U.S. District Court Judge Howard A. Matz found in favor of Munger, Tolles & Olson client dick clark productions (dcp) in its closely watched trial against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) over the multi-million-dollar rights to produce and distribute the Golden Globe Awards television show. The April 30 decision affirms that dcp has the right to continue to produce the popular awards program and license it for broadcast on the NBC television network.
HFPA, which owns the rights to the Golden Globe Award trademarks, sued dcp (which has produced the show for the last 30 years) and Red Zone Capital Partners II L.P. (which has an ownership interest in dcp) over an approximately $150 million deal the production company struck with NBC in 2010 to keep the show on NBC until at least 2018. The parties’ dispute centered around the meaning of a clause in a 1993 contract between dcp and HFPA that gave dcp the right “to produce on tape or film the [Golden Globe] Awards for each of” eight specified years, “and for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of” the broadcast license agreement between dcp and NBC.
Based on the plain meaning of this language and the parties’ conduct over the last 18 years, dcp argued it has the right to continue producing and distributing the Golden Globes for as long as the show is televised on NBC. The HFPA disagreed, claiming dcp had no right to license the show (to NBC or anyone else) for broadcast beyond 2010 without the HFPA’s express consent.
Following a 10-day bench trial in federal court, Judge Matz concluded that dcp’s interpretation of the parties’ agreement is correct: dcp has the right to license the Golden Globes to NBC for so long as the network commits to broadcast the show, regardless of whether the HFPA approves of the license .
Munger Tolles attorneys Bradley S. Phillips, Manuel F. Cachán, Peter E. Gratzinger, Soraya C. Kelly and Kyle Casazza and former Munger Tolles attorney Jeslyn Miller represented dcp.