1999 Avenue of the Stars, 7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Robert M. Schwartz
Robert M. (“Bobby”) Schwartz
is a partner in O’Melveny’s Century City office and a nationally recognized leader in both entertainment and business litigation. As Chair of the Entertainment and Media Litigation Practice and a member of the Business Trial and Litigation Practice, he has garnered acclaim from the Best Lawyers in America
, Super Lawyers
, and Lawdragon
guides. The Daily Journal
has called Bobby one of California’s “Top 75 Intellectual Property Lawyers.” For each of the past five years The Hollywood Reporter
has saluted him as a “Top 100 Power Lawyer.” He is the author of four chapters in the 2011 Oxford University Press treatise Entertainment Litigation
and the 2014 revision, Entertainment Law & Litigation
: COPYRIGHT (direct infringement), COPYRIGHT (secondary liability), LAW OF IDEAS/CONTRACTS/CREDIT, and TRADEMARK & UNFAIR COMPETITION. In his twenty-nine years at the firm, he has successfully represented some of the Fortune 500’s and the entertainment industry’s most influential companies in matters of far-reaching significance.
- Class and representative actions
- Complex commercial disputes
- Copyright, trademark, trade dress, and antipiracy
- Corporate governance and internal investigations
- Defamation, right of privacy and publicity
- First Amendment
- Governmental investigations and regulatory proceedings (including FTC, DOJ, public utility commissions, and bank regulatory agencies)
- Media/content creation, promotion, distribution, and exhibition, including film, television, music and video games
- Patents and trade secrets
- Personal service contracts
- Unfair competition and false advertising, including Lanham Act and California Business & Professions Code sections 17200 & 17500
Illustrative Professional Experience
(publicly reported matters)
Trade & Commerce
- In re Hulu Privacy Litigation (N.D. Cal.): Defending consolidated putative class action cases involving the Video Privacy Protection Act and other privacy rights, and the allegation that the defendant knowingly disclosed personally identifiable information about its users.
- Represented the Motion Picture Association of America and its member companies in hearings before the California legislature and state Senate Judiciary Committee to defeat proposed legislation that would have imposed civil and criminal liability on content licensors who failed to license their content to affiliates for sufficiently high fees.
- Garrison v. Warner Bros., et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented motion picture studios against class action brought by thousands of high-level employees who claimed their compensation was “unconscionably” low and the product of an antitrust conspiracy among the industry’s major employers. Designated lead counsel after class certified. Obtained decertification and settled case on eve of hearing on motion for summary judgment.
- Lipschutz v. AT&T, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented leading broadband Internet service provider in nationwide, putative consumer antitrust class action against country’s cable television multiple system operators and affiliated ISPs. After prevailing on motion for class certification, settled case on terms favorable to clients.
- In re FedEx Ground Package Systems, Inc. Employment Practices Litigation (MDL Case No. 1700, N.D. Ind.): Co-lead counsel for defendant in more than fifty pending putative class-action lawsuits in forty-two states seeking to reclassify as “employees” thousands of independent contractors engaged in package pick up and delivery services. Obtained summary judgment in favor of independent contractor status in all class-certified cases.
- In re Compact Disc Antitrust Litigation; Retzlaff v. BMG, et al (California Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4123): Represented record company in series of class actions arising from advertising and pricing issues over compact discs.
- California Grocers Ass n. v. Bank of America, 22 Cal. App. 4th 205 (1994): Obtained appellate reversal of nine-figure judgment against defendant bank, overturning trial court findings that check-processing fees were “unconscionably” high and therefore unenforceable.
Investigations & Special Committees
- Securities & Exchange Commission v. Hollinger International, Inc.; Hollinger International, Inc. v. Hollinger, Inc. and Conrad Black, et al.; Ravelston Corp. Ltd. v. Hollinger International, Inc. (Delaware Chancery Court; United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois; Ontario (Canada) Superior Court of Justice): On behalf of special committee of board of directors of multinational media holding company, investigated and prosecuted former senior officers and directors for massive looting of company assets, including RICO claims. Successfully enforced SEC consent decree’s provisions for appointment of special master to prevent controlling shareholder from interfering with investigation and disposition of assets. Successfully precluded target from manipulating litigation through filing of parallel actions in Canadian courts.
