Shapiro, Arato & Isserles LLP
500 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10110
Cynthia S. Arato
Ms. Arato is an experienced litigator with a practice focusing on intellectual property, media and entertainment, and commercial litigation. Ms. Arato has successfully represented major corporations and prominent individuals in copyright, trademark, defamation, right of publicity, false advertising, employment, contract, fraud, fiduciary duty, and royalty actions. She has particular expertise prosecuting and defending complex copyright class actions. Ms. Arato regularly advises clients on a wide range of intellectual property matters, including trademark and right of publicity issues related to advertisements and products. She was lead trial counsel for the Select Committee of Inquiry formed by the House of Representatives in Connecticut in connection with impeachment proceedings related to Governor John G. Rowland, winning a landmark ruling from that State's highest court leading to the Governor's resignation from office.
Before co-founding Shapiro, Arato & Isserles LLP, Ms. Arato was a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and at other firms of national reputation, including the boutique litigation firm of Parcher, Hayes & Snyder.
Ms. Arato's clients include leading entertainment and media companies, major record companies, and artists and writers in the entertainment industry. She has represented, among others, Warner Music Group Corp., Frank McCourt, Atlantic Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Home Box Office, Scholastic, and Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
Representative matters include:
- Obtained dismissal of claim of slander per se asserted against entertainment company and its executive on ground that alleged statement (that plaintiff was trying to blackmail executive) was substantially true.
- Obtained dismissal with prejudice of individual claims in putative class action challenging royalty payment practices of major record company.
- Obtained court ruling barring plaintiff's counsel from taking discovery to find a new class representative, leading to dismissal without prejudice of class claims.
- Represented foreign publishing societies and publishers in successfully objecting to proposed settlement in the well-known Google Books class action. The court specifically cited Shapiro, Arato & Isserles LLP's objections in its ruling rejecting the proposed settlement.
- Obtained dismissal with prejudice in case of first impression regarding the transfer of ownership and work-for-hire provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act in a ruling holding that a videotaped recording cannot satisfy the Act's signed writing requirements.
- Secured dismissal with prejudice of copyright claim regarding recording on triple platinum selling record album, based on litigation abuses of plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel.
- Represented prominent digital service provider in copyright action brought by multiple plaintiffs alleging infringement of hundreds of musical works. Resolved the dispute at an early stage; c0-defendants followed suit later, after incurring significant legal fees.
- Represented major music publishers in copyright infringement class action challenging service provided by XM Satellite Radio that allows end-users to record and permanently store, on portable ipod-like devices, content broadcast by XM.
- Represented major digital service providers and record labels in putative copyright infringement class action challenging exploitation of musical compositions contained in sound recordings being sold as digital downloads. Devised strategy leading plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss the case.
- Obtained a temporary restraining order against former employees and employees' new employer in trade secret misappropriation action on behalf of national placement firm.
- Represented national not-for-profit in trademark dispute against competing not-for-profit using confusingly similar name. Successfully resolved the dispute pre-litigation in a settlement that included, among other things, agreement by competing organization to cease use of confusingly similar name.
- Won Fifth Circuit appeal in copyright infringement action, reported at Armour v. Knowles, 512 F. 3d 147 (5th Cir. 2007). Obtained affirmance of lower court ruling on an alternative ground of "access" not relied upon by court below which strengthened the ability of defendants to obtain early dismissals of actions based on speculative "access" theories.
- Won summary judgment in favor of defendants in copyright infringement action, and affirmance of judgment on appeal, based upon expert musicological discovery demonstrating that works at issue were not substantially similar as a matter of law, reported at Johnson v. Gordon, 409 F.3d 12 (1st Cir. 2005).
- Defended legislative committee before highest state court in Connecticut in case of first impression throughout the United States regarding right of legislative committee to subpoena testimony of sitting Executive. Successfully defeated the Office of the Governor's attempt to quash subpoena calling for the Governor to testify before the committee, as reported at Office of the Governor of Connecticut v. The Select Committee of Inquiry, 269 Conn. 850, 850 A.2d 181 (2004). Also successfully represented committee in connection with various litigations regarding validity of subpoenas served on third parties.
- Won bench trial voiding the award by New York City of a major leasehold; judgment reversed on appeal on standing grounds. Won ruling that City's Business Integrity Commission was failing to comply with its mandatory statutory duties, in related mandamus proceeding against that City agency.
- Won summary judgment for author Frank McCourt in action brought by producer seeking percentage of profits from Pulitzer Prize winning book and feature film "Angela's Ashes," reported at Houlihan v. Frank McCourt, 2002 WL 1759822 (H.D.Ill. 2002).
- Defended motion picture company in defamation and right of publicity case brought by individual depicted in the feature film "Donnie Brasco." In a decision reported at Cerasani v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 991 F.Supp. 343 (S.D.N.Y. 1998), the court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the plaintiff was "libel proof" as a matter of law.
- Represented Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in successfully appealing dismissal of his Lanham Act and right of publicity claims concerning the use of his former name Lew Alcindor in a television commercial. In case of first impression, reported at Abdul-Jabbar v. General Motors Corp., 75 F.3d 1391 (9th Cir. 1996), as amended, 85 F.3d 407, the Ninth Circuit held that an individual cannot abandon trademark or publicity rights in his or her own name.
Professional Activities, Publications and Honors
- Named as one of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of Entertainment Law (2010, 2011, 2012 editions).
- Recognized by Super Lawyers in the speciality of Intellectual Property Litigation (2012, 2013 editions).
- Chair, New York Steering Committee, Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel.
- Member, Planning Committee of the New York Chapter of The Copyright Society of the USA.
- Member, Copyright & Literary Property Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
- Speaker at numerous continuing legal education events covering copyright, law practice management and privilege issues.
Columbia University School of Law
Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
Columbia Journal of
University of Pennsylvania
B.A., cum laude and with
distinction in International