Manatt’s Robert Jacobs, co-chair of the firm’s entertainment, sports and media litigation practice, spoke with the Daily Journal about an ongoing intellectual property case between Pharrell Williams and the family of Marvin Gaye. The case is currently being heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Attorneys on both sides are frustrated with how the district judge handled the case. Williams’ counsel argues that he failed in his responsibility as the court’s gatekeeper, allowing the plaintiff’s expert witnesses to testify with respect to alleged similarities between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” that weren’t included in Gaye’s deposit copy for the song. Gaye’s family claims the judge was overly restrictive in limiting what elements of Gaye’s work were protected.
Jacobs explained that the appellate panel has its work cut out for it. Since there wasn’t much relevant case law for either side to provide, the panel won’t have much to refer to.
“I think they asked a lot of good questions,” said Jacobs, “questions that showed they were sort of struggling with what the right standard should be and what they should do.”
He also stated that a key deciding factor in the appeal’s success would likely be whether the panel finds that the jury considered unprotected elements when making its verdict.