranty Claims,” Oregon Automobile Dealers Association Newsletter, November 2011
“Ninth Circuit Review – Supervisory Liability under § 1983 and Bivens,” ACLU NW Civil Liberties Conference, October 30, 2010
“The Nuts and Bolts of Litigating a Civil Rights Case – Perplexed by Pleading Standards? Motions to Dismiss After Twombly,” Oregon State Bar CLE, October 2010
“Offers of Judgment in Oregon State Court,” Oregon State Bar Litigation Journal, March 2010
“Peaceful Political Protest: When Can the Government Disperse Peaceful Protesters?” Oregon State Bar CLE, October 2008
“What You Need to Know About Public Records and Open Meetings,” Lorman CLE, October 2008
“Grand Theft IP,” Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network Webinar, June 2008
“Key Word Advertising Using Trademarked Terms: Fair or Foul?” Oregon Intellectual Property Newsletter, Spring 2008
“Trademark Law – 2007 Year in Review,” Intellectual Property Law: A Year in Review, Oregon State Bar CLE, February 2008
“Who is Liable for Speech in Cyberspace?” American Bar Association Intellectual Property Roundtable, June 2007