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Name: Dale Cendali Age: 43 Firm: O’Melveny & Myers Biggest Case: Martha Graham Sch. & Dance Found. v. Martha Graham Ctr. of Contemporary Dance J.D.: Harvard Career Goal (as a kid): teacher, archeologist, actress As a child, Dale Cendali collected comic books. As an adult, Cendali has refused to give up her childhood ways. Comics books are still a big part of her life; at home and in storage she has a collection of 25,000 volumes. At work she protects the rights of comic book heroes, ballet dancers, and fictional characters. Cendali’s passion and profession are in harmonic convergence. “Dale sees the movies and watches the TV programs. She’s the kind of person who is very familiar with the product that entertainment companies are creating,” says Ted Russell, Fox Entertainment Group’s vice president of litigation. Russell recently hired Cendali to head up Fox’s case against Marvel Enterprises, Inc. and Tribune Entertainment for making a television program that the company says infringes its rights in the “X-Men” movie. Cendali works out of the New York office of Los Angeles’ O’Melveny & Myers. Besides Fox, she has represented Time Warner Entertainment, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. For all her corporate connections, Cendali says that she is most proud of her pro bono work for the nonprofit New York-based Center of Contemporary dance in its dispute over the rights to Martha Graham’s name. Ronald Protas, the famous choreographer’s former companion, sued the center in federal court in Manhattan seeking an injunction barring the center and its affiliated school from using the Graham name. Protas had trademark registrations and had inherited everything Graham owned when she died in 1991. Cendali was able to show that Graham assigned the rights to her name to the center before her death and that Protas’ trademarks were invalid. Her wham-bang cross-examination of Protas destroyed his credibility. The judge ruled that the right to the Graham name and many of her dances belonged to the Center of Contemporary Dance. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in August. Cendali’s journey into entertainment law started slowly. At Harvard Law School, where she produced plays, Cendali decided that she would try to unite her love of entertainment and the law. But she put those plans on hold. After graduating from law school in 1984 Cendali joined New York’s Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, where she had summered. The firm didn’t have an active IP practice, but Cendali liked her partners and client TriStar Pictures. When a headhunter called in 1990 and said O’Melveny & Myers was looking for a lawyer to handle IP matters for the entertainment industry, Cendali jumped at the opportunity. Cendali made partner in 1995 right after her first TV appearance. Her client, the television show “A Current Affair,” was preparing to air the video of O.J. Simpson’s wedding to Nicole Brown. Simpson, who was on trial at the time, tried to stop the broadcast on privacy and right to publicity claims. In the courtroom Cendali waved Simpson’s book, “I Want To Tell You,” at the cameras and the judge, pointing out passages in the book that described the wedding and photos, too. So much for the privacy and publicity claims. The case was dismissed, and “A Current Affair” aired her courtroom appearance that night. In September 2000 Cendali won more than $1.6 million in damages and $740,000 in attorney fees for Fox in a trademark suit against Dastar Corp. Dastar had tried to sell a repackaged version of a Fox World War II documentary without giving Fox credit. The 9th Circuit affirmed the decision. (Court papers in that case list Cendali’s hourly fee at $475. Cendali says it is now higher.) Cendali’s not just an entertainment lawyer. In 1995 she favorably settled a trademark case for client E&J Gallo Winery in the Southern District of New York that allowed the company to continue selling its margarita-flavored wine coolers. As her star keeps rising, Cendali’s days get busier. The X-Men case is scheduled for trial in December. She’s also representing Time Warner in a dispute with author N.K. Stouffer, who claims that J.K. Rowling ripped off the Harry Potter idea from her books, written in the 1980s. Cendali is worried that the X-Men trial may conflict with her first trip to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is helping partner Walter Dellinger argue on Victoria’s Secret’s behalf in a trademark dispute with Victor’s Little Secret, a lingerie and adult novelty store in Kentucky. This will be the high court’s first interpretation of the 1995 federal antidilution law. Says Cendali: “The whole IP world is watching.” This litigator is ready for her close-up.

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