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Ambika Kumar Doran

Co-chair, Media Law Practice
Ambika Kumar Doran practices Internet, media, and intellectual property law. Experienced in the application of free speech principles to digital content, Ambika has skillfully represented clients in cutting-edge cases involving online content liability and electronic privacy. Her work focuses on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, widely regarded as the most important law governing online content, and other federal protections for user-generated content. Ambika also regularly advises on and litigates First Amendment, defamation, copyright, and trademark, as well as public records, reporters’ privilege, and courtroom access. Her clients range from traditional news media to pioneers of the sharing economy.

A member of the ABA Forum on Communications Governing Committee and co-chair of the firm’s Media Law Practice, Ambika regularly speaks and writes about digital content and privacy issues. In 2016, the National Diversity Council named Ambika one of Washington state’s "Most Powerful and Influential Women."

Representative Experience

Airbnb Inc. v. City of Santa Monica

Representing Inc. in a challenge to a Santa Monica ordinance making it unlawful for websites like HomeAway and its co-plaintiff, Airbnb, to permit hosts to publish ads for allegedly unregistered short-term rentals. (C.D. Cal. Ongoing)

Craig PC Sales & Service LLC et al. v. CDW Government LLC et al.

Representing Microsoft Corporation in a lawsuit alleging it acted unlawfully by reporting the plaintiff’s software piracy to the government and cooperating with the government in an ensuing investigation. A motion to dismiss under Oklahoma’s anti-SLAPP statute is pending. (N.D. Okla. Ongoing)

Hamilton v. Speight et al.

Representing Microsoft Corporation in a lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff’s identity was used to create the character “Cole Train” in the "Gears of War" video game series. (E.D. Pa. Ongoing), Inc. v. City of Portland

Argued and obtained order preliminarily enjoining City of Portland from imposing certain requirements on platforms that permit short-term rental hosts to publish ads and book reservations, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the Stored Communications Act. (D. Or. Ongoing)

Perfectus Aluminum, Inc. v. Dupre Analytics et al.

Representing activist short-seller Muddy Waters against trade libel and other claims based on its reports that exposed fraud by a publicly traded Chinese company and noted the plaintiff’s ties to the company. (San Bernardino Cnty. (Calif.) Super. Ct. Ongoing)

Plateau Campus LLC v. City of Issaquah et al.

Representing City Church and its subsidiary, Plateau Campus LLC, in constitutional challenge to City of Issaquah’s designation of church property as a landmark. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. Ongoing)

Airbnb Inc. v. City and County of San Francisco

Represented Inc. in a challenge to a San Francisco ordinance making it unlawful for websites like HomeAway and its co-plaintiff, Airbnb, to permit hosts to publish ads for allegedly unregistered short-term rentals. Case settled. (N.D. Cal. 2017)

Consumer Cellular, Inc. v., Inc.

Represented consumer review website in appeal of decision denying motion to dismiss claims that consumer ratings of the plaintiff posted to defendant’s website are unlawful. Case settled. (9th Cir. 2017)

Grecco v. Hearst Communications, Inc.

Represented Getty Images in lawsuit alleging that it unlawfully licensed images taken by the plaintiff photographer, infringing the photographer’s copyright. Case settled. (S.D.N.Y. 2017)

Microsoft v. Department of Justice

Represented Microsoft in its First and Fourth Amendment challenge to a federal statute that permits the government to obtain an order forbidding Microsoft and other providers from informing customers when the government obtains the customer’s information from such a provider. After the court denied the government’s motion to dismiss, the government adopted a new policy. (W.D. Wash. 2017)

Montes Bojorquez v. United States Customs & Border Protection et al.

Provided amicus support to recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals who had been detained and deported to Mexico, on behalf of United We Dream, an organization dedicated to the interests of such recipients (also called “Dreamers”). (S.D. Cal. 2017)

Tollefsen v. Jantz et al.

Represented a publisher, authors, and a radio show host against claims that they defamed a teacher by implying she committed crimes by being present when students take medication. The court granted summary judgment, and the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed. (Wash. App. 2017)

A Place for Rover, Inc. v. Mad Paws Pt. Ltd.

Represented operator of website in lawsuit alleging that operators of a website in Australia had infringed’s copyright. Case settled. (W.D. Wash. 2016)

City of Seattle v. Kang

Brought motion to quash subpoena issued at the request of counsel for criminal defendant to KING-TV for unaired footage. (Seattle Municipal Court 2016)

Consumer Cellular, Incorporated v., Inc.

