S. MICHAEL KERNAN
Michael Kernan focuses his practice on entertainment and intellectual property litigation and transactions. Having a rare breadth of experience for an entertainment lawyer, Michael has worked for more than 15 years in entertainment transactional law and has been one of the leading authorities in entertainment litigation for the past 20 years. This combination is unique, and Michael's expertise was obtained with the top firms and companies in the entertainment business.
Having first gained notoriety in the entertainment law field as a litigator at Lavely & Singer in Los Angeles (one of the most well-known entertainment firms in the country), Michael and his mentor Marty Singer successfully represented actor Jean Claude Van Damme in a jury trial televised on Court TV. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for Van Damme. Michael and Mr. Singer then successfully represented Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lawsuit against The Globe tabloid. Michael concluded his practice at Lavely & Singer after winning a large arbitration award on behalf of actor Dana Carvey. Michael has tried scores of cases, which is rare for entertainment litigators.
Michael then moved into the practice of entertainment and digital media transactional law. In 2000, he became Vice-President, Business Affairs at the international talent agency International Creative Management (ICM). As Co-Head of the ICM Digital Media Department, his duties included licensing and deal-making in technology, Internet, and mobile areas for ICM’s New York, London and Los Angeles offices.
Michael has taught Entertainment Law since 2007 at his former law school, the University of California, Hastings College of Law. Michael also teaches classes on digital media entitled "Social Media Law", the first established social media law class in the United States.
Michael is well known for practicing rights of publicity for celebrities, including representing the estates of major celebritites post-mortem rights of publicity.
Many of the cases Michael undertakes involve complex issues, specifically within the delicate niche of intellectual property protection. Michael has argued and won the split in authority between California State courts and California Federal courts on whether intellectual property exception for CDA Section 230 immunity bars any celebrity claim.
Michael has negotiated more than 100 “idea theft” cases for
films and television clients; both the plaintiff and the defense.
Representing the defense, he has argued on behalf of major production companies and representing the plaintiff, he has acted on behalf of top writers in Hollywood.