June 1, 2021

Law360 Names Partner Erin Cox a "Rising Star"

Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Erin Cox has been named a Law360 Rising Star. The annual ranking celebrates top legal talent under 40, and winners are selected based on career accomplishments that belie their age.

Ms. Cox was recognized chiefly for her victories representing Disney and other entertainment companies. Most recently, she led a team in securing dismissal of a copyright infringement and idea theft suit brought against Disney by a writer on the original 1980s Muppet Babies series who accused the company of misappropriating his purported copyright and ideas in producing the 2018 series reboot. Disney’s motion to dismiss led with the argument that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the suit, in part due to failure to disclose these purported copyright interests as assets in prior bankruptcies. The plaintiff asked the court for a stay so he could reopen his bankruptcy proceedings and attempt to reclaim the purported assets from the bankruptcy estates without affecting the timeliness of his litigation claims. Days after Ms. Cox argued the motion to dismiss, the court issued an order dismissing the case in its entirety for lack of standing, and denying the plaintiff’s requested stay.

Ms. Cox also represented Disney and Pixar in numerous lawsuits asserting copyright infringement claims related to the film Inside Out, winning a complete dismissal in one suit—affirmed on appeal—of character copyright infringement and implied contract/idea theft claims relating to the anthropomorphized emotion characters at the heart of the film. The Ninth Circuit decision in Disney’s favor was praised by one leading treatise as “a master class in character copyright law.” In another case, the district court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim alleging that her illustrated book of poems relating to childhood emotions was substantially similar to Inside Out, issuing the dismissal order just one day after Ms. Cox argued the merits of the motion to dismiss. The plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and Ms. Cox led the appellate team, leading to a Ninth Circuit affirmance of the victory below in August 2020. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the district judge had the right to toss out the case based on his own assessment and “common sense” and that the ruling did not require any expert testimony to determine substantial similarity “even though the works at issue are literary works.” In addition to these matters, Ms. Cox handled two lawsuits that resulted in voluntary dismissals, without settlement, prior to the commencement of briefing.

See the entire list of Rising Stars on Law360’s website.

Erin Cox is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Her practice focuses on complex civil litigation. 

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