Litigation

Entertainment Litigation

We have the nation’s premier entertainment litigation practice.  Our lawyers, and the results they achieve in high-stakes and high-profile lawsuits, command the respect of judges, arbitrators and potential opponents.  

Greenberg Glusker resolves disputes involving celebrities and talent, studios and production companies, distributors, guilds, video game publishers, technology firms and individuals.

When litigation is necessary, our attorneys are forceful, experienced advocates who have established important legal precedents in the entertainment industry. Our extensive experience ranges from motion picture and television to music, sports, interactive gaming, theatre and photography.

In the film arena, we handle every conceivable type of dispute relating to the motion picture business.  This includes conflicts over initial rights acquisitions, the engagement of talent, motion picture production, exploitation and distribution, and profit participation audits.  Our background includes resolving copyright and trademark disputes, editing rights, right to final cut and writer’s credits.  We resolve disputes involving international film distribution before the Independent Film and Television Alliance. To resolve these many disputes, our attorneys arbitrate before all of the guild arbitration forums.

Television litigation, including idea submission disputes in reality shows, is part of Greenberg Glusker’s vast TV experience.  In both scripted and unscripted programming, we handle disputes between actors, production companies and broadcast and cable networks.

We also have extensive experience with issues under the California Talent Agencies Act and we counsel clients in actions for and against agents and business and personal managers.

In litigation involving the music industry, Greenberg Glusker represents performers, composers and songwriters, music publishers and record labels in copyright, royalty and other litigation arising out of the exploitation of sound recordings and musical compositions. Our experience also includes “7 year” disputes, management agreement disputes and contractual disputes between record labels and business partners.

As the video game business has evolved from a niche area to a fully integrated multibillion-dollar industry, our litigators have an unparalleled level of experience in this area.  We work to forge new legal ground in the industry’s untested areas and handle claims brought on behalf of, or against, persons and entities in this bourgeoning industry.

Intellectual property protection is unique in the entertainment industry. Greenberg Glusker prosecutes and defends our entertainment clients’ copyright, trademark, right of publicity, trade dress infringement and idea submission claims, and other intellectual property infringement concerns.  We also manage conflicts over rights acquisitions, the engagement of talent, exploitation and distribution. 

For more information, please contact Matthew Falley.

  • Currently representing the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and HarperCollins, owners of the copyrights in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels, The Hobbit and the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, in a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and The Saul Zaentz Company related to improper merchandising exploitation of Tolkien’s works, including the use of the novels in connection with online slot machines, casino slot machines and downloadable video games.  
  • Successfully represented Toho-Towa Co. Ltd in a four year dispute with motion picture producer Morgan Creek concerning millions of dollars owed to Toho-Towa from its distribution in Japan of the motion picture "The Good Shepherd."  On July 11, 2013, in a published opinion, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment of $5.7 million in our client’s favor.   
  • Recently represented the heirs of Bob Marley in a claim for unpaid royalties against Universal Music Group.
  • Successfully represented Marvel Entertainment in various profit participation matters as well as other general litigation.
  • Successfully represented the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien in a profit participation action against New Line Cinema arising from the tremendously successful "Lord of the Rings" film franchise. The Estate was seeking a damage award of at least $150 million and had also requested that the court declare New Line’s rights terminated. 
  • Obtained a rare cover apology for actress Katie Holmes after bringing a defamation lawsuit against the publisher of Star Magazine.
  • Represented Classic Media, one of the world’s largest owners and distributors of class children’s and family content, in dispute concerning rights to a classic television series; obtained reversal on appeal of an adverse arbitration ruling, with client ultimately receiving $6,000,000.
  • Obtained $13.2 million arbitration award for Ubisoft Entertainment, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, in a dispute against MGA Entertainment, licensor of the Bratz doll property, for wrongful termination of the license. 
  • Represented Warren Beatty in dispute with Tribune Media concerning motion picture rights to Dick Tracy.  We brought and prevailed on a summary judgment motion and thereby confirmed that the rights reside with Mr. Beatty.
  • Represented Jeffrey Katzenberg, a founding principal of DreamWorks SKG and the former head of Walt Disney Studios, in his lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. The litigation arose out of Disney’s failure to pay Mr. Katzenberg the employment bonus owed to him upon his leaving the company. The bonus included a participation in all of the films produced during his tenure.
 
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