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IP Rights: Conan Walks Away With $32.5 Million, but There’s No Triumph

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  • IP Rights: Conan Walks Away With $32.5 Million, but There’s No Triumph

    Unless you’re just awakening form a cryogenic deep freeze, you know that Conan O’Brien is leaving NBC and the Tonight Show. You also likely know that O’Brien is taking a lot with him: namely, some $32.5 million.

    But you might know a bit less about what O’Brien isn’t taking with him: namely, a whole bunch of potentially valuable intellectual property that will stay with NBC.

    Gone, for now, are the IP rights to several characters created during his 17-year run with the network. Some of the beloved characters include Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (pictured), Pimpbot 5000, and that bear who, well, is not the master of his own domain. Click here for the story, from the American Lawyer.

    According to AmLaw, lawyers for NBC aren’t talking. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Scott Edelman, who advised NBC on the O’Brien negotiations, declined to comment on the agreement. AmLaw didn’t hear from either of Conan’s lawyers, Leigh Brecheen at Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman & Goodman or Patricia Glaser, from Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro.

    But are Triumph et. al actually properties that NBC could possibly do something with? Not necessarily. “It’s not a good deal for NBC because those characters are so tied to Conan, they really don’t fit with anybody else,” says Bassam “Sam” Ibrahim, an IP partner at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. “The only goal [NBC] can hope to achieve is to somehow hinder Conan’s ability to compete with Leno at another station.”

    Ibrahim, however, told AmLaw that Conan might have som wiggle-room. “Conan will tweak his characters so they are clearly distinguishable, although the underlying concept is the same, because NBC can’t prevent him from going out and making a living by creating competing characters,” Ibrahim says.

    Some possibilities, such as the self-pleasuring peacock, have already been bandied about, reports AmLaw. Ibrahim says that any court will give the comedian wide latitude because of First Amendment rights to expression.

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