Carole E. Handler
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Carole Enid Handler is an American lawyer who specializes in intellectual property litigation in the areas of trademark, copyright and antitrust laws, particularly those related to entertainment and media industry. She is commonly known as the "lawyer who saved Spiderman."
Handler's noteworthy achievement is a case considered to be a landmark case that was won on an ironic, yet relatively simple, but critical oversight. At issue were the sale of intellectual property rights to certain Marvel Enterprises characters that Marvel's new owners thought it bought with the company. The claim was successful because, although the purchaser of those rights had a valid signed contract with the former owners of Marvel, the actual new rights were never registered with the United States Copyright Office. Handler's discovery of that fact, and her interpretation of IP law during the court proceedings, caused the rights to revert to Marvel, which was bought by Avi Arad and Ike Perlmutter.
Handler has been working with studios to develop a legal licensing system for digital video. Handler argues that the idea of Creative Commons, created by Stanford University professor Larry Lessig, is an "interesting compromise" - allowing for protection for copyrightable interests of the video itself while also acknowledging that the technology being used that causes the video to be accessed online modifies the licensing arrangement.
Aside from Handler's experience in motion picture and entertainment licensing, and she has worked with IP issues dealing with energy, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Among her antitrust work, Handler has represented the National Basketball Association and several of the major motion picture studios defending them against "block booking" (When studios sell its films in bundles of 'all-or-nothing' packages; meaning that theaters were required to buy some of the studio's mediocre pictures along with the more salable ones).
In 1998, Handler took on the case of Holocaust rescuer (Righteous Gentile) Irene Gut Opdyke when Opdyke tried to re-gain the rights to tell the "authorized" account of her life story, which she had previously assigned in a lawful motion picture option agreement. Handler worked with the parties to reach an agreement and the case was dismissed with prejudice. In an ironic twist, after the trial, all parties agreed that the promoter did "nothing wrong." Opdyke publicly acknowledged the promoter who she sued by thanking him in her book, “In My Hands” and agreed to give him a producer credit for the eventual "authorized" motion picture about her life story.
Handler received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1975, and she then went on to achieve a master's degree in city planning from Penn, and also studied architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Honors and awards
Handler was named one of the "Top 50 Women Litigators in California" by Daily Journal Extra in 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002. In 2001, and was named one of the "Lawyers of the Year" by California Lawyer.
- Variety, Spider-Man's legal web may finally be unraveled, Judge tying up Marvel's loose ends, By JANET SHPRINTZ. August 19, 1998
- Comics 2 Film
- Guardian Unlimited, Court web snares Spider-Man, April 27, 2003
- Variety, Inside Move: Rights snares had Spidey suitors weaving, May 19, 2002, Jonathan Bing"Marvel lawyer Carole Handler found a legal loophole: The original sale to Cannon hadn't been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, so rights reverted to Marvel"
- Comic Wars, p.270 - "Handler's Key discovery, however, was that Marvel's original, cheap sale of the rights to (Menachem) Golan and his cousin had never been properly registered. There was no record of the 1985 agreement or the 1990 extension at the U.S. Copyright Office, and under Bankruptcy law - as she successfully argued in court - "an unperfected interest," any interest that is not registered and absolute, must be returned to the bankrupt estate. Handler felt she has exposed a stupid omission by movie studio lawyers."
- Managing Intellectual Properties, News focus: Swinging into action, September 2004 “As Dan Raviv explains in his book Comic Wars, the issue was eventually resolved by Carole Handler, a copyright and antitrust lawyer then at O'Donnell…”
- Patricia Jacobus, Studios look to sidestep antitrust issues As Hollywood builds new online distribution networks, antitrust issues loom as a possible spoiler, some legal experts warn, CNet News, January 16, 2001.
- Investors Business Daily Lawyer Sees Need In Hollywood For New Digital Licensing System, BY BRIAN DEAGON, 8/23/2006
- Hollywood Reporter Net Neutrality: At Stake, the Future of Content on the Internet, Carole Handler, August 15, 2006
- Houston Business Journal, California crisis generates conspiracy suits, El Paso departs from standard policy to issue public rebuttal, by Monica Perin, March 2, 2001
- Hollywood Reporter High court suggests tie-ins OK, By Brooks Boliek, March 2, 2006
- The Los Angeles Times, Holocaust Heroine Is Satisfied With Accord, April 12, 2000
- Intellectual Property and Trade Regulation Journal, Fall 2004
- CorpWatch.org "US: The Conservative Hand of Hollywood", by Justin Clark, March 29th, 2006 Handler on delivering movies to theaters via fiber optics
- National Journal, "AT&T-BellSouth Deal Could Affect 'Net Neutrality' Debate In Congress" By Andrew Noyes, January 2, 2007 Handler on Internet speed regulations in Congress
- Cold Squad Handler, in 1998, on the Canadian TV Show Cold Squad's similarities to CBS' Cold Case
- DISNEY LOSES POOH BATTLE IN L.A. COURT, New York Post, 2/19/2007