Communications Industry

Overview

The communications industry is a multifaceted complex of technology, media, content, telephony, data, distribution, transport and other factors, including extensive federal, state and local regulation. In addition, this evolving industry presents an array of emerging challenges such as data privacy and protection, disruptive technology and new media. Our multidisciplinary team has the tools to guide clients through this challenging landscape and help them achieve their business goals. With more than 100 attorneys who hold technical degrees, we are well versed in the scientific and engineering backbone of the communications industry.

Our comprehensive regulatory and compliance knowledge covers the local, state and federal arenas, and we have spent decades developing solid working relationships with regulators and decision makers. The broad base of our team means we are prepared with the appropriate resources to handle anything from an individual FCC complaint to a national telecom merger. And with offices across the country, we provide timely, solution-oriented advice.

What we do

The effectiveness of our Communications Industry team is strengthened by the participation of our colleagues across the firm, who provide comprehensive advice in all areas, including employment, tax, corporate, litigation, regulatory, complex transactions, copyright, patent and trademark and antitrust issues. With more than 900 lawyers throughout the country, we provide a one-stop shop for this multifaceted industry.

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We have a documented record of success in assisting communications industry clients with these and other concerns:

Intellectual property

  • Licensing
  • Litigation
  • Patent infringement claims
  • Patent prosecution
  • Trademark issues

Media and First Amendment

  • Copyright
  • Digital content
  • Libel and defamation

Privacy and data protection

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data breaches
  • Incident response
  • Privacy law
  • Regulatory matters
  • Compliance

Regulation and enforcement

  • Antitrust issues
  • Compliance/rulemaking
  • Federal (including regulatory approvals, FCC oversight of broadcast and cable television, broadband and telecommunications, proceedings, enforcement actions, compliance and consumer protection issues)
  • State and local provisions (tariffs and certification, franchising, interconnection agreements, rights of way, audits and complaints)

Transactions

  • International
  • Licensing and syndication services
  • Media financing
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Venture capital and investment
  • Technology and IP
Our clients

Our clients, which include some of the nation’s largest communications companies and service providers, trust us to safeguard their resources and advance their interests.

  • Cable companies
  • Digital media creators and distributors
  • Entertainment companies
  • Internet and e-commerce businesses
  • Print media
  • Radio and broadcast television outlets
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Wireless companies
Our professionals

Dozens of our attorneys have technical degrees in electrical, mechanical and computer sciences, which give them insight into highly technical legal issues. Many are highly ranked by Chambers, Best Lawyers and other legal directories.

In addition, we collaborate with teams across the firm to address specific legal needs.

Copyright, Content, and Platforms Team

Our experience in handling copyright issues in media spans more than 95 years. We work alongside clients as they grapple with changes in the way content is created, distributed and copied. Our team of sophisticated attorneys and professionals utilizes its experience in software and reproduction technologies, along with its deep understanding of intellectual property, media and Internet law, to remain at the forefront of legal issues. In addition, we help top international, national and regional clients develop Internet platforms and negotiate agreements for Internet sales and distribution, information services and interactive applications. We advise clients concerning their marketing and advertising activities and we base that advice on broad experience developed in our representation of clients in music, motion pictures, gaming software and other entertainment fields. Moreover, we are particularly well known for developing First Amendment law for media companies and the journalists and writers who work for them.

Patent and Trademark Teams

In this age of instant information and high-tech communications, a company’s success often depends upon the proper protection of its intellectual property, including its patents and trademarks. We are dedicated to helping our clients strategically grow, secure, protect, defend and enforce their valuable patent and trademark assets, nationally and around the world.

Privacy and Data Protection Team

We have one of the nation’s largest and most well-regarded practices in the area of data privacy and information security. We emphasize the importance of preparing clients to respond when a breach occurs. We routinely work with clients to prepare for such possibilities because we understand the importance of mitigating the potential impact of media coverage, federal and state investigations and related consent decrees, consumer complaints and other potential issues.

Emerging issues

As rapidly evolving technology continues to outpace statutory and regulatory processes, our communications clients face both risks and opportunities. We are prepared to find solutions that support their key business objectives with regard to emerging challenges such as:

  • Data privacy and protection
  • Disruptive technology
  • Over-the-top providers
  • Social media
  • Content distribution

Select Experience

Mergers and acquisitions
  • Advised the E.W. Scripps Company in a merger and a related spin transaction with Journal Communications involving broadcast operations and newspapers in multiple markets.
  • Represented a leading streaming media provider in its acquisition of the streaming and downloadable content of a major electronic and mobile device manufacturer, which involved complex data privacy issues and content licenses.
Intellectual property
  • Managed the development of several patent portfolios for a wireless technologies company whose devices are at the core of mobile devices, networks and services worldwide and that counts many leading brands among its licensees.
  • Worked with a startup client as acting general counsel to secure worldwide patent and trademark rights and to successfully launch an international telecommunications system for underdeveloped countries.
Media and First Amendment
  • Represented a nonprofit firm, a major national newspaper and others in a libel suit in New York arising out of the content of an advertisement published in the newspaper and on the Internet.
  • Represented a publisher in copyright infringement actions in New York and California involving claimed rights to photographs and manuscripts.
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Professionals

Name Title Office Email
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Atlanta
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel Denver
Partner Atlanta
Counsel Atlanta
Partner Seattle
Associate Cleveland
Partner Houston
Partner Atlanta
Partner Atlanta
Counsel Atlanta
Partner Cleveland
Partner Costa Mesa
Partner New York
Partner Los Angeles
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Houston
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel Philadelphia
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Cleveland
Partner Cincinnati
Associate Atlanta
Counsel Washington, D.C.
Counsel Washington, D.C.
Partner Washington, D.C.
Counsel Washington, D.C.
Partner Philadelphia
Associate Washington, D.C.
Partner Philadelphia
Partner Philadelphia
Partner Philadelphia
Partner Washington, D.C.
Partner Cleveland
Partner New York
Associate Atlanta
Patent Attorney Denver
Partner Washington, D.C.

