Chris is an accomplished trial attorney who represents news, publishing, entertainment and other media clients in intellectual property matters, as well as in traditional media tort defense and First Amendment access and civil rights issues. He has litigated copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, libel and civil rights cases in federal and state courts throughout the country. Chris has been praised for his legal knowledge, including in Chambers USA, where he is described as a “very acute trademark litigator” and “a trademark and copyright law expert,” and Best Lawyers for his “spectacular knowledge of media law.”
Chris has extensive trial experience, in both bench and jury trials, ranging from copyright infringement to civil rights claims, with nine full trials in the last 10 years. He obtained a favorable jury verdict in a civil rights case for an internet and radio talk show journalist who had sued a county commission chairman for First Amendment retaliation, and he obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of a magazine in connection with its trademark.
- Kirschenbaum v. Rodale & Penguin Random House (D. Colo. 2018). Chris obtained dismissal of all claims of copyright infringement against a weight-loss author and her publishers arising from one of the plaintiff’s two books at issue in this case, and following discovery in the matter, the parties then resolved the remaining claims based on the plaintiff’s second book through a confidential settlement. The court’s ruling on the defendants’ motion to dismiss reinforced an important principle in copyright litigation that a judge can, and should, resolve questions of substantial similarity on the basis of the parties’ works alone when the court has before it the particular works that are at issue in the case.
- DRK Photo v. McGraw-Hill Education (9th Cir. 2017). Chris obtained an appellate victory affirming an earlier summary judgment ruling that dismissed nearly 1,000 claims of copyright infringement against a textbook publisher where the court had ruled that the stock photo agency pursuing the case lacked standing under the Copyright Act because it did not hold exclusive rights in the photos at issue in the case. The ruling confirmed earlier decisions in other cases across the country involving textbook publishers in similar situations.
- Clark v. Penguin Random House (D.N.M. 2016). Chris obtained a complete defense summary judgment on grounds of lack of substantial similarity in a copyright infringement case brought against a Utah-based author and his publisher for a 2009 book that later was the basis for a Hollywood feature film.
- Grant Heilman Photography v. McGraw-Hill Education (E.D. Pa. 2014). Chris handled a bellwether trial on a selected set of copyright claims brought by a stock photography agency against a textbook publisher, during which the court denied the plaintiff’s claims for statutory damages on nearly a dozen photographs and the jury dramatically reduced the plaintiff’s request for profits on the remaining photographs. The jury’s damages award was further reduced by the court in a post-trial ruling. The test trial was part of a larger case involving more than 2,300 copyright infringement claims relating to hundreds of textbooks.
- Panoramic Images v. John Wiley & Sons (N.D. Ill. 2014). Chris was lead trial counsel during a six-day jury trial involving six stock photographs used in both textbooks and trade books. The publisher acknowledged liability for use of the images, and the jury subsequently awarded damages significantly below the plaintiff’s demand.
- Close-Up International, Inc. v. St. Petersburg Publishing House, 482 F. App'x 602 (2d Cir. 2012). Chris led a team of attorneys in defending, both at trial and on appeal, a U.S.-based distributor of DVDs in a copyright infringement case brought by a licensee of Russian copyright holders concerning a series of classic Soviet-era films. Following a four-day bench trial, the court found in favor of Chris’ client on all counts. The Second Circuit later affirmed the verdict on appeal.
- Psihoyos v. John Wiley & Sons (S.D.N.Y. 2011 & 2d Cir. 2014). Chris obtained a summary judgment ruling that dramatically reduced the size of the copyright infringement case pleaded against a textbook publishing client for allegedly infringing a variety of plaintiff’s photographs, and Chris then served as lead trial counsel in the ensuing seven-day jury trial. That trial resulted in verdicts for both the publisher and the plaintiff, and the jury awarded the plaintiff substantially less in damages than was sought. The jury’s verdict was affirmed on appeal to the Second Circuit. During post-trial proceedings, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for attorneys' fees.
- National Pork Board v. Supreme Lobster & Seafood (U.S. Trademark Trial & Appeal Board 2010). Chris represented National Pork Board, the congressionally enacted commodity promotion board for pork, in an opposition based on the Board’s famous mark THE OTHER WHITE MEAT®. In a decision in which the TTAB relied upon the Federal Trademark Anti-Dilution Act for only the second time in the history of the statute, the TTAB found that the client’s mark was likely to be diluted by the applicant’s proposed mark “The Other Red Meat” and denied the trademark application.
- Chris worked with a team of attorneys to represent a consortium of news media in connection with numerous First Amendment access issues arising during the sexual assault case involving a professional basketball player.
Before Fox Rothschild
Prior to joining Fox, Chris was a partner at national and international law firms.
After law school, Chris served as a law clerk to the Honorable David M. Ebel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He was also a senior notes editor for the Duke Law Journal.
Before his legal career, Chris was a journalist with a number of different newspapers, including the Providence Journal-Bulletin and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. While in college, he served as the managing editor of both the Yale Daily News and Yale Political Monthly.
Beyond Fox Rothschild
Chris teaches copyright law at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver and is a frequent speaker on First Amendment and copyright issues involving the news media.
Honors & Awards
- Named among “The Best Lawyers in America - Lawyers of the Year” for Copyright Law (2019)
- Named to the World Trademark Review 1000 (2017-2018)
- Named as one of the leading intellectual property attorneys in Colorado by Chambers USA (2016-2018)
- Recipient of the Edward Sherman Award for Outstanding Legal Work, ACLU of Colorado (2009)
- Recipient of the “Friend of the First” award, Colorado Press Association
- Named among Who’s Who in the Law by the Denver Business Journal (2001-2004)
- Named to the 40 Under Forty list by the Denver Business Journal (2001)
- Recipient of the Individual of the Year Award from the Colorado Lawyers Committee (1999)
- Named among the Colorado “Super Lawyers” in Intellectual Property Litigation (2009-2018)
- Named among the “Best Lawyers” as one of the top First Amendment, Copyright, Trademark, and Intellectual Property litigators in Denver and New York (2005-2008, 2018, 2019)