Lady Gaga. Kanye West. Justin Timberlake. The list of clients Pryor Cashman has represented in intellectual property matters during the past year reads like the guest list for a Grammys afterparty. From trademark and copyright cases to right-of-publicity and patent matters, the firm has represented some of the music industry’s biggest stars and major corporate players, including Universal Music Group, EMI Music Publishing and Capitol Records.
Pryor Cashman has been representing recording artists such as Bob Dylan for nearly 50 years, but the rise of digital media has created a whole new area of demand for the firm’s intellectual property service. In response, Pryor Cashman started a digital-media group, which includes attorneys from its IP, corporate and litigation practices. The group focuses on matters involving the distribution, reproduction and performance of copyrighted information on the Internet.
“At least 25 percent of the infringement cases we’re doing arise from a digital platform,” said Brad Rose, chairman of the firm’s IP practice.
Most notably, Pryor Cashman represented the National Music Publishers’ Association against LimeWire, an online file-sharing site. The case settled for an undisclosed amount in March 2011.
The firm has also been busy this year with more traditional IP matters, including its successful defense of Kanye West against a copyright infringement case brought by hip-hop artist Vince P. The plaintiff claimed that West’s song “Stronger” infringed on his own tune, also called “Stronger.”
In June 2011, Rose and partners Jeffrey Johnson and Rob deBrauwere represented Lady Gaga in her investment in social-media platform The Backplane. They advised her on software development issues, IP ownership and data privacy matters.
The firm’s IP attorneys represent clients outside the entertainment industry as well. In March, the firm obtained summary judgment in a trademark and unfair competition suit brought against clients CVS Pharmacy Inc. and Pharma Pac LLC, by First Aid Research Corp.
Rose said that the firm’s robust IP practice operates much like a boutique in that partners and clients have a lot of direct contact with each other and its attorneys have a deep understanding of technology issues. But being part of a general practice firm is also a selling point for clients with legal needs outside the intellectual property arena. “We can do anything that a full-size firm can,” he said. “We can marshal the resources and the bodies to take on a client’s needs whatever they may be.”
— Karen Sloan