Bruce E. Copeland

Bruce Copeland is a partner in the firm’s commercial litigation practice, and former deputy department head for the firm’s entire Litigation practice. He represents and counsels a variety of businesses with respect to a variety of concerns, including advertising and labeling issues, false and misleading advertising, trade secrets, complex commercial litigation in federal and state court, litigation avoidance, and a broad range of areas in the food and beverage industry.

What do you focus on?

I focus my practice on three main areas—counseling and litigation in the food and beverage industry, unfair competition and trade practices, including false and misleading advertising, and commercial litigation—leveraging more than 30-years of experience to help clients manage their most complex and sensitive matters.

Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

I advise suppliers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers in the food and beverage industry in litigious, transactional, and regulatory matters at both the federal and state levels. My clients include a publicly held premium wine and beer producer, one of the iconic names in the cider industry, a number of craft brewers, and a wide range of other companies in the food and beverage industry.

Unfair Competition and Trade Practices

I represent a variety of businesses in unfair competition and trade practice matters, with a focus on false and misleading advertising claims, misappropriation of trade secret counseling, and litigation. I counsel clients that include food and beverage companies, financial institutions, foreign and domestic technology companies, and other businesses.

Other Commercial Litigation

I also represent a variety of clients in commercial litigation, with a focus on complex business disputes, including commercial contract disputes, licensing and distribution disputes, corporate and fiduciary liability matters, unfair business practices, partner and shareholder disputes, corporate raiding issues, patent infringement disputes, class action defense, and labor relations matters.

What do you see on the horizon?

I see a continuing increase in unfair competition and trade secret litigation as technology continues to advance at a dramatic pace. I work with clients on practical solutions for minimizing these risks before litigation ensues and, if there is litigation, on aggressively and practically handling the litigation.

I also see continuing consolidation in the Beverage Alcohol industry, which creates both transactional opportunities but also litigation risk. I work strategically with clients in this industry to prepare for and minimize these risks and to take advantage of these opportunities.

Presentations and Articles

Bruce has been a presenter before the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) General Counsel meeting, and has authored numerous publications, including commentary regarding California Business and Professional Code section 17200 (“Proposed California Ballot Initiative Could Eliminate Representative Lawsuits Brought by Uninjured Litigants under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200”), Proposition 64 ("California First District Court of Appeal Rules Prop. 64 Is Not Retroactive", "Prop. 64 Is Not Retroactive, San Francisco Trial Court Rules", and "Second and Fourth District Courts of Appeal Weigh In on Proposition 64 Retroactivity"), and tort liability for recruiting employees (“Tort Liability in California for Recruiting of Employees”).

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • “Food & Beverage Innovators Forum,” San Francisco Business Times, Webinar, June 3, 2021
  • “Mitigating and Managing Reopening Risks in the Esports & Gaming Industry,” Esports Bar Association, Webinar, September 15, 2020
  • “Food & Beverage Innovators,” San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco, April 2019 (co-presenter)
  • “Legal Ethics and the Attorney-Client Privilege,” Nixon Peabody Annual MCLE Seminar, San Francisco, January 2019
  • “Food & Beverage Innovators,” San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco, April 2018 (co-presenter)
  • “Griping About Grapes: The Law of Wine (and Other Spirited Drinks),” Nixon Peabody’s Eighth Annual California MCLE Seminar for Corporate Legal Executives, January 15, 2013 (co-presenter)
  • “Social Media Giveaways and the California Wine Industry,” Practical Winery & Vineyard Journal, September 22, 2012 (co-author)
  • “Allergen labeling in wine: compulsory regulations imminent in the European Union—will the U.S. be next?” Nixon Peabody Beverage Alcohol Brief, June 26, 2012 (co-author)
  • “Lightweighting wine bottles: an eco-friendly trend becomes mandatory in Ontario, Nixon Peabody Beverage Alcohol Brief, June 5, 2012 (co-author)

Preparing for GMO Labeling in 2022

Food Business News | December 22, 2020

In this article on the requirement for food manufacturers to label GMO ingredients in their products by 2022, Food, Beverage & Agribusiness co-leader and San Francisco Complex Commercial Disputes partner Bruce Copeland was quoted on best practices for working with suppliers and attaining certifications from high-quality, reputable food labs.

A Post-Thanksgiving Litigator of the Week Runner-Up and Shout Out Marathon

The American Lawyer | December 04, 2020

This week’s “Litigators of the Week“ column by American Lawyer includes the dismissal for outsourcing facility Leiters, Inc. in a multiple-state dispute. Leiters was represented by Chicago partners Ethan Trull, John Ruskusky, and Lisa Sullivan, and associates Bill Kirby and Tina Jonsson; and San Francisco partner Bruce Copeland and counsel Lauren Michals—all in the Complex Commercial Disputes group.


Bruce E. Copeland


San Francisco

Phone: 415-984-8253

Fax: 415-984-8300

University of San Francisco, J.D., cum laude (extern to the Hon. Stanley Mosk, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court)

University of California, Berkeley, B.A.


U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court, Central District of California

U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Bruce is a member of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association, and the Defense Research Institute.

He is also a member of and volunteer with respect to a number of youth sports organizations and the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley.

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