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Admitted to Practice

  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court District of Columbia

Peter Karanjia

KaranjiaPeter
Partner
Co-chair, Appellate Practice
T202.973.4256
F202.973.4456
T212.489.8230
F212.489.8340
Peter Karanjia is co-chair of Davis Wright Tremaine’s appellate practice group and a member of the firm's communications, media, IP & technology group and its privacy & security group. Peter has extensive experience in appellate and regulatory litigation (having litigated over 100 appeals), government investigations, and complex civil litigation. In both 2016 and 2015, Law360 selected Peter as an "MVP of the Year" for his "successes in high-stakes litigation." He is also recommended by Chambers USA (2017) as an experienced litigator and appellate lawyer, and is regularly quoted in the media on cyberlaw, new technology, and privacy law.

Peter rejoined the firm in 2013 after serving for three years as deputy general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, where he was responsible for overseeing all of the agency’s litigation. At the FCC, Peter argued a number of precedent-setting appeals, including one—described by The New York Times as a "big win" for the Commission—involving novel issues concerning mobile Internet services on smartphones and tablets. Previously, Peter served as a senior member of the Office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, where he was responsible for appellate litigation and other special projects. As Special Counsel to the Solicitor General of New York (from 2007 to 2010), Peter successfully briefed and argued several major appeals, including a constitutional challenge to a first-of-its-kind statute governing online commerce. As The Washington Post reported, the "multibillion-dollar issue" at stake in the case "is one of the most important in modern retailing."

Representative Experience

Supreme Court

Trump v. Hawaii

Filed amicus briefs—including a recent brief in the Supreme Court—on behalf of Members of Congress in cases challenging President Trump’s “Travel Ban” executive orders. (Ongoing) 

Hernández v. Mesa

Filed amicus brief on behalf of former police chiefs supporting petitioners in case involving the extraterritorial application of the Constitution and issues of qualified immunity arising out of the fatal shooting of a Mexican teenager at the U.S.-Mexico border. The brief argued that the court of appeals erred in granting qualified immunity to the federal agent, and the Supreme Court agreed. 137. S. Ct. 2003 (2017)

T-Mobile v. City of Roswell, Georgia

Successfully sought cert. and obtained reversal of 11th Circuit decision in litigation challenging municipality’s denial of a wireless provider’s application to install a wireless facility. S Ct., 2015 WL 159278 (Jan. 14, 2015)

Lanell Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar

Filed amicus brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in a First Amendment litigation challenging state restrictions on solicitation of campaign contributions by judicial candidates. 135 S. Ct. 1656 (2015)

City of Arlington, Texas v. FCC*

Successfully defended FCC order designed to promote the deployment of wireless Internet services by requiring local zoning authorities to timely act on wireless carriers’ applications to construct and modify cell phone towers and wireless facilities. Writing for Bloomberg, Professor Cass Sunstein has described the case as "an important victory" for the Government "that will long define the relationship between federal agencies and federal courts." 113 S. Ct. 1863 (2013)

FCC v. Fox Television Stations*

Defended against broad First Amendment and due process challenges to FCC rulings applying the agency’s broadcast indecency policy. The Supreme Court vacated a 2nd Circuit ruling striking down the agency’s policy as facially unconstitutional, instead setting aside the FCC specific rulings on a narrower ground based on the particular facts. 132 S. Ct. 2307 (2012)

FCC v. AT&T*

Successfully defended an FCC order in a Freedom of Information Act case. Reversing an adverse court of appeals decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the FCC that corporations may not assert “personal privacy” interests under an exemption from the Act’s disclosure requirement. 131 S. Ct. 1177 (2011)

Talk America v. Michigan Bell Tel. Co.*

Successfully urged the Supreme Court to defer to the FCC’s understanding of an agency rule regarding the prices that incumbent telephone companies can charge competitors for certain transmission facilities. Reversing an adverse court of appeals decision, the Supreme Court laid out a key principle requiring courts to defer to agency interpretations of their own regulations, even when set forth in amicus briefs. 131 S. Ct. 2254 (2011)

Tribune Co., et al. v. FCC*

Successfully resisted petitions for certiorari filed by media companies seeking review of a 3rd Circuit decision that rejected First Amendment and statutory challenges to the FCC’s most recent media ownership rules. 133 S. Ct. 64 (2012); 133 S. Ct. 73 (2012); 545 U.S. 1123 (2012)

Dish Network Corp. v. FCC*

Successfully resisted petition for certiorari seeking review of a 9th Circuit decision upholding, against a First Amendment challenge, a federal statute requiring carriage of certain television stations in High Definition format. 132 S. Ct. 1162 (2012)

CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries*

Filed amicus brief on behalf of 14 states in support of respondent in employment-law dispute regarding whether retaliation claims are cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Court affirmed. 553 U.S. 442 (2008)

