michael leefounding partner
J.D., Brooklyn Law School
B.S., summa cum laude, Management & Finance, Wagner College
United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern District of New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals
Michael (or GeekAttorney on Twitter) is a Founding Partner at Morrison & Lee LLP and represents some of the biggest names in the world of YouTube, esports, and entertainment. He has successfully litigated high profile intellectual property matters across the Unites States with these cases leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments. Michael helps creators protect themselves and their creations through intellectual property registration, enforcement, licensing and litigation.
For well over a decade, Michael has focused his practice on all aspects of intellectual property matters including registration, licensing, protecting, and enforcing the rights of trademark and copyright owners. Michael has vast experience creating, implementing and overseeing brand protection programs for some of the most prestigious luxury, technology, entertainment, and gaming companies in the world. Michael also focuses his practice on esports and developing up-and-coming comic book artists, game developers, musicians and other start-ups. He helps these companies formulate a business model including corporate organization, drafts necessary contracts and documents, and advises on brand protection. Michael is a featured lecturer on the convention circuit and blogs about the latest developments in the law at PiratedThoughts.com.
Michael joins the firm as a Founding Partner after spending eight years at the law firm of Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP. While at his previous firm, Michael was a Partner in the Intellectual Property and Emerging Businesses groups. Prior to being a Partner at Gibney, Michael was an Associate at the firm of Sargoy, Stein, Rosen & Shapiro, LLP protecting the intellectual property rights of major music, motion picture and tech companies.
Otter Products, LLC v. Sell Phone Basement, LLC, 17-CV-06429 (S.D.N.Y)
Lead attorney for Otterbox against a company caught distribution counterfeit cell phone cases on the Internet. Otterboz was awarded a Permanent Injunction after a settlement. You can read more here.
Levi Strauss & Co. v. Xin Mei Corp, 17-CV-03426 (E.D.N.Y)
Lead attorney for Levi’s against a company caught importing counterfeit merchandise into the United States. Levi’s was awarded a $1 million judgment against the defendants. You can read more here.
Fleet, et al. v. Christiano Film Group, Inc. et al., 16-CV-3081 (C.D.C.A.)
Lead attorney regarding the claims of DMCA takedown abuse and related interference of business claims on behalf of the YouTube channel knows as “The Bible Reloaded”. Case concerns abuse of the DMCA system and the right to fair use.
David Yurman Enterprises LLC v. DashingDaisy.com, et al., 14-CV-6394 (S.D.N.Y.)
David Yurman received a judgment for $2 million and a permanent injunction in a case concerning alleged acts of copyright and trade dress infringement over world famous jewelry designs. Case received extensive news coverage including here and here.
Coach, Inc. v. Allen, et al., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100829 (S.D.N.Y.)
Coach was awarded a monumental summary judgment award of $46.2 million in damages stemming from the defendants’ distribution of counterfeit items over the Internet. Case received major press coverage due to the substantial and ground-breaking damages award.
David Yurman Enterprises LLC v. GK Group Corp. et al., 13-CV-8015 (S.D.N.Y.)
David Yurman was granted a temporary retraining and seizure order which resulted in the seizure of over 15,000 pieces of jewelry infringing the client’s copyrighted designs.
Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Jerome Cook (WIPO D2014-0201)
Rolex received a successful WIPO decision ordering the transfer of the 7000Rolex.com.
Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Jonathan Cook 3:13-CV-01856 (ND Texas)
Rolex received a $1 million judgment against the lead singer of a punk band that was arrested selling counterfeit watches.
Yantai North Home Textile Co, Inc. v. Nike International, Inc. 11-CV-4741 (S.D.N.Y.)
The client received a $3.98 million judgment in a dispute over failure to pay for delivered goods.
Michael Kors, L.L.C. v. Sumner Communications, Inc. 13-CV-1815 (S.D.N.Y.)
Michael Kors successfully obtained a preliminary injunction based upon third party liability for a website that posted listings to clothing and handbags for sale.
Close-Up International, Inc. v. Berov, (Civ-02-2363; E.D.N.Y.)
A federal jury, after a five day trial, awarded our client approximately $2.7 million including the maximum award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act of $150,000 per work.
U2 Home Ent., Inc. v. Lai Ying Music and Video Trading Inc., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9853 (S.D.N.Y. May 25, 2005) aff’d in relevant part, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 8650 (2d Cir. April 9, 2007)
The client was granted approximately $7 million including the maximum award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act of $150,000 per work stemming from a civil seizure. The award of damages was affirmed by the Second Circuit.
Vardanyan v. Close-Up International Inc, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88292 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2007)
The client was granted summary judgment dismissing claims of fraud and embezzlement due to plaintiff’s improper stock acquisition in violation of the corporate bylaws and a shareholder’s agreement.
U2 Home Ent., Inc. v. Hong Wei Int. Trading, Inc, 2005 WL 3766976 (S.D.N.Y. May 3, 2005)
After a three day contempt hearing, a video pirate was found in contempt of a prior injunction and our client was awarded monetary sanctions.
