Entertainment

Fast-moving, disruptive technological change is transforming the way entertainment and media are created, licensed, distributed, and consumed. Hueston Hennigan helps clients in this rapidly evolving business environment mitigate risk and maximize opportunity.

Our team represents leading film studios, video game publishers, broadcast and cable television networks, music companies, and industry entrepreneurs in a broad array of high-stakes federal and state court actions, appeals, and arbitration proceedings.

We have a strong track record of results for defendants and plaintiffs in a wide range of entertainment matters, including disputes alleging copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement; right of publicity violations; idea theft; breaches of licensing and distribution, participation, film financing, and executive employment agreements; trade secret violations; and a variety of fraud, interference, personal injury, and other tort actions. Our lawyers have successfully obtained and defeated applications for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, won significant trial and appellate court victories, and negotiated favorable settlements in a number of high-profile entertainment disputes. We also provide risk assessments and advise clients on ways to avoid potential litigation so they can stay focused on achieving their business and creative goals.

In addition to resolving disputes, we regularly advise major entertainment and media companies on intellectual property, privacy, and contract issues. Our team provides counsel on complex business transactions involving the production and distribution of motion pictures and television programming. Clients also rely on us to draft and review content acquisition and licensing agreements, talent contracts, and participation agreements and releases.

Representative Experience

  • Prevailed in $40 billion battle for corporate control of Viacom on behalf of controlling shareholder and Chairman Emeritus Sumner Redstone, which was waged in the courts of Delaware, Massachusetts, and California. (See “Viacom Saga Comes to End With Redstones Emerging Victorious,” Bloomberg; “Redstone Family Prevails in Fight for Viacom,” The Hollywood Reporter)
  • Represented the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) in successful challenge to constitutionality of California statute restricting online speech. Obtained preliminary and permanent injunction invalidating statute. (See “IMDb Sues California Over Law Allowing Actors to Conceal their Ages,” The Wall Street Journal; “Judge Predicts Doom for Privacy Law on Actor Ages,” Courthouse News Service)
  • Won a unanimous defense verdict for Electronic Arts in jury trial on copyright claim related to The Sims 3, the third installment in the company’s best-selling series of life simulation games. Also won summary judgment for Electronic Arts on companion claim for alleged trade secret misappropriation and secured affirmance of that ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Obtained dismissal of a dozen subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company from multimillion-dollar trademark infringement and unfair competition action involving Toy Story 3. Recently argued appeal before U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Represented media mogul Sumner Redstone in defending against high-profile challenge to his mental capacity filed by former companion Manuela Herzer. Obtained dismissal of Ms. Herzer’s challenge after just one day of trial.
  • Obtained dismissal for Sumner Redstone of derivative action filed by Viacom shareholder in Delaware Chancery Court, which sought to claw back compensation Mr. Redstone earned in connection with his service on Viacom’s Board of Directors.
  • Obtained confidential settlement for Electronic Arts in high-profile dispute related to hiring of development team responsible for the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare video game franchise.
  • Successfully defended Electronic Arts in trademark infringement and right of publicity actions related to EA SPORTS Active, Fight Night, Medal of Honor, and Mirror’s Edge video games.
  • Obtained confidential settlements for Paramount Pictures in multimillion-dollar contract and business tort actions involving complex domestic and international film financing transactions.
  • Successfully represented Nickelodeon, MTV Networks, and CBS in defending against copyright and idea submission claims related to various scripted and reality television series.
  • Obtained favorable settlement for Showtime Networks in action alleging Lanham Act and right of publicity violations in connection with misattribution of motion picture.
  • Obtained favorable settlement for UMG Recordings in a nine-figure negligence and breach of contract lawsuit concerning the valuation of media assets.
  • Obtained confidential settlement for Oscar-winning filmmaker in accounting and profit participation dispute related to The Lord of the Rings.
  • Obtained favorable settlement for three leading film studios in multibillion-dollar dispute related to licensing and distribution of pay television services in Australia.
  • Successfully defended founders and franchisor of the world-famous improv comedy clubs in trademark infringement and breach of contract disputes.