Cahill v. Alexander*

Cert. petition on behalf of the chief counsel for the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, in First Amendment challenge to attorney advertising rules. 131 S. Ct. 820 (2010)

New Technology, Cybersecurity, and Privacy Matters

Ameren Corp. v. FCC

Representing the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as intervenor in support of an FCC order that limits the rents communications providers must pay to electric utilities in order to use their facilities to provide broadband service. Argued before the 8th Circuit and awaiting decision. (Ongoing)

Facebook v. United States

Filed amicus brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of eight technology companies (Apple, Avvo, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, Snap, Twitter, and Yelp) and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in support of Facebook’s First Amendment challenge to a gag order concerning warrants the company received under the Stored Communications Act. (Ongoing)

Neustar v. FCC

On behalf of intervenor trade associations CTIA and USTelecom, successfully briefed and argued before the D.C. Circuit an appeal from FCC order selecting new vendor to provide database administration services that are currently provided by Neustar under a contract worth more than $400 million per year. 857 F.3d 886 (D.C. Cir. 2017)

FCC cybersecurity enforcement action

Represented telecommunications providers in the first ever FCC enforcement proceeding involving cybersecurity. Case arose out of an alleged data breach involving disclosure of proprietary customer information online. As Bloomberg BNA reported, the case not only marked the FCC’s “ent[ry] [into] the data security enforcement filed,” it was also (at the time) “the largest privacy action in the FCC’s history.” In 2015, the case settled on favorable terms for a fraction of the fine proposed by the FCC. (2015)

Matter of a warrant to search a certain email account controlled and maintained by Microsoft Corporation

Represented Amazon and Accenture as amici curiae before the Second Circuit in a closely-watched case involving whether the government may issue search warrants under the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) to require providers of cloud computing services to turn over emails and other electronic documents stored in datacenters overseas—here, emails stored by Microsoft on a server in Dublin, Ireland. Consistent with the position of our amicus brief, the Second Circuit held that SCA search warrants cannot be applied outside the United States.  The New York Times described this as a “surprise victory” in a case with significant “privacy implications for the growing cloud computing business, with implications for internet email and online storage, among other services.” 829 F.3d 197 (2d Cir. 2016), petition for certiorari pending (Ongoing)

FTC v. T-Mobile

Represented T-Mobile in the first ever litigation brought by the Federal Trade Commission against a telecommunications carrier under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC alleged that the carrier engaged in deceptive and unfair practices by charging customers for unauthorized premium text message (SMS) services provided by third parties.  As PC Magazine reported, this was “the second-largest mobile cramming settlement ever handed down.”  Angela Moscaritolo, ‘T-Mobile Settles Phone-Cramming Case for $90 Million,’ PCMag, Dec. 19, 2014. It is also one of a handful of settlements ever negotiated that involved the FTC, the FCC, and the Attorneys General from all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

New Cingular Wireless PCS, et al. v. Picker, et al.

Represented Comcast in a successful joint effort by a coalition of telecommunications providers to block a ruling by an Administrative Law Judge of the California Public Utilities Commission, ordering the providers to share their highly sensitive business data with third parties.  The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, preventing disclosure of the data, and the Commission subsequently terminated its proceeding.

Comcast of Oregon v. City of Eugene

Briefed and argued before the Supreme Court of Oregon a case of first impression under the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 359 Or. 528 (2016).

Twitter v. Holder

Representing The Washington Post, The Guardian, NPR, BuzzFeed, and other media organizations as amici curiae in lawsuit challenging government restrictions on information that tech companies may publish in transparency reports that disclose the aggregate numbers of surveillance requests they have received from the government for information about their customers. (Ongoing)

Cellco Partnership v. FCC*

Successfully briefed and argued before the D.C. Circuit an appeal challenging the FCC’s "data roaming" rule, which enables users of smartphones and other mobile devices to obtain nationwide mobile Internet access. 700 F.3d 534 (D.C. Cir. 2012)

Verizon v. FCC*

Responsible for litigation strategy, including overseeing briefing and extensive coordination with amici and a coalition of technology company intervenors (including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Skype), in litigation before the D.C. Circuit challenging the FCC’s 2010 order adopting “Open Internet” or “net neutrality” rules. While vacating two of the three rules, the D.C. Circuit upheld the agency’s assertion of jurisdiction to regulate Internet-related services. As CNET reported, "[t]his part of the decision is an important victory for the FCC." 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014)

Time Warner Cable, et al. v. FCC*

Successfully briefed and argued a First Amendment case challenging the facial constitutionality of the FCC’s “program carriage” rules, which prohibit cable companies and other programing distributors from rejecting programming by independent networks based on their unaffiliated status. The 2nd Circuit vacated a provision of the rules authorizing certain interim relief for failure to follow required notice-and-comment procedures, but ruled that the agency could readopt its rule consistent with the Act.  729 F.3d 137 (2d Cir. Sept. 4, 2013)

