Robert M. (“Bobby”) Schwartz is a partner in Quinn Emanuel’s Los Angeles office and co-chair of the Media & Entertainment Industry Practice. Over the last 30 years, Bobby has become a nationally recognized leader in large-stakes and often precedent-setting cases, particularly in the entertainment and media fields. He has represented every major motion picture studio and broadcast network, as well as film production companies, pay TV services, video game developers, record companies, recording artists, producers, writers, directors, and actors. He has had extensive experience and success in copyright, trademark, unfair competition, royalties and participations, First Amendment, defamation, employment, and complex business disputes. He has handled more than 100 class action cases around the country. As noted in the Notable Representations tab, he has also handled substantial disputes for companies well outside the media industry.
- Content Partners
- Gearbox Software
- Nu Image/Millennium Entertainment
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
- Paramount Pictures Corp.
- Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Spyglass Media Group
- Take-Two Interactive
Copyright, Trademark, & Patent
- MGM Studios Inc., et al. v. Grokster, Inc., et al., 545 U.S. 913 (2005): Successfully represented motion picture studio and record company plaintiffs in copyright infringement suit against Grokster, Morpheus, and Kazaa networks, culminating in landmark 9–0 United States Supreme Court decision adopting “active inducement” theory of contributory copyright infringement.
- Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003): Represented bipartisan leadership of Congress before the United States Supreme Court against constitutional challenges to Congress's 1998 adoption of a twenty-year extension to the term of copyright.
- Century of Progress Productions v. Vivendi (C.D. Cal.): We successfully defended the studio that distributes the iconic motion picture This Is Spinal Tap against claims by the four writers, actors, and director (Rob Reiner, Harry Shearer, Michael McKeon, and Christopher Guest) against their claims to terminate the studio’s copyright interest in the picture, a declaration of abandonment of the picture-related trademarks, and for hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged accounting improprieties.
- Danjaq LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Universal City Studios and Aaron Berg (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented producers and distributors of James Bond motion pictures in copyright infringement lawsuit against studio and screenwriter behind knock-off screenplay.
- Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Satellite Radio (C.D. Cal., S.D.N.Y. & S.D. Fla.): Represented satellite radio broadcaster in cases alleging “performance right” to sound recordings made before 1972.
- GDC Technology v. Dolby Laboratories (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented seller of digital theater systems in copyright dispute over software used to control technology and in claims for contract interference.
- Confidential Video Game Dispute. Successfully represented developers of two bestselling video game franchises in disputes with a major publisher and rival. The dispute involved patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and royalty calculations and, after the first of two arbitration hearings, the matter settled on terms favorable to the client.
- Gibson Guitar Corporation v. Amazon.com, Inc., Gamestop Corporation, Toys-R-Us Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Target Corporation, Kmart Corporation, Sears Roebuck & Co, Harmonix Music Systems, Inc., Viacom International Inc., and Electronic Arts Inc. (M.D. Tenn.): Represented game developer, publisher, and retailers in patent infringement action filed by the famous guitar maker, which asserted that its patents allegedly drive the technology behind the multibillion-dollar Guitar Hero and Rock Band video game franchises. Obtained stay of proceedings pending PTO patent reexamination, during which the PTO narrowed the claims and thereby rendered plaintiff’s case unwinnable.
- Time Warner Entertainment Co., Home Box Office, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Television, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., New Line Cinema Corp., and The WB Television Network Partners L.P., v. ReplayTV, Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Represented plaintiff content and media companies in a copyright infringement action against the maker of the ReplayTV DVR, based on inclusion of commercial-skipping, librarying, and file sharing functions. Matter settled on terms favorable to clients.
- Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (D. Del.): Successfully defended trademark infringement suit brought by Intel against Advanced Micro Devices over the “MMX” mark for use on x486 microprocessors.
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. Time Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Represented publisher of books and special-issue magazine against claims of copyright and trademark infringement arising from use of “Academy Awards” and “Oscars” trademarks and images in publications.
- Frederick Hart and National Cathedral Foundation v. Warner Bros. (E.D. Va.): Represented motion picture studio in copyright and trademark suit brought by sculptor and Washington’s National Cathedral over set in the movie The Devil’s Advocate infringed sculpture above the Cathedral’s entrance.
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Columbia Pictures, Inc., Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., TriStar Pictures, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios, Inc., and Time Warner Entertainment Co. v. RecordTV.com and David Simon (C.D. Cal.): Obtained permanent injunction for plaintiffs against defendants’ Internet site, which allowed users to copy and display over the Internet plaintiffs’ copyrighted movies and television shows.
- Leicester v. Warner Bros., 232 F.3d 1212 (9th Cir. 2000): Prevailed at trial and on appeal for defendants on copyright and trademark claims based on unauthorized photography of plaintiff’s work in scenes of Batman Forever movie and use on film-related merchandise.
