Quinn emanuel trial lawyers

Media and Entertainment Litigation

Introduction Print

With offices in L.A., London, New York and Silicon Valley, the preeminent entertainment and media centers in the world, we have deep experience involving every aspect of the entertainment and media industries.  The firm has successfully represented studios, networks, financiers, video and social online game developers, production companies, producers, distributors, publishers, talent, talent agencies, gaming companies, sports leagues and teams, and other entertainment and media clients in virtually every kind of commercial and intellectual property dispute.  We have also served as General Counsel to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for over twenty-five years.

The entertainment and media industries are governed by arcane rules and precedents developed over a century.  At the same time, the rapid growth of new technologies and new entrants into the industries – such as video gaming and social media – has generated unique legal issues.  Experience in the industries and innovative strategies are critical to success.  Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of the issues at the heart of the entertainment and media businesses and have tried and arbitrated many high stakes cases involving claims in diverse, but sometimes related, areas such as breach of contract, copyright, trademark, idea theft, misappropriation of trade secrets, patent, right of publicity, defamation, free speech, and unfair competition.  We also have an in-depth understanding of the unique character of the entertainment and media worlds – the relatively small size of the communities and the personal interrelationships that are their hallmark. Consequently, every client can expect vigorous and aggressive representation where appropriate.  However, we recognize that is not always the case.  We are always open to exploring alternatives to litigation because that is often in the long term interests of our clients.

Some of our notable entertainment and media attorneys are: John Quinn, General Counsel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who has also represented entertainment and media clients in a number of high profile cases; Kathleen Sullivan, the former Dean of Stanford Law School, First Amendment scholar, and nationally renowned appellate advocate, who heads the firm’s appellate practice group; Bob Raskopf, an expert in the sports, entertainment and media bars in New York, who is perhaps best known for his work on behalf of professional sports leagues and teams, newspapers and publishers; Claude Stern, who has represented a broad array of leading software developers, videogame manufacturers, online publishers and other media clients in all forms of intellectual property litigation, including copyright, patent, trade secret, trademark, and licensing disputes; Bruce Van Dalsem, who has tried and resolved disputes for studios, producers and performing artists in the film, television, music and finance businesses, securing a top five verdict in California based on the misappropriation of a film library; Gary Gans, an expert litigator in motion picture financing, production and distribution disputes, as well as copyright and idea theft cases, who has been named in 2012 by The Hollywood Reporter as one of America’s “Top Entertainment Attorneys;” Jeff McFarland, who has litigated entertainment related cases for more than 20 years, including cases involving motion picture and television series profits, video game licenses, idea theft and the “seven year rule;” and Michael Williams, who represents a satellite exhibitor and other media clients in trademark, copyright, patent, antitrust and other commercial litigation.

Our London partners, combine a first rate litigation capability in  commercial disputes with a deep understanding of the industries.  With both U.K. and U.S. qualified lawyers practicing in London, we have a genuinely transatlantic offering.

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Recent Representations Print

