Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law
We have extensive experience in intellectual property and entertainment litigation. We represent entertainment companies, actors, musicians, talent managers and agents in various entertainment-related disputes. We also represent small businesses and individuals in intellectual property disputes, such as trademark and copyright litigation. Our Firm was selected as a “Go-To Law Firm” by in-house counsel at Fortune 500 companies across the United States for our work in the area of intellectual property law. The honor of being named a “Go-To Law Firm” is reserved for an elite group of firms that deliver outstanding work.
Our practice includes expertise in the following areas:
- Trademark & Copyright Litigation
- Idea Submission Disputes
- Rights of Publicity & Right to Privacy
- Defamation (Libel & Slander)
- Talent Agency Act Claims
Trademarks and copyrights are forms of intellectual property.
A trademark is generally a word or logo that identifies the source of goods or services, such as the name of a business. Trademarks act to distinguish your goods or services from those of your competitor. An Internet domain name, trade dress, sounds, colors, and other designations may also function as trademarks.
We have substantial experience in filing trademark infringement lawsuits, which may involve seeking a preliminary injunction to protect your rights and stop counterfeits or knockoffs before they affect your market share. We have also successfully used the trademark laws to control “cybersquatters” – those who use a website domain name that is confusingly similar to your trade name. In every lawsuit, your overall business interest determines the approach we take.
We also defend our clients against trademark infringement suits. We may potentially invalidate your competitors’ claims, prove non-infringement, minimize liability, or negotiate a favorable settlement. We may be able to secure insurance coverage to pay attorneys’ fees and settle the dispute.
In addition to trademark litigation, we also handle copyright litigation. Copyright protects original works of authorship, such as novels, movies, and songs. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
In a copyright infringement action, the author claims that the defendant copied his or her creative work of authorship and violated the author’s rights to reproduce, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies, to perform publicly, to display publicly, or to perform via digital audio transmission the copyrighted work. Copyright protection arises once the work is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.”
We have litigated copyright disputes on behalf of individual and businesses, and have successfully prosecuted and defended such claims.
In addition to trademark and copyright litigation, we can register your trademark and copyright with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office.
California law provides that, under certain circumstances, the creator of an idea for a motion picture, TV show or other entertainment project can claim to have had an “implied contract” with production companies to whom the creator submitted his idea. If this implied contract is established, the creator of the project is entitled to compensation when the idea is exploited. Our lawyers are experts in litigating these types of “idea submission” claims.
The California right of publicity statute provides that every person has the right to control their identity, which includes their likeness, photograph, name, and voice. Using somebody’s likeness in advertising, promotional or other material, without first seeking their consent, may result in a claim under California’s right of publicity law, resulting in an injunction, money damages, and attorneys’ fees. We have substantial expertise litigating these claims on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.
Related to the right of publicity is the right to privacy, which is protected by the California Constitution. California law recognizes an invasion of privacy claim against governmental actors and private companies. There are various forms of privacy claims. For example, there is an “intrusion” claim, which is based on a person’s right to be free from instrusion into his or her private affairs. The law also recognizes a claim based on “public disclosure of private facts,” and a defendant can be liable for disclosing private facts about another person. There is also a “false light” claim, arising from a defendant’s conduct that places the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye.
A false factual statement about somebody else may give rise to defamation claim. There are two types of defamation – slander (or oral defamation) and libel (or written defamation). Libel includes communications that exposes a person to hatred, contempt, ridicule or humiliation or be injured in her occupation. Slanderous language includes false statements that charge a person with a crime; imply that a person has a contagious disease; injure a person in their occupation; or imply impotence or lack of chastity.
There are various defenses to defamation claims, some of which are based on the Constitutional right to free speech. We have substantial expertise in this area, and in both prosecuting and defending libel and slander claims.
The Talent Agency Act governs the relationship between artists, managers, and agents in California. The law prohibits managers from engaging in conduct that are reserved for talent agents, i.e., obtaining work for the artists. A manager’s violation of the Talent Agency Act could have severe consequences for the manager, including a declaration that the management contract is void. We have litigated Talent Agency Act cases, including on behalf of the recording artists known as The Killers, in which the band prevailed against their former manager.