Stephen Payne focuses on complex intellectual property litigation and appellate litigation. Stephen represents clients at all stages of litigation, from pre-litigation investigation through trial and appeal, and is experienced with litigation in a wide range of industries, including medical devices, software, entertainment, and cybersecurity. Stephen also serves as a member of the firm’s Hiring Committee.

Prior to joining Irell, Stephen clerked for the Honorable Sandra S. Ikuta of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Stephen earned his J.D., with highest honors, from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as comments editor for The University of Chicago Law Review. While in law school, Stephen worked as an extern in the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.


  • Finjan Inc. v. Juniper Networks Inc. Served as a member of the Irell team that convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to affirm Juniper’s victories against Finjan in cybersecurity patent litigation. In October 2020, the Federal Circuit upheld a jury’s finding that Juniper did not infringe a malware detection patent held by Finjan, and also affirmed summary judgment rulings in Juniper’s favor.
  • Represented the developer of novel technologies for farm management software in a confidential, multi-million dollar arbitration trial against a major agricultural company. Stephen was a core member of the trial team, including examining a lead developer of the technology platform at trial.
  • Immersion v. Apple. Represented Immersion, a longtime developer of tactile feedback, or “haptic,” technology, in a Section 337 investigation against Apple and AT&T. Apple and Immersion reached a confidential settlement and license agreement days before the Chief ALJ’s decision was set to be issued.
  • Secured an appellate victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissing an antitrust case against a major talent agency alleging that the agency had conspired to fix prices and boycott of smaller talent agencies, thereby affecting the market for the licensing of scripted television series.
  • Represented a major California grower in appellate litigation related to a labor dispute, in which the grower prevailed in the California Court of Appeal.
  • Defended two major film studios in a class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized on the list of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch (2021-2022)


  • “Let's Be Reasonable: Controlling Self-Help Discovery in False Claims Act Suits,” 81 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1297 (2014)


University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 2015), highest honors; Comments editor, The University of Chicago Law Review

University of Notre Dame (B.A., Political Science, 2012), summa cum laude


  • California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and Federal Circuits


  • Hon. Sandra S. Ikuta, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Jump to Page