Represented defendants against unlawful trade practice, intentional interference with prospective economic relationships, defamation, and RICO claims, arising out of content on defendants’ consumer review website. (D. Or. 2016)

Katze v. University of Washington

On behalf of BuzzFeed, successfully blocked efforts by university professor to enjoin disclosure of records relating to accusations of sexual harassment. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2016)

Pyle v. Getty Images (US), Inc.

Represented Getty Images in lawsuit brought by photographer alleging Getty Images unlawfully licensed the photographer’s images, infringing his copyright. Case settled (S.D.N.Y. 2016)

Sandler v. iStockPhoto LP

Secured dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds of putative class action challenging iStock’s policy of expiring credits used to purchase licenses for photographic images. Dismissal based on plaintiffs’ acceptance of online agreements requiring litigation in Alberta, Canada. (C.D. Cal., 2016)

St. Jude Medical, Inc. v. Muddy Waters

Represented cybersecurity consulting firm, physician, and investment firm in defamation lawsuit arising out of public disclosures about cybersecurity risks involving the plaintiff’s medical devices. (D. Minn. 2016 Settled)

Vrdolyak v. Avvo Inc.

Secured dismissal of putative class action alleging lawyer-rating website violated plaintiff attorney’s right of publicity by publishing a profile page without his authorization, on which ads for competitors and website’s services could appear. Court held First Amendment fully protected profiles as non-commercial speech. (N.D. Ill. 2016)

Zhongyi v. Microsoft

Represented Microsoft in copyright infringement action involving Chinese fonts. Obtained transfer to W.D. of Washington and then dismissal with prejudice of all claims. 2013 WL 6979555 (W.D. Wash. 2013). Successfully defended appeal, and the 9th Circuit affirmed in all respects. 655 Fed.Appx. 564 (9th Cir. J2016), LLC v. Dart

Represented in its challenge to the Cook County sheriff’s campaign to pressure Visa and MasterCard to terminate use of their cards for transactions on website. Prevailed in the 7th Circuit, which ruled that a preliminary injunction should be entered to preclude the sheriff’s informal prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment. (N.D. Ill. 2015)

Griffin v. Virginia Mason Medical Center

Secured summary judgment on claim that medical center defamed former employee. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2015)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem v. General Motors

Defended General Motors against claims that it misappropriated the publicity rights of Albert Einstein and falsely implied the plaintiff endorsed its vehicle by featuring an image of Einstein in an advertisement. The court dismissed the Lanham Act and unfair competition claims on summary judgment and the remaining claims before trial, finding that under New Jersey law, Einstein’s rights of publicity had expired before publication of the ad. The plaintiff appealed, the case settled, and the decision on Einstein’s publicity rights was vacated. (2015)

Henne v. City of Yakima

On behalf of major news organizations, filed amicus brief in first case construing Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute to reach the Washington State Supreme Court, urging the Court to construe the statute in favor of protecting defendants’ speech and petition rights. Court ruled that as recipient of communications, municipality was not engaged to protected activity. (Wash., 2015)

Lane’s Gifts v. Microsoft

Represented Microsoft Online Inc. (“MOI”) in putative class action alleging MOI misrepresented the characteristics of websites comprising its online advertising network. Case settled. (W.D. Wash. 2015)

Seaquist v. Caldier

Represented member of Washington House of Representatives in lawsuit alleging her campaign advertising defamed the plaintiff, her opponent. Obtained dismissal under Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute before that statute was declared unconstitutional. (Kitsap Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2015)

Shepard v. Getty Images (US), Inc. et al.

Represented the world's leading provider of stock photography in lawsuit brought by courtroom sketch artists alleging infringement of the copyrights in their sketches and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Case settled on favorable terms following filing of motion to dismiss. (S.D.N.Y. 2015)

Thomson v. Doe

Secured first published appellate decision in Washington state court holding that a party seeking the identity of an anonymous online poster must satisfy a heightened standard under the First Amendment. Court affirmed decision denying motion to compel Avvo to reveal identity of individual who wrote allegedly libelous review. (Wash Ct. App. Div. I July 6, 2015) LLC v. Chiesa et al.

Secured an order permanently enjoining enforcement of N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-10, which makes it a crime to knowingly publish, disseminate, display, or to "directly or indirectly" cause offending content to be published.  The court held the law violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, and the First Amendment and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. (D.N.J. 2014) LLC v. Cooper et al.

