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Stephen J. Zralek

Partner

Spencer Fane attorney Stephen Zralek

T 615.238.6305
F 615.238.6301
szralek@spencerfane.com


Stephen Zralek is an accomplished litigator who helps clients resolve intellectual property, entertainment and business disputes in federal and state courts, arbitration and mediation.  Clients seek Stephen’s advice as a result of his experience in the courtroom, his creative problem-solving, his tenacity, and his engaging approach. His personal philosophy is: “Do great work, and take good care of people.”

With over 20 years’ experience, Stephen has dedicated his career to helping clients resolve and avoid complex disputes involving class actions, copyrights, trademarks, patents, rights of publicity, trade secrets, non-compete violations, defamation and domain disputes, as well as disputes in the business and entertainment arenas.  Stephen is eager to go to trial whenever it advances his clients’ interests, but he also helps clients think with their head and not just their heart, which often requires other solutions.  Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, he tried and won an in-person 3-day jury, and tried and won a 7-day remote arbitration.

In addition to representing clients from the Nashville area, Stephen is routinely called on by clients, lawyers, and in-house counsel from other cities to represent them here or to serve as local counsel in Tennessee state and federal courts. Clients in the political realm also call on Stephen to advise them on legal issues, campaign finance, and election contests. Recent examples include obtaining a temporary injunction for a presidential campaign to keep polls open longer on Super Tuesday after tornadoes had closed some polling locations and filing an amicus brief in the Tennessee Supreme Court on behalf of leading Tennessee epidemiologists who advocated expansion of absentee ballots to all eligible voters during the pandemic.

Upon graduating from law school, Stephen served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Stephen is a leader in the field of IP litigation, and previously served as Chair of the Copyright Litigation Committee within the American Bar Association’s IP Section. He is a frequent speaker and author on issues in intellectual property litigation, business litigation, and litigating before the Tennessee Business Court. He has been quoted by USA Today, Managing IP, and Young Entrepreneur, and featured in the ABA Journal. He co-authored “The Pro-IP Act: Another Weapon Against a Failing Economy,” published by the ABA’s Landslide magazine, as well as “Race is On to Recapture Copyrights,” published by The Tennessean.  And his peers routinely recognize him as one of the Best of the Bar within Nashville and the entire Southeast.


Stephen has presented at conferences hosted by, among others, the Americana Music Festival, Music Biz, the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Nashville Bar Association, the PR Society of America, the Nashville Business Journal, Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University, the Davidson County Judges, the House Democratic Caucus, PodCamp, and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

He has served on many non-profit boards in Nashville and been a strong advocate his entire career for diversity and inclusion in both the legal profession and the city of Nashville.  Examples include publishing an article in 1999, which inspired the Nashville Bar Association to amend its Creed of Professionalism to be more inclusive of non-white and female lawyers; serving on the steering committee of Nashville for All of Us in 2009, which defeated a referendum that would have prohibited any language other than English in communications by Nashville’s government; leading a class action of primarily Black student athletes to protect their right of publicity in a 2014 lawsuit; chairing the board of Nashville’s leading Latino non-profit, Conexión Américas, from 2013 to 2015; and serving as lead counsel for sexual abuse survivor Michelle Martin in her successful quest for clemency in 2019.

Stephen was born and raised in Nashville. He and his wife, an interior designer, have two children.

Highlights of Stephen’s experience include:

  • Won complete dismissal of plaintiff’s contract and ERISA claims against corporate client in seven-day remote arbitration.
  • Won jury trial for homebuilder on misrepresentation and contract claims.
  • Won unanimous jury verdict in copyright infringement trial involving architecture.
  • Won judgment in trademark infringement bench trial between two competing businesses.
  • Won jury trial on behalf of personal manager against celebrity in contract dispute.
  • Won appeal dismissing suit that claimed right of publicity violations, by successfully establishing copyright preemption.
  • Obtained partial summary judgment and dismissal in class action asserting consumer protection violations.
  • Obtained summary judgment in copyright infringement case by proving plaintiff did not own a valid registration.
  • Ongoing representation of business in defense of federal and state trade secrets claims.
  • Ongoing representation of clients in business disputes concerning issues of ownership, intellectual property, restrictive covenants, and alleged misrepresentations.
  • Outside general counsel to international design firm on issues related to IP, contracts, dispute resolution and avoidance, international litigation, and employment advice.
  • Outside general counsel to bespoke guitar company.
  • Regularly represents parties in business divorce dispute and probate matters involving disputes over music and publishing royalties.
  • Routinely serves as local counsel for out-of-state lawyers with litigation in Tennessee state and federal courts.
  • Routinely handles matters seeking temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Tennessee Supreme Court Board of Professional Responsibility
    • Hearing Committee, appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court (2020-present)
  • St. Bernard Academy
    • Board of Trust (2019-present)
    • President-Elect (2020-present)
    • Co-Chair of Head of School Search Committee (2021)
  • Treasurer, Friends of Bob Freeman, Tennessee State Representative (2018-present)
  • Music City Music Council (MC2): Member (2019-2020)
  • Sexual Assault Center: Board of Directors (2017-2020)
    • Co-Chair of 1-in-6 Breakfast
  • Leadership Nashville: Class of 2015
    • Alumni Association Board of Directors (2019-present)
  • Conexión Américas
    • Chair of the Board (2013-2015)
    • Board Member (2009-2016)
    • Board of Ambassadors (2016- present)
    • Co-Chair of Cafecito (2011)
  • Percy Priest Elementary School Extended Day Program: Board (2016-2018)
  • The Children’s House of Nashville: Board Member (2013-2016)
  • Nashville For All of Us: Past Chair
  • Family & Children’s Service: Chair of the Board of Directors (2007-08); Board Member (2001-09); Advisory Board (2015-Present)

MEMBERSHIPS 

  • International Association of Defense Counsel
    • Steering Committee – Mid-year Meeting (2022)
    • IP Committee –
      • Vice-Chair of Programs (2021-present)
      • Vice-Chair of Webinars (2020-2021)
  • American Bar Association
    • Past Chair, Copyright Litigation Committee
    • Trademark Litigation Committee and Sections of Litigation and Intellectual Property
  • Nashville Bar Association
    • Board of Directors (2017-2020), Executive Committee (2018-2020)
    • Intellectual Property Section
    • Federal Courts Section
  • Tennessee Bar Association
    • Member
    • Leadership Law Program graduate (2007)

DISTINCTIONS

  • The Best Lawyers in America®
  • Best of the Bar, Nashville Business Journal: Litigation and Intellectual Property
  • AV© Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Super Lawyers – Mid-South for Intellectual Property Litigation
  • Super Lawyers – Tennessee: The Top 100 Attorneys
  • Avvo 10 out of 10

Contact Stephen Zralek at 615.238.6305 or szralek@spencerfane.com.