- The New Young Americans, Inc. v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. and The WB Television Network, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Defended copyright and trademark claims filed by music group against producer and network that produced and distributed television series entitled The Young Americans.
- Vernon Unsworth v. Elon Musk (C.D. Cal.): Successfully defended Tesla and SpaceX founder against defamation lawsuit arising from comments Mr. Musk made in response to the plaintiff’s comments about Mr. Musk’s efforts to assist the rescue of a Thai soccer team that had become trapped in a cave. Plaintiff sought damages for being labeled a “pedo guy.” Jury returned defense verdict in less than 40 minutes.
- [Claimant] v. Take-Two Interactive (JAMS): Prevailed in arbitration on behalf of publisher of the NBA 2K series of basketball video games against claim alleging violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) arising from user photographs used to create personalized avatars and transmission of them to third party players in multiplayer mode.
- Turner, et al. v. Spiegel, Murphy, and Snapchat (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended co-founders of Snapchat and their corporation against Right of Publicity and Section 3344 (Name and Likeness) claims for use of plaintiffs’ likenesses in connection with Snapchat app.
- In re Hulu Privacy Litigation, 86 F.Supp.3d 1090 (N.D. Cal. 2015): Successfully defended consolidated putative class action cases involving the Video Privacy Protection Act and related privacy statutes, and the allegation that the defendant knowingly disclosed personally identifiable information about its users. Defeated class certification and obtained summary judgment on liability.
- Vigal v. Take-Two Interactive, 235 F.Supp.3d 499 (S.D.N.Y. 2017), aff’d., (2d Cir. No. 17-303, Nov. 21, 2017): Successfully defended publisher of the NBA 2K basketball video games against class action alleging violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) based on use of user photographs to create customized game players and transmit them to third party users when playing in multiplayer mode. Decision affirmed on appeal.
- Terry Crews v. Adam Venit and William Morris Endeavor (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended talent agency against claims of harassment and battery.
- Represents high-profile individuals in defense of their reputations.
Contracts & Accounting
- Confidential Arbitration (JAMS): Represented owner of rights in television series in dispute with studio over distribution of the series on studio’s affiliated streaming services.
- Kanye West, et al., v. EMI Publishing and Kanye West, et al. v. Universal Music Group (L.A.S.C., C.D. Cal. and S.D.N.Y.): Represented recording artist in lawsuits over obligations under song writing and music recording contracts, including whether further performance was excused under California Labor Code section 2855 (the so-called “Seven Year Rule”).
- Kessler v. Matthew Duffer and Ross Duffer (L.A.S.C.): Successfully represented Matt and Ross Duffer, creators of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things against claim for breach of implied-in-fact contract. Plaintiff contended that he disclosed ideas, a short film, and a screenplay that served as the basis for the TV series. In dismissing his case, plaintiff issued a public statement that our clients had created the series long before he ever met them.
- Confidential Arbitration (JAMS): Prevailed at trial on behalf of sellers of independent film distribution company to recover post-closing portion of purchase price owed by private equity purchaser and defeated purchaser’s fraud counterclaim alleging false and misleading financial statements.
- Confidential Dispute Over Participation Accounting on Series of Motion Pictures: Successfully represented producer of motion pictures series and author of book on which the series is based in nine-figure dispute with studio/distributor over contingent compensation.
- Martindale v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C.): Defended putative class action lawsuit concerning accounting for revenues from home video distribution of motion pictures under contracts that pre-date the development of the home video industry.
- Jason West and Vince Zampella v. Activision Publishing, Inc. (L.A.S.C.): Represents plaintiffs, creators of the multibillion-dollar video game franchises Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, in dispute over nonpayment of nine-figure bonuses and unauthorized development of sequels and other games. Case settled on favorable terms day before jury selection was to begin.
- Tommy Lee Jones v. Paramount Pictures Corporation (W.D. Tex. and JAMS Arbitration): Represented studio and distributor of the Academy Award–winning motion picture No Country for Old Men in dispute with actor over contingent compensation contract. Obtained dismissal with prejudice of fraud claims and compelled performer to arbitrate dispute.
- The Saul Zaentz Co. v. New Line Cinema Corp. (L.A.S.C.): Represented the studio behind The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy against accounting and breach of contract claims related to rights holder’s “adjusted gross receipts” participation. Obtained summary judgment on counterclaim regarding rights to The Hobbit.
- Burrows v. Warner Bros. Television (L.A.S.C.): Represented studio against contract and accounting claims arising from well-known director’s percentage participation in “defined proceeds” on the Friends television series.
- Wingnut Films, Ltd. v. Katja Motion Pictures Corp., et al., (C.D. Cal.): Defended production company and distributor against claims by writer-director-producer Peter Jackson that his contract was breached paying his share of “gross receipts” on The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy. Plaintiff asserted “vertical integration” claims related to distribution licenses involving companies affiliated with the defendants.
