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Peter R. Afrasiabi / Partner
From battles with Madonna over the “Material Girl” brand to copyright fair use disputes with the Eagles’ Don Henley to protecting such iconic brands as Bettie Page in trademark and trade dress disputes, Peter handles primarily copyright, trademark, and entertainment disputes. Recognized for his expertise, Peter has been a legal commentator on NBC and CBS, a copyright expert witness in litigation, recognized as a ”Super Lawyer” (an honor less than 5% of lawyers in Southern California receive), and was selected by the University of California’s prestigious CEB publications division to author an annual intellectual property chapter entitled Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks. Also an adjunct professor of law, Peter’s recently-published book Show Trials is a 2012 Indie Book National Finalist.
Intellectual Property Litigation
Some of Peter’s notable cases are as follows:
- Representing a Hollywood entertainment company in a copyright infringement lawsuit involving protection of photographic images.
- Representing a renowned artist and illustrator in copyright infringement suits involving protection of unique art and artistic style against several multinational media conglomerates.
- Defending a prominent Southern California architect in a novel and high-profile copyright infringement suit under the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act involving two multi-million dollar Tuscan-style mansions.
- Representing major software companies in copyright litigation involving the protection of proprietary source code, including a national security software company in a theft of source code case where we secured federal (FBI) involvement.
- Representing a health and fitness company in copyright claims regarding fitness books.
- Representing an apparel company against Madonna in a dispute over the ownership of the “Material Girl” brand for women’s clothing.
- Defending Bettie Page Clothing in trademark and trade dress litigation by a competitor.
- Representing the owners of a famous restaurant chain in a dispute involving trademark ownership and infringement of the restaurant’s name, where litigation occurred in the courts and before the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.
- Representing a famous Yoga personality in a trademark infringement dispute involving DVD’s and apparel.
- Representing a large regional marina and recreational site in trademark infringement lawsuits regarding performing and name rights to particular industry and public display shows, which lawsuits were in both the state and federal courts.
- Representing a leading consumer product company in the extreme sports space regarding protection of its marks.
- Representing lead singer of the Horror Pops in right of publicity litigation against Mattel and the Hard Rock Company.
- Representing the Estate of Bettie Davis in right of publicity litigation.
- Representing celebrity photo agency in the protection of its celebrity images against celebrity blog sites and major national and international news outlets.
- Litigation over the ownership of recordings of some of Jimi Hendrix’s last public performances.
Peter also has particular expertise in appellate litigation. Peter has argued appeals before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (for patent cases), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California Courts of Appeal. While an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where Peter started his litigation career, Peter co-founded and co-directed the O’Melveny & Myers Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Project. Under that program, Peter directed and participated in numerous federal appeals, obtaining almost a 90% reversal for clients that had lost at the trial court.
Peter has secured published opinions in several noteworthy federal and state cases:
- Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Technologies, Inc., 647 F.3d 1218 (9th Cir. 2011) (prevailed in copyright personal jurisdiction appeal involving personal jurisdiction over modern internet businesses).
- Henley v. DeVore, 733 F. Supp. 2d 1144 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (copyright infringement lawsuit involving fair use defense on behalf of a U.S. Senate candidate in a copyright lawsuit by famed singer Don Henley involving Don Henley’s songs “Boys of Summer” and “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”).
- Hu v. Holder, 652 F.3d 1011 (9th Cir. 2011) (successfully prevailed on political asylum appeal for Chinese labor protester).
- Gutierrez ex rel. Gutierrez v. United States, 2009 WL 784266 (9th Cir. 2009) (successfully defended as part of appellate team the largest Federal Tort Claim Act award in history, over $54,000,000).
- McCormick v. Amir Construction, 279 Fed. Appx. 470 (9th Cir. 2008) (copyright case involving architectural designs; prevailed and subsequently awarded fees).
- City of Hope Nat’l Medical Center v. Genentech, Inc., 43 Cal. 4th 375 (Cal. Supreme Court 2008) (patent development and fiduciary duty law).