Amazon.com, LLC and Overstock.com v. New York State Department of Taxation & Finance*

Successfully briefed and argued on behalf of the State of New York related appeals in which Internet retailers challenged the constitutionality of a New York statute governing the tax-collection obligations of out-of-state Internet retailers—the first statute of its kind. The New York appellate court rejected facial challenges under the Commerce Clause and Due Process Clause, while describing the case as having “far-reaching ramifications because of the exponential expansion of cyberspace in general, and commerce over the Internet in particular.” 81 A.D.3d 183 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 2010) aff’d, 987 N.E.2d 621 (2013), cert. denied, S. Ct., 2013 WL 4522065 (Dec. 2, 2013)

TCPA class action litigations*

In response to requests from various appellate courts in class action litigations under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, filed amicus briefs on behalf of the FCC setting forth the agency’s authoritative interpretations of the TCPA. In seeking rehearing as a non-party intervenor in another case, also persuaded the 6th Circuit to amend its opinion allowing a class action plaintiff to collaterally attack an FCC rule exempting certain telemarketing calls from liability under the TCPA; in its amended opinion, the court of appeals agreed with the FCC that the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider the plaintiff’s arguments attacking the agency’s rule.

Intellectual Property

Eight Mile Style, LLC v. Apple Computer, Inc., et al.

Represented Viacom and MTV Networks in a case brought by Eminem’s music publishing company alleging copyright infringement, false endorsement under the Lanham Act, and unfair competition arising out of use of an Eminem song in a commercial for Apple’s iPod. Case settled.

Spike Lee v. Viacom, Inc.

Represented Viacom and Spike TV in a misappropriation lawsuit filed by filmmaker Spike Lee challenging the launch and branding of Spike TV network. Case settled.

Maharam v. Patterson, et al.

Obtained summary judgment in favor of author James Patterson and his publisher in a copyright action alleging that his children’s book ("santaKid") and related promotional materials infringed plaintiff’s creative works. 2007 WL 2702195 (S.D.N.Y. 2007)

Corbo v. Patterson, et al.

Won pre-discovery motion to dismiss copyright infringement action against author James Patterson, his publishers, and New Line Cinema based on same children’s book. (C.D. 2005)

Gross v. BBC

Represented the BBC in theft of ideas action concerning documentary. 386 F.3d 224 (2d Cir. 2004)

Cargile v. Viacom

Obtained dismissal of theft of ideas claim against Viacom concerning the Rugrats show. 282 F. Supp. 2d 1316 (N.D. Fla. 2003)

Commercial Litigation

People of the State of New York v. Morris*

Strategic advice regarding motion to dismiss indictment and development of legal theories in one of the largest “pay-to-play” securities fraud cases ever handled by the Office of the New York Attorney General, resulting in several guilty pleas and recovery of more than $170 million in civil settlements with various individuals and private equity funds. 2010 WL 2977151 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County June 29, 2010)

Develop Don’t Destroy (Brooklyn) v. Urban Development Corp.*

Successfully briefed and argued appeal on behalf of the New York State Public Authorities Control Board in a challenge to the $4 billion redevelopment project in the Atlantic Yards area of Brooklyn, N.Y. 59 A.D.3d 312 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 2009)

Matter of World Trade Center bombing litigation

Member of team that, on behalf of broker-dealer Cantor Fitzgerald, persuaded a New York jury to issue a plaintiffs’ verdict on liability following a five and a half week trial in a multimillion-dollar business-interruption case arising out of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. 13 A.D.3d 661 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t 2004), rev’d, 17 N.Y.3d 428 (2011)

LMK Psychological Services, PC v. State Farm*

Successfully briefed and argued before the New York Court of Appeals a complex insurance case as amicus curiae on behalf of the New York State Superintendent of Insurance. 12 N.Y.3d 217 (2009)

Trump on the Ocean v. Ash*

Persuaded New York appellate court to lift a preliminary injunction barring a New York State agency from collecting payments under a commercial lease with an entity controlled by Donald Trump. 81 A.D.3d 713 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dep’t 2011)
* Denotes experience completed at a prior firm

Additional Qualifications

  • Deputy General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C., 2010-2013
  • Special Counsel to the Solicitor General, Office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, New York, N.Y., 2007-2010
  • Partner and Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, New York, N.Y., 2000-2007
  • Associate (Litigation Department), Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York, N.Y., 1998-2000
  • Winner of Attorney General’s Award (Office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo), 2010

Professional & Community Activities

  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Kennedy Scholars’ Association
  • Supreme Court Institute, Georgetown Law (Moot Court Program)

Professional Recognition

  • Listed as "Up and Coming" in Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (District of Columbia) by Chambers USA, 2017
  • Named "MVP of the Year," Law360, 2015-2016
"He is very good at thinking through issues and staying calm under pressure." -Client Quote, Chambers USA 2017