Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP - USA
Before private practice, you worked in the legal department at CMG Worldwide. What IP skills or experiences did you gain in-house that have helped you in private practice?
Most big law attorneys grow up in law firms. However, I started my career as an in-house attorney, which was probably the most valuable experience that I could have had, because it meant that I began as a client. I know first-hand how frustrating it is to have lawyers splitting hairs over things that ultimately do not matter while they are on the clock. Also, I was one of ‘those’ clients who tracked time spent by outside counsel and cross-referenced it with invoices every month. To this day, I fully expect all of my clients to be doing the same thing. I think that experience served me very well.
You work at the intersection of IP and entertainment law. How are enforcement strategies changing in this fast-paced area?
Everything is online and digital now. When I started in enforcement in 1996, our industry relied on newspaper clipping services to find infringements. We hired a company that had literally every newspaper and magazine subscription across the country, with people reading through them every week, looking for ads that we might consider infringing. They would cut the ads out with scissors and mail them to us in a big envelope. It would then be on us to find the source and shut down the infringement. We have obviously come a very long way since then.
You have represented an impressive roster of clients, ranging from the estates of Marilyn Monroe and John Dillinger to the Hershey Company and Heineken. What are the top three characteristics that globally renowned brands look for in an elite-level IP attorney?
Wow. I love that you called me elite! I would say that in this line of work, consistency is probably one of the most important things that, shockingly, I see ‘non-elite’ lawyers not being very good at. In my world, it is the name of the game. Clients need to be able to rely on their lawyers anytime, anywhere and anyhow. On top of that, I think results rule. I can brag that I have an incredible 99.99% success rate on shutting down infringements, but to be honest, that probably has more to do with the fact that my clients are who they are. I have seen everything at this point at least five times. Any eliteness is really down to my clients; I am extremely lucky to work with every single one of them.
A large portion of your practice involves protecting the IP rights of celebrities and famous icons. What are the biggest brand protection challenges that these clients face and how can they be overcome?
I think that infringers are less aware of the various IP rights associated with entertainers and are therefore more likely to infringe those rights. That being said, I also think that word travels fast, and it does not take long for infringements to start to die off, once we get involved.
What trends do you expect to see shaping US IP litigation in the coming years?
People have been talking about a nationally codified right of publicity for 20 years now, so I do not think I will predict that!
Amy Wright focuses her practice on trademark, copyright and right of publicity law in the context of aggressively pursuing infringers on behalf of her clients, as well as managing global IP portfolios. She has been successful in complex litigation, negotiations and settling a variety of IP infringements on behalf of her clients, which include large consumer products firms, as well as those in the entertainment industry.