Secured an order permanently enjoining enforcement of T.C.A. § 39-13-314, which makes it a felony to "sell or offer to sell" certain advertisements, as well as attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing constitutional challenge. The court held the law violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, and the First Amendment and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. (M.D. Tenn. 2014)

Cornell v. Getty Images (US), Inc.

Represented the world’s leading provider of stock photography in lawsuit with courtroom sketch artist regarding Getty Images’ licensing of her sketches. The case centered on the sketch artist’s claim that Getty Images violated her copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by distributing the sketches along with allegedly false copyright management information. After Getty Images defeated plaintiff’s summary judgment motion, the case settled on confidential terms. (W.D. Wash. 2014)

Daniel v. Kruger

Represented defendants in appeal of trial court’s order denying motion to dismiss complaint under Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute. Plaintiff, a real estate agent, claimed defamation and related claims over the posting of a negative review on the website Court of Appeals reversed trial court’s decision that anti-SLAPP statute did not apply. 176 Wn. App. 1028 (Div. II 2014)

Fisher Broadcasting-Seattle TV LLC v. City of Seattle

On behalf of major news organizations and open government advocates, filed state Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for public disclosure of police dash cam videos. Court adopted statutory construction advocated by amici. 326 P.3d 688 (Wash., 2014)

Intercon Solutions, Inc. v. Basel Action Network et al

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of coalition of media organizations and trade associations urging 7th Circuit to hold that Washington's anti-SLAPP law applies in federal court and that the collateral order doctrine permits immediate appeal from denial of an anti-SLAPP motion. (7th Cir. 2014)

Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings LLC

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of online service providers, including major technology companies and news media, arguing for reversal of district court's narrow interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately reversed and vacated the judgment, endorsing a broad interpretation of Section 230 which permits websites and service providers to engage in traditional editorial functions without becoming liable for user content. (6th Cir. 2014)

Masck v. Sports Illustrated, et al.

Represented Getty Images (US) Inc. and several other defendants in lawsuit alleging infringement of an iconic photograph of football player Desmond Howard striking the “Heisman Pose.” Case settled. (E.D. Mich. 2014)

Routt v., Inc.

Defended Amazon against claims that it was liable for the allegedly infringing acts of participants in its marketing program. The trial court dismissed complaint and amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), and the 9th Circuit affirmed. (2014)

Towillis v. Nystuen

Represented couple against claims that they defamed the plaintiff, a real estate agent, because one of them posted a negative review of the plaintiff on After defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the claims with prejudice. (Snohomish Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2014)

ACLU-NC v. City of Redding

Obtained temporary and permanent injunction against enforcement of City of Redding, Calif.'s "Outdoor Public Forum Policy" as violating the public’s First Amendment rights. The 3rd District Court of Appeal largely affirmed in published opinion. 211 Cal. App. 4th 1322 (2013) LLC v. McKenna et al.

Represented in its constitutional challenge to Washington SB 6251, which made it a felony to knowingly publish, disseminate, display, or to "directly or indirectly" cause offending content to be published. Secured temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of law based on court's finding that SB 6251 was likely preempted by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. State thereafter stipulated to permanent injunction and paid $200,000 in attorneys’ fees. (2013)

Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Servin, et al.

Represented the Yes Men against trademark claims filed after they performed a political parody of the Chamber of Commerce's controversial position on global climate change; three years after defendants moved to dismiss, the Chamber dropped its lawsuit. USDC D.C. 09cv 2014 (2013)

United States Mission Corporation v. KIRO-TV, Inc.

Secured dismissal of libel by implication claim brought against local television station stemming from investigative report about halfway house’s requirement that its residents—some of them criminals—perform door-to-door solicitations on its behalf. Court of Appeals affirmed trial court decision. 2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 44 (Wash. App. 2013)

Alberghetti et al. v. Corbis Corporation

Represented national media and licensors of photographic imagery in amicus brief challenging district court's ruling that the subject of a photograph may assert a viable right-of-publicity claim based merely on a licensor's offer to license the copyright in the photograph. (9th Circuit 2012)

Bertsch v. Twentieth Century Fox Television, et al.

Represented Fox entities and Rupert Murdoch in lawsuit brought by plaintiff alleging that the film "Donnie Darko" and television series "The X-Files" and "Burn Notice" were based on his life. A day after defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit with prejudice. (W.D. Wash. 2012)

Davis v. Avvo, Inc.

Represented lawyer ratings website on unfair competition, misappropriation, and related claims brought by disgruntled attorney. Court granted special motion to strike the complaint under Washington's anti-SLAPP statute, awarding the defendant its attorneys' fees and the $10,000 statutory penalty. (W.D. Wash. 2012)

Dinsmore v. George et al.

Represented several individuals in lawsuit alleging they defamed the plaintiff by confronting him about his anger management problem and asking him to get help. After defendants brought an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint, the court significantly limited discovery. The plaintiff then voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit. (2012)

Peterson v. Kellogg

Represented counterclaim defendant against libel and related claims stemming from his Better Business Bureau complaint and reviews about the plaintiff’s vintage Land Rover repair and restoration business. Defendant brought anti-SLAPP motion, and the court denied plaintiff’s request to lift the discovery stay. Case settled later that day. (Thurston Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2012)

Accor Technology, Inc. v. Keeney Manuf. Co.

Represented Accor Technology, Inc., manufacturer of plumbing valves, in lawsuit against competitor alleging trademark infringement. Case successfully settled. (W.D. Wash. 2011)

Breach of contract dispute for book author

In arbitration, successfully obtained dismissal of breach of contract claim arising from statement made in the defendant’s book. Arbitrator found that anti-SLAPP statute applied and dismissed the complaint because it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (2011)

Castello v. City of Seattle

Obtained dismissal of defamation and related claims and award of attorneys' fees and costs under Washington's recently enacted anti-SLAPP statute, where claims arose from statements a public employee allegedly made to her superiors, a co-worker, and a local television station. 2011 WL 219671, 39 Media L. Rep. 1601 (W.D. Wash. 2011)

Illinois Tool Works, Inc. et al. v. Seattle Safety, LLC

Represented crash sled patent holder in a patent infringement, breach of contract, and unfair competition litigation against former contractor. Won partial summary judgment of infringement; case settled four days before trial. (W.D. Wash. 2011)

J.R. Four Ltd. dba Technical Glass Products v. Proscience et al.

Represented manufacturer of architectural glass in lawsuit against former distributor alleging trademark infringement. Case successfully settled. (2011)

Keck v.

Defended against privacy claims raised by book that was published by third parties through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program. Court found immune from liability under Section 230, granting its motion for judgment on the pleadings. (2011)

Pro bono services for private nonprofit organization

Handled clearance of expanded use of prior-used trademark for entire operations and business name, with registration of marks and addressing of potential conflicts via proceedings and/or negotiation of agreements. (2010-2011)

Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., Inc. v. Under Armour, Inc.

Represented Rawlings, a major sporting goods manufacturer, in litigation arising from competitor's use of trademark in advertising and promotional materials. After the court entered a preliminary injunction ordering competitor to stop and issue corrective notices, the case successfully settled. (W.D. Wash. 2011)

Suulutaaq et. al. v. Center for Investigative Reporting et al.

Successfully defended award-winning investigative reporting center, its veteran reporter, and the San Francisco Chronicle in libel action brought by an Alaska Native corporation challenging a news article that raised questions about its receipt of millions in federal stimulus money for a construction project in Napa Valley. The bulk of Suulutaaq's implication claims were dismissed by the Court as a matter of law, after which Suulutaaq voluntarily dismissed the action with prejudice. 782 F. Supp. 2d 795, 2010 (D. Alaska 2011)

The Boeing Company and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751 - NLRB Proceeding

Represented major news provider before administrative law judge in NLRB proceeding in effort to ensure procedure regarding sealed documents comported with First Amendment right of access. Judge issued opinion recognizing that the right applied even in the context of a federal administrative proceeding, a subject on which federal appellate courts are split. (2011)

Anderson v. Pearson plc et al.

Defended the U.K., Canadian, and U.S. publishers of Penguin Books, and their corporate parent, against a copyright infringement claim arising from use of photo on the cover of a book that had not been published or sold in the U.S. The case settled satisfactorily after extensive jurisdictional discovery and filing and arguing a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. (D. Alaska 2010)

Getty Images (US) Inc. v. Visions of Tomorrow, Inc. and Minden Pictures, Inc.

Represented the world's leading provider of stock photography in arbitration and litigation with two image partners regarding Getty Images' licensing of their images through a new product. The case centered on the image partners' claims that Getty Images breached its contracts with them and violated their, and their contributors', copyrights by licensing the images. After significant discovery and motion practice, the case settled satisfactorily. (S.D.N.Y. and arbitration, 2010)

Psihoyos v. NBC Universal, Inc. and Getty Images

Defended a copyright infringement claim arising from NBC Universal's use of video footage of a bank of video screens, which it had licensed from Getty Images, and which the plaintiff claimed was substantially similar to his photograph '500 TVs,' depicting a bank of television screens. The case successfully settled after filing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim based on lack of substantial similarity to the defendant's photograph. (S.D.N.Y. 2010)

Salehoo Group Ltd. v. ABC Co.

