Alexander W. Koff

Partner
Koff Alexander

Alex Koff focuses on international and cross-border issues and serves as general counsel to U.S. companies and foreign subsidiaries in the United States. He focuses his corporate practice on complex business transactions, regulatory matters, and arbitration and litigation. His international practice focuses on trade, trade policy, and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. He serves as special counsel to other attorneys on international issues. His work spans most of the world, including Asia, Europe, and South America, and his clients range from entrepreneurs to large, publicly traded corporations. Alex advises governments and foreign sovereigns on the implementation and enforcement of international obligations. 

Preferring long-term client relationships where he helps to identify legal solutions and strategies to drive revenue, Alex acts as general counsel to public and private companies and entrepreneurs. In addition, he assists with all steps, from corporate formation through sale of the company. Although he works seamlessly across many industry verticals, Alex represents quite a few clients in the food and beverage industry.

Drawing on his experience at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Alex advises companies, trade associations, and governments on the use of treaty-based trade and investment rules to open markets and resolve disputes, including both international commercial arbitration and investor-state disputes. His has litigated dispute settlement and international arbitration cases pursuant to the rules of, among others, the WTO, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Alex has extensive experience advising clients concerning international trade and export compliance issues, including antidumping, countervailing duty, and safeguards investigations; the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR); the Export Administration Regulations (EAR); the sanctions regulations administered by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) concerning U.S. anti-bribery rules; and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Alex resided in Vietnam as legal advisor to a U.S.-funded grant helping implement the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, from January to December 2000. Prior government and NGO experience includes working in the legal offices of the U.S. National Security Council (in Washington, DC), the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (in Geneva, Switzerland), the U.S. Agency for International Development (in Washington, DC), and the United Nations (in New York). Prior to law school, his government experience included working at the U.S. Department of State (in Washington, DC).

Experience

Government Experience

  • Member, U.S. delegation to the World Trade Organization

Representative Matters

Corporate and General Counsel

  • Represents as general counsel a software solutions company in acquisition and other corporate matters. Client: “Alex’s proactive approach to both meeting the immediate requirements and also taking the time to identify, research, and wargame left us well prepared going into each negotiation. Based on some of his key, timely recommendations and actions, we have been able to triple our revenue in 18 months without any of the feared adverse interference from the legacy ownership team.” David Tohn, president of BTS Software Solutions.
  • Represents as general counsel the largest importer and #1 selling brand of olive oil and gourmet vinegars in the United States; led team in various legal issues involving the company. Client: “Alex has been an amazing resource to the Company and me over the years. He really sets himself apart from other attorneys I’ve worked with by being incredibly responsive and available when we need him. In addition, he has a tireless drive that allows him to meet any deadline that we throw his way.” Michael Silén, CFO of Pompeian, Inc.
  • Represents as U.S. general counsel the second-largest money services business in the United States; assisted with bet-the-company banking issue. Client: “Alex’s persistence, professionalism, positivity has pulled through and it has been an absolute joy having him on our side. He is bloody marvelous!” Koko Sarkari, CEO of Lenlyn d/b/a International Currency Exchange
  • Represents as general counsel second-largest bus contractor for Baltimore City Schools; led team in securing Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantee and bank financing. Client: “Alex is always thinking of ways to help his clients grow. He is amazing. I thank him for his continuous great service.” Eric Burrell, president of Burrell Motor Coach
  • Represents as general counsel a Vietnamese fish sauce manufacturer and U.S. distributor as general counsel; won a contentious trademark case appealed twice to the Ninth Circuit. Client: “I have been very impressed with your expertise and dedication. Your expert advice and insight have been invaluable to me. You and your team helped us win a federal trademark case during a turning point when Red Boat Fish Sauce was gaining increased attention and popularity. I greatly appreciate the service and you are my trusted counsel for all legal matters.” Cuong Pham, founder and CEO of Viet Phu d/b/a Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • Represents as general counsel a website developer servicing exclusively the nonprofit industry. Client: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Alex as our lawyer for more than a decade. He brings together both the legal and business perspectives I’ve needed to determine our best course of action from a holistic perspective. I’ve also built a strong personal friendship with Alex, which has provided the foundation of a well-rounded relationship that enabled me to always feel comfortable in his consistently effective guidance.” Ryan Ozimek, president of PICnet and former president of Open Source Matters (OSM) d/b/a The Jo0mla! Project
  • Represents as general counsel a firm founded by a former female member of the White House Secret Service that provides security services for major Hollywood stars and large marches in Washington, DC, among others. Client: “I have known Alex for many years. He has and continues to be a great lawyer providing me excellent service, advice and recommendations. I consider Alex not just an attorney but a friend who has always shown professionalism, punctuality, and is available when necessary. I don’t feel like ‘another number’ working with him and appreciate his service and compassion.” Cheryl Tyler, President of CLT3 Communications
  • Represents as general counsel a well-known U.S. skin cream company, Egyptian Magic Skin Cream
  • Represents start-up servicing brand names on internet intellectual property channel-clean up issues
  • Represented as general counsel a U.S. subsidiary of a $14 billion publicly traded Japanese corporation involved in technology and digital imaging solutions
  • Serves as worldwide IP counsel for an open-source Content Management System (CMS), estimated to run 2.7% of the Internet

