Press Release July 28, 2011

Goodwin Procter Wins Appellate Victory for Ad Agency Hill Holliday

 Goodwin Procter achieved a significant appellate victory this week for Hill Holliday/Erwin-Penland and Erwin-Penland’s President, Joseph Erwin, when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia denied a motion for rehearing in a national advertising dispute. The motion was filed last month, after the Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Erwin-Penland. 

The case involved a dispute with agency 1st Approach and its chief executive Jeffrey Greenfield, who claimed intellectual property and other rights in an ongoing marketing campaign, “How Sweet the Sound,” that launched in 2007. The campaign is a multi-city choir contest and celebration of gospel music that Erwin-Penland/Hill Holliday has helped develop and execute for Verizon Wireless.

Erwin-Penland sought a declaratory judgment that Greenfield has no rights in the campaign. Greenfield, in turn, brought 14 claims against Erwin-Penland and Mr. Erwin, including claims for misappropriation of trade-secrets, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud. Greenfield sought damages based on his belief that he had created the next “American Idol.” Goodwin attorneys, led by litigation partner and co-chair of the firm's Business Litigation Practice Brenda Sharton, succeeded in obtaining summary judgment for Erwin-Penland on its declaratory judgment request and on all 14 of Greenfield's claims at the trial court level. The district court found that, as a matter of law, Greenfield has no trade-secret, contractual, trademark, copyright or other rights in the How Sweet the Sound project that Erwin-Penland has been helping organize on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

Greenfield appealed to the Fourth Circuit. On March 23, Sharton argued the appeal before the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's ruling.

Following the decision, Sharton said “the Fourth Circuit’s opinion vindicates Erwin-Penland, which had consistently and categorically denied Greenfield’s claims in this litigation. Erwin-Penland is extremely proud of the work it has done on the How Sweet the Sound campaign on behalf of Verizon Wireless.”