Cynthia S. Arato

Cynthia S. Arato |

Cynthia S. Arato is an experienced litigator with a practice focusing on intellectual property, media and entertainment, and commercial litigation. Cynthia 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. Cynthia 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 LLP, Cynthia was a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and at other firms of national reputation, including the boutique litigation firm of Parcher, Hayes & Snyder.

Cynthia’s clients include leading entertainment and media companies, major record companies, and artists and writers in the entertainment industry.

Representative Matters

  • Represent start-up venture, founders and investor in alleged partnership, trade secret and idea misappropriation case involving automated shot tracking device for golf.
  • 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.
  • 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 that a videotaped recording cannot satisfy the Act’s signed writing requirements.
  • 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’s objections in its ruling rejecting the proposed settlement.
  • Secured dismissal with prejudice of claim regarding recording on triple platinum selling record album, based on litigation abuses of plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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 (N.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 Activites

  • Named by Best Lawyers as Entertainment Law – Music Lawyer of the Year in New York City for 2015.
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in the specialty of Entertainment Law (2010-2014 editions).
  • Recognized by Super Lawyers in the specialty of Intellectual Property Litigation (2012-2015 editions).
  • Member, Copyright & Literary Property Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
  • Member, Committee on Media Law of the New York State Bar Association.
  • Member, Planning Committee of the New York Chapter of The Copyright Society of the USA.
  • New York Steering Committee, Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel (2011-2012; Chair 2012).
  • Speaker at numerous continuing legal education events covering copyright, law practice management and privilege issues.