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Robb Harvey

Partner

Experienced litigator for high-stakes matters

Robb Harvey has nearly 40 years of trial and appellate court experience, representing clients in dozens of states across the country. His practice focuses on complex intellectual property and commercial disputes, franchise litigation, and entertainment and media matters involving music and content providers across a wide spectrum. Clients rely on Robb’s abilities as a strategist, problem-solver, and tenacious advocate. He has established a reputation among clients and peers as the professional to turn to for expedited results, especially when the stakes are high and involve pressing issues such as a threat to interfere with business operations or the launch of a product, a demand for a prior restraint on publication, or continuing operation by a terminated franchisee.

Robb is recognized in Chambers USA (Media and Entertainment-Band One) and The Best Lawyers in America® (fifteen categories, including several Lawyer of the Year recognitions in multiple areas). Chambers USA’s more recent release quotes one client as follows: "He is very aware of business considerations, effective, efficient and focused on getting the best results for the client.”

Robb’s practice areas include franchise disputes; publication torts (including defamation, privacy and right of publicity) and pre-publication reviews; copyrights (including music, movies, broadcasts and software); trademarks (including TTAB proceedings); data breaches and ransomware; computer fraud and abuse; trade secrets; First Amendment and public records disputes and reporter's shield laws; counterfeiting; internet disputes; patents; and software disputes and technology licensing. In addition, he has experience in complex commercial disputes involving contracts and business torts; civil RICO; non-competition; unfair trade practices and product disparagement/advertising; and MDL proceedings.

Several of his engagements have resulted in ongoing, long-term relationships, in some cases for over three decades. He thrives on helping companies address the daily challenges their businesses encounter.

Following are a few of his recent experiences:

Franchise

  • Lead counsel for franchisor in case involving the termination of a franchisee which the franchisor had concluded presented a threat of reputational harm to the franchise system; defended against a dozen counterclaims challenging the termination and alleging racial animus. This dispute, which included three lawsuits in two states, attracted national attention. Obtained summary judgment and a monetary judgment in federal court, affirmed by the appellate court.
  • Part of a team representing a franchisor which obtained injunctive relief against a former senior executive for violation of a non-competition provision. Damages remain pending.
  • Obtained injunctive and damages relief against a terminated franchisee in Canada
  • Lead counsel for decades for multiple national franchisors in the damage restoration, hospitality and restaurant industries for restaurant and hotel franchisors as well as local counsel in various disputes with franchisees (trademark, termination, territorial disputes, noncompetition issues)


Media and Entertainment

  • Lead counsel for songwriters and music publishers in defense of music copyright cases accusing a No. 1 pop song and a No. 1 country song of infringement. Secured summary judgment for hit country music songwriters/performers on the basis of lack of substantial similarity, following extensive fact and expert discovery.
  • Lead counsel in cases regarding Disney’s “Frozen” (dismissed by U.S. District Court) and the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (both cases dismissed by U.S. District Court and affirmed on appeal)
  • Lead counsel for multiple “old” and “new” content providers, including cable and terrestrial broadcasters, podcasts, production companies, print and online newspapers, and music entities
  • Lead counsel for a movie studio, soundtrack distributor and others over the film Soul Men in right of publicity/trademark/copyright suit. Obtained summary judgment, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Represents media clients in libel and privacy lawsuits in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Conducts prepublication content review and advises clients on subpoenas, access and privilege issues, public records and open meetings issues, copyright matters and First Amendmnt Rights.
  • Lead counsel for online publisher/cable news company in lawsuit filed by music publisher. Obtained dismissal of all claims except one, challenging an allegedly libelous word in a headline. Later successfully resolved
  • Lead counsel in lawsuit against cable news entertainment program, obtaining dismissal of case filed by “American Idol” contestant


Other IP/Trade Secrets/Data Privacy

  • Lead counsel for national retailers involving claims of trademark/copyright infringement and counterfeiting
  • Providing counsel in multiple breach/ransomware attacks
  • Part of teams that achieved victories in two (2) cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for search engine company, libel and Section 230 immunity issues
  • In a significant right of publicity lawsuit involving an attempt by a purported “class” of college athletes’ attempt to overturn NCAA requirements regarding “amateur status) through litigation, filed against more than two dozen college sports conferences, broadcasters, and licensees, served as the only Tennessee counsel to serve as lead counsel for any defendant. Case dismissed, and affirmed on appeal.
  •  Lead counsel for search engine company in case alleging antitrust, trademark, and misappropriation issues; obtained dismissal at district court; case currently on appeal
  • Part of teams obtaining the dismissal of multiple alleged trade secrets cases by federal and state courts.
  • Served as a court-appointed Special Master in significant divorce case involving accusations of computer intrusion crimes after a forensic specialist mirror-imaged dozens of devices


Robb is active in the community, serving as counsel for Middle Tennessee Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America; multiple religious entities; and a government transparency group. He formed and served as president of the Tennesseans for Public Participation, Inc., a nonprofit which successfully lobbied for the passage of a robust anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) statute by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2019 without a single negative vote, and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee. He also is active in Bar activities, currently serving as the Chair of the ABA Forum on Communications Law (2022-24) and as a member of the Forum on Franchising and IP Section. He served as chair of the Tennessee Bar’s Communications Law Section and a leader in the Media Law Resource Center-Defense Counsel Section.