International Litigation and Trade Policy

  • Represented a leading provider of payment and commerce solutions responsible for processing 50% of the world’s non-cash transactions in Section 301 tariff proceedings
  • Represented several major trade associations in various industries in Section 301 tariff proceedings
  • Represents the largest retailers’ cooperative group of supermarkets on various trade issues
  • Represented a Canadian company in a $970 million NAFTA Chapter 11 investor-state arbitration concerning fuel additive for the energy sector
  • Represented a U.S. electronics manufacturer in a AAA International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) action involving a Swiss entity and brought against Indian entities regarding payment dispute with distributor
  • Represented the United States in dispute settlement consultations and submissions concerning various issues, including automobile parts, inspection, and testing measures, brought by Japan, South Korea, and others; negotiated ethical and other rules governing the WTO for the United States
  • Represented the United States in the first case to reach the WTO appellate body; brought by Brazil and Venezuela, the case concerned measures affecting the sale of reformulated gasoline in the United States
  • Represented a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer in the first subsidies dispute argued before the WTO appellate body; the case concerned financing and export credit rules
  • Represented a large civil aircraft manufacturer in WTO dispute settlement issues concerning prohibited subsidies and WTO obligations
  • Represented a global telecommunications services supplier in WTO dispute settlement proceedings to combat unfair conditions of competition in Mexico
  • Represented a pharmaceutical company as complainant in a trade secret investigation against Indian and Austrian companies brought under 19 U.S.C. 1337 (Section 337)
  • Represented a Chinese semiconductor chip manufacturer as respondent in a Section 337 investigation
  • Served as principal investigator of an independent study examining the “TRIPS-Plus” provisions of the 14 free trade agreements signed and implemented by the United States between 1995 and 2010; combined an econometric analysis using a panel of 233 countries over eight years, and more than 130 on-site interviews in seven countries; presented findings at the WTO

International Trade and Compliance

  • Represents household name U.S. clothing company on customs, country of origin, and compliance issues
  • Represents one of the largest point-of-sale terminal providers and a leading provider of payment and commerce solutions regarding customs classification request and country of origin issues
  • Represents FTSE 100 index software and information technology business on compliance issues
  • Represents the IFRS Foundation on U.S. compliance issues; in particular provides guidance regarding the rules and regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Foundation is a U.S. not-for-profit headquartered in London. It is responsible for developing a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, known as the IFRS Standards. Its mission is to bring transparency, accountability, and efficiency to financial markets around the world. IFRS Standards are now required in more than 140 jurisdictions, with many others permitting their use
  • Represents an $8 billion Indian multinational corporation that provides information technology, consulting, and business process services on U.S. compliance issue
  • Represented top-tier U.S. research university on anti-boycott and international disclosure issue
  • Represented Chinese respondents in three of the seven Section 421 safeguards cases litigated in the United States – industries involving wire garment hangers, ductile iron waterworks fittings, and brake drums and rotors
  • Represented respondents in AD and CVD investigations in various industries, and U.S. importers, before the International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), and the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), concerning the impact of AD/CVD orders
  • Represented an international humanitarian NGO with a $500 million budget and operations in more than 90 countries with decentralized organizational structure, regarding ITAR, EAR, OFAC, and FCPA compliance, and the institution of a comprehensive, organization-wide internal compliance program
  • Represented a 100-year-old Colombian company and exclusive distributor for a major U.S. brand, concerning OFAC’s Narcotics Trafficking Sanctions Regulations
  • Represented a major sports company concerning implementation of FCPA policy, compliance, and best practices
  • Represented a large entity in the oil and gas industry in a CFIUS matter
  • Represented a European sub-sea construction company that lays pipeline for large oil and gas companies in ultra-deep water, on maritime and Jones Act issues related to its operation of vessels, letters of exemption from the U.S. Coast Guard, and installation and decommissioning of oil platforms in U.S. territorial waters and over the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf

Representative Clients

  • Burrell Motor Coach
  • BTS Software Solutions
  • CLT3 Consulting
  • Egyptian Magic Skin Cream
  • Nalley Fresh
  • IFRS Foundation
  • International Currency Exchange
  • Patton Electronics Company
  • PICnet
  • Pompeian
  • Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • The Joomla! Project

Insights

Credentials
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Education

  • J.D. University of Michigan Law School 1996
  • M. Phil. International Relations Cambridge University 1993
  • B.A. University of Michigan 1992

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia 1997
  • Maryland 2005
  • New York 1997

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of International Trade
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Former chair, Maryland/Washington, DC, District Export Council (U.S. Secretary of Commerce appointment to DEC and elected chair by peers)
  • Chair, International Law Committee, Maryland State Bar Association’s (MSBA) Business Law Section – chaired a task force examining whether non-U.S. qualified lawyers should be permitted to practice as “foreign legal consultants” in Maryland (report adopted by the MSBA Board of Governors on September 15, 2016 and awarded the Presidential Best Section Project Award to Benefit MSBA Members and the Public on June 17, 2017, reportedly the first time a single project has won in both the public and member benefit categories)
  • Elected at-large member, executive committee, International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association (ICT TLA), 2014-2016; also served as the committee’s membership chair for many years
  • Research associate, Creative and Innovative Economy Center, George Washington University Law School
  • Adjunct professor, international law, University of Baltimore School of Law

Recognition
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  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, International Arbitration – Commercial and International Arbitration – Governmental, 2011 - 2017
  • Listed in International Who’s Who of Trade & Customs Lawyers (one of roughly 250 worldwide), 2010 - 2015
  • Listed in International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, 2011 - 2012
  • Listed as a “Litigation Star” in Benchmark Litigation 2011: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, and as a “Rising Star,” 2009 - 2010
  • Listed in Maryland Super Lawyers, 2014 - 2018
  • Selected twice to serve as an International Trade Expert in Asia for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2000
  • AV® Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell

Community
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Pro Bono

  • Representing indigent client in real estate transaction and negotiations regarding same, 2019
  • Represented nonprofit religious organization in negotiation of corporate documents with media conglomerate to facilitate ongoing speaker series at their facility, 2018
  • Represented foreign national before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and assisted in securing US citizenship for the client, 2017 – Client endorsement: “I am extremely grateful for Alex as he was relentless in his efforts to obtain citizenship status for me. He organized and led a team of individuals to assure that every possible issue was addressed. Furthermore, because of his hard work and tenacity, we actually attained all of our goals more quickly than initially anticipated. I still can't thank you enough!!!”
  • Represented indigent client serving nonprofit community in intellectual property dispute and assisted in negotiation of a trademark co-existence agreement, 2017

Volunteerism

  • Trustee and board member, Enoch Pratt Free Library System, which serves as the Maryland State Library Resource Center and public library for the City of Baltimore; lifetime trustee and board member, 2009 - 2018
  • Member, advisory board, Jhpiego, a nonprofit international health organization operating in more than 155 countries, dedicated to improving the health of women and families in developing countries, 2012 - 2016
  • Board member, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, 2015 - 2017
  • Former appointed member, Governor’s International Advisory Council, providing strategic direction on ways to enhance Maryland’s global profile, 2013 - 2015

Personal Activities

  • New York City Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon (twice), pre-2000, back when there was a spring in my step
  • Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, 2016, 2018
  • Swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco, 2015
  • Walking the dog
  • Family game nights