- Represented major motion picture studios in Federal Trade Commission’s 2000, 2003, and 2006 investigations into the motion picture, music, and video game industries’ alleged marketing to minors of content depicting violence.
Copyright, Trademark, & Patent
- MGM Studios Inc., et al. v. Grokster, Inc., et al., 545 U.S. 913 (2005): Successfully represented motion picture studio and record company plaintiffs in copyright infringement suit against Grokster, Morpheus, and Kazaa networks, culminating in landmark 9–0 United States Supreme Court decision adopting “active inducement” theory of contributory copyright infringement.
- Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003): Represented bipartisan leadership of Congress before the United States Supreme Court against constitutional challenges to Congress's 1998 adoption of a twenty-year extension to the term of copyright.
- Danjaq LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Universal City Studios and Aaron Berg (C.D. Cal.): Representing producers and distributors of James Bond motion pictures in copyright infringement lawsuit against studio and screenwriter of knock-off motion picture.
- Confidential Video Game Dispute. Successfully represented developers of two bestselling video game franchises in disputes with a major publisher and rival. The dispute involved patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and royalty calculations and, after the first of two arbitration hearings, the matter settled on terms favorable to the client.
- Gibson Guitar Corporation v. Amazon.com, Inc., Gamestop Corporation, Toys-R-Us Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Target Corporation, Kmart Corporation, Sears Roebuck & Co, Harmonix Music Systems, Inc., Viacom International Inc., and Electronic Arts Inc. (M.D. Tenn.): Represented game developer, publisher, and retailers in patent infringement action filed by the famous guitar maker, which asserted that its patents allegedly drive the technology behind the multibillion-dollar Guitar Hero and Rock Band video game franchises. Obtained stay of proceedings pending PTO patent reexamination, during which the PTO narrowed the claims and thereby rendered plaintiff’s case unwinnable.
- Time Warner Entertainment Co., Home Box Office, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Television, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., New Line Cinema Corp., and The WB Television Network Partners L.P., v. ReplayTV, Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Represented plaintiff content and media companies in a copyright infringement action against the maker of the ReplayTV DVR, based on inclusion of commercial-skipping, librarying, and file sharing functions. Matter settled on terms favorable to clients.
- Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (D. Del.): Successfully defended trademark infringement suit brought by Intel against Advanced Micro Devices over the “MMX” mark for use on x486 microprocessors.
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. Time Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Represented publisher of books and special-issue magazine against claims of copyright and trademark infringement arising from use of “Academy Awards” and “Oscars” trademarks and images in publications.
- Frederick Hart and National Cathedral Foundation v. Warner Bros. (E.D. Va.): Represented motion picture studio in copyright and trademark suit brought by sculptor and Washington’s National Cathedral over set in the movie The Devil’s Advocate infringed sculpture above the Cathedral’s entrance.
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., TriStar Pictures, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios, Inc., and Time Warner Entertainment Co. v. RecordTV.com and David Simon (C.D. Cal.): Obtained permanent injunction for plaintiffs against defendants’ Internet site, which allowed users to copy and display over the Internet plaintiffs’ copyrighted movies and television shows.
- Leicester v. Warner Bros., 232 F.3d 1212 (9th Cir. 2000): Prevailed at trial and on appeal for defendants on copyright and trademark claims filed by sculptor of Zanja Madre public art installation in downtown Los Angeles based on unauthorized photography of plaintiff’s work in scenes of movie Batman Forever and use on film-related merchandise.
- The New Young Americans, Inc. v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. and The WB Television Network Partners, L.P., et al. (C.D. Cal.): Defended copyright and trademark claims filed by music group against producer and network that produced and distributed television series entitled The Young Americans.