Related Experience

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News & Insights

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  • Related Services
  • Education
    • J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School, 1985
      • Vanderbilt Law Review, Editor
      • Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, President
    • B.S., magna cum laude, Vanderbilt University, Engineering Science, 1982
      • James Stewart Honor (full) Scholarship
      • Student Body President
      • Tau Beta Pi honor engineering society
  • Bar Admissions
    • Tennessee
  • Court Admissions
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
    • U.S. District Court for multiple districts of the United States
  • Recognitions
    • Chambers USA, Media and Entertainment (Tennessee)(recognized since 2011)
    • Nashville Business Journal's "Best of the Bar"
      • 2004-16, 2023: Litigation & Dispute
      • 2018-22 (two categories): Litigation & Dispute and Media/Entertainment/Hospitality
    • The Best Lawyers in America® (BL Rankings)(recognized since 2006)

      Currently recognized in the following 15 categories:

      • Advertising Law
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Communications Law
      • Copyright Law
      • Entertainment Law - Music
      • Entertainment Law -  Theater
      • First Amendment Law
      • Franchise Law (Lawyer of the Year, 2012)
      • Litigation - First Amendment
      • Litigation - Intellectual Property (Lawyer of the Year, 2016 & 2019)
      • Litigation - Patent
      • Media Law (Lawyer of the Year, 2023)
      • Privacy and Data Security Law
      • Trade Secrets Law (Lawyer of the Year, 2021)
      • Trademark Law (2015-2023)
  • Professional Involvement
    • Chair, American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law (2022-24) (former Governing Committee At Large Member and chair of Nominating and Membership committees)
    • Member, ABA Forum on Franchising and IP Section
    • Served on ABA Litigation Section Subcommittee that drafted Model Trademark Jury Instructions (2008)
    • Former Chair, Communications Law Section of Tennessee Bar Association and Media Law Committee of Nashville Bar Association
    • Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section
      • Chair, Intellectual Property session 2018 & 2016 bi-annual conferences
      • Facilitator/Publication Torts session for 2014 bi-annual conference
      • Chair, Newsgathering session, 2012
      • Past Chair, Trial Committee
      • Past Vice Chair, Newsgathering Committee
    • Past member, International Association of Defense Counsel (peer-nominated) and Defense Research Institute
    • Contributor to The Encyclopedia of the First Amendment and The Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment, CQ Press
    • Voting Member, Country Music Association
    • Member, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
    • Speaker at Tennessee Judicial Conference and contributor to Media Guide to Tennessee's Legal System (co-published by Tennessee Supreme Court and First Amendment Center)
    • Master Bencher, Belmont University American Inn of Court (past) and Member, Harry Phillips American Inn of Court (past)
    • Fellow, Tennessee Bar Foundation and Nashville Bar Foundation
  • Community Involvement
    • Counsel, Middle Tennessee Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America
    • Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, Inc., Organizing Member and Board Member (non-profit promoting government transparency)
    • President and Board member, Tennesseans for Public Participation, Inc., which successfully lobbied for the passage of a robust anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) statute by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2019 without a single negative vote, and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee.
    • Center for Youth Ministry Training, Inc., Volunteer lawyer, organizing member and former Board member (nonprofit which at various times has partnered with Princeton Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Martin Methodist College, Vanderbilt Divinity School and Memphis Theological Seminar). CYMTI has grown into the largest training entity for church youth leaders in the country.
    • Elder (Ret.), First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, PCUSA, Former Chair of Personnel Committee and Child Protection Task Force
    • Recipient of the Paragon Award for Community Service, 2008, presented by the Junior League of Nashville
    • Former Board Member, The Contributor, Inc. (non-profit which publishes a newspaper sold by people experiencing homelessness)(a purposeful alternative to panhandling)
    • Volunteer legal counsel, Saint Cecelia Congregation (education)
    • Tennessee Advisory Committee on Open Government, appointed by the State's Comptroller (past member, representing Tennessee Association of Broadcasters)
    • Vanderbilt University Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center, Advisory Board Member (past)

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