- StudioCanal Image, S.A., et al. v. Artisan Entertainment, Inc. (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended home video distributor in connection with long-standing lawsuits involving claims and counterclaims over accountings and contract rights to distribute the Carolco Pictures film library, which includes Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, the Rambo series, Total Recall, and Stargate.
- Batfilm Productions, Inc. v. Warner Bros., et al. (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended through judge and jury trials against claims brought by the executive producers of Batman and Batman Returns regarding their alleged contract right to produce the movies and their credit and participation accounting claims, resulting in a zero recovery for the plaintiffs.
- Byers v. Edmondson, et al. (Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana), 2001 WL 1147451, 29 Media L. Rep. 1991 (La. Dist. Ct. Mar. 12, 2001), aff’d., 826 So. 2d 551 (La. App. 2002), cert. denied, 826 So. 2d 1131 (La. 2002); prior history: 712 So. 2d 681 (La. App. 1998), writ denied, 726 So. 2d 29 (La. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1005 (1999): Obtained summary judgment for film director Oliver Stone, Time Warner, Warner Bros., and other defendants in a wrongful-death suit arising from a “copycat crime” allegedly inspired by the movie Natural Born Killers.
- Citizens For Fair Treatment, Inc. v. Time Warner Entertainment Co., New Line Cinema Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Universal Studios, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., and The Walt Disney Company (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended all defendants in unfair competition action brought under California’s Business & Professions Code §17200 alleging that motion picture studios unlawfully marketed to children motion pictures rated “R” for their depiction of violence. Obtained writ to confirm statutory entitlement to stay of trial court proceedings pending defendants’ exercise of right of automatic appeal of denial of anti-SLAPP motion. Following reversal of trial court, obtained record-setting award of attorneys’ fees for clients.
Industry & Antitrust
- Represented the Motion Picture Association of America and its member companies in hearings before the California legislature and state Senate Judiciary Committee to defeat proposed legislation that would have imposed civil and criminal liability on content licensors who failed to license their content to affiliates for sufficiently high fees.
- Garrison v. Warner Bros., et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented motion picture studios against class action brought by thousands of high-level employees who claimed their compensation was “unconscionably” low and the result of antitrust conspiracy among the industry’s major employers. Designated lead counsel after class certified. Obtained decertification and settled case on eve of hearing on motion for summary judgment.
- Lipschutz v. AT&T, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented leading broadband Internet service provider in nationwide, putative consumer antitrust class action against country’s cable television multiple system operators and affiliated ISPs. After prevailing on motion for class certification, settled case on terms favorable to clients.
- In re Compact Disc Antitrust Litigation; Retzlaff v. BMG, et al (California Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4123): Represented record company in series of class actions arising from advertising and pricing issues over compact discs.
Advertising & Screen Credit
- Locke and Perrine v. Sega of America, Inc. and Gearbox Software LLC (N.D. Cal.): Successfully defended developer of Aliens: Colonial Marines video game against consumer class action claims asserting that the game’s features and customer play experience were overstated in advertising and promotion. Defeated class certification and convinced plaintiffs to dismiss lawsuit for zero recovery from client.
- Huizenga v. Time Warner Entertainment Co. (L.A.S.C.): Defended claim asserting that former L.A. Raiders team physician and writer of book “You’re Okay, It’s Just A Bruise” that he was entitled to screen credit on motion picture Any Given Sunday.
- Newsom v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., (C.D. Cal.): Defended Sony Pictures against claim that writer of early screenplay based on Spider-Man comic books was entitled to screen credit on 2001 motion picture.
- Rezec, et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C); Morris v. Sony Corp. of America (Palm Beach County, Florida); Cohen v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania); Consumer Justice Center, et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C.): Represented Sony Pictures in various false advertising/unfair business practice class actions arising from the use of endorsements in movie ads by film critic who did not work for indicated publication. Also defended Sony in connection with several related state attorneys general investigations and proceedings.
- Mattel, Inc. v. Nissan Motor Corp. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully defended Nissan Motor Corp. in a copyright and trademark infringement suit brought by Mattel arising from a Nissan commercial that included toy characters. Plaintiff claimed the characters infringed its rights in Barbie and Ken line of dolls.
- Brian Rector, et al. v. Sony Corp. of America, et al. (L.A.S.C.): Prevailed on anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss class-action claims asserting that motion picture studios falsely advertised motion pictures by using critic endorsements without disclosing provision of preview screenings, “press junkets,” and other supposed consideration. Obtained six-figure award of attorneys’ fees.
- Charles Kessler v. Matthew Duffer and Ross Duffer (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended the Duffer Brothers, creators of the Netflix TV series Stranger Things, against breach of implied-in-fact contract claim alleging that plaintiff had disclosed material to the defendants and had written screenplays that were used as the basis of the TV series.
