Matthew C. Zorn

713.632.8064 | Houston, Texas
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Professional Summary

Matt focuses on complex commercial litigation, representing clients in IP, contract, and regulatory litigation in federal and state trial and appellate courts. He has significant expertise in federal jurisdiction and procedure. Matt is at home digging out case-changing evidence, crafting legal strategies under arcane statutes and procedures, eliciting critical deposition or trial testimony, and arguing on his feet to trial courts, appellate courts, and arbitrators.

Matt is also recognized as an authority in issues relating to the federal Controlled Substance Act and issues relating to cannabis regulation, even being named to the Law360 2020 Cannabis Editorial Advisory Board. Matt routinely speaks and publishes on issues relating to legal issues relating to controlled substances.

Matt has received national recognition for his work in IP and controlled substances litigation. The American Lawyer recently named Matt a finalist for Young Lawyer of the Year (Litigation), and the American Inns of Court named him a 2020 Pegasus Scholar. Best Lawyers in America named Matt "One to Watch," and Thomson Reuters' Super Lawyers recognized him as a "Texas Rising Star" in IP Litigation, Cannabis Law, and Administrative Law.

Before joining the firm, Matt was a judicial clerk to the Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, spending hundreds of hours in court helping manage one of the busiest trial dockets in the country. Before then he was a litigator with Paul, Weiss in New York City.

Representative Experience
  • Scheduling 4-OH-DiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET, and DiPT (DEA). Lead counsel for two startup companies researching psychedelic medicine in formal rulemaking proceeding regarding proposed scheduling of five tryptamine substances into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (87 FR 2376 (2022)). One month before evidentiary hearing and following exchange of witness statements, rule withdrawn by the Administrator. (87 FR 45076 (2022)).
  • Crown Distributing v. Texas DSHS. Lead litigator in state court action asserting state constitutional and administrative law claims against state agency regarding bans on smokable hemp products. Obtained temporary injunction forestalling enforcement of ban until final trial on the merits, which was partially upheld on appeal. Obtained trial court judgment that statutory directive and resulting administrative rule were invalid, prevailing on the constitutional claim, after a bench trial on the merits. Trial court ruling partially upheld on direct appeal to Texas Supreme Court, with decision overturning ban on sale and distribution intact.
  • Global Tubing v. Tenaris. Part of plaintiff’s team in significant patent and Walker Process antitrust litigation over oilfield technology. Litigation remains ongoing.
  • AIMS v. DEA (argued). Part of team in suit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking order setting aside DEA decision that it lacks authority to accommodate waiver or exception to permit use of controlled substances in accordance with state and federal right to try laws. Prominent amici include ten states, the Goldwater Institute, the Cato Institute, and the ACLU of Washington.
  • Sisley v. DEA (argued). Co-lead lawyer in pro bono suit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking order setting aside DEA decision related to marijuana scheduling.
  • Legacy Separators v. Halliburton. Represented plaintiff in pursuing patent/trade-secret claims over oilfield gas separator operations. In the last Houston jury trial before the Covid-19 lockdown, we settled with one defendant and defeated Halliburton’s defenses and counterclaims. The jury hung on whether Halliburton systems infringe. The case settled before the second trial.
  • Scottsdale Research v. DOJ/DEA. Co-lead lawyer in pro bono FOIA suit to force release of a secret 2018 DOJ memo, “Licensing Marijuana Cultivation in Compliance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs”. Within weeks of filing complaint and without filing a FOIA request, DOJ released the memo as part of settlement. The memo details how and why it concluded that DEA could not process medical research applications.
  • Confidential international arbitration. Part of plaintiffs’ team in a contract dispute with a large patent aggregator. Conducted cross-examination during the final hearing in New York City, as well as crafted key aspects of the team’s overall strategy. Award is confidential.
  • In re Scottsdale Research. Co-lead lawyer in pro bono suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seeking to order DEA to process clinical research applications after years of delay. When the court-ordered DEA to respond, the agency capitulated, processing 33 overdue applications and announcing an intent to move forward with a comprehensive program.
  • Silver State Techs. Inc. v. Garmin Int’l, Inc. Part of defense trial team for a GPS company against a non-practicing entity. The case resulted in jury verdict invalidating all four patents-in-suit.
  • Bluestone Innovations LLC v. Nichia Corp. Assisted in defending Nichia in action brought by non-practicing entity concerning LED technology. The case resulted in dismissal with prejudice without payment.
  • Invidi Tech. Corp. v. Visible World Inc. Part of defense team that represented Visible World in competitor suit concerning patents covering targeted advertising technology.
Professional Honors & Affiliations
Presentations & Publications
Education & Professional Background
  • Columbia Law School, J.D., 2012 (Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, 2010, 2011, 2012; Articles Editor, The Columbia Journal of European Law)
  • Emory University, B.A., European History and Applied Mathematics, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, 2009
  • Law Clerk to The Hon. Rodney Gilstrap, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, 2016-2017
  • Admitted to Practice: New York, 2013, Texas, 2017; First Circuit; Ninth Circuit; D.C. Circuit; Federal Circuit, Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas; District of Colorado; Eastern District of Michigan; US District Court for the District of Columbia