February 05, 2020

From securing a definitive victory in a dispute over the rights to John Steinbeck’s iconic works to representing FOX in the launch of its online sports betting platform, Jenner & Block’s Content, Media & Entertainment (CME) Practice achieved success in numerous high-profile, complex matters in 2019.  Law360 noted those and other accomplishments in a profile recognizing the group as a Practice Group of the Year in the Media & Entertainment category.

The accolade – the CME Practice’s seventh since 2011-- honors law firms behind what Law360 calls the “litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry in the past year.” 

“The goal was always to be a practice that could render all kinds of services to the industry,” said Partner Andrew H. Bart, who co-chairs the practice with Partner David R. Singer.  “I think what distinguishes us in this space and our practice is the breadth of what we do,” Mr. Bart added.

Law360 highlighted the firm’s Ninth Circuit victory for the plaintiff in Waverly Kaffaga v. Thomas Steinbeck et al., a lawsuit over the rights to many of the writer’s most well-known works.  The firm represented the executor to the Estate of Elaine Steinbeck, the author’s late third wife.  The ruling clears up much of the confusion about who actually owns the rights to the author’s works and allows long-stalled film and television projects to potentially move forward.  “This case is unusual because of the absolute insistence by the defendants that they were right, regardless of the decisions we received,” said Partner Susan J. Kohlmann, who led the team that included Partners Alison I. Stein and Andrew J. Thomas. The profile also noted that the case was important to Ms. Kohlmann on a personal level: “I think you feel a particular obligation when you're trying to ensure that works like 'East of Eden' and 'Grapes of Wrath' can get to new generations of audiences," she said.

The profile highlighted the CME Practice’s work in the burgeoning sports betting industry as well, including our representation of FOX Sports to launch FOX Bet, a first-of-its-kind national media and sports wagering partnership in the United States. Carissa Coze led the team that worked on the transaction. 

Law360 also featured the firm’s unanimous Indiana Supreme Court victory on behalf of two daily fantasy sports operators, FanDuel and DraftKings.  The case addressed questions about the scope of the “newsworthy” exception to Indiana’s right of publicity law and presented huge stakes not only for fantasy sports businesses, but also for the burgeoning sports betting industry.  Partner Ian Heath Gershengorn argued the case before the state’s high court.

This sports betting work culminated in additional recognition in the publication’s inaugural Sports & Betting Practice Group of the Year category.

Jenner & Block is one of five firms recognized in the United States in each of the two categories, as well as the only firm to receive recognition in both, reflecting the firm’s established reputation in media and entertainment and its ability to adapt.

“We’re all consuming content in different ways than we did five or six years ago,” Mr. Bart noted in the profile. “Jenner & Block is looking to stay strong not just in the established industries like motion pictures and recorded music that we've always been strong in, but looking at emerging stay at the top of our game as the industry evolves.”

The CME Practice also includes Partners Anthony M. Basich, Emily ChapuisSteven R. EnglundAmy M. Gallegos, Christopher S. Lindsay, Michael J. Nelson, Thomas J. PerrelliLuke C. Platzer, Devi M. Rao, Gianni P. ServodidioJulie Ann Shepard, Richard L. Stone, AnnaMarie A. Van Hoesen and Previn Warren, and Special Counsel David W. Sussman