Robert M. (“Bobby”) Schwartz is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Irell & Manella LLP.  Over a 34-year career, he has become a nationally recognized leader in large-stakes disputes, particularly class actions.  Mr. Schwartz has successfully represented some of the country’s most influential companies in matters of far-reaching significance in a range of subject areas, including:

  • Antitrust
  • Copyright and trademark
  • Corporate governance
  • Employment, including class actions alleging discrimination and misclassification of employees as independent contractors
  • First Amendment and anti-SLAPP practice
  • Government investigations and regulatory proceedings
  • Media/Content finance, creation, and distribution, including motion pictures, television programs, recorded music, and video games
  • Patent and trade secrets
  • Right of privacy and right of publicity
  • Unfair competition and false advertising

Illustrative publicly-reported cases:

  • ABS Entertainment, et al. v. CBS and CBS Broadcasting (C.D. Cal. and S.D.N.Y.): Representing radio broadcaster in putative class actions alleging “performance right” to sound recordings created before February 15, 1972.
  • Vigal v. Take-Two Interactive (S.D.N.Y. and Second Circuit): Successfully defended publisher of the NBA 2K series of video games against class action alleging violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) arising from feature that allows user to create avatar based on user’s photographs.
  • Danjaq, LLC and MGM, Inc. v. Universal City Studios, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented owners of James Bond motion picture production and distribution rights in copyright infringement action against studio defendant that was developing an infringing motion picture project.
  • Turner and Turner v. Evan Spiegel, Robert Murphy, and Snapchat (L.A.S.C.): Successfully defended co-founders of Snapchat and their company against right of publicity and California Civil Code section 3344 (name and likeness) claims for use of plaintiffs’ photographs in connection with Snapchat app.
  • Century of Progress Productions, Inc., et al., v. Vivendi, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Defending studio/distributor of This Is Spinal Tap motion picture and soundtrack album against claims for improper accounting for gross receipts participation, fraud, and termination of copyright grant
  • Byers v. Edmondson, et al. (Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana), 2001 WL 1147451, 29 Media L. Rep. 1991 (La. Dist. Ct. Mar. 12, 2001), aff’d., 826 So. 2d 551 (La. App. 2002), cert. denied, 826 So. 2d 1131 (La. 2002); prior history: 712 So. 2d 681 (La. App. 1998), writ denied, 726 So. 2d 29 (La. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1005 (1999): Obtained summary judgment for film director Oliver Stone, Time Warner, Warner Bros., and other defendants in a wrongful-death suit arising from a “copycat crime” allegedly inspired by the movie Natural Born Killers.
  • In re FedEx Ground Package Systems, Inc. Employment Practices Litigation (MDL Case No. 1700, N.D. Ind.): Lead counsel for defendant in more than 50 class-action lawsuits in 42 states seeking to reclassify as “employees” thousands of independent contractors engaged in package pick-up and delivery services.
  • Lipschutz v. AT&T, et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully defended Internet service provider in nationwide antitrust class action by defeating motion for class certification.
  • In re Compact Disc Antitrust Litigation (California Judicial Council Coord. Proc. No. 4123): Represented record company in antitrust class actions arising from pricing of compact discs.
  • MGM Studios Inc., et al. v. Grokster, Inc., et al., 545 U.S. 913 (2005): Successfully represented motion picture studio and record company plaintiffs in copyright infringement suit against Grokster, Morpheus, and Kazaa networks, culminating in landmark 9–0 United States Supreme Court decision adopting “active inducement” theory of contributory copyright infringement.
  • In re Hulu Privacy Litigation (N.D. Cal.): Successfully defended consolidated putative class action cases involving the Video Privacy Protection Act and related privacy statutes, based on the allegation that the defendant knowingly disclosed personally identifiable information about its users. Defeated class certification and obtained summary judgment on liability.
  • Securities & Exchange Commission v. Hollinger International, Inc.  and Conrad Black (Delaware Chancery Court; U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill.): On behalf of special committee of board of directors of media holding company, investigated and prosecuted former senior officers and directors for looting assets. Enforced SEC appointment of special master to prevent controlling shareholder from interfering with investigation and disposition of assets. Barred target from filing parallel actions in Canada.
  • Garrison v. Warner Bros., et al. (C.D. Cal.): Successfully represented motion picture studios against class action brought by thousands of high-level employees who claimed their compensation was “unconscionably” low and the product of an antitrust conspiracy among the industry’s major employers.  Obtained decertification of class.
  • In re: Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Construction Cost Proceedings (NM PUC & Supreme Court of New Mexico):  Represented public utility before regulatory agency to include $1.2 billion investment in nuclear power plants in client’s rate base.  Worked on similar case for California public utility in dispute over $5.5 billion in costs to build Diablo Canyon nuclear facility.
  • Locke v. Sega of America, Inc. and Gearbox Software (N.D. Cal.): Defended developer of video game against consumer class action alleging that the game’s features and experience were overstated in advertising.  Defeated class certification.  Plaintiffs dismissed case with prejudice.
  • Jason West and Vince Zampella v. Activision Publishing, Inc. (L.A.S.C.): Represented creators of the Call of Duty and Modern Warfare video games in dispute over termination and failure to receive compensation.
  • Leicester v. Warner Bros., 232 F.3d 1212 (9th Cir. 2000): Prevailed at trial and on appeal on copyright and trademark claims based on unauthorized photography of plaintiff’s work in scenes of movie Batman Forever and use on film-related merchandise.
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Honors & Awards

  • The American Lawyer, “IP Litigation Department of the Year” (2018)
  • The American Lawyer, “Litigator of the Week” (2015)
  • Law360, “Media & Entertainment Group of the Year” (2017)
  • Century City Bar Association, “Media & Entertainment Lawyer of the Year” (2017)
  • The Recorder, “Game Changer of the Year” (2017)
  • The Hollywood Reporter, “Power Lawyers” (2007-2018)
  • Daily Journal, “75 Leading IP Litigators” (2010, 2016)
  • Chambers USA, “Media & Entertainment: Litigation – California” (2010-2018)
  • The Legal 500 United States, “Leading Lawyer” (2008-2018)
  • The Best Lawyers In America (2010-2019)
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  • Mr. Schwartz is the author of four chapters in the 2011 Lexis/Nexis treatise Entertainment Litigation and the 2014 revision, Entertainment Law & Litigation: Copyright (direct infringement), Copyright (secondary liability), Law of Ideas/Contracts/Credit and Trademark & Unfair Competition.
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Community Involvement

  • Board of Directors, Chairperson, Bet Tzedek Legal Services
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Bar & Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits
  • U.S. District Court, Central, Northern, Eastern Districts of California
  • California