Roving bands of costumed nerds took over San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter during the past few days as the city hosted Comic-Con International, an annual entertainment and comic convention.
This year’s festivities, which The New York Times called a relatively “lower-rent affair,” saw the first pictures emerge of the new Wonder Woman, who will be played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the upcoming “Batman v. Superman” vehicle.
But Comic-Con has a staunch defender in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. The Times of San Diego reports that Salt Lake Comic Con, a potential Utah-based rival to the San Diego fest, received a cease-and-desist letter on July 25 from Pillsbury Winthrop IP partner Peter Hahn calling for the rival convention to stop using the Comic Con name on trademark infringement grounds.
Federal trademark records show that Hahn has been doing work for Comic-Con since at least 2005, and a 2012 tax filing by the San Diego Comic Convention—the official name of the nonprofit organization that runs the event—shows that the firm was paid $113,034 for legal services that year.
Across the country in Cooperstown, N.Y., another nonprofit inducted Major League Baseball luminaries Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre into its hallowed halls. As it turns out, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has its own Am Law 200 firm serving as IP counsel. New York’s Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler was paid a total of $552,242 between 2010 and 2012, according to the most recent federal tax records on file for the nonprofit.
The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based casual dining chain El Pollo Loco raised $107 million in an initial public offering last week that had Wall Street savoring the taste of fire-grilled chicken. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom corporate finance partner Richart Aftanas counseled El Pollo Loco on its IPO. Wesley Barton, a former Skadden associate turned private equity executive, is a member of the company’s board of directors.
An SEC filing by El Pollo Loco shows that its IPO generated $1 million in legal fees and expenses. Skadden’s Aftanas also recently took the lead on another IPO that yielded a $6.9 million legal fee and expense windfall—the $467 million float earlier this month by Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Partners. The company’s general counsel is former Hogan & Hartson partner Charles Sieving.
Big Bucks in the Beltway
Already struggling with falling revenues, profits and head count, Dickstein Shapiro suffered another blow earlier this month when Greenberg Traurig raided the firm for 13 lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. At the time, sibling publication The National Law Journal reported that the departures would undoubtedly put a dent in Dickstein’s bottom line. Now the harsh numbers are beginning to come out.
Within days of the defections, Dickstein filed lobbying terminations for more than 30 clients, including a $2 million account for cigarette giant Lorillard, which is currently pursuing a $27.4 billion sale to rival Reynolds American. Politico reports that the terminations will cost Dickstein an estimated $6.1 million in potential lobbying revenue.
The Hill reported this month that lateral activity—spurred in part by the megamerger on June 1 between Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs—was redrawing the lobbying landscape. The NLJ reported this week that K Street had a new lobbying king in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, as the firm pushed past Patton Boggs to reclaim the top spot in government advocacy billings by pulling in $103.7 million in 2013.
—Kenneth Bentsen Jr., president and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a New York-based trade group for the financial services industry, cowrote a piece for The New York Times’ DealBook this month on how to improve the structure of financial markets. We grabbed a copy of SIFMA’s most recent federal tax filing, and sure enough, the organization has some friends at Wall Street firms. Davis Polk & Wardwell received nearly $6.1 million from SIFMA in 2012, while Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton earned almost $1.1 million.
—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has spent more than $320,000 in campaign funds on defense lawyers during the first half of this year, according to Madison’s WTAQ. The primary recipients of cash from Walker’s campaign coffers are Sidley Austin ($213,000), Mequon, Wis.-based Biskupic & Jacobs ($83,000) and Milwaukee’s Terschan, Steinle, Hodan & Ganzer ($25,000). Biskupic & Jacobs was formed a year ago by two former partners at Am Law 200 firm Michael Best & Friedrich, whose close ties to Walker were covered by The Am Law Daily last year.
—A New Jersey appeals court has ordered plaintiffs to pay $175,000 in fees to McCarter & English and Weingarten Brown, a Los Angeles-based firm acquired earlier this month by Venable, in a case determined to be frivolous litigation, according to sibling publication the New Jersey Law Journal.
—Skadden litigation partner Michele Roberts in Washington, D.C., was elected this week as the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, a New York-based nonprofit that represented NBA players. The Am Law Daily reported last year that the NBPA had paid nearly $3.6 million to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, as well as made payments to nearly a dozen other law firms.
—Noted plaintiffs lawyer Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP was called the most powerful man in sports in a profile this week on ESPN.com. Hausfeld himself was part of a legal team that secured a $70 million head injury settlement this week with the embattled National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA’s myriad legal battles have been a boon to its lawyers. The Am Law Daily reported earlier this month on the more than $3.2 million the organization had paid to Latham & Watkins during its most recent fiscal year.