03 June 2021

Adult movie pirating disputes see Fox Rothschild top US copyright case ranking

Morristown, NJ - August 10 2018: 49 Market Street office building

Fox Rothschild's Morristown office

Davis Wright Tremaine and Covington & Burling top-ranked for defendant work in Lex Machina copyright and trademark litigation research

Fox Rothschild was the most active US law firm in representing plaintiffs in copyright cases filed between 2018 and 2020, according to Lex Machina’s 2021 Copyright and Trademark Litigation report.

The Am Law 100 firm worked on a total of 1,993 cases, though that was heavily skewed by the 1,666 cases it handled in 2018 on behalf of Strike 3 Holdings – an adult movie company accusing defendants of pirating its content. Last year Fox Rothschild worked on just four cases after partner Lincoln Bandlow – dubbed a 'porn IP enforcer' by Bloomberg Law – left to start his own firm where he continued to represent Strike 3. 

That bumper 2018 for Fox Rothschild helped the firm outpace the second most active US law firm over that period – Liebowitz – which worked on 1,834 cases. Its caseload was distributed more evenly, however: 555 in 2018, 795 in 2019 and 484 in 2020. Liebowitz often files against media companies for unauthorised use of photographs; name partner Richard Liebowitz has been described as a 'copyright troll' by a number of  Southern District of New York judges.

Davis Wright Tremaine was the most active law firm in representing defendants in copyright cases, working on 208 while the most active law firm for defendants in trademark cases was Covington & Burling, taking on 129 cases.

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Meantime, Greer Burns & Crain was the most active law firm in representing plaintiffs in trademark cases. It worked on 578 cases, more than double the next most active firm – Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. 

Rachel Bailey, Lex Machina’s copyright and trademark legal data expert, said: “There is a unique trend in these two areas where law firms filing certain types of cases dominate our lists because of the massive amount of filing they do. In copyright, these were firms filing file sharing cases and cases filed by the Liebowitz Law Firm. In trademark, these were firms filing mass counterfeiting cases.” 

Copyright filings peaked in 2015 and 2018, dropping off in 2020 likely due to the pandemic, Lex Machina said. Trademark cases were steady between 2017 and 2019, though filings fell to a decade low in 2020 of 3,778 – a 14% drop compared to a year earlier.

Copyright cases resulted in a settlement 82% of the time, while trademark cases settled only 56% of the time given the number of default judgments (15%).

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