Contracts & Accounting
- Martindale v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C.): Defending putative class action lawsuit concerning accounting for home video distribution of motion pictures pursuant to contracts that pre-date the development of the home video industry.
- Jason West and Vince Zampella v. Activision Publishing, Inc. (L.A.S.C.): Represents plaintiffs, creators of the multibillion-dollar video game franchises Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, in dispute over nonpayment of nine-figure bonuses and unauthorized development of sequels and other games. Case settled on favorable terms day before jury selection was to be held.
- Tommy Lee Jones v. Paramount Pictures Corporation (W.D. Tex. and JAMS Arbitration): Represented studio and distributor of the Academy Award–winning motion picture No Country for Old Men in dispute with actor over contingent compensation contract. Obtained dismissal with prejudice of fraud claims and compelled performer to arbitrate dispute.
- The Saul Zaentz Co. v. New Line Cinema Corp. (L.A.S.C.): Represented the studio behind The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy against accounting and breach of contract claims related to rights holder’s “adjusted gross receipts” participation. Obtained summary judgment on counterclaim regarding rights to The Hobbit.
- Burrows v. Warner Bros. Television (L.A.S.C.): Represented studio against contract and accounting claims arising from well-known director’s percentage participation in “defined proceeds” on the Friends television series.
- Wingnut Films, Ltd. v. Katja Motion Pictures Corp., et al., (C.D. Cal.): Defended production company and distributor against claims by writer-director-producer Peter Jackson that his contract was breached paying his share of “gross receipts” on The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy. Plaintiff asserted “vertical integration” claims related to distribution licenses involving companies affiliated with the defendants.
- StudioCanal Image, S.A., et al. v. Artisan Entertainment, Inc. (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended home video distributor in connection with long-standing lawsuits involving claims and counterclaims over accountings and contract rights to distribute the Carolco Pictures film library, which includes Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, the Rambo series, Total Recall, and Stargate.
- Batfilm Productions, Inc. v. Warner Bros., et al. (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended through judge and jury trials against claims brought by the executive producers of Batman and Batman Returns regarding their alleged contract right to produce the movies and their credit and participation accounting claims, resulting in a zero recovery for the plaintiffs.
- Byers v. Edmondson, et al. (Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana), 2001 WL 1147451, 29 Media L. Rep. 1991 (La. Dist. Ct. Mar. 12, 2001), aff’d., 826 So. 2d 551 (La. App. 2002), cert. denied, 826 So. 2d 1131 (La. 2002); prior history: 712 So. 2d 681 (La. App. 1998), writ denied, 726 So. 2d 29 (La. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1005 (1999): Obtained summary judgment for film director Oliver Stone, Time Warner, Warner Bros., and other defendants in a wrongful-death suit arising from a “copycat crime” allegedly inspired by the movie Natural Born Killers.
- Citizens For Fair Treatment, Inc. v. Time Warner Entertainment Co., New Line Cinema Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Universal Studios, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., and The Walt Disney Company (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended all defendants in unfair competition action brought under California’s Business & Professions Code §17200 alleging that motion picture studios unlawfully marketed to children motion pictures rated “R” for their depiction of violence. Obtained writ to confirm statutory entitlement to stay of trial court proceedings pending defendants’ exercise of right of automatic appeal of denial of anti-SLAPP motion. Following reversal of trial court, obtained record-setting award of attorneys’ fees for clients.
Advertising & Credit
- Locke and Perrine v. Sega of America, Inc. and Gearbox Software LLC (N.D. Cal.): Defending developer of Aliens: Colonial Marines video game against consumer class action claims asserting that the game’s features and customer play experience were overstated in advertising and promotion.
- Huizenga v. Time Warner Entertainment Co. (L.A.S.C.): Defended claim asserting that former L.A. Raiders team physician and writer of book "You’re Okay, It’s Just A Bruise" that he was entitled to screen credit on motion picture Any Given Sunday.
