Skip to main content

Brian D. Wassom

Partner | Email

  • Macomb

    t. +1.248.784.5039

    f. 586.412.2778

Biography

Brian litigates disputes and counsels clients in a wide range of commercial and intellectual property matters. He has developed a particular focus in matters of creative expression, commercial identity and privacy, which spans the legal doctrines of copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, advertising, journalism and related fields. A futurist at heart, Brian has become a globally recognized thought leader in the brand-new legal issues raised by augmented reality and other cutting-edge emerging media. He regularly publishes blogs and speaks on these topics to industry groups, legal education seminars and conferences across the country. An accomplished litigator, Brian has achieved victories for his clients in federal and state trial and appeal courts across the country. He was also instrumental in helping launch Michigan’s first “business court,” and remains active in statewide efforts to nurture this new approach to resolving business disputes.

Education

  • CIPP/US (Certified Information Privacy Professional) 2016
  • ICLE 2014 General Civil Mediator Training Certificate
  • Case Western Reserve University J.D. 1999 magna cum laude
  • Wayne State University B.A. 1996
  • IAAP (International Association of Privacy Professionals)

Admitted

  • Michigan

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Clerk Experience

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Honorable Alice M. Batchelder 1999-2000

Bar Associations

  • Federal Bar Association
    Co-Chair, Intellectual Property Committee (2015-Present)
    Co-Chair, Social Media Committee (2012-15)
  • American Bar Association
    Landslide, published by the ABA Intellectual Property Section; Trademark and Copyright Review Editor (2010-15)
    Copyright Litigation Committee, Co-Chair, Hot Topics Subcommittee (2012-15); ABA Forum on Communication Law
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association (2014-Present)
    Vice-Chair of Copyright Committee (2017-19); Chair of Copyright Office Modernization Subcommittee (2017-18); Member of AIPLA Quarterly Journal Editorial Board (2016-19); Member of Trademark Litigation Committee
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Business Courts Committee (2015-Present), Business Law Section
  • Macomb County Bar Association
    Business Court Advisory Committee (2011-Present)

Experience

  • Candy Lab Inc. v. Milwaukee County, 266 F. Supp. 3d 1139 (E.D. Wis. July 20, 2017). Obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions striking down regulation of location-based augmented reality games under the First Amendment, in the first case to extend free speech rights to the AR medium
  • Leapers, Inc. v. SMTS, LLC (6th Cir. Jan. 10, 2018). Obtained unanimous reversal of trial court decision that had found client’s product design functional and thus ineligible for trade dress protection
  • Meshwerks v. Toyota Motors Sales USA, Inc., 528 F.3d 1258 (10th Cir. 2008). Unanimous victory defeating copyright infringement claim on the grounds that digital images in question were not  original.  Named  one  of  the  "Top  Verdicts  and  Settlements"  of  2006  by  Crain's  Detroit Business; a "Top Intellectual Property Case of 2008" by The Colorado Lawyer
  • Obtained preliminary injunction in copyright & trade dress case KRBL Ltd. v. Overseas Food Distributors, No. 2:2016-cv-02431 (C.D. Cal.) (May 2016)
  • Persuaded a federal court that client's trademark infringement claims against leading virtual reality company were likely to succeed (E.D. Va. 2014)
  • Copyright litigation involving software, digital artists, publishers, entertainers, record labels, advertisers, performance rights organizations, and more
  • Second chair in 10-year litigation that successfully defended Dr. Dre and the "Up in Smoke" Tour against claims of eavesdropping. Bowens v. ARY, 794 N.W.2d 842 (Mich. 2011)
  • Defended filmmaker Michael Moore from claims of eavesdropping, invasion of privacy and defamation. Nichols v. Moore, 477 F.3d 396 (6th Cir. 2007)
  • Part of a team that defeated right of publicity claims involving the Guitar Hero video game. Romantics v. Activision, 532 F. Supp.2d 884 (E.D. Mich. 2008); 574 F. Supp.2d 758 (E.D. Mich. 2008)
  • Won summary judgment against claims involving use of a plaintiff's image in a video game. Neal v. EA, 374 F.Supp.2d 574 (W.D. Mich. 2005)
  • Successfully litigated publicity rights claims in federal and state courts involving photographs of a model, scenes in documentary films, and performances in concert DVDs. See, e.g., Eagle Rock Entm’t v. Armstrong, 655 F. Supp.2d 779 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 17, 2009)
  • Obtained summary judgment on liability for service mark infringement, unfair competition. and cybersquatting, as well as a permanent injunction, an accounting, and other relief in Children’s Legal Services PLLC v. Kresch, 545 F.Supp.2d 653 (E.D. Mich. 2008), affirmed, (6th Cir. June 18, 2009)
  • Trademark enforcement for GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Starbucks, among others
  • Handled litigation in federal and state courts, the TTAB, and/or UDRP arbitrations for trademark owners who sell virtual reality services, industrial chemicals, computers, sporting goods, IT services, adhesives, toy guns, auto parts, clothing, cell phones, luxury automobiles, religious programming, financing services, phone books, and daycare services, among others. See, e.g., Leapers v. First Quality, 2012 US Dist Lexis 67650 (E.D. Mich. May 15, 2012), Seattle's Best Coffee LLC v. Seattles Corp., No. 10-7463-RGK (C.D. Cal. January 5, 2011); Dell, Inc v. Elles, 2008 WL 4613978, 2008 US App Lexis 27866 (6th Cir. June 10, 2008)
  • Obtained removal of infringing, defamatory, and revenge porn content from social media sites and virtual worlds, including in new circumstances presenting issues of first impression.
  • Advised major brands on social media marketing and compliance with FTC regulations.
  • Prepublication review of content to minimize liability and litigation risk
  • Review of software, internet and other contracts
  • Ongoing representation of multiple companies in the augmented reality industry.
  • Represented newspapers, television news stations, and other media outlets in media law