Theresa House is seasoned litigator with a focus on media and intellectual property law. Ms. House joined Arnold & Porter as a partner in January 2018 after developing a national reputation defending the First Amendment and intellectual property rights of her clients in the news, entertainment, and technology industries. Today, in addition to her core editorial, entertainment, and intellectual property work, she works closely with Arnold & Porter's advertising, white collar/investigations, and strategic crisis management practices, to advise and prepare her clients for the range of potential attacks on their ability to engage in free speech and expression.

Ms. House's experience advising major content platforms, technology and Internet companies, movie and television production houses, and radio and cable networks, includes the following principal areas:

  • Production/Editorial Advice. Providing day-to-day production and legal advice for a leading cable television network, a major daily newspaper, a popular reality show production house, and a global online platform. Her work includes pre-publication legal review for potential exposure to libel and privacy concerns; confidential sourcing and source attribution requirements; copyright, trademark, and right of publicity issues; wiretapping and trespassing laws; removal/Right to Be Forgotten requests; issues pertaining to social media content; counseling regarding access issues, including reporter credentialing and freedom of information requests; and advising television production and media companies on licensing and release documentation for news and entertainment programs.
  • Newsgathering Protection. Successfully defending against and giving advice regarding subpoenas and other legal process seeking confidential and non-confidential newsgathering information, including demands for reporter notes, outtakes, testimony, anonymous subscriber information, and electronic devices in both the news and docuseries/reality show context—notably defending against a subpoena seeking to unmask a group of anonymous individuals who reported #MeToo allegations; and winning a precedential New York Court of Appeals decision protecting an investigative journalist from being compelled to reveal confidential newsgathering sourcing in the murder trial of Batman-killer James Holmes.
  • First Amendment/Free Speech. Routinely responding to legal letters asserting defamation, libel, and privacy claims and persuading would-be plaintiffs not to resort to litigation; successfully defending against such claims in court and before regulators, both in the US and abroad; and advising/litigating issues related to attempts by government officials to regulate, retaliate against, and censor speech. Ms. House advises both traditional media outlets and non-media companies who make public statements or otherwise create content on their free speech rights, including opinion commentary, rhetorical hyperbole, privileged statements on official proceedings or concerning common interests, and First Amendment protections for speech about public figures and public officials. Most recently, won dismissal of a defamation claim brought by a prominent social activist against a well-known commentator, concerning statements made about two lawsuits arising out of activities at a protest march. Also notably persuaded a non-US television regulator to expand free speech protections for opinion commentary, including on matters of national controversy, and convinced a local state government not to censor a concert at a high-volume venue based on public statements by a world-famous rock musician. 
  • Trademark. Providing all aspects of trademark and design protection, advising on US and global trademark portfolio strategy, prosecution, and management, and representing clients in opposition and cancellation proceedings before the US Trademark Trial & Appeal Board. One highlight includes counseling one of the world's leading internet/technology companies on its array of trademarks, including on-demand global trademark clearance searches and analysis, issuing and negotiating cease and desist demands that were successfully resolved without formal legal proceedings, responding to Office Actions from the US Patent and Trademark Office, and litigating opposition proceedings.
  • Copyright/Fair Use/Anti-Piracy. Advising media clients on their rights to make fair use of copyrighted works; defending against copyright lawsuits that falsely claim that her clients' creations infringe pre-existing works; and advising television and radio networks, regarding anti-piracy issues, including disputes relating to unauthorized streaming. Ms. House's work includes having represented blockbuster movie studios and comic book companies in successful defense of a copyright claim based on allegations of copying in popular super hero movie franchises and related properties; successfully persuading, without resorting to litigation, multiple news aggregator sites to cease republishing video, radio, and brand content belonging to our client; and filing litigation and ultimately persuading a Senatorial candidate to cease publication of a campaign advertisement that used television news content and branding without authorization.

Experience

  • Protecting a journalist from having to reveal confidential sources in a high-profile criminal case, making new law before the NY Court of Appeals.
  • Successfully representing a major cable news network and its employees in defending the first known defamation claim based on alleged "fake news," in a victory that was affirmed on appeal.
  • Second-chairing a three-week jury trial in federal court involving First Amendment claims.
  • Counseling a media/information company in conducting a high-profile review of data privacy and security practices on a highly compressed timetable.
  • Successfully defending against a subpoena seeking to unmask a group of anonymous individuals who reported #MeToo allegations.
  • Successfully representing a news website in resisting efforts by a litigant to force disclosure of the identity of an anonymous commenter.
  • Successfully defending a group of global entertainment companies against a copyright claim based on allegations of copying in popular superhero movie franchises and related properties.
  • Winning dismissal of copyright infringement claims against entertainment company based on a popular book series and defending the victory on appeal.
  • Successfully persuaded the US Trademark Office to recognize trademark protection for open-source computer software.
  • Trademark clearance and enforcement advice for global trademark portfolio of leading internet and technology company.

Perspectives

2nd Circ. Trump Twitter Ruling Will Bolster Public Discourse
Appellate Law360, Cybersecurity & Privacy Law360, Media & Entertainment Law360
Second Circuit: President Trump's "Blocking" of Users on Twitter Violates the First Amendment
Advisory
Supreme Court: "There are a great many immoral and scandalous ideas in the world . . . and the Lanham Act covers them all."
Media Law Resource Center
Supreme Court: "There are a great many immoral and scandalous ideas in the world . . . and the Lanham Act covers them all."
Advisory
US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board: Improper to Consider Declarations Executed Outside of the Testimony Period
Advisory

Recognition

New York Super Lawyers
"Rising Star" – Media & Advertising, Intellectual Property Litigation (2015-2019)
The Legal 500 US
Intellectual Property: Copyright (2019)
Intellectual Property: Trademarks – Litigation (2019)

Credentials

Education
  • JD, Harvard Law School
  • BA, Harvard University, magna cum laude
Admissions
  • New York
  • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • US District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • US District Court, Southern District of New York
Activities
  • Co-Chair, Privacy and Data Security Committee, American Bar Association Section of Litigation (2015-2017)
  • Co-Chair, Trial Practice Committee, American Bar Association Section of Litigation (2012-2015)
  • Vice Chair, Trial Practice Committee, American Bar Association Section of Litigation (2011-2012)
  • Member, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Committee on Media and Communications Law
  • Member, Media Law Resource Center Defense Counsel Section, International Media Law Committee and Pre-Publication Review Committee
  • Member, New York State Bar Association
Overview

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