  • We were engaged by our client, Netflix, Inc., in two inter partes review proceedings challenging the validity of patents owned by Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC relating to streaming systems for digitally stored audio, video, and textual content.  Following the Oral Hearing, the PTAB issued Final Written Decisions in each proceeding finding that all challenged claims were unpatentable.  We represent Netflix in an appeal of the PTAB’s ruling that was recently filed by Affinity and is currently pending before the Federal Circuit.  We also represent Netflix in the related District Court proceeding that currently is stayed.
  • We represented The Andy Warhol Foundation in lawsuit over ownership of Warhol works depicting Wayne Gretzky.  The case arose out of a contract Andy Warhol entered into with an art publisher in the 1980s.  The Court dismissed the lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation. 
  • We represented Leon Pasternak, the Deputy Chairman of Australian radio company Southern Cross, in a regulatory investigation of Mr Pasternak’s purchase of Southern Cross shares, which the regulator alleged constituted insider trading.  After almost 4 years of investigations, we obtained confirmation that the regulator would not take enforcement action.
  • We represented Michael “Mickey” Gooch and Colin Heffron against securities fraud claims in a class action that was pending before Judge Pauley in the Southern District of New York. After the class was certified, we moved for summary judgment and obtained complete dismissal of all claims with prejudice.
  • Quinn Emanuel represented a Hungarian cable company and its subsidiary, which were being haled into the Eastern District of Virginia federal court by plaintiffs who were attempting to enforce a 10-year old default judgment that had been entered against the subsidiary and several other individuals and entities as a result of a fraud allegedly perpetrated by a third-party. Quinn Emanuel obtained dismissal of the entire lawsuit, including the underlying default judgment, on the basis of a lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to a lack of complete diversity of the parties.
  • We obtained a significant victory for Japanese entertainment company Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd. in a jury trial in the Central District of California. The case concerned a dispute regarding ownership of rights in Tsuburaya’s iconic “Ultraman” superhero character in all countries outside of Japan. The “Ultraman” universe comprises dozens of movies and television shows dating back to the 1960s, as well as countless products based on “Ultraman” characters. In 1996, a Thai man claimed that he owned all rights in “Ultraman” outside of Japan based on a one-page contract that, he asserted, had been executed 20 years earlier by Tsuburaya’s former president, who had died shortly before the Thai man made his claim, leaving no other witnesses to the alleged formation of the purported contract. Since then, the parties have litigated over the validity of the alleged contract in multiple foreign countries, with Tsuburaya contending that the document was forged by the Thai individual. The dispute reached the U.S. courts in 2015. After we obtained partial summary judgment on the interpretation of the contract (assuming it is an authentic contract), the question of the contract’s authenticity was tried to a jury. At the close of a two-week trial, the jury unanimously found that the document was a forgery, thus paving the way for Tsuburaya to greatly increase its exploitation of “Ultraman” in the U.S. and elsewhere.
  • The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division recently affirmed our win on a motion to dismiss a complaint brought by actor Harvey Keitel against firm client E*TRADE. E*TRADE’s ad agency had sent Keitel’s agent a term sheet for Keitel to appear in a series of ads for E*TRADE. The ad agency even referred to the term sheet as a “binding offer.” But E*TRADE didn’t want Keitel. After Keitel turned down the ad agency’s offer of a $150,000 “kill fee” to smooth relations, Keitel sued E*TRADE for $1.5 million. QE moved to dismiss, which Justice Ramos granted twice—first without prejudice and then, after an amended complaint was filed, with prejudice. Keitel appealed the ruling and the Appellate Division heard oral argument. They issued their ruling three weeks later, finding that Keitel’s “complaint was correctly dismissed on the ground that no valid and binding contract was ever formed.”
  • We are General Counsel to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and have successfully represented the Academy in a number of litigation matters including actions enforcing its right to protect Oscar® statuettes from commercial exploitation such as enjoining the heirs of Mary Pickford from selling her statuette, and forcing an auction house to sell a statuette to the Academy for $10 based on an equitable servitude in the statuette;  actions concerning the enforcement of criteria for Academy Award nominations; actions vindicating the Academy’s ability to restrict the sale or transfer of tickets to the Academy Awards programs; and actions with respect to various commercial matters related to its annual program and the development of the soon to open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.  
  • We have successfully represented Google in a variety of litigation matters including patent and copyright infringement actions; actions involving claims for federal and common law trademark infringement  and unfair competition relating to Google’s AdWords program as well as more traditional trademark claims; and other matters.
  • We have successfully represented major sports organizations and players including: The National Football League and the Baltimore Ravens in a series of copyright actions stemming from the adoption by the Ravens of a logo that plaintiff alleged was substantially similar to his copyrighted work; the Washington Nationals in a dispute with the Baltimore Orioles and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network under the parties’ Telecast Agreement; Haymon Sports and its CEO, Alan Haymon, in an antitrust action by Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy promotion companies alleging that Haymon attempted to monopolize the market for promotion of Championship-Caliber Boxers; and Major League Baseball players Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman in a defamation action against Al Jazeera America (and related entities) arising from a documentary accusing various athletes of taking a banned performance enhancing substance; and other sports organizations.
  • We have successfully represented a number of video game manufacturers, social online game publishers and software developers including Activision in a lawsuit seeking to enjoin sales of its “Guitar Hero” videogame by members of the ‘80s rock band The Romantics (see Romantics v. Activision Publishing, Inc., 532 F.Supp. 2d 884 (E.D. Mich. 2008); Electronic Arts in litigation challenging the rights to content contained in various popular videogames, including “Madden NFL Football”; Kabam in defense of claims by Machine Zone that Kabam misappropriated Machine Zone’s trade secrets; King Entertainment, publisher of the world famous social online game “Candy Crush,” in numerous matters against competing game developers; Sega of America in defense of a class action for false advertising brought by purchasers of the video game “Aliens:  Colonial Marines”; Sony Online regarding intellectual property associated with its games “Everquest” and “PlanetSide”; Tinder, Inc. and IAC/InterActiveCorp in a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by a website designer which had a prior federal registration in a “Tinder” trademark; uCool,who was sued for allegedly misappropriating source code for use in the video game “Heroes Charge”; and Zynga, in numerous cases addressing the client’s copyrights and other intellectual property in numerous games, including “Mafia Wars,” “Farmville” and “Yoville,” and in securing its trade secrets and other intellectual property from competitors.
