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Lawyer Detail

Stephen Bigger
Senior Counsel

Practice Description
Steve Bigger represents many well-known entertainment groups, performers and entertainment companies in protecting their names and trademarks in the United States and internationally. In one case, he teamed with partner David Ehrlich to develop a legal strategy leading to the successful and widely-reported decision by the U.S. Trademark Trial & Appeal Board in Buffett v. Chi-Chi's, Inc., 226 USPQ 428 (TTAB 1985). This decision recognized that the "Margaritaville" song title which was closely identified with the entertainer Jimmy Buffett could become so well-known that it forms part of the performer's public persona and could be protectable if its use by others, even in some different field of activity such as restaurant services, may lead to a likelihood of confusion.

In the international arena, Steve has negotiated settlement agreements involving conflicts between U.S. and British entertainment groups over the use of the same or closely similar names. He has advised extensively on protecting famous U.S. entertainment group names where there has been some "residual reputation" after the group ceased live performances, including cases where the fame of the name survived the dissolution of the group and the rights of the principal members of the original group required protection against unauthorized uses, either by breakaway secondary members of the group forming "revival" bands or by copycat or "tribute" groups.

He has extensive experience in international trademark assignment programs including transfer tax issues. He has also developed extensive contacts with intellectual property firms in Asia including China, Japan and Korea.

Steve is the primary attorney on the international side of our firm involved in the well known (PRODUCT) RED program launched to establish a fund-raising initiative through the creation of a new global brand that partnered with internationally-famous brands with a portion of the sales profits directed to the Global Fund to support AIDS programs in Africa with an emphasis on women and children. Since its inception, over $150 million has been generated by the Global Fund by (PRODUCT) RED partners in connection with this effort. The accomplishment of protecting the new brand represented a unique challenge since it involved so many different parties and interests as well as a broad range of goods and services and this evolved into a revolutionary marketing concept for a very worthy cause.

Steve represents on a pro bono basis Teach For America in international jurisdictions (see http://www.teachforamerica.org) and also represents Lawyers Without Borders on a pro bono basis internationally in protecting their trademarks and other intellectual property - an organization which provides pro bono legal services throughout the world and is supported by some of the largest and most prominent general practice law firms in the U.S. and elsewhere (see http://www.lawyerswithoutborders.org).

Wheaton College, Illinois (B.A., 1961); Yale University (J.D., 1964).

Professional Activities
Member: The Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Member, Committee on Inter-American Affairs, 1974-1977; Chairman, Sub-committee on Transfer of Technology in Latin America, 1975-1977); American Bar Association; Licensing Executives Society; International Trademark Association (Editorial Board; The Trademark Reporter, 1975-2003).

Included in the 2017 Who's Who Legal: Trademarks, and Who's Who Legal 2012 (where Steve was recognized for his trademark work in the entertainment industry and for a "long distinguished career" and "strong expertise" in the international IP area - especially in Europe and Asia); listed in the 2009 edition of Guide to the World's Leading Trade Mark Law Practitioners, published by Euromoney Legal Media Group; recognized as a top international IP litigation strategist in the 2006-2007 edition of the Legal 500 US Guide.

New York State
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Published Works

All You Need to Know About the Music Business

by Donald S. Passman; contributor with Lawrence Apolzon. For additional information, please go to Amazon.

Entertainment Group Names: Selection and Protection

The Musician's Manual, Hawthorn/Dutton, 1979, The Musician's Business and Legal Guide, Prentice Hall, 2008

Notes From Other Nations

The Trademark Reporter, 1975-1995