Robert G. Sugarman is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who has specialized in intellectual property and First Amendment matters. He is a long-term fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Mr. Sugarman has litigated significant cases in the libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, trade dress, unfair competition and false advertising areas. He was lead counsel to the licensor of the technology used to encrypt copyrighted motion pictures on DVD in a trade secret case. He also successfully represented the National Geographic Society in copyright litigations arising out of the publication of a CD-ROM set of all issues of National Geographic Magazine. Mr. Sugarman has represented a number of recording artists, record companies and music publishers including Julio Iglesias, Sony Music, Arista Records, BMG, PolyGram and Warner Chappell in music copyright litigation. He has also represented Sony Pictures in motion picture litigation, CBS in First Amendment and copyright litigation, The Daily News in libel litigation, and American Eagle Outfitters, Franklin Resources, Random House and Paco Rabanne in trademark and trade dress litigation. In non-litigation matters, Mr. Sugarman represented a number of companies and individuals including Paco Rabanne and Carolina Herrera in intellectual property matters; and Rev. Billy Graham and the Trinity Church in publishing matters.
Other notable experience includes:
- Mitsubishi International Corporation v. Tishman Speyer Properties – Successfully representing Mitsubishi International Corporation in a rent reset arbitration with Tishman Speyer Properties.
- Brown & Williamson v. CBS – Serving as lead counsel for CBS, Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace and Morley Safer in their successful motion to quash a subpoena duces tecum and deposition notices which sought discovery of all the files of CBS in connection with a 60 Minutes segment concerning the activities of Brown & Williamson.
- Merriam Webster v. Random House – Serving as replacement counsel for Random House after a jury had returned a $4 million verdict based on a finding that Random House had infringed the trade dress of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Filed and argued post-trial motions which resulted in the reduction of the verdict to $2 million, and then filed and argued an appeal in the Second Circuit as a result of which the remaining $2 million was set aside.
- Friedman v. Branigan – Successfully representing CBS Music Publishing, Atlantic Records, Laura Branigan, Michael Bolton and Doug James in the jury trial of a copyright infringement case in the Southern District of New York.
- Bowers v. Sony Pictures – Representing Sony Pictures, the distributor, Jonathan Demme, the director and Ron Nyswaner, the writer of the motion picture Philadelphia in a case brought in the Southern District of New York by the family of a man who claimed that the motion picture used the man's story without authorization. The case was settled during the jury trial.
- Raine v. CBS – Serving as lead counsel representing CBS in a trial in the Southern District of New York in which the trustee of the Musicians’ Trust Funds sued for royalties he claimed were owed. After trial, the court rejected virtually all of the Trustee’s claims; the Second Circuit later affirmed following oral argument.
- Abercrombie & Fitch v. American Eagle Outfitters – Representing American Eagle in a suit brought by Abercrombie in the Central District of Ohio in which Abercrombie alleged that American Eagle was infringing its trade dress. The case was resolved on a motion to dismiss, before any discovery and the grant of the motion was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit.
Mr. Sugarman founded and chaired the annual Practising Law Institute Seminar on Litigating Copyright, Trademark and Unfair Competition Cases from 1982 to 1994 and chaired the Communications and Media Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York between 1990 and 1992.
Mr. Sugarman was, for many years, the co-author of the New York chapter of the annual Fifty State Survey, published by the Libel Defense Resource Center. He authored the chapter on “Intellectual Property” in Masters of Trial Practice, published by Wiley Law Publishers, and has written numerous articles on various subjects dealing with litigation of intellectual property matters.
He has long been active in communal and philanthropic work. He is now the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and was the National Chair of the Anti-Defamation League from 2009 to 2012. He and his wife, Surie Rudoff Sugarman, were honored by the ADL at a dinner in 2012. Mr. Sugarman is a past President of Hillel of New York and served as a member of the executive committee of the Lawyers Division of UJA/Federation of New York.