  • We have successfully represented Alibaba Group in a variety of disputes involving its e-commerce web platforms, winning dismissal and summary judgment of intellectual property claims asserted against Alibaba Group companies.
  • We successfully represented DIRECTV on antitrust claims under the Cartwright Act brought by a terminated retailer alleging that DIRECTV entered into a horizontal conspiracy with its other retailers through coercion not to bid on sales leads so that DIRECTV could acquire them at a below market price; and other matters.
  • We successfully represented MHR Fund Management, its founder Dr. Mark Rachesky, and affiliated funds relating to Carl Icahn’s hostile bid for Lionsgate Entertainment. Icahn brought actions in British Columbia, where he alleged shareholder “oppression,” and New York, where he alleged tortious interference with a contract between Icahn and the company.
  • We represent Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and Clifford Harris Jr. in an appeal to the Ninth Circuit from the judgment against them in a copyright infringement claim by the heirs of Marvin Gaye, claiming that the musical composition “Blurred Lines,” co-written by Williams, Thicke and Harris, infringed their copyright in the Marvin Gaye song “Got to Give it Up.”
  • We successfully represented Vimeo in a copyright infringement action by major record labels concerning user-uploaded videos allegedly containing infringing music, in which the  Second Circuit held that: (1) the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor applies to pre-1972 sound recordings; and (2) mere awareness of the presence of a “famous” song in a video cannot confer “red flag” knowledge of infringement. 
  • We successfully represented Warner Bros. and the producers, writers, and director of the motion picture  “The Last Samurai” in a copyright infringement and breach of implied-in-fact contract (idea theft) action alleging that they had used material written by the plaintiffs to write and produce the film. 
  • We successfully represented ARRI, AG, the world’s preeminent manufacturer of motion picture cameras in an action against Red.com for misappropriation of trade secrets and violations of the Lanham Act in the development and marketing of digital motion picture cameras; and ARRI, Inc. in an action for unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets concerning the marketing and distribution of digital motion picture cameras and related equipment.
  • We have successfully represented Film Finances in a variety of litigation including  an arbitration against Fortis Bank concerning the financing of Spike Lee’s film, Miracle at St. Anna; an arbitration involving claims of fraud in the budgets of a large slate of motion picture; arbitrations concerning the international distribution of motion pictures and television series; and other arbitrations and litigation. 
  • We successfully represented Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks and Ben Stiller in an action in which plaintiffs contended that the movie “Tropic Thunder” infringed upon their 2000 screenplay.
  • We successfully represented DreamWorks Animation SKG in an idea misappropriation action brought by Vertigo Entertainment regarding the animated film “How to Train Your Dragon.”
  • We successfully represented Yandex N.V., Yandex Inc. and Yandex LLC in a lawsuit brought by Perfect 10 for alleged infringement of Perfect 10’s copyrights in photographic images, claiming that Yandex, the largest search engine in Russia and other Eastern European markets, contributed to infringements of Perfect 10’s copyrighted images by providing “links” to third-party websites that display allegedly-infringing copies of Perfect 10 images and that Yandex hosted infringing images in the form of thumbnails in image search results. 
  • We successfully represented YouTube in an action brought by Viacom claiming that YouTube did not exercise sufficient care to keep Viacom shows off the site.  The district court held that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act insulated YouTube from liability.
  • We have successfully represented a number of international distributors and financiers of motion pictures and television series in arbitrations and lawsuits concerning the financing and distribution of motion pictures and television programs.
  • We successfully represented The Richard Avedon Foundation in a case for interference with contract and for a determination of copyright ownership concerning over 4,000 photographs of celebrated photographer Richard Avedon as well as the ownership of numerous Avedon prints. 
  • We successfully represented the cast of the television show Modern Family in a declaratory relief action arising from contracts allegedly in violation of California’s “Seven-Year Rule” regarding personal service agreements.
  • We successfully represented Baidu.com, the most popular internet search service in China, in an action claiming that Baidu violated various United States civil rights laws by allegedly preventing its search engine from returning results linking to plaintiffs’ works advocating political change in China.
  • We represent United Talent Agency in an arbitration with Creative Artists Agency involving claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and interference with contract relating to the move of a group of agents. 
  • We successfully represented Houston Casualty Company and CineFinance Insurance Services in a breach of contract action concerning the financing of a motion picture entitled “Tekken.”
  • We successfully represented GK Films LLC, the producer of such films as Argo, The Departed and Hugo, in an arbitration to enforce its contractual rights in the financing of a motion picture.
  • We have successfully represented The John Gore Organization, the largest live-theatrical performance company in North America and owner and operator of the website www.broadway.com, in a variety of intellectual property, contractual and corporate matters.
  • We successfully represented TVEyes, Inc. in an action brought by Fox News Network, Inc. alleging copyright infringement and hot news misappropriation arising out of TVEyes’ media-monitoring service. 

Selected U.K. Representations:
Our London partners: 

  • We operate the UK intellectual property enforcement for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
  • We have acted for the ITV Group companies in numerous matters, including Commercial Court proceedings against the STV Group relating to the broadcasting of Network programming, the sponsorship of Network programs, and advertising on the Network.
  • We have advised the British Phonographic Industry Limited in relation to a challenge to the terms of the Licensing Scheme for the provision of online and mobile music services to the public for private use, promulgated by the Performing Right Society and Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society.
  • We obtained a preliminary injunction in favor of the producer and distributor of James Bond films, affirmed on appeal, barring a film studio from proceeding with plans to create a  competing series of James Bond films; and subsequently obtained judgment of dismissal on  counterclaim for infringement, affirmed on appeal in published opinion.
  • We acted for a Premier League Football Club on the only successful ground move in the history of the Football League from one area of the country to another which included a Football Association (FA) Arbitration and Commission of Inquiry, and in a player transfer dispute in a FA arbitration.
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