For several celebrity streamers
Negotiated settlement agreements concerning rights to privacy violations by major telecommunication companies.
For a popular comic book related website and mobile application
Incorporated business and drafted necessary work-for-hire and talent contracts.
For a popular New York Area Magazine Blog
Incorporated business, drafted rights transfers and content usage agreements and registered the blog’s trademark.
Memberships and Affiliations
- Copyright Society of the USA
- New York Bar Association
- International Trademark Association (INTA)
- International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
- Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Articles, Publications and Lectures
- “Did YouTube Phenomenon Poopy Steal Her Style from Another Star?” Wired article, May 2018
- “Becoming CEO of Your Career” May 4, 2018 Speaker at International Trademark Association Panel
- “Legal Lootbox: How the Law Affects Your Favorite Games” April 5, 2018 Speaker at PAX East (Boston, MA)
- “The Rise of Esports” March 30, 2018 Speaker at NYU School of Law Sports Law Colloquium (New York, NY)
- “PUBG Creator Calls for Better IP Protection in the Game Industry” Rolling Stone Article, December 2017
- “The Safety of Purchasing Items off the Internet” December 7, 2017 Speaker at Fraud and Anti-Counterfeiting Conference (Toronto, CA)
- “PewDiePie Streams Racist Slur, Prompts DMCA Threat from Gamemaker” Rolling Stone Article, September 2017
- “PewDiePie is Inexcusable But DMCA Takedowns are Not the Way to Fight Him” Motherboard Article, September 2017
- “Lawyers Explain why Camp Santo’s Takedown if PewDiePie’s Video is Legal” PCGamer Article, September 2017
- “The Law of YouTubers: The Next Generation of Creators and the Legal Issues They Face” ABA Journal Article, June 2017
- “The YouTube Copyright Wars Over Fair Use” March 14, 2017 Speaker at SXSW Conference (Austin, TX)
- “Leading E-Sports Players Must Take Trademark Protection Seriously or Risk Losing Ownership of Their Gamertags” World Trademark Review, February 21, 2016 featured in Article
- “The Year in Review – 3D Printing” December 1, 2016 Speaker at Fraud and Anti-Counterfeiting Conference (Toronto, CA)
- “Brand Protection on the Internet” December 1, 2016 Speaker at Fraud and Anti-Counterfeiting Conference (Toronto, CA)
- “Brand Protection on the Dark Web” September 19, 2016 Speaker at Imaging Supplies Coalition Conference (San Diego, CA)
- “Can We Just Play? Legal Issues in Gameplay Videos & Streams” September 2, 2016 Speaker at PAX West (Seattle, WA)
- “FUPA for Freedom” September 1, 2016 Speaker at PAX West (Seattle, WA)
- “Inside YouTube’s Massive Copyright Wars” Vocativ Article July 2, 2016
- “We Need A New Username System” VentureBeat Article, April 2, 2016
- “The Year in Review – 3D Printing” December 5, 2015 Speaker at Fraud and Anti-Counterfeiting Conference (Toronto, CA)
- “The Consequences of Counterfeiting & 3D Printing” June 4, 2015 Speaker at Security Print Technologies Workshop at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
- “The Year in Review – 3D Printing” December 3, 2014 Speaker at Fraud and Anti-Counterfeiting Conference (Toronto, CA)
- “Protecting Your Ideas – What Should You Do?” October 12, 2014 Speaker at New York Comic Con.
- “The Indie Authors and Illustrators Guide to New York Comic Con, 2014” Publisher’s Weekly September 26, 2014 Quote.
- “What Should I Do?: The Legal Aspects of Making You and Your Business Famous” October 14, 2013 Speaker at New York Comic Con
- “The Legal Aspects of Becoming Famous: What You Need to Know to Make it Big” October 11, 2012 and April 27, 2013 Speaker at C2E2 and New York Comic Con
- “Intellectual Property Infringement in the Gaming Industry: Use Isn’t Always Fair.” Women in Gaming Industry March 2012 Article
- “Intellectual Property 101: How To Protect Your Intellectual Property and Not Infringe Others.” March 18, 2011 and April 9, 2010 Lecture
- “Intro to Intellectual Property Law: The Legal Aspects of Becoming Famous.” October 14, 2011 Speaker at New York Comic Con
- “Getting Paid for Your Work: A Legal Overview.” April 10, 2010 Speaker at C2E2.
- “The IP Fortress: How to Safeguard You or Your Company’s Intellectual Property” February 5, 2009 Speaker at New York Comic Con
- “Poynette Man Fined over Fake Rolexes” Poynette Press March 17, 2009 Article
- “Intellectual Property 101: Comics, Copyrights, and Contracts: Getting Your Intellectual Property Ready for the Deal.” February 6, 2009 Speaker at New York Comic Con
- “How To Safeguard Your Intellectual Property: Basics of Intellectual Property” September 25, 2009 Speaker at New York Comic Con
- “How to Avoid Costly Legal Traps with Your Work: Copyrights, Anime & More” September 25, 2009 Speaker New York Anime Festival