- Dawson v. Marshall, 561 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2009) (addressing role of federal Magistrate Judges)
- Carbonell v. INS, 429 F.3d 894 (9th Cir. 2005) (prevailed against United States).
- Nonnette v. Small, 316 F.3d 872 (9th Cir. 2002) (prevailed in federal civil rights case).
- Crow Irvine #2 v. Winthrop California Investors Limited Partnership, 128 Cal. Rptr. 2d 644 (Cal. Ct. Appeal 2002) (prevailed in business dissolution and termination dispute).
- Vargas-Garcia v. INS, 287 F.3d 882 (9th Cir. 2002) (prevailed in federal due process claim against United States).
- Taylor v. DeLatoore, 281 F.3d 884 (9th Cir. 2001) (prevailed in federal civil rights case).
- Mabe v. County of San Bernardino, 237 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2001) (prevailed in Fourth Amendment warrantless search case).
Peter is currently an adjunct professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law where he is directing and teaching UCI Law School’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Clinic. Previously, Peter taught at the Chapman University School of Law from 2000 to 2011 where he founded, directed, and taught a Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic as well as an Art of Persuasion class.
Peter regularly speaks on intellectual property issues. A sampling includes:
- Peter has been interviewed by famed NBC anchor Colleen Williams and has also been interviewed for his legal opinions by CBS, the American Lawyer Magazine, and the ABA.
- Lecturing on entertainment and copyright law for musicians at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California.
- Speaking as a continuing education provider on copyright law issues for the ABA.
- Speaking at the famed Bill Handel on the Law events, where Peter has presented on copyright, trademark, internet, patent and trade secret law to the business community.
- Speaking to various bar associations around the country on copyright termination and reversion law.
Peter clerked at the federal trial court level in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler, now the Chief Judge of the Central District of California.
Peter also clerked at the federal appellate court level in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez.
Board, Government, and Community Work
Peter is a Founding Director of the Rock School Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping children in financial need attend Rock Music Schools and an organization that has been supported by renowned rock musicians. In 2010-11, Peter was the President of the Federal Bar Association of Orange County, and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2005. Peter was a member of the Board Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County from 2001-2005, and a Board Member of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County from 2004 through 2009.
Peter has also been involved in local government efforts, ranging from being a Special Prosecutor for the City of Redondo Beach, where he first-chaired numerous criminal jury trials, to being a Member of the City of Costa Mesa’s Human Relations Committee in 2000-2001 where he worked on local policy issues.
In 2002, Peter was awarded the Public Counsel “Advocate of the Year” Award for his efforts in federal immigration litigation. In 2006, Peter was awarded the 2006 USC Paul Davis Memorial Award by the Public Interest Legal Foundation for his appellate litigation work, and more recently in 2009 received special recognition awards from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for his federal pro bono efforts.
A sampling includes:
“Show Trials” (Envelope Books, book published May 2012)
“What Estate Planners Need to Know About Copyright” (Estate Planning Magazine, March 2010)
“Superman’s Latest Episode: The Rights of Authors and their Families to Terminate a Copyright Grant and Recapture the Copyright” (Orange County Lawyer, September 15, 2009)
“The Growing Circuit Split Over Whether Premature Notices of Appeal Preserve Appellate Review.”(The Federal Lawyer, July 2008)
“Private Enforcement of Government Patents Under the Bayh-Dole Act: Standing.” (Orange County Federal Bar Association, July 2007)
“Patent Tying and the Necessity of Showing Market Power” (Orange County Lawyer Magazine, August 2005)
“When an Actor is Not Part of the Action” (Orange County Lawyer Magazine, December 2004)
“The Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Program”
Federal Bar Association 2002
“Federal Civil Rights Liability for Physicians”
Southern California Physician Magazine, 2001
“Property Rights in Ancient Human Skeletal Remains”
Southern California Law Review 1997
- University of Southern California: J.D.; Order of the Coif; Law Review Articles Editor.
- University of California Los Angeles: B.A. Economics, magna cum laude.