Jonathan LA Phillips, Attorney at Law
Illinois IP Attorney

Phoenix Entertainment Partners

Defending those targeted Phoenix Entertainment Partners

Phoenix Entertainment Partners, LLC and its predecessor, Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation, have filed hundreds of lawsuits against karaoke operators and the venues they operate in. Not only has Jonathan obtained favorable settlements for his clients that seek them, hehave successfully defended suits filed against his clients.* Jonathan has defended suits in New York, Illinois, Colorado, Missouri, Florida, and California. Through our network of local counsel, we are able to help those accused by Phoenix of infringing on the SOUND CHOICE brand across the country.

The jist of the SOUND CHOICE case

To begin, Phoenix Entertainment hires investigators to watch karaoke shows. Those individuals take notes, pictures, and sometimes video. If their investigation uncovers that SOUND CHOICE branded karaoke tracks are played from a computer, Phoenix Entertainment may begin the process of asking for compensation.

In short, Phoenix has typically sued karaoke jockeys for trademark infringement, rather than copyright infringement. Recently, though, it has asserted copyright claims as well. The usual jist of its position is that karaoke operators that take SOUND CHOICE branded karaoke tracks from their CD+G disks and transfer them onto a computer hard drive are "media-shifting." Phoenix Entertainment, having succeeded Slep-Tone as the owner of the SOUND CHOICE brand, claims that the karaoke tracks on the hard drives, which display the SOUND CHOICE mark and trade dress, are counterfeits. Boiled down, the claim is that the track on the hard drive is the equivalent of a coach purse.

Notably, Phoenix has begun bringing some claims for copyright infringement since acquiring the Chartbuster brand. This is a new development.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejects Phoenix's arguments about counterfeit SOUND CHOICE branded tracks

Jonathan defended a case against a central Illinois karaoke operator and her bar. He argued a variety of positions, at the very beginning of the suit, asserting that Slep-Tone and Phoenix (at this time the ownership of the SOUND CHOICE brand was ongoing) should not be bringing these suits in the first place. The District Court agreed.

Based on the motion, the Central District of Illinois dismissed the case. It concluded that Slep-Tone and Phoenix had not, and could not, adequately state their case. Importantly, the Court rejected the Plaintiffs media-shifting theory. The Court also disagreed that a new good (that is the supposed counterfeit) was created. 

…the idea that a new good has been created merely by shifting the tracks from a disk to a hard drive is deeply flawed.

Phoenix Entertainment and Slep-Tone disagreed with the Court's position. Being a case from Illinois, they appealed to the United States' Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Jonathan defended that appeal. Judges Wood, Rovner, and District Court Judge Blakey (sitting by designation) affirmed the dismissal. That is they concluded that the case should have never been brought in the first place.

The Seventh Circuit agreed with the crux of Jonathan’s clients' argument. That is trademark law (which is broader in both scope and can be an eternal protection) should not be used to rectify the copyright piracy concerns asserted by Phoenix Entertainment. Unlike trademarks, copyright protection is limited in scope and for a defined amount of time. This was the first known victory against Phoenix Entertainment Partners, LLC or Slep-Tone Entertainment Corporation at the appellate level, concerning their "media-shifting" lawsuits.

Other successes* in Phoenix Entertainment cases

After Rumsey, many Courts have interpreted that case to bar Phoenix's claims. The logic of Rumsey has become a centerpiece of our early-stage motions to dismiss. We seek to dismiss cases at the outset. We have had many successes.

  • After considering his motion to dismiss in one District of Colorado case, the Court dismissed Phoenix's goods-based and service-based claims against Jonathan’s clients. Phoenix promptly dismissed its claims against Jonathan’s other clients in Colorado.

  • After considering his motions to dismiss in a series of cases in the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), the Court threw out Phoenix's claims against his clients.

  • Jonathan settled a case in the Northern District of Florida on terms agreeable to our client while our motion to dismiss was pending.

  • Ruling on his motion to dismiss, the District of Minnesota dismissed Phoenix's claims against Jonathan’s client in Minnesota.

  • After filing a Motion to Dismiss and serving probing discovery in a Central District of California case, Phoenix dismissed Jonathan’s client from its lawsuit.

  • Shay Phillips, Ltd. settled a case in the Southern District of New York on terms agreeable to Jonathan’s client.

Free consultations for Phoenix Entertainment Partners' cases

If Phoenix Entertainment Partners threatens you or your business, Jonathan offers free consultations. He has a proven track-record* defending against SOUND CHOICE lawsuits and we help people across the United States, having handled these matters in Illinois, California, Colorado, Missouri, and New York, and Florida so far. Contact us to discuss.

* Of course, our past successes are not guaranties of future success.