Patterson Belknap represents clients in traditional media businesses (print publishers, recording companies, art museums, and libraries) as well as companies associated with the electronic-based world (e.g., software companies, e-business, and data licensors), advising them in all areas of intellectual property issues and e-commerce, including copyright and trademark counseling and licensing; data distribution agreements; trademark prosecution; intellectual property due diligence for asset sales, mergers and acquisitions; trade secret and idea submission issues; all matters relating to information technology; and, with the increasing public concern for the protection of personally identifiable information, we advise on compliance with state, federal, and foreign statutory privacy regimes.


The Firm counsels clients on a wide variety of complex copyright issues, negotiates licensing agreements in traditional businesses such as publishing, music recording, motion pictures, and visual arts as well as in e-commerce and other non-traditional businesses, and handles complicated copyright registrations. The Firm has represented well-known recording companies, entertainers, composers, both authors and publishers, television/radio networks, and online and cable entertainment networks. Our attorneys have:

  • Negotiated and advised on author-publisher agreements, literary agency agreements, and licenses from freelance authors and photographers.
  • Advised on issues under the 1909 and 1976 U.S. Copyright Acts (including restoration of copyright in foreign works under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act), including copyright ownership, copyright renewals, termination rights, copyrightability, and fair use.
  • Licensed in rights in financial data for a major data publisher and negotiated a data distribution license to one of its major clients.
  • Drafted agreements relating to the building and quality control of a medical database and drafted the access agreements to pharmaceutical companies for use of the database.
  • Licensed and optioned rights in literary properties for movie and television use.
  • Negotiated and drafted development and license agreements for the use of well known cartoon and television characters in new properties for distribution on new electronic platforms.
  • Licensed characters from entertainment entities product lines for merchandise spin offs.
  • Negotiated and advised on agreements for the acquisition of publishing archives.
  • Negotiated and advised on motion picture, television and theatrical agreements for production, acting and writing services.
  • Licensed musical performances for record, compact disc and cassette release for both record companies and performers.
  • Advised on music recording and administration agreements for both record companies and performers.
  • Negotiated consignment agreements to auction houses for consignors of art and books.
  • Handled pre-publication review of literary works.
  • Advised and drafted licenses of publicity rights.
  • Represented a major motion picture distributor in an action involving distribution of videos in Europe.

Information Technology

The Firm’s practice in the IT area has grown with the last 15 years’ explosion of businesses and institutions either providing or using computer-based technology to create, store, exchange and use information in its various forms. As a result, our attorneys have:

  • Negotiated and advised on software licensing, software development, source code escrow, service-level agreements, and multimedia development agreements.
  • Advised on the issues related to open source (in its many forms) and proprietary licensing and software development.
  • Advised on agreements to develop and exploit new and emerging distribution technologies, including wireless devices, interactive television, and satellite radio.
  • Prepared and advised on web site development agreements, web hosting, co-location agreements, and linking agreements.
  • Advised web-based content and service providers in revenue-sharing agreements, distribution agreements and strategic joint ventures (including co-branding, co-promotion, customer and data sharing arrangements, and joint licensing agreements).
  • Advised on and negotiated content licensing and acquisition agreements.
  • Advised clients (both internet service providers and users of those services) at the pre-litigation stage about the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Communications Decency Act, in connection with copyright infringement, defamation, publicity rights, etc.
  • Helped clients deal with infringing or obstructing domain names, sometimes negotiating acquisitions, sometimes handling ICAAN disputes against cybersquatters.

Trademark/Trade Dress

The Firm advises clients on a wide variety of trademark and trade dress issues, prosecute trademark registrations and negotiate and write trademark licenses. Our attorneys have:

  • Counseled clients and prepared and negotiated trademark licenses for a wide range of products and services.
  • Advised on joint marketing and sponsorship agreements.
  • Counseled clients on all aspects of trademarks, including analysis of trademark availability and enforcement of trademark rights.
  • Prosecuted and managed trademark registrations in a wide range of classes for a wide range of businesses and organizations.
  • Advised on and negotiated resolution of book and movie title disputes as well as book cover disputes.
  • Conducted trademark due diligence and advised on transfers in connection with corporate acquisitions.
  • Negotiated and drafted licenses for special co-branded fashions.
  • Licensed logos of fashion and entertainment entities for merchandise spin-offs.

Trade Secret/Theft Of Ideas

Our attorneys counsel clients on ways to protect trade secrets and ideas and to minimize claims of misappropriation of those secrets. Our attorneys have:

  • Advised both disclosing and receiving parties concerning proper disclosure procedures and documentation in negotiations prior to acquisitions, dispositions and licensing.
  • Drafted agreements for confidential disclosure of ideas and protection of trade secrets in consumer products, toy, manufacturing and movie industries.
  • Reviewed movie scripts, book manuscripts and CD-ROMs and compared them with idea submissions to avoid claims of misappropriation and copyright infringement.
  • Negotiated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements and trade secret licenses for consumer products, books, and movies.


Issues concerning patents are similar to those arising for other types of intellectual property, but frequently require technical knowledge due to their complex nature. Our attorneys work with clients to procure patent rights and, where appropriate, help commercialize them in coordination with business advisors. Our attorneys' technical backgrounds enable the Firm to negotiate patent licenses and sales and counsel clients. Our attorneys have:

  • Advised on patent license agreements relating to pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics, biotechnology, water treatment and a wide variety of other industries.
  • Conducted patent due diligence and advised on transfers in connection with corporate acquisitions.
  • Prosecuted patent applications in a broad range of technical and non-technical industries.