Entertainment & IP Litigation
Strategic and efficient, we zealously protect our entertainment and IP clients’ rights, their business interests, and their bottom line.
We handle a wide variety of disputes for businesses in the entertainment industry and for technology companies, including copyright and trademark infringement claims, cancellation actions involving trademark registrations and opposition actions involving trademark applications, domain name disputes, trade secret claims, right of publicity claims, privacy claims, defamation claims, breach of contract claims, breach of fiduciary duty claims, idea submission claims, and profit participation audit disputes.
Our clients include, among others, major film and television studios, production companies, video game developers and publishers, and social networking websites.
Representative matters we have handled include the following:
- Represented a film production company, which was sued for alleged copyright and trademark infringement days before the worldwide release of a theatrical motion picture. The plaintiff immediately sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the release of the film. We successfully defeated the ex parte TRO, and shortly thereafter successfully moved the court to dismiss the lawsuit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim).
- Represented a videogame company that had obtained the videogame rights to a film from the estate of the author of the source work (a novel) against a film company that claimed, under contract, copyright and trademark law, it owned all film, video, videogame and merchandising rights to that film where the merchandise clause in the agreement pursuant to which it obtained its rights did not contain a “future technologies” clause. We successfully defeated the film company’s preliminary injunction motion and summary judgment motion. We also filed a successful cross-motion for summary judgment. A favorable settlement was reached while on appeal to the Ninth Circuit after having been fully briefed.
- Represented a Japanese film distribution company in successfully enforcing a nearly $6 million debt owed by two film production companies. In 2012, our client’s judgment was amended to add an alter ego of the film production companies, and the alter ego appealed. In 2013, in a published opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s ruling in our client’s favor.
- Defended the largest social networking website in Europe in litigation alleging that it had copied the “look and feel” of the largest social networking website in the United States, including traveling to Europe to interview key players and ensure the proper preservation of electronic evidence, and defeating numerous procedural motions brought by the other side seeking discovery. The case settled after (a) the Court first issued a ruling that it was inclined to grant our client’s motion to dismiss the action on forum non convenient grounds (but would defer issuing a final ruling until it was prepared to decide our client’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction), and (b) soon after that ruling, our client achieved victory in related litigation in Europe which likely would have had preclusive effect here.
- Represented a dating and social networking website that was accused of having copied the “look and feel” of a very large and well-known dating website. A favorable settlement was reached through negotiation.
- Represented a television producer in a partnership dispute with another television producer. The other television producer had breached his fiduciary duties to our client and failed to honor our client’s rights in the partnership. A favorable settlement was reached part way through arbitration.
- Represented a German entertainment and distribution company in a breach of contract suit brought by an American film production company regarding an output agreement. A favorable resolution was reached at arbitration.
- Represented television producers/writers in accounting disputes involving audits of participation/royalty statements issued to our clients in connection with successful television series. Favorable settlements were negotiated.
- Represented a children’s entertainment company in a lawsuit against a company that licensed to our client broad worldwide exploitation rights of a well-known animated series. The licensor wrongly terminated the license agreement and attempted to extort higher payments from our client for rights that our client already had under the license agreement. A favorable settlement was reached at mediation.
- Represented a children’s entertainment company in a dispute involving copyright infringement of its animated characters. After we filed summary judgment motions arguing that the exploitation by the licensee was beyond what was granted in the applicable copyright licenses, a favorable settlement was reached through negotiation.
- Represented a children’s entertainment company in a dispute involving the creation and ownership of certain animated characters. After we defeated a summary judgment motion, a favorable settlement was reached through negotiation.
- Represented a production company in connection with allegations against it of substantial similarity of animated characters portrayed in an animated film weeks before the film’s theatrical release. The accusing film company dropped its case after we informally demonstrated that the threatened suit lacked merit.
- Represented television producers who purchased two Pablo Picasso paintings from a well-known art dealer. Unbeknownst to our clients, the dealer had the paintings on consignment from two different parties, refused to pay either of the consigners, and then fled the country. Multiple lawsuits ensued regarding title to the paintings. A favorable settlement was reached with both consigners.
- Defended an entertainment company in a federal court lawsuit brought by a record company that alleged our client had wrongfully used the plaintiff’s music in connection with a television show. The lawsuit was dismissed by the plaintiff after we informally demonstrated that the suit lacked merit and threatened Rule 11 sanctions.
- Represented a record company in a dispute with a background vocalist who claimed that her rights to attribution were violated in the release of a popular music single and in the associated music video. We defeated the vocalist’s summary judgment motion. A favorable settlement was reached at mediation.
- Represented the heirs of an opera composer in a dispute over the rights granted to the composer by the authors of certain source works used to create, perform and exploit the opera as a derivative work. A favorable settlement was reached through negotiation, and without litigation being instituted or the dispute ever being made public.
- Represented an investor who had invested a substantial amount of money in a film production company pursuant to a promissory note. Our client filed a lawsuit after the film production company breached the terms of the promissory note. A favorable settlement was reached at mediation.
- Represented the widow of a composer with a large music composition library. We successfully defeated a summary judgment motion and a renewed summary judgment motion filed by the composer’s niece claiming she owned rights, as an heir to the estate, to the compositions under both U.S. and U.K. law.
- Represented a Hawaiian vacation tour company in a dispute in which it was accused of copyright infringement, trademark infringement and having copied the “look and feel” of another Hawaiian vacation tour company in connection with its vacation tour pamphlets, website and related marketing and promotional materials. The accusing tour company dropped its claims against our client after we had informally demonstrated that the accusing company’s threatened suit lacked merit.
- Represented an auto parts manufacturer against another parts manufacturer that attempted to cancel our client’s trademark registrations and alleged trademark infringement and dilution in connection with our client’s website, parts catalogs and domain names. A favorable settlement was reached through negotiation.
- Represented numerous trademark owners in cancellation and opposition actions involving their respective trademark registrations and applications with successful results.
- Represented a seller of high-end mirrors and frames in a trademark infringement dispute involving the use of trademarks and domain names. A favorable settlement was reached through negotiation, and without litigation being instituted or the dispute ever being made public.
- Represented a paintball gun company. We successfully and favorably settled a dispute involving allegations against our client of patent infringement, and we negotiated a license agreement for the patented parts at issue.