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Experienced Entertainment & Intellectual Property Litigator Michael Garfinkel Joins Venable in Los Angeles

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Garfinkel represents entertainment companies often in high-profile matters; clients include leading talent agencies William Morris and ICM

Los Angeles, CA -- Venable LLP announced that Michael B. Garfinkel, an experienced commercial litigator with background in entertainment, intellectual property, defamation, and employment law, has joined the firm’s growing Los Angeles office.

Mr. Garfinkel, 41, arrives from Rintala, Smoot, Jaenicke & Rees LLP, a Los Angeles litigation firm where he worked since 1996, becoming a partner in 2000. He began his career with Pillsbury Madison & Sutro (now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman), along with then fellow associate – and now chair of Venable’s Commercial West Litigation group and Partner in Charge of the Los Angeles office – Douglas Emhoff.

At Venable, Mr. Garfinkel will focus on general business litigation, with a concentration in entertainment and intellectual property matters. He represents talent agencies and entertainment companies in a variety of often high-profile matters, including commission, breach of contract, right of publicity, unfair competition, defamation, and employment suits, as well as accounting, idea submission disputes, and matters involving various entertainment industry guilds.

Among his clients Mr. Garfinkel counts both William Morris Agency and International Creative Management, two of the premier talent agencies, and Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group, one of the fastest growing companies in Los Angeles.

In 2005, he was lead counsel in Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Hayes, representing actor Reggie Hayes (of TV’s Girlfriends) when Mr. Hayes’ former personal manager sued the actor for commissions. Mr. Garfinkel obtained a jury verdict in his client’s favor. He also successfully briefed and argued the matter on appeal.

Earlier this year, in a separate case brought by Marathon challenging the applicability of the Talent Agencies Act to personal managers (Marathon Entertainment, Inc. v. Blasi), Mr. Garfinkel submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Association of Talent Agents. That case is now pending before the California Supreme Court.

Other notable cases handled by Mr. Garfinkel include a 16-week trial against Disney. He represented novelist Gary Wolf in a dispute over alleged under-reporting of merchandising revenues for the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, based on Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit, resulting in a judgment in Mr. Wolf's favor.

Mr. Garfinkel noted he became aware of Venable after his long-time friend Doug Emhoff joined a year ago, along with the rest of his litigation boutique Whitwell Jacoby Emhoff; that move brought Whitwell Jacoby together with another established Los Angeles litigation firm Gorry Meyer & Rudd to form Venable’s Los Angeles office, which now has grown to over 30 attorneys.

"I had great respect for the success Doug achieved with his prior firm and we continued to stay in touch after he integrated his group with Venable – which has impressed me greatly with its national practice, especially in business litigation and IP where my own client work is rooted," Mr. Garfinkel said. "Venable has made a fast imprint in Southern California and I am looking forward to helping expand the firm’s presence in the entertainment field and other practice areas I know well."

"I've known Mike for over 15 years going back to our days together at Pillsbury and am obviously thrilled to have him join our growing office," said Mr. Emhoff. "Apart from being a top-notch person and skilled trial attorney, Mike’s entertainment and business litigation practice meshes perfectly with our plans for growing the firm’s presence in Los Angeles and nationally."

Mr. Garfinkel received his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1991, and his B.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1988.

His publication credits include articles co-authored for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and The Tort & Insurance Law Journal. He recently served as a panelist for the 2006 Entertainment Industry Labor & Employment Law Conference – That’s Entertainment: Issues in Television, Motion Pictures and Video Games for the Los Angeles County Bar, and at a 2006 dispute resolution seminar for the Association of Talent Agents.

As one of American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit

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