Experience

Mergers and acquisitions
  • Advised the E.W. Scripps Company in a merger and a related spin transaction with Journal Communications involving broadcast operations and newspapers in multiple markets.
  • Represented a leading streaming media provider in its acquisition of the streaming and downloadable content of a major electronic and mobile device manufacturer, which involved complex data privacy issues and content licenses.
  • Advised Advance Publications, Inc., on the sale of Fairchild Fashion Media and the Fairchild summits and event business to Penske Media Group.
  • Advised cloud contract center software provider Uptivity in its acquisition by inContact for $8.8 million in cash and approximately $37 million in stock.
  • Represented a media conglomerate in the acquisition of six broadcast television stations and an Internet news-gathering business.
  • Advised a joint venture between a wireless technologies company and a Japan-based conglomerate that conducts research and development in the fields of machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things. In a single year, we filed nearly 100 patent applications for the new venture.
Intellectual property
  • Managed the development of several patent portfolios for a wireless technologies company whose devices are at the core of mobile devices, networks and services worldwide and that counts many leading brands among its licensees.
  • Worked with a startup client as acting general counsel to secure worldwide patent and trademark rights and to successfully launch an international telecommunications system for underdeveloped countries.
Media and First Amendment
  • Represented a nonprofit firm, a major national newspaper and others in a libel suit in New York arising out of the content of an advertisement published in the newspaper and on the Internet.
  • Represented a publisher in copyright infringement actions in New York and California involving claimed rights to photographs and manuscripts.
  • Represented a newspaper in a civil rights action against a governor and state agencies for denying the newspaper’s First Amendment rights to comment freely on the governor’s actions.
  • Vetted numerous manuscripts, including the best-selling biography of a former U.S. president.
  • Served as co-counsel for John and (the late) Patsy Ramsey in successfully defeating defamation lawsuits accusing the couple of murdering their daughter, JonBenet Ramsey.
  • Served as lead trial and appellate counsel for Hustler Magazine in a right of publicity claim arising from publication of a news article and images of the late Nancy Benoit, a well-known professional wrestler and victim of a highly publicized murder in 2007. 
Regulation and enforcement
  • Participated in the $3 billion acquisition of an operator of multiple major cable television systems by, among other things, achieving a waiver of the statutory cross-ownership restriction that otherwise would have prohibited the transaction.
  • Secured a victory at the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of a telephone company in a class action case involving claims of negligent billing practices.
  • Participated in the strategy and brief preparation for defending a leased access producer’s challenge to a cable operator’s rates, terms and conditions of carriage, which resulted in dismissal of the complaint by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and in settlement of the subsequent appeal approved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Intellectual Property
    • Georgia (2018)
      • Band 4
    • Ohio (2018)
      • Band 2
    • Pennsylvania (2018)
      • Band 1
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Litigation in District of Columbia (2018).
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Patent Prosecution in District of Columbia (2018).
    • Recognized Practitioner: Intellectual Property Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets in New York (2018). 
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, BakerHostetler was named to the 2019 BTI Client Service 30 for the fifth consecutive year.

News

News

Press Releases

Key Contacts

Blog

In The Blogs

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Copyright, Content, and Platforms
DAA Issues Inaugural Enforcement Action for Compliance with Mobile App Guidelines
By Alan L. Friel
May 11, 2016
In a prior post we noted the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) intention, late last year, to begin enforcement of the Application of Self-Regulatory Principles to the Mobile Environment (Mobile App Guidelines), which apply to all...
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Copyright, Content, and Platforms
New Cop on the Block – FCC's Proposed Data Privacy and Security Rulemaking for Broadband Internet Access Providers
By Alan L. Friel
May 11, 2016
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or global Commission) issued its Open Internet Order, applying Section 222 of the federal Communications Act to broadband Internet access services (BIAS), and in doing so took...
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Copyright, Content, and Platforms
Mobile Apps That Appeal to Children Face Increased Regulatory Scrutiny
By Alan L. Friel
May 11, 2016
In September 2015, the Online Interest-based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program) of the Advertising Self-regulatory Council (ASRC) began enforcing the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Guidelines for Mobile...
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Copyright, Content, and Platforms
Can Software Be Created As a Work-for-Hire?
By Chad A. Rutkowski
March 1, 2016
In early February a decision out of the Southern District of New York added another layer of dicta supporting the notion that software created by an independent contractor can qualify as a work-for-hire. In Stanacard, LLC v. Rubard, LLC...
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Copyright, Content, and Platforms
Russia's Primary Social Network in Hot Water Again Over Failure to Police Infringement
February 24, 2016
Russia’s Facebook, vKontakte, is under fire for its allegedly poor handling of pervasive copyright infringement on its platform (literally translated from Russian, “v kontakte” means “in contact”). The Association for the Protection of...
Read More ->