Baker Marquart has extensive experience in trademark, copyright and trade secret matters. The firm has defended various new media companies in bet-the-company stakes litigation against established industry leaders, including Fox, Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, NBC, CBS and ABC. We have litigated intellectual property cases across the country, in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
We won a landmark victory in the Central District of California in a copyright infringement case brought by the major broadcast networks against our client, which streamed broadcast programming to the public over the Internet. The federal judge granted partial summary judgment in our client’s favor, holding that an Internet-based service may be eligible for a statutory copyright license as a “cable system.” The decision was widely reported on in the entertainment industry. The Hollywood Reporter referred to the decision as a “legal earthquake” and a “landmark ruling” that “set up a high-stakes appellate showdown with the broadcast establishment.” An editorial in the Los Angeles Times reported that the ruling “could usher in a new generation of pay TV services online[.]” After several district courts split on the hotly contested question of whether an Internet-based service may fit the statutory definition of a cable system, Baker Marquart handled the subsequent appeals in the Ninth Circuit, Seventh Circuit and D.C. Circuit. Following an intense two-hour long oral argument in the D.C. Circuit, Baker Marquart successfully settled the expansive litigation for its client. In 2017, Ryan was honored by Cablefax as one of the country’s “Top Lawyers” in media and communications.
We also were hired to defend an innovative movie filtering service against claims of copyright infringement brought by such industry titans as Disney, Lucasfilm, Fox and Warner Brothers. Citing the Family Movie Act, we argued that our client’s service – which gives individual viewers the choice to filter out violence, nudity, offensive language or other conduct that they deem objectionable from movies that they watch in the privacy of their own homes – is lawful. Frustrated by the concerted efforts of studios to use their market power to preclude the development of a market for filtering services, we went on the offense by asserting that the studios unlawfully conspired to preclude our client and others from providing a filtering service to the public.
We also have successfully represented writers, directors and talent in litigation disputes against the studios. For example, we represented NAACP Image Award winner Morris Taylor “Buddy” Sheffield in a breach of contract lawsuit against defendant ABC Cable Networks Group concerning the creation of the hit television show Hannah Montana. After winning an appeal, monetary sanctions and a court order directing the defendant to produce detailed financial discovery regarding the television show, we obtained a favorable settlement with less than four weeks before trial. In another matter, we obtained a complete defense verdict in a two-week federal jury trial brought against Academy Award® winning directors and producers concerning the film The Last Samurai.
We also are experienced in trademark infringement litigation. In one matter, we represented a Georgia-based studio that sued a much larger production company and its affiliates for violation of its trademark rights in its name. After aggressively pursuing discovery and early motion practice, we were able to secure a favorable confidential settlement. Since the settlement, our client has continued to use its marks and the defendant changed its allegedly infringing marks.
Here are some representative engagements: