Summary of Accomplishments
- Received LLM (Master of Laws) in Intellectual Property Law, with Honors, from Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA in 2005.
- Received J.D. (juris doctor) from Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA in 2000.
- Licensed to practice law in California since 2004.
- Author of “The OSYU v. Bikram Choudhury Copyright Case: Analytical Approaches to Fleshing Out a Paper Tiger,” published in the Fall 2005 USF Intellectual Property Bulletin.
- Guest lecturer for the Metal Arts Guild on Copyright Protection for Works of Industrial Design & Jewelry, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA March 2006.
- Worked as a contract attorney at a national law firm for 4+ years on complex multidistrict antitrust litigation, focusing on discovery issues and culminating with participation in an 8-week federal criminal trial.
I graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA., in 2000. During law school I interned with M.J. Bogatin. at a respected entertainment and litigation boutique law firm in Oakland, CA., Bogatin, Corman, & Gold. Under Bo’s wonderful tutelage, I was exposed to a great variety of art and entertainment-related issues, from researching, writing, and advising on trademark, copyright, and contract issues for bands, photographers, and artists, to helping litigate a VARA (Visual Artists’ Rights Act) claim on behalf of a controversial client regarding the destruction of a mural in San Francisco.
I wanted to round out my education in the intellectual property field, so in 2004 I enrolled in the LLM program for Intellectual Property at Golden Gate University, which I completed with Honors in 2005 (LLM means “Master of Laws”). The seed for this endeavor was planted in late 2003 when, while waiting to start a Bikram yoga class, I read a Yoga Journal article about a lawsuit filed against Bikram Choudhury to invalidate a copyright he claimed to have in his series of yoga postures. I decided then and there that I would enroll in the LLM program, work with the faculty on an article about the case, and hopefully get it published in a law review journal. I eventually wrote the article under the guidance of program director Marc Greenberg and got it published in the Fall 2005 issue of the University of San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Bulletin. While writing the article, I was fortunate enough to work as a consulting attorney in the litigation on behalf of the plaintiffs seeking to invalidate the yoga guru’s copyrights. During this time, I also received my license to practice law in the state of California.
I began a part-time solo law practice in 2006 based entirely on word-of-mouth. Highlights of accomplishments on behalf of clients in the IP arena include:
- Successful enforcement of band’s common law trademark rights in band name against foreign infringer.
- Assisting in federal copyright declaratory relief litigation involving Bikram yoga, including discovery matters and writing summary judgment motion on publication issue under the 1909 Copyright Act.
- Copyright registrations of individual songs, full-length releases of sound recordings as collections, business promotional materials, web sites, photographs, and jewelry designs (both individual and series).
- Trademark registrations of band names and counseling businesses on trademark rights.
- Clearance of rights screening of independent film and preparation of all licenses needed.
- Drafting many different types of licensing agreements, contracts, releases, and cease and desist letters.
Highlights of accomplishments related to business formations and operations on behalf of clients include:
- Assisting bands in forming partnerships by crafting partnership agreements addressing multiple IP issues.
- Assisting businesses in LLC and corporate formations, including crafting custom operating agreements and bylaws, and counseling on best practices aimed at optimizing limited liability status.
- Assisting band member in dissociation from partnership.
- Assisting LLC member’s withdrawal from art studio LLC.
My interest in intellectual property law stems from my musical background. I started playing guitar in 1981 when I was 13 years old, and played in various bands in Tampa, FL and San Francisco until 2001. During my undergraduate college career, I became interested in sound recording and took courses at SYCOM, the University of South Florida School of Music's suite of electronic music studios. After a particularly bad experience recording one of my band’s records at a local Tampa studio, I vowed to never hand the reigns over to another engineer in the future.
I was able to keep that promise because after moving to San Francisco in 1993 I became a partner in my own project recording studio from 1994-1996, and then opened my own commercial recording studio and independent record label in 1997. While in law school, I moonlighted in my studio, honing my engineering chops by recording everything from Indian classical singers to punk rock bands, and my own projects. I eventually folded the studio and record label in 2003, but recently set up the remnants of the studio in my garage to collaborate with and record my budding 5 year old daughter/pop star.
Creative Vision Legal is my attempt to meld my previous legal experience and love of the artistic process and its results with the core values I have identified as missing from much of the current state of online legal services. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Mike Thomas is on LinkedIn.