- 21st Century Film Corp. v. Carolco Pictures, Inc.; Carolco Pictures, Inc., v. CPT Holdings, Inc.; Carolco Pictures, Inc. v. Viacom International, Inc; Carolco Pictures Inc. and Carolco Studios, Inc., et al. (Chapter 11 proceedings); Marvel Entertainment Group v. Columbia Tri-Star Home Video; Marvel Entertainment Group v. Viacom International, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Marvel Entertainment, Viacom International, Inc., Columbia Tri-Star Home Video; John J. Gibbons, Chapter 11 Trustee for Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Viacom International, Inc., CPT Holdings, MGM Entertainment, et al. (D. Del.): Following extensive motion practice, a partial settlement, and trials in California and Delaware state and federal courts over five-year period, successfully represented Sony Pictures in multiparty disputes over control of Spider-Man comic book characters. From these cases, Sony obtained the rights to create, produce, and distribute all Spider-Man motion pictures and merchandise.
Investigations & Special Committees
- Represented major motion picture studios in Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission Joint 2000, 2003, and 2006 investigations into the film , music, and video game industries’ alleged marketing to minors of content depicting violence.
- Securities & Exchange Commission v. Hollinger International, Inc.; Hollinger International, Inc. v. Hollinger, Inc. and Conrad Black, et al.; Ravelston Corp. Ltd. v. Hollinger International, Inc. (Delaware Chancery Court; United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois; Ontario (Canada) Superior Court of Justice): On behalf of special committee of board of directors of multinational media holding company, investigated and prosecuted former senior officers and directors for massive looting of company assets, including RICO claims. Successfully enforced SEC consent decree’s provisions for appointment of special master to prevent controlling shareholder from interfering with investigation and disposition of assets. Successfully precluded target from manipulating litigation through filing of parallel actions in Canadian courts.
- Tower Park Properties LLC v. Fiduciary Trust International of California (C.D. Cal.): Represented owner of 157 acre parcel of undeveloped residential property above Beverly Hills in dispute against trustee of Mark Hughes Family Trust over financing and loss of ownership of property.
- In re FedEx Ground Package Systems, Inc. Employment Practices Litigation (MDL Case No. 1700, N.D. Ind.): Lead counsel for defendant in more than 50 class-action lawsuits in 42 states seeking to reclassify thousands of independent contractors engaged in package pick-up and delivery services as “employees.”
- In re: Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Construction Cost Proceedings (NM PUC & Supreme Court of New Mexico): Represented public utility before regulatory agency to include $1.2 billion investment in nuclear power plants in client’s rate base. Worked on similar case for California public utility in dispute over $5.5 billion in costs to build Diablo Canyon nuclear facility.
- Media & Entertainment Litigation
- Intellectual Property Litigation
- Copyright Litigation
- Trade Secret Litigation
- Trademark, Trade Dress, Unfair Competition/False Advertising, and Publicity Rights Litigation
- Class Action Litigation
- Antitrust & Competition
- Data Privacy & Security
- Employment Litigation & Counseling
- Litigation Representing Plaintiffs
- Real Estate Litigation
- Sexual Harassment & Employment Discrimination
- University of Southern California
- University of California at Los Angeles
(B.S., Economics, 1981)
The State Bar of California; United States Supreme Court; United States Court of Appeals: Second Circuit, Seventh Circuit, Ninth Circuit; United States District Courts: Central District of California, Northern District of California, Eastern District of California
- Irell & Manella LLP:
- Partner, 2015-2018
- Partner, 2015-2018
- O'Melveny & Myers LLP:
- Partner, 1984-2015
- The Best Lawyers In America, “Entertainment Law – Motion Pictures and Television/ Litigation – Intellectual Property” (2010-2021)
- Chambers USA, California “Media & Entertainment: Litigation” Band 1 (2010-2020)
- The Hollywood Reporter, “Power Lawyers” (2007-2020)
- The American Lawyer, “IP Litigation Department of the Year” (2018)
- The Legal 500 United States, “Leading Lawyer” (2008-2018)
- Law360, “Media & Entertainment Group of the Year” (2017)
- Century City Bar Association, “Media & Entertainment Lawyer of the Year” (2017)
- The Recorder, “Game Changer of the Year” (2017)
- Daily Journal, “75 Leading IP Litigators” (2010, 2016)
- The American Lawyer, “Litigator of the Week” (2015)
- Author of four chapters in the 2011 Lexis/Nexis treatise Entertainment Litigation and the 2014 revision, Entertainment Law & Litigation: Copyright (direct infringement), Copyright (secondary liability), Law of Ideas/Contracts/Credit and Trademark & Unfair Competition.
- Bet Tzedek Legal Services:
- Board of Directors