Ninth Circuit Affirms Win for United Talent Agency
On March 30, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal secured by Irell in the trial court of an antitrust and business tort lawsuit brought against its client United Talent Agency and another large talent agency, International Creative Management Partners. Boutique talent agency Lenhoff Enterprises filed the suit in the Central District of California alleging that the “packaging deals” employed by UTA and the largest talent agencies violate the provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act and that UTA conspired with these other large agencies to exclude smaller agencies from co-packaging arrangements. The case represented a challenge to the core business practice of the large agencies: “packaging fees” that are paid by studios and television networks, as opposed to the traditional manner of representing talent in the entertainment business for a percentage fee paid by talent. In April 2016, the district court dismissed the plaintiff's third amended complaint with prejudice and denied Lenhoff's motion for reconsideration. The plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit, where the matter was argued on February 16, 2018. The court issued its decision affirming on March 30.
Led by Steven Marenberg, the Irell team also included Stephen Payne and was assisted by Freedman + Teitelman LLP.