- Newsom v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., (C.D. Cal.): Defended Sony Pictures against claim that writer of early screenplay based on Spider-Man comic books was entitled to screen credit on 2001 motion picture.
- Rezec, et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C); Morris v. Sony Corp. of America (Palm Beach County, Florida); Cohen v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania); Consumer Justice Center, et al. v. Sony Pictures Entertainment (L.A.S.C.): Represented Sony Pictures in various false advertising/unfair business practice class actions arising from the use of endorsements in movie ads by film critic who did not work for indicated publication. Also defended Sony in connection with several related state attorneys general investigations and proceedings.
- Mattel, Inc. v. Nissan Motor Corp. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully defended Nissan Motor Corp. in a copyright and trademark infringement suit brought by Mattel arising from a Nissan commercial that included toy characters. Plaintiff claimed the characters infringed its rights in Barbie and Ken line of dolls.
- Brian Rector, et al. v. Sony Corp. of America, et al. (L.A.S.C.): Prevailed on anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss class-action claims asserting that motion picture studios falsely advertised motion pictures by using critic endorsements without disclosing provision of preview screenings, “press junkets,” and other supposed consideration. Obtained six-figure award of attorneys’ fees.
- 21st Century Film Corp. v. Carolco Pictures, Inc.; Carolco Pictures, Inc., v. CPT Holdings, Inc.; Carolco Pictures, Inc. v. Viacom International, Inc; Carolco Pictures Inc. and Carolco Studios, Inc., et al. (Chapter 11 proceedings); Marvel Entertainment Group v. Columbia TriStar Home Video; Marvel Entertainment Group v. Viacom International, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Marvel Entertainment, Viacom International, Inc., Columbia Tri-Star Home Video; John J. Gibbons, Chapter 11 Trustee for Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Viacom International, Inc., CPT Holdings, MGM Entertainment, et al. (D. Del.): Following extensive motion practice, a partial settlement, and trials in California and Delaware state and federal courts over five-year period, successfully represented Sony Pictures in multiparty disputes over control of Spider-Man comic book characters. From these cases, Sony obtained the rights to create, produce, and distribute all Spider-Man motion pictures and merchandise.
Admitted to Practice,
US District Court, Central, Northern, and Eastern Districts of California; US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; US Supreme Court Author
, Entertainment Litigation
(2011) and Entertainment Law & Litigation
(2014, Oxford University Press) chapters on COPYRIGHT (DIRECT INFRINGEMENT), COPYRIGHT (SECONDARY LIABILITY), LAW OF IDEAS, CONTRACTS, SCREEN CREDIT, AND TRADEMARK & UNFAIR COMPETITION. Board of Directors, Chairperson,
Bet Tzedek – The House of Justice (a nonprofit community legal services organization) Speaker,
Recognized by The International Who’s Who of Sports & Entertainment Lawyers
as one of the “Most Highly Regarded Individuals” in the area of Sports & Entertainment (2013); frequent presenter at bar associations and professional symposia on commercial litigation, intellectual property, and media industry issues Honors
, Recognized by The International Who’s Who of Sports & Entertainment Lawyers
as one of the “Most Highly Regarded Individuals” in the area of Sports & Entertainment (2013); named to the Hollywood Reporter’s
Annual Power Lawyers list (2007-2014); recognized by Variety
magazine for excellence in the area of entertainment law (2013 and 2014); Best Lawyers in America (2010, 2011, 2012); “Leading Lawyer” by Legal 500
United States (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012); “Super Lawyer” (repeatedly) in a survey conducted by Law & Politics Media, Inc.
University of Southern California, J.D., 1984
University of California at Los Angeles, B.S., Economics, 1981
California; District of Columbia
Violence & Entertainment - O’Melveny & Myers’ Bobby Schwartz Featured in Variety Special Report (Entertainment, Sports & Media)