Successfully moved to quash subpoena directed at anonymous owner and operator of website critical of plaintiff. The court found the plaintiff had not overcome the defendant's First Amendment right to speak anonymously because it had not stated a prima facie claim for defamation or Lanham Act violations. 722 F. Supp. 2d 1210 (W.D. Wash. 2010)

Adams County Historical Society v. Kinyoun

Prepared briefing to help secure unanimous decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court making historic burial records from the state's largest mental health cemetery publicly available. Over objections by the Nebraska Attorney General and reversing more than a century of secrecy, the Nebraska Supreme Court, interpreting state and federal privacy law, held that the names of some 1,400 former patients buried between 1890 and 1959 at the Hastings Regional Center are public under the state's Public Records Act. (2009)

Attachmate Corporation v. Sentry Insurance

Defense of claims for copyright infringement and breach of license agreement arising out of alleged copying of software. Obtained dismissal of breach of license claim as preempted by Copyright Act; case successfully settled shortly thereafter. 90 U.S.P.Q.2d 1648 (W.D. Wash. 2009)

Brain vs. Halsne

Defended KIRO-7, a Seattle-based television station, and one of its reporters in a defamation lawsuit brought by a Tacoma, Wash., pediatric dentist. Cause No. 07-06234-9 (Pierce Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2009)

Hust v. State of Wyoming, et al.

In federal court, represented media defendants accused by the plaintiff of defamation. Defendants won a dismissal with prejudice on grounds that the two-year statute of limitations had expired. The dismissal was affirmed by the 9th Circuit in March 2010. 372 Fed. Appx. 708, 2010 WL 1174584 (W.D. Wash. 2009)

Isomedia v. Spectrum Direct, et al.

Defended EducationDynamics in case alleging that the company violated the CAN-SPAM Act. The claims were settled. (2009)

Liao v. CNN

Twice, obtained dismissal of federal civil rights lawsuit challenging editorial content on (2009)

Zango, Inc. v. Kaspersky Lab, Inc.

Summary judgment dismissing lawsuit against distributor of anti-malware products, recognizing 'robust' immunity under 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(2) enabling consumer access to information about potentially 'objectionable' software. In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court's 2007 dismissal. WL 1655217 (W.D. Wash., 9th Cir. 2009)

Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, et al. v., LLC

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of media amici in 9th Circuit's en banc review of the scope of immunity afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to mixed-content websites. No. 04-56916 (en banc) 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008)

Walters v. Seattle School District No. 1

Represented The Seattle Times in an unusual lawsuit alleging civil rights violations arising from the newspaper's coverage of a recruiting scandal involving two high school basketball coaches. The district court granted the Times' motion to dismiss because it concluded that there were no valid allegations of conspiracy or of interference in contractual relations stemming from news coverage. 578 F.Supp.2d 1310 (W.D. Wash. 2008)

Browne v. Avvo, Inc.

Defended attorney evaluation website. Court granted motion to dismiss on First Amendment opinion grounds, also holding that distribution of information is not 'commerce' under state consumer protection laws. 525 F. Supp. 2d 1249 (W.D. Wash. 2007)

Dibbs v. The Franklin Mint, et al.

Defense of copyright infringement action involving use of photographs in promotional materials for model airplanes. Obtained favorable confidential settlement. (W.D. Wash. 2007)

Additional Qualifications

  • Summer Associate, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Washington, D.C.
  • Summer Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine, Seattle
  • Public Interest Law Initiative Intern, American Civil Liberties Union, Chicago
  • Legal Intern, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Durham
  • Legal Intern, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago

Professional & Community Activities

  • Member, Governing Committee, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, 2015-present
  • Development Committee Member, Duke Student Publishing Company
  • Member, Training & Development Committee, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, 2010-2015
  • King County Bar Association
  • South Asian Bar Association of Washington
  • Board Member, Duke Student Publishing Company, 2002-2009

Professional Recognition

  • Selected to "Washington Rising Stars," 2012, and "Washington Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2013-2018
  • Recognized as one of "Washington's Most Powerful and Influential Women," National Diversity Council, 2016
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