Patterson Belknap represents media and entertainment industry clients in litigation, corporate and intellectual property matters. We represent major media companies, radio and television networks, music companies, cable operators, production companies, publishers, internet companies and well-known entertainers. Our attorneys have significant industry knowledge and are well versed in the legal, financial, commercial and strategic issues relevant to media and entertainment entities. This understanding facilitates the development of optimal litigation strategies, transaction structures and overall approaches to the issues our clients face.
Our Media and Entertainment litigation practice is recognized consistently in Chambers USA. The guide notes that Patterson Belknap “is known for the quality of its ‘exceptionally high-profile work’ for music companies, radio and television networks, cable operators and production companies.” The guide has also stated that "[t]his team 'consistently delivers high-caliber work' which attracts long-standing clients. The team consists of 'smart and aggressive litigators who deliver excellent results time and time again' and ‘the lawyers are incredibly practical and great at constructing a water-tight defense." (Italicized quotes from clients and peers.)
In addition to the full range of commercial issues, we represent clients in copyright, trademark, false advertising, First Amendment, libel and slander, rights of privacy and publicity and other intellectual property disputes. Our representative experience includes:
Commercial and Intellectual Property Litigation
- Representing a Fortune 500 media company in a corporate espionage suit arising from a major competitor’s allegation that our client employed consultants to illegally access a proprietary database.
- Represented a well-known news publisher in a copyright and “hot news misappropriation” claim against a website operator that was systematically republishing items from our client’s newswire. The case, which garnered a good deal of press attention in 2010, ended when the defendant made a public acknowledgement of liability, agreed to a permanent injunction and paid a substantial sum in damages to our client.
- Represented a leading restaurant chain in a suit brought against it by a celebrity rap artist. The rap artist claimed that our client’s actions violated his right of publicity under New York law and his trademark rights under federal law and sought damages and injunctive relief. Following fact and expert discovery, summary judgment briefing and mediation, the case resolved on mutually satisfactory terms.
- Representing a major financial company in strategic IP litigation in both the Illinois courts and the federal courts in New York to defend its franchise in index-based derivatives trading. This market comprises a wide variety of exchange-traded and structured investment products, such as options and futures, based on well-known indexes. To date, we have won every decision in these related cases on forum selection, jurisdiction, copyright preemption, and discovery issues. Most recently, we won summary judgment on the merits for our client, reaffirming its intellectual property rights in its indexes and thus its ability to control uses of the indexes in derivative trading products through licensing.
- Represented the leading information reporting and media company in a federal corporate espionage case against a competitor alleging that the competitor illegally accessed its proprietary software system and used that illegal access to copy aspects of our client’s market-leading product.
- Obtained preliminary injunction enjoining satellite providers from airing nationally broadcast television commercials. Successfully argued appeal; which led to the Second Circuit redefining several key doctrines in the law of false advertising.
- Successfully represented major publisher that owns copyrights in world-famous cartoon characters in litigation against unauthorized licensing by third party of merchandising rights.
- Regularly represent major game and toy maker in broad range of Intellectual Property litigation matters.
- On behalf of an entertainment company, defeated a motion to enjoin the release of one of the best-selling albums of its year based on theft of trade secrets and breach of contract.
- Won an important victory for our client, a major media company, in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed that fantasy sports games offered on the company’s website constituted illegal gambling.
- Obtained a TRO that led to a favorable settlement on the first morning of trial for our client, a public communications company. The case involved our client’s claim that the defendant had breached an agreement to provide capacity on an undersea cable between Puerto Rico and St. Croix.
- Successfully defended a leading industry publication in an action brought by a party to a Chinese joint venture alleging damages when the magazine prematurely terminated a venture to publish a Chinese-language version of the magazine. The court dismissed the case for discovery abuse when we uncovered forged documents.
- Led the defense of the nation’s largest magazine publisher in antitrust class actions alleging a nationwide price-fixing conspiracy involving all major publishers. The firm secured a no-damages settlement that was Court-approved.
- Represented major media company in investigation of corporate espionage.
- Represented a major record company in investigation of “payola” by New York Attorney General, culminating in settlement.
- Represented a major communications company in a $100 million dispute over a computer software agreement.
- Represented a major media company in investigation by New York Attorney General of whether client’s service aided and abetted insider trading.
- Conducted numerous internal investigations for major media companies, including investigations into various allegations of wrongdoing, misappropriations and commercial failures.
- Represented major media organization in State Attorney General antitrust investigation.
- Represented sports association with respect to internal hearing concerning alleged violation of association's rules by members and subsequent litigation.
- Defended the publisher of a leading national business journal in a suit brought by a major hotel chain over a story that alleged skimming at the hotel chain’s casino in Las Vegas. Representing the publisher, the firm won "one of the major defense verdicts of the year," according to the American Bar Association's ABA Journal.
- Assisted in securing a major victory for a leading media company in a multi-billion dollar libel case in Indonesia. General Suharto, longtime ruler of the country, sued the publisher's Asian edition claiming that a cover story chronicling how his family amassed a fortune during his years in power was defamatory. Working with attorneys and experts around the world, firm attorneys helped coordinate the publisher's defense. After a lengthy trial, the Indonesian court threw out General Suharto's lawsuit in a decision that heralded a new era for press freedom in Indonesia.
- Defended a leading national business journal in a libel suit brought by extremist group Liberty Lobby. The case was dismissed on summary judgment, affirmed by the D.C. Circuit, which agreed with the district court that the defendant had proved the truth of the key allegation that Liberty Lobby was "anti-Semitic."
- Defended a national television network and its New York affiliate in several libel, invasion of privacy and copyright infringement suits. Every suit ended in dismissal of the claim and all appeals resulted in affirmance.
- Represented a national magazine publisher in a variety of content-related litigations, including a libel claim by the parents of JonBenet Ramsey.
Our knowledge of the business of media enables us to assist clients in a variety of commercial matters, including acquisition and dispositions of media companies and assets, licensing, affiliation agreements, non-competition agreements, confidential disclosure and idea submission agreements. We also handle a broad range of intellectual property issues, including copyright and trademark registrations.
Our representative transactional experience includes:
- Representing a privately held publishing group in numerous acquisitions and dispositions of magazine and book publishing properties, including acquisitions from sellers in bankruptcy proceedings.
- Representing a privately held medical marketing communications company in several acquisitions of complementary businesses and its eventual sale to an advertising and media services conglomerate.
- Represented a major media conglomerate and its affiliates in connection with various M&A transactions, including its acquisition of an Internet entertainment company, its acquisition of an interest in a professional sports tour, and its sale of a music publishing company.
- Represented a national television corporation in its agreement to sell a major television station to a subsidiary of a national media company.
- Represented a major media company in numerous transactions including the acquisitions of five industry and specialty magazines.
- Represented a privately held media company in the acquisition and divestiture of several publishing properties.
- Guided an internet-based medical information services company through several rounds of venture capital financing, strategic alliances with a national television network and a leading internet company, its initial public offering and its merger into another public company.