Overview

Fred has more than three decades of experience with high profile, complex civil litigation, including successfully representing national entertainment and media companies and major sports figures. He has a broad litigation and counseling practice that includes commercial law; professional liability; sports, media, and entertainment law; defamation; misappropriation of the right of publicity; real estate; and trusts.

Fred currently serves as co-leader of the firm's Litigation Group.

  • Experience

    Cases that Fred has successfully handled include:

    • Defense in a jury trial of a $14 million claim against the developer of the River East real estate project for the purchase of CFC Investment's interest.
    • Defense of claims in excess of $150 million for commercial disparagement by TII Industries against ANTEC and Keptel.
    • Defense of claims in excess of $40 million for goodwill on the termination of a joint venture and conversion by Cincinnati Bell against Anixter.
    • Defense in an evidentiary hearing of a motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the release of Warner Bros.’ movie The Hangover Part II based on a claim of copyright infringement by the tattooist who created Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo.
    • Prosecution of Warner Bros.’ claims for infringement of its copyrights in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
    • Obtained a verdict after a two-week jury trial of $8.9 million in favor of Michael Jordan and against Safeway and Dominick's for the unauthorized use of his identity in an ad published in a Sports Illustrated commemorative issue celebrating Michael Jordan's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
    • Defense in a five-week jury trial of a $28 million claim for breach of a contract to act in a movie by Heaven Corporation against Michael Jordan.
    • Prosecution at trial of claims by Michael Jordan to terminate license agreements for a restaurant and an associated retail store.
    • Defense of an attempt to enjoin the construction and operation of a restaurant owned by Michael Jordan.
    • Obtained summary judgment for Michael Jordan on claim for breach of an alleged contract to pay Karla Knafel $5 million upon Jordan’s retirement from professional basketball.
    • Prosecution of trademark infringement and misappropriation claims by Michael Jordan against Avon and M.Z. Berger.
    • Defense of claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition by Chattanooga Manufacturing against Michael Jordan.
    • Prosecution of Michael Jordan’s claims in the WorldCom bankruptcy for amounts owed under an endorsement agreement.
    • Defense of claims seeking $40 million for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement, tortious interference with business relationships and violation of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act against Elton Brand.
    • Appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court of claims for defamation against a magazine publisher establishing that the fair report privilege cannot be defeated by actual malice and that there is no judicial action limitation on the privilege.
    • Defense of claims for defamation and false light invasion of privacy against Fox Television Stations and its investigative reporter.
    • Defense of multimillion-dollar claims for defamation against (a) CBS Broadcasting and its reporter and (b) Fox Television Stations, its general manager and its reporter.
    • Defense of multimillion-dollar claims for defamation and related torts against the Chicago-Crawford Currency Exchange and its president.
    • Defense of multimillion-dollar defamation claims against the auditor of the Bank of Bellwood.
    • Defense of claims for defamation and invasion of privacy against the Chicago Council of Lawyers and its president.
    • Prosecution of a claim for the recovery of retirement funds by the Eagle Industries Pension Plan and defense of an indemnification claim against Eagle Industries for those funds.
    • Prosecution of securities claims by a group of hedge funds against Salomon Brothers.
    • Defense in an arbitration of contract claims against Midwest Newsclip by Burrelle’s and prosecution of Newsclip's counterclaim.
  • Credentials

    Education

    • University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1979
      The University of Chicago Law Review, Associate Editor
    • Amherst College, B.A., 1975, cum laude

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)

        Clerkships

        • Hon. James Hunter, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (1979-1980)

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Past Member of the House of Delegates
        • Chicago Bar Association
        • Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Past President
        • Chicago Council of Lawyers, Past President
        • Governor’s Task Force on Judicial Merit Selection, Past Member
        • Illinois State Bar Association
        • Illinois Supreme Court Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, Past Member

        Teaching Appointments

        • Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
      • Insights

        TITLE
        News Release

        40 Attorneys Named to 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Top Women Lists

        Forty Schiff Hardin attorneys have been recognized on the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        News Release

        Muhammad Ali Enterprises Files Complaint in Federal Court in Chicago Against Fox Broadcasting Company for $30 Million

        Today Muhammad Ali Enterprises filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Fox Broadcasting Company seeking in excess of $30 million in damages for Fox’s unauthorized use of Muhammad Ali’s identity in a promotional video that Fox broadcast immediately before the start of Fox’s broadcast of the 2017 Super Bowl.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 The Best Lawyers in America

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that five attorneys have been named a “Lawyer of the Year” in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.

        News Release

        99 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Leading Lawyers List

        Ninety-nine Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2017 Leading Lawyers list for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        39 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Lists, and Two Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to Top 50 Women Lawyers

        Thirty-nine Schiff Hardin attorneys have been selected for inclusion on the 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        In The News

        Warner Bros.’ $2.6M Damages Upheld in Trademark and Copyright Dispute

        Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, Law360, Westlaw News, World Intellectual Property Review

        Article

        Schiff Hardin Secures $2.6M Win for Warner Bros.

        The Eighth Circuit affirmed a $2.57 million damages award and permanent injunction in favor of Warner Bros., protecting its copyrights and trademarks in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Tom & Jerry cartoons.

        In The News

        Representing His Airness, Sports Lawyer Is Undefeated

        The University of Chicago Law School Record

        News Release

        53 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017

        Three Schiff Hardin attorneys also received the prestigious Best Lawyers’ 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” award.

        Event

        Video Games and the Right of Publicity

        Video Game Law Summit

        Location:
        Chicago, Ill.

        Other Publications

        • A Primer on Illinois Defamation Law
      • Citizenship

        Pro Bono Activities

        Fred has been involved in numerous pro bono cases, including:

        • Ballot access and other election law cases
        • A series of bias violence cases, including the first civil case tried under the Illinois Hate Crime Act
        • A First Amendment case in the Illinois Supreme Court for the publisher of a small magazine
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      Schiff Hardin secures $2.6M win for Warner Bros.

      The Eighth Circuit affirmed a $2.57 million damages award and permanent injunction in favor of Warner Bros., protecting its copyrights and trademarks in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Tom & Jerry cartoons. MORE

      image description

      Schiff Hardin secures $8.9 million verdict in favor of Michael Jordan

      On August 21, 2015 a federal court jury in Chicago returned a verdict of $8.9 million in favor of client Michael Jordan and against Safeway and Dominick's for the unauthorized use of his identity in an advertisement. Lead attorney Fred Sperling discussed the case in an interview on WGN Radio 720 AM. More