Industry focus: media and entertainment in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
The TMT group at Allen & Overy LLP is able to leverage the firm's international expertise in significant media and entertainment sector matters. Geert Glas is leading a team that advises a major Benelux magazine and newspaper publisher on a range issues, including handling actions relating to copyright, data protection and right to be forgotten issues. In another work highlight, the practice is instructed by Mediahuis and De Vijver Media on the corporate and competition elements of its joint venture with SBS Media Belgium for the creation of a radio channel. Filip Van Elsen heads the group, which also includes Peter Van Dyck, Wouter Van de Voorde and Dirk Arts, who have particular experience in IP, M&A transactions and competition law respectively. The department's impressive client roster also includes Warner Bros, Fox Broadcasting and Mediafin.
ALTIUS fields 'a very strong sports practice with excellent understanding of the Belgian regulatory regime'. The team was instructed by Let's play to assist with signing Belgian international football players, as well as in litigation against a player's former agent. It is also acting for KV Kortrijk on the development of its new stadium. The department has advised two games developers on the Gaming Commission's report on issues of gambling in video games. 'Very knowledgeable' IP litigator Paul Maeyaert heads up the practice alongside sports lawyer Sven Demeulemeester, who is 'highly recommended', particularly for his 'excellent technical knowledge'. Other key names to note include counsel Grégory Ernes and senior associate Alexander De Bleeckere, who is 'an expert in intellectual property law'.
'Excellent firm' Crowell & Moring has 'a highly specialised' and 'very accessible' technology, media and entertainment team which has strength handling the full range of contentious and non-contentious, IP, regulatory, corporate and commercial matters in the space. The department successfully represented Federatie van Muziekfestivals in Vlaanderen in opposing the Belgian Association of Authors, Composers and Publishers (Sabam)'s increase in copyright royalties. Thomas De Meese led a team representing Unibet in a dispute following the termination of a sponsorship agreement with Belgian football club Standard Liège. 'Sharp lawyer and good litigator' Jan-Diederik Lindemans has 'a proactive approach' and heads the team alongside De Meese. Telenet, Universal Music and Liberty Global Europe are also clients. Counsel Karl Stas' arrival from Jones Day bolsters the team's antitrust offering in this space. Flip Petillion left to establish boutique firm Petillion.
The 'very precise' team at KOAN Law Firm combines its 'deep knowledge of the media and communications sector' with its IT, IP and data protection expertise. The group handles a range of strategic, regulatory, corporate, commercial and contentious matters, with particular experience acting for clients in the advertising, publishing, broadcasting and film industries. Managing partner Christine De Keersmaeker and Agnès Maqua jointly head the team.
Stibbe's TMT and IP department counts Time Warner, Morris Comics, Belgian National Lottery and Skype among its media and entertainment sector clients. Practice head Erik Valgaeren led a team advising reality television producer Zodiak on several issues, including those relating to the development of a new television program, as well as GDPR compliance, tax and employment advice. In another work highlight, the department acted for a client on IP and regulatory considerations relating to the launch of a digital video streaming platform in Europe. The practice also assists the Flemish government and recently advised on a draft decree relating to social-cultural work for adults. Ignace Vernimme is a key name to note for IP issues. Laurens Dauwe is now with Osborne Clarke.
The technology, communications and media practice at Bird & Bird handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters for clients in the sector, with particular expertise in broadcasting and film; advertising, marketing and communications; and content licensing and distribution. The group acted for Dimoco Europe on matters relating to the company's intervention in payment transactions between Belgian-licensed online betting or gambling services providers and mobile network operators. Competition lawyer Hein Hobbelen joined the team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and heads the practice alongside Benoit Van Asbroeck, who specialises in data protection and IP.
The media and entertainment department at DLA Piper leverages its international reach to handle domestic and cross-border matters. Patrick Van Eecke, who is known particularly for his e-commerce expertise, heads the group and led a team that advised Medialaan and De Persgroep on a data lake and the companies' joint venture; the practice also advised the same clients on separate GDPR compliance projects. The group also has a dedicated gambling sector team and assists clients, including Unibet, with a range of regulatory matters. European Gaming and Betting Association, Universal International Music and Jagex are among its new clients.
Fieldfisher is highlighted particularly for its representation of media sector clients in contentious and non-contentious IP matters. The group also assists media and entertainment industry clients with corporate and regulatory matters. Stijn Debaene and Hakim Haouideg are representing Studio 100 in copyright infringement proceedings against Greenpeace relating to its use of the client's film footage in a campaign.
HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER
Specialist IP litigation firm HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER is frequently instructed by prominent media and entertainment sector clients, including SBS Belgium, the Belgian Entertainment Association and Medialaan. The team also acts for PlayRight (the Belgian collective management society for the neighbouring rights of performing artists) in several disputes, including against Telenet in a case before the Brussels Court of Appeal. The group also advises the Belgian collective management society for copyright of music publishers, Semu, on a range of copyright issues, particularly relating to sheet music. Fabienne Brison and Benoit Michaux jointly head the practice.
As a niche firm focusing on technology, IP, media, e-commerce and entertainment, time.lex has notable strength handling a range of contentious and strategic matters. The media and entertainment group, jointly led by Frederic Debusseré, Geert Somers and Edwin Jacobs, acts for clients ranging from the Belgian Data Protection Authority to internet search engine Zimmo and virtual reality experience company Alfavision. In a matter led by Debusseré, the group advised Spotify on issues relating to copyright limitation periods under Belgian law.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's media and advertising group is particularly strong in handling transactions and antitrust and competition work. The team represented JCDecaux in a state aid complaint concerning a contract for Villo bike sharing, which included litigation in Belgium. The group also assisted with the regulatory and competition aspects of The Walt Disney Company's $52bn acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Key names to note include Maurits Dolmans, who splits his time between the firm's Brussels and London offices, Thomas Graf and Francisco Enrique González-Díaz.
Sports law boutique CRESTA is able to handle a range of domestic and international sports sector instructions. It assisted the Union of European Leagues of Basketball with a corporate restructuring and the relocation of its headquarters to Brussels from Spain. Managing partner Sébastien Ledure led a team that advised football club Royal Union Saint-Gilloise and its chairman on the sale of the club to Tony Bloom, the chairman of UK football club Brighton and Hove Albion FC. Clients also include the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee, which the group represented in disputes relating to selection for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Modo advocaten / avocats
Modo advocaten / avocats' creative industries group is headed by Didier Deneuter and handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters. The group recently successfully negotiated an out of court settlement for its client, an audio production company. It is also frequently instructed in contract negotiations in the television, film, fashion and music industries.
The media, advertising and entertainment group at MVVP has expertise spanning the TV and film industries, to advertising and music. It handles a range of corporate, commercial and IP issues, as well as disputes. Peter Marx, Herman Croux and Olivier Sasserath jointly head the practice which counts IMPS and Sabam, as well as several production companies, advertising agencies and artists, among its clients.