Entertainment/ Intellectual Property Litigation

JPG Law APC represents creators and intellectual property entrepreneurs in cases against companies (and sometimes other individuals)that have infringed their intellectual property rights, violated their trademarks, and /or misappropriated their trade secrets.

JPG Law APC will usually handle these cases on a full contingency basis but only after a very thorough assessment of the client’s likelihood of prevailing on his or her claims.  This is due in part to the fact that certain of the legal claims that may be pursued (e.g. federal copyright infringement) provide for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and expenses by the prevailing party.  While this is highly advantageous if the client prevails in the lawsuit, it can be economically devastating for the client and add insult to injury if the client fails to prevail in the lawsuit due to the hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars that well-heeled defendants will spend in an effort to escape liability for their wrongdoing.

Two of Mr. Gignac’s more noteworthy cases in this area are Diane Russomanno v. Gianni Russo, et al. and Kelly Wilson v. Disney Corporation, et al.

In the Russomanno case, Mr. Gignac and his former partner represented Diane Russomanno, a children’s school teacher who wrote and published a series of children’s educational books called The Adventures of Ricky Rocket. Her dream was to create a children’s television series based on the books.  Ms. Russomanno joined forces with Gianni Russo (a renowned actor from The Godfather movie series), and the two agreed to joint venture the project.  However, Ms. Russomanno and Mr. Russo were unable to work together and ultimately ended their relationship by signing off on a termination agreement that defined each party’s intellectual property rights. Mr. Russo thereafter hijacked Ms. Russomanno’s idea and, in violation of the parties’ rights agreement, created a remarkably similar children’s television series called A.J.’s Time TravelersA.J.’s Time Travelers was produced by Bohbot Productions and aired for parts of two seasons on Fox Children’s Network – despite Ms. Russomanno’s constant protestations to both Bohbot and Fox (both before and after A.J.’s Time Travelers was aired) that Mr. Russo had stolen her show and that A.J.’s Time Travelers violated her rights.  After five plus years of litigation in Los Angeles Superior Court and a two-month long trial, a jury awarded Ms. Russomanno $54.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Mr. Russo, various entities that Mr. Russo had created, and Bohbot Entertainment. The jury’s verdict was the fifth largest in the State of California in 2000. Link to article: Russomanno v. Russo case

In the Wilson case, Mr. Gignac represented Kelly Wilson, a woman who, while enrolled in film school, had created and produced a short film called The Snowman for which she ultimately obtained a copyright. The Snowman was shown at multiple film festivals and received awards for its creativity.  However, Ms. Wilson’s career path led her out of the film industry, and The Snowman was not further developed.  Then, in December of 2014, when the trailer for Disney’s blockbuster movie Frozen was released, Ms. Wilson was alerted by her friends to the uncanny similarities between The Snowman and the trailer. Indeed, she was even congratulated by one or more friends who assumed that she had sold the rights to The Snowman to Disney.  In fact, for anyone comparing the two works, it seemed quite obvious that Disney had usurped her concepts and replicated them in a slightly different way in the trailer. Ms. Wilson sued Disney and its affiliated entities for federal copyright infringement in federal district court in San Francisco [Wilson v Disney Complaint]. After a hard fought litigation [Disney Loses Second Attempt to Beat \’Frozen\’ Lawsuit (Hollywood Reporter)], the parties ultimately resolved their claims through a confidential settlement agreement. [‘Frozen’ Copyright Lawsuit Settled By Walt Disney Company]