Michael B. Garfinkel

Mike Garfinkel

Michael Garfinkel is an entertainment and media litigator with more than 30 years of experience navigating his clients' most challenging issues. Michael represents studios, production companies, talent agencies, advertising agencies, and artists in matters involving intricate industry-specific agreements, including trademark, copyright and right of publicity disputes, trade secrets, and defamation. In addition, he also represents a variety of clients in commercial litigation, including limited liability company and partnership disputes and consumer class action defense.

Michael's long-view approach, hands-on manner, and problem-solving skills have resulted in enduring client relationships. He relentlessly pursues his clients' goals, whether through pre-dispute advice, creative resolution, or, when necessary, arbitration or trial, and on appeal.

Related Practices

Related Industries


Representative Matters

  • Representing a well-known rock band in a defamation lawsuit brought against anonymous posters on social media falsely accusing the band members of inappropriate conduct with fans
  • Representing a leading global media company for digital-first creators and brands from claims asserted by music publishing companies arising out of the alleged unauthorized use of recordings by social media influencers
  • Obtained a jury verdict in federal court against a competitor for trademark infringement and cyberpiracy under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Obtained a judgment for the maximum allowable statutory damages and attorneys’ fees based on a finding that the case is exceptional, and an injunction mandating the transfer all infringing domains and prohibiting it and its owner from engaging in any similar practices in the future
  • Defended a major talent agency in a litigation brought by a promoter arising out of the cancellation of a live performance by one of its clients, a well-known comedian. With a demurrer pending, settled the case for nuisance value
  • Represented a supplement distributor in a contract and copyright dispute with its former advertising agency. Obtained dismissal of fraud and Consumer Protection Act claims
  • Defended a prolific independent film producer and several of his production companies in a litigation brought by investors and financiers
  • Defended a multiple Grammy Award-winning songwriter and music producer from a lawsuit seeking a percentage fee based on the sale of a catalog, including songs co-written with and recorded by another artist
  • Defended a media group and a private equity firm from claims brought by a film producer seeking over $100 million in damages in connection with the acquisition by the media group of substantially all of an independent film studio’s asset in bankruptcy. Obtained summary judgment in favor of the media group on all 10 contract, fraud, and other claims, and summary adjudication of all claims except contract claims against the media group’s entities
  • Defended a prolific producer/writer/director and a prominent attorney in an arbitration brought by the attorney's former law firm seeking millions in percentage fees on overall deals claimed to have been substantially negotiated or entered into by the artist before he terminated the law firm and followed the attorney to another law firm. After the arbitration was completed but before the arbitrator issued an award, obtained a favorable settlement resolving all claims
  • Defended a media and entertainment company in a trade secrets action in connection with the creation of a subscription streaming service. Case dismissed in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, after JAMS arbitration
  • Obtained dismissal on behalf of a talent and literary agency of an antitrust and unfair competition action challenging the practice of television packaging brought before the United States District Court for the Central District of California by a competing talent agency. Dismissal affirmed by the Ninth Circuit
  • Defended an entertainment company that served as an agent for a music artist in a Lanham Act and unfair competition action brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by a disc jockey. Obtained summary judgment in the entertainment company’s favor and affirmance by the Sixth Circuit. Opposed the plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari, which was denied by the United States Supreme Court
  • Defended a production company in a breach of contract action in United States District Court for the Northern District of California seeking millions of dollars and a 20% stake in the festival in perpetuity. Negotiated a settlement on extremely favorable terms for the production company
  • Served as lead right of publicity counsel defending against claims arising from critical speech made about plaintiff on a social networking site. California Court of Appeal granted an anti-SLAPP motion in its entirety
  • Represented the creator of a children’s book series in a AAA arbitration and related New York state court action seeking compensation and credits under a development and production agreement
  • Defended a coffee shop chain in a purported class action pending before the Superior Court of California, Orange County, alleging violations of California's Unfair Competition Law and Automatic Purchase Renewals Law in connection with online subscription sales




  • J.D. University of California at Los Angeles 1991
  • B.A. with distinction University of Michigan 1988

Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • All California state courts
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Los Angeles Copyright Society
    • Member
    • Board of Trustees, 2015 – 2017


  • VarietyLegal Impact Report, 2019, 2024
  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Distinguished Leadership Honoree, 2023
  • Chambers USA, California Media & Entertainment: Litigation, 2016 – 2023
  • Legal 500, Litigation: Media and Entertainment, 2021 – 2022
  • Los Angeles Business Journal, Leaders in Law, 2020
  • Los Angeles Business Journal, Nominee for Top Litigator and Trial Lawyer, 2019



  • Anti-Defamation League
    • Current and former Los Angeles Regional Vice Chair
    • Co-chair, Entertainment Industry Committee
    • National Commissioner

Personal Activities

Mr. Garfinkel serves on the Executive Board for the Anti-Defamation League's Southwest Region, including serving in prominent roles for its annual Gala and Entertainment Industry events.