Rick Kurnit was named Best Lawyers’ 2011 New York Media Lawyer of the Year. He is ranked by Chambers USA as one of two star individuals nationwide in Advertising law; praised as a “leading lawyer” in Marketing and Advertising by The Legal 500; and selected in Best Lawyers' annual survey in six fields: Advertising, Copyright, Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Media, and Trademark.
Rick is Vice Chairman of the ABA Committee on Private Advertising Litigation. He has handled many of the leading cases defining the application of intellectual property law to advertising and marketing communications, including representing the defendants in the Vanna White, Woody Allen, and Jackie Onassis look-alike cases; Viking Press, Nelson DeMille, Terry McMillan, and other authors and publishers in libel cases based on works of fiction; Prodigy in the Stratton Oakmont case and other cases defining online liability; John Deere in defining use of trademarks in comparative advertising; the maker of a smaller copy of the necklace from Titanic in defining the scope of parallel marketing; and “Gone With The Wind” in defining parody and copyright infringement. Rick has also handled numerous Lanham Act and comparative advertising cases and NAD challenges.
In addition to all aspects of marketing communications, Rick advises companies and individuals on mergers, acquisitions, succession plans, employment agreements, partnership agreements, and phantom equity plans.
Rick teaches advertising and intellectual property law and lectures regularly for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Promotion Marketing Association, the Association of National Advertisers, the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., and the American Law Institute/American Bar Association. He has repeatedly been a guest lecturer at Beijing University; Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Fordham, New York and Cardozo Law Schools; and conferences in Asia, Europe, and North America. He is a member of the Boards of The Miami Ad School, The Art Directors Club, and The Advertising Compliance Service.
Rick’s published works include: the Advertising Law chapter in Corporate Legal Departments (2011); "Exclusivity of Sponsors" in Journal of Sponsorship 379 (2010); The Legal Side of the Creative Process, a chapter in Advertising and Marketing Law (2005); “Restricting Speech on the Internet,” a panel discussion, 8 Fordham Intel. Prop. Media L. J. 395 (1998); “Liability Online,” 1 Journal of Internet Law 15 (1998); “Pornography on the Internet,” a panel discussion, 14 Cardozo Arts and Ent. L. J. 343 (1996); “Right of Publicity in the Year 2020,” a symposium, 20 Columbia-VLA Journal of Law and Arts 1 (1995); and “Libel Claims Based on Fiction,” 51 Brooklyn L. Rev. 401(1985).
Rick served as law clerk to Federal Judge Thomas P. Griesa, and was associated for five years with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He is a graduate of Columbia College (AB, magna cum laude, 1972) Phi Beta Kappa, and Harvard Law School (JD, cum laude, 1975).
Vanna White — "Right of Publicity/ Look-Alike" case. Represented defendants in defeating punitive damage claim and atttorneys fees claims on Right of Publicity and Lanham act claims
Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy — Leading case on liability of ISP''s for submissions by third parties (Prior to enactment of Section 230 of the CDA)
Springer v. Viking Press — Leading case in NY Ct of App. dismissing libel claim based on fiction
John Deere trademark parody — Application of fair use of trademark to a alteration of a trademark in comparative advertising
"Wind Done Gone" — Application of fair use to parody of Gone With the Wind