The “Combo Theory”: the Protectability of Non-Protectable Expression

When: July 18, 2019 at 12:00pm - 2:00pm EDT - This event has passed

The “Combo Theory” as it Relates to the “Blurred Lines” Case (Pharrell Williams) and the “Spark the Fire” Case (Gwen Stefani): 

Is the Combination of Non-Protectable Expression Itself Protectable and, if so, When?  



The panel will discuss the question which arises in nearly ever copyright infringement action:  whether the arrangement, selection and coordination of non-protectable expression can itself rise to the level of protectable expression (the “Combo Theory”) so as to defeat summary judgment and prevail at trial.  The panel will discuss the “Combo Theory” and related issues in music cases, literary cases, photography cases, etc. and will discuss legal and expert issues and lessons learned from summary judgment motions, from the trials themelves and from their related appellate decisions.

Program will satisfy 1.5 CA CLE credits pending approval by the State Bar of California.


Bruce Isaacs of Signature Resolution LLC. 

Bruce Isaacs is a full-time Mediator and Arbitrator at Signature Resolution (formerly known as Benchmark Resolution), the alternative dispute resolution company founded by Retired Judges Meisinger, Stone, Latin, Romero and Steele in 2016. Between 2015 and 2018, Bruce was a Partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, practicing entertainment, copyright, trademark, media, business and real estate litigation.
Between 1985 and 2015, Bruce was a founding partner at Wyman & Isaacs LLP, a boutique firm specializing in entertainment, copyright, trademark, media, business and real estate litigation and entertainment, business and real estate transactions.
Bruce was selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer in Entertainment Law in 2004 – 2018 as an attorney and in 2019 as a mediator.  Bruce was selected for Best Lawyers in America, Entertainment Law – Motion Pictures and Television, Best Lawyers for 2018.



Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno, and Soriano, LLP, lead trial counsel for the defense in the “Blurred Lines” case.

Howard King is managing partner of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano and has broad experience representing individuals and companies in all facets of corporate, real estate, music and entertainment law, as well as complex business, real estate, banking, finance, copyright and trademark litigation.  Howard has been named as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100 Lawyers in Entertainment,” has been designated a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers magazine, has been included in the Los Angeles Daily Journal’s list of “California’s Top Entertainment Lawyers, and has been designated a “Power Lawyer” by Variety magazine.  




Peter Anderson of Davis, Wright, Tremane, LLP, lead trial counsel for the defense in the “Spark the Fire” case and the “Stairway to Heaven” case.

Peter Anderson is a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine’s Los Angeles office and has over three decades of experience in copyright and entertainment litigation.Initially, his practice focused primarily on representing plaintiffs in copyright infringement and other cases directed at motion pictures and, for example, he represented the plaintiffs in the Rear Window case, Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207 (1990), which he argued to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Woods v. Universal City Studios, 920 F. Supp. 62 (S.D.N.Y 1996), in which he obtained a preliminary injunction against the theatrical distribution of the motion picture 12 Monkeys

While he continues to represent plaintiffs in motion picture-related cases, since the mid-1980s he also has represented record companies, music publishers and recording artists, which has grown to a substantial portion of his practice.  In addition to representing Sony Music and Warner Music Group and their respective affiliates, he represented Green Day and their record company in Seltzer v. Green Day, 725 F.3d 1170 (9th Cir. 2013), he is lead counsel in the Stairway to Heaven litigation, Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, he recently obtained summary judgment for Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and others in a music copyright infringement action, Morrill v. Stefani, 338 F. Supp. 3d 1051 (C.D. Cal. 2018), and obtained the dismissal of another copyright infringement action against Taylor Swift and others.

He has represented clients in the United States District Courts for the Central and Southern Districts of California, the District of Arizona, the District of Nevada and the Southern District of New York, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, as well as the California Superior Court and Court of Appeal and in Guild, IFTA and California Labor Commissioner arbitrations.  He is a graduate of UCLA and the UCLA School of Law and has been named a “Super Lawyer” for each of the last fourteen years and has been named by the Daily Journal one of the top IP lawyers in California.

Kenneth D. Freundlich, Freundlich Law 

Kenneth D. Freundlich is the founding principal of Freundlich Law and has 30+ years’ experience in copyright, entertainment and general business litigation.  He is admitted to practice in New York and California and various federal courts throughout the country.

Over the years Mr. Freundlich has represented artists and companies in the motion picture, television, music and interactive industries in litigation matters involving contract disputes, profit participation/royalty claims, copyright infringement, artist/manager disputes including matters before the California Labor Commission under California’s Talent Agencies Act, arbitrations (including Guild and IFTA), new media intellectual property and clearances, right of publicity/Lanham Act, and general commercial disputes. 

A few of Mr. Freundlich’s accomplishments include: prevailing at the U.S. Supreme Court as to the enforceability under the Federal Arbitration Act of arbitration clauses within artist/manager agreements (Preston v. Ferrer, 552 U.S. 346 (2008)); prevailing in a one-week federal jury trial on behalf of the band, the Spin Doctors, against the Miller Brewing Company as to Miller’s infringement of the band’s hit, “Two Princes”; prevailing on a motion for summary adjudication in a highly publicized lawsuit between actress Zooey Deschanel and Mr. Freundlich’s client (who was Ms. Deschanel’s longtime manager), resulting in the dismissal of Ms. Deschanel’s breach of fiduciary duty Cross-Complaint and, thereafter, the settlement of the action; and prevailing at the California Court of Appeal (Brown v. Goldstein, 34 Cal. App. 5th 418 (2019)) and obtaining a multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of the founding members of the band, WAR, against their record company in decade-long litigation, aspects of which are still ongoing. Mr. Freundlich is a graduate of Brown University (BA Magna Cum Laude) and UCLA Law School (JD) and UCLA Anderson School of Management (MBA).   He is a frequent panelist and moderator of panels throughout the country on entertainment issues, is the Chair of the Litigation Division of the American Bar Association’s Sports and Entertainment Forum and is a member of the Grammy’s (NARAS) Entertainment Law Initiative’s Grading Committee. 

Mr. Freundlich is a lifelong musician. He is the founding tenor of The Singers-In-Law, an all lawyer vocal jazz quartet which performs throughout Los Angeles and has twice sung the Star-Spangled Banner at an LA Kings Hockey Game.Combining his legal and music skills, Mr. Freundlich has authored multiple amicus briefs on behalf of over a dozen musicologists in the Blurred Lines and Stairway to Heaven proceedings before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Members: $25
Student Members: 
$20  |  Must present valid student ID at the door

Please note: Affordable parking is available across the street in the Westfield Mall’s Constellation/Solar parking lot. Fox Rothschild cannot validate parking.

CLE Credit Details

Program will satisfy 1.5 CA CLE credits pending approval by the State Bar of California.

This event has passed