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Admitted to Practice

  • California, 1993
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2005
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2005
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2011
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1994
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1999
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 2000
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, 2001
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 2002
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2011

Alonzo Wickers IV

Wickers IVAlonzo
Partner
T213.633.6865
F213.633.6899

Al Wickers focuses on media, IP, and entertainment law, assisting clients in a range of matters, including copyright, trademark, right of publicity, idea submission, defamation, invasion of privacy, and breach of contract litigation. In addition to his litigation practice, Al regularly provides pre-broadcast counseling and production legal services for a wide range of content creators and distributors, including television networks and production companies, documentarians, video game publishers, film studios, and newspaper publishers. He also has extensive expertise in defending news organizations against subpoenas, in gaining access to court proceedings and records, and litigating California Public Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, and Brown Act matters.

Representative Experience

Copyright and Trademark

Brownmark Films v. Comedy Partners

Successfully defended Comedy Central, South Park Digital Studios, and other defendants against a copyright-infringement claim arising from "South Park's" parody of the Internet viral video "What What in the Butt." The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that "South Park's" use of the plaintiffs' video was protected as a fair use under Section 107 of the Copyright Act. The court also granted the defendants’ fee motion. Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the 7th Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s "well-reasoned and delightful opinion," and unequivocally held that "South Park's" parody was a fair use. Importantly, the 7th Circuit instructed that the fair-use defense may be decided without discovery in appropriate cases – something that other circuits have resisted – enabling content creators to avoid long and burdensome litigation. (E.D. Wis., 7th Cir. 2012)

Brown v. Electronic Arts

Defended Electronic Arts Inc. in the district court and the 9th Circuit against former NFL star Jim Brown’s Lanham and right-of-publicity claims, which arise from Electronic Arts’ alleged use of the former Cleveland Browns great’s likeness in its Madden NFL video game. The district court granted Electronic Arts’ motion to dismiss Brown’s Lanham Act claim, finding that the use was protected by the First Amendment. Brown appealed, and the 9th Circuit affirmed. The opinion was the first in which an appellate court endorsed application of the rogers test at the pleading stage. 724 F.3d 1235, 107 U.S.P.Q.2d 1688 (9th Cir. 2013)

Brown v. Electronic Arts

Defending Electronic Arts against former NFL star Jim Brown’s right-of-publicity claims, which arose from EA’s alleged use of his likeness in its Madden NFL video game. After the 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Brown’s Lanham Act claim, he filed his state-law right-of-publicity claims in California Superior Court, where they are now pending. EA has filed an anti-SLAPP motion asking the court to dismiss brown’s claims. (Cal. Super. Ct., Ongoing)

Collier v. Black Entertainment Television, et al.

Defended BET and Film Garden Entertainment in a copyright-infringement action arising from the use of plaintiff’s fashion photographs in a reality-television series. The case was resolved days after BET and Film Garden filed their motion for summary judgment. (C.D. Cal. 2012)

Williams v. McGraw-Hill

Successfully defended McGraw-Hill against two copyright-infringement lawsuits based on use of allegedly copyrighted material in book. The district court granted McGraw-Hill's motion to dismiss and awarded McGraw-Hill its attorneys' fees. The 9th Circuit dismissed plaintiff's appeal. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2011)

Dane v. Gawker Media

Defended Gawker Media in a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by actors Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart, based on Gawker.com's publication of a news item that included a clip from a videotape showing the couple and another woman naked. In December 2009, the district court granted Gawker's motion to strike plaintiffs' claims for statutory damages and attorneys' fees. Case subsequently was resolved. (C.D. Cal. 2010)

Right of Publicity

Keller v. Electronic Arts

Leading team representing EA in the 9th Circuit in key right-of-publicity case. The district court denied EA's special motion to strike the plaintiff's claims arising from EA's use of the former college quarterback's likeness in its NCAA Football video game. The case, which was consolidated for appeal with Brown v. EA, pits the game publisher's First Amendment rights against celebrities' right of publicity. The 9th Circuit has taken both matters under submission. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. Ongoing)

Intellectual property/First Amendment Counsel to Entertainment Software Association

IP and First Amendment counsel to the Entertainment Software Association, the trade association that represents major video-game publishers in the United States. Worked with the ESA on proposed right-of-publicity bills in Michigan, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York, encouraging lawmakers to afford video games the same protections as other expressive works. Testified before legislative committees, met with lawmakers, submitted written comments to proposed legislation, and helped formulate ESA's strategy. ESA’s efforts have been opposed by professional athletes’ union and by SAG. (Ongoing)

Buzz Aldrin v. The Topps Company

Successfully defended The Topps Company against right-of-publicity claims filed by astronaut Buzz Aldrin arising from Topps' use of Aldrin's name and likeness in the Topps American Heritage: American Heroes trading-card set and on the cover, and packaging of that work. The court recognized (for the first time within the 9th Circuit) that trading cards are constitutionally protected expressive works, granted Topps' anti-SLAPP motion, and dismissed the claims. Aldrin agreed to dismiss his appeal in exchange for Topps’ waiver of its right to recover fees. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2012)

Ahmed v. Lions Gate Entertainment

Successfully defended Lionsgate against right of publicity claims arising from use of convicted terrorist’s likeness in motion picture "The Next Three Days." The defendant contended that the film’s producer should have obtained permission to use his likeness on a watch list used as a prop. The court granted Lionsgate’s anti-SLAPP motion, entitling Lionsgate to a fee award, and dismissed the lawsuit. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

Lindgren v. Microsoft

Defended Microsoft against right-of-publicity, false light, and unfair competition claims arising from MSN.com article that used plaintiff’s likeness without his permission. The court granted Microsoft’s SLAPP motion, finding that MSN.com’s conduct was protected under California’s SLAPP statute and that plaintiff could not show a probability of prevailing on any of his claims. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

Eisenberg v. Lions Gate Entertainment

Defended Lionsgate against right-of-publicity and unfair-competition claims arising from the use of actor Jesse Eisenberg's name and likeness on the cover of a DVD release of the film "Camp Hell." The matter was resolved during the appeal of an order denying Lionsgate's anti-SLAPP motion (Cal. Super. Ct., Cal. Ct. App., 2013)

Hilton v. Hallmark Cards

Represented several video game publishers as amici counsel in connection with rehearing petition in 9th Circuit in right-of-publicity case arising from the use of Paris Hilton's likeness on a parodic greeting card. The court modified its original opinion, adopting amici's arguments. (9th Cir. 2010)

Idea Submission

Hulse v. MTV Networks

Successfully defended MTV Networks against idea-submission claims arising from hit reality series "Jersey Shore." After allowing plaintiff extensive discovery, the court granted MTVN’s motion for summary judgment, finding that VH1 had independently created the series without using plaintiff’s idea that allegedly was pitched to MTV. The court also found that plaintiff lacked standing to assert his implied-in-fact contract claim. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

McGhee v. MTV Networks

Defended MTV Networks and Randy Jackson against breach of implied-in-fact contract and other idea-submission claims arising from the reality-television show "America's Best Dance Crew." The case was resolved several days after MTV filed its motion for summary judgment based on independent creation and the statute of limitations. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011) Read more

Mete v. Showtime Networks

Successfully defended Showtime Networks against idea-submission lawsuit filed by woman who pitched idea for online reality program. Court sustained Showtime's demurrer to complaint without leave to amend, and entered judgment in favor of Showtime. Plaintiff dismissed her appeal voluntarily. (Cal. Super. Ct., Cal Ct. App. 2010)

Defamation

Beckham v. Bauer Publishing

Successfully defended Bauer, publisher of "In Touch Weekly," in a defamation lawsuit filed by soccer star David Beckham over article reporting on alleged tryst with a call girl. In Touch was awarded its attorneys' fees under California's anti-SLAPP statute. The 9th Circuit dismissed Beckham's appeal on jurisdiction grounds and after further proceedings below the action is now on appeal in the 9th Circuit. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2014)

Strouse-Johnson v. Penguin Group

Successfully defended Penguin and author Jillian Shriner against defamation, invasion of privacy, and other claims arising from the use of the plaintiff's photograph in a promotion for book "Some Girls: My Life in a Harem," which recounted the author's experiences in a royal harem in Brunei. The court granted Penguin and Ms. Shriner's anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed all of the plaintiff's claims with prejudice. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2012)

Herpin v. Simon & Schuster

Successfully defended Simon & Schuster and child star Jodie Sweetin against false-light lawsuit filed by her ex-husband based on her memoir. The plaintiff dismissed his lawsuit with prejudice after defendants filed their anti-SLAPP motion. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011)

Ishkanian v. Baker

Successfully represented Wenner Media, publisher of "Us Weekly," in persuading the Court of Appeal to overturn a trial court's order denying the magazine's special motion to strike a former employee's $55 million lawsuit for defamation and other torts. On remand, the trial court awarded Wenner Media its attorneys' fees. (Cal. Super. Ct., Cal. Ct. App. 2009)

Clark v. Cable News Network and Larry King

Defended CNN and Larry King against defamation lawsuit filed by actress Lynn Redgrave's ex-husband, based on statements about their divorce proceedings made on "Larry King Live." The 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's order dismissing the lawsuit. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2007)

Spears v. Us Weekly

Successfully defended "Us Weekly" against libel claim by Britney Spears. The court granted the magazine's anti-SLAPP motion, dismissed the lawsuit, and awarded the magazine its attorneys' fees. (Cal. Sup. Ct. 2007) Read more

Other Experience

Pre-broadcast counseling and production legal services

Provide pre-broadcast counseling and production legal services for television networks and production companies, documentarians and others, including Comedy Central, Showtime, ITV America, Adult Swim, truTV, HBO, Lionsgate, FishBowl, Magical Elves, Titmouse, Starburns, Abso Lutely, and Disarming Films. Work on projects including, "South Park," "Tosh.0," "Californication," "House of Lies," "Dexter," "Kitchen Nightmares," "Car Chasers," "Cold Justice," "China, IL," "Nathan for You," "Review with Forrest MacNeil," "Rick and Morty," "Metalocalypse," "Black Dynamite," "Upload with Shaquille O'Neal," "West of Memphis," and "Unlawful Killing." (Ongoing)

The Press-Enterprise v. San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association

Successfully represented "The Press-Enterprise" in Public Records Act lawsuit resulting in judgment compelling public agency to release information about pensions paid to retired public employees. The court subsequently awarded "The Press-Enterprise" 100% of its requested fees. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2011)

In re Marriage of Nicholas

Represented Los Angeles Times and argued before Court of Appeal in case arising from sealing of court records relating to high-profile divorce. The Court of Appeal recognized that successor judges have broad rights to vacate sealing orders and affirmed order granting public access to court file. 186 Cal. App. 4th 1566 (2010)

Rooke v. MTV Networks

Successfully defended MTV Networks in an invasion of privacy, trespass, and negligence lawsuit arising from the production and broadcast of the popular reality television series "The Hills." MTV moved to strike the plaintiff-homeowner's claims under California's SLAPP statute. After the court dismissed the privacy and trespass claims the homeowner voluntarily dismissed all of his claims against MTV to avoid liability for MTV's attorneys' fees. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2010)

Freedom Communications v. Superior Court

Petitioned Court of Appeal for emergency writ to vacate prior restraint against newspaper. The court granted the newspaper's petition and issued a published opinion reaffirming the strong constitutional presumption against prior restraints. (Cal. Super. Ct. 2008)

Mattel v. MCA

Successfully defended "BusinessWeek" reporter who was subpoenaed to testify by Mattel in multibillion-dollar civil lawsuit arising from ownership of Bratz dolls. Relying on First Amendment reporter's privilege, the court denied Mattel’s motions to compel and motions for reconsideration before the discovery master, and Mattel's motions asking the district court judge to reverse the master's orders. (C.D. Cal. 2008)

Board of Trustees of California v. Superior Court

Represented The Copley Press, publisher of the "San Diego Union-Tribune," in a Public Records Act lawsuit against San Diego State University. The courts ordered the university to release several documents, and awarded the newspaper its attorneys' fees and costs. 132 Cal. App. 4th 889 (Cal. Super. Ct., Cal. ct. App. 2005)

In re Molz

Represented the California Newspaper Publishers Association as amicus curiae in an important newspaper adjudication case. The Court of Appeal allowed CNPA to participate in oral argument and issued a published decision adopting CNPA's position. 127 Cal. App. 4th 836 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005)

Los Angeles Times v. Board of Supervisors

Obtained important published decision from the Court of Appeal, reversing a trial-court order denying attorneys' fees to a successful plaintiff in a Brown Act open-meetings case. 112 Cal. App. 4th 1313 (Cal. Super. Ct., Cal. Ct. App. 2003)

Professional & Community Activities

  • Instructor, "Law of Mass Communications," Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, Fall 2000-2007
  • Founding Co-Chair, Media Law Resource Center, California Chapter
  • Board of Trustees, Hollywood United Methodist Church
  • ABA Forum on Communications Law 

Professional Recognition

  • Named as one of the "Top 75 Intellectual Property Litigators" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, 2013-2014
  • Named by the Hollywood Reporter as one of the "Top 100 Power Lawyers-Litigation," 2011-present
  • Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Media & Entertainment: Litigation (California) by Chambers USA, 2006-2014; Received "Band 1" ranking, 2012-2014  
  • Selected by Best Lawyers as Los Angeles' "Lawyer of the Year" in Litigation–First Amendment, 2013 
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Media Law by Best Lawyers, 2007-present; named in First Amendment Law, 2010-present
  • Selected to "Southern California Super Lawyers" in First Amendment/Media/Advertising, Entertainment & Sports, Thomson Reuters, 2004-2014
  • Named one of Lawdragon's "500 New Stars, New Worlds," 2006
  • Named as one of California Law Business' "20 Under 40," 2000
Al Wickers on the hollywood reporters power lawyers list
Alonzo Wickers named Los Angeles first amendment lawyer of the year
Media, technology and first amendment legal devolepments newsletter
He is approachable and proactive and keeps is fully informed in a very calm way, client quote