Intellectual Property

Hawxhurst LLP attorneys are smart and creative.  These attributes serve us well when we have to translate complicated, technical subjects into simple, straightforward arguments to a court or a jury.  Clients retain us to help defend their intellectual property, including copyright, trademark, and trade secrets, and we have had great success both at the trial court and appellate levels in doing so.

Some of our representative intellectual property matters include:

  • Successfully representing an Academy Award® winning director, an Academy Award® winning screenwriter, and a major motion picture studio in connection with claims that our clients had infringed the copyright in plaintiffs’ screenplay and stolen their idea for what ultimately became an internationally-acclaimed film. Plaintiffs sought more than $100 million in damages.  The Firm helped obtain summary judgment against all of the plaintiffs’ claims.
  • Taking over a case from a prominent national firm representing one of the nation’s largest auto parts companies after the client’s copyright claims were dismissed on summary judgment. The Firm handled the appeal to the Ninth Circuit.  In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Firm’s argument that the work for hire doctrine trumped a copyright owner’s rights to control derivative works.  Along the way, we persuaded the Ninth Circuit that, while the theory had not been articulated as such in the trial court, the issue was not waived.
  • Successfully prosecuting an “idea theft” case (technically a breach of implied contract claim) against Disney based on the hit television show, “Hannah Montana.” Our client—a famous writer, producer, and show runner—had pitched the idea to Disney years before; discovery showed that “Hannah Montana” contained several unique elements to the show that the Firm’s client had presented to Disney and that there was a direct line between our client’s submission to the purported developer of “Hannah Montana.”  A month before trial, Disney attempted to avoid trial by removing the case to federal court on copyright preemption; we opposed, showing that the case was not preempted, and that the removal was improper.  The federal district court agreed with us, remanded the case, and sanctioned Disney.  The case settled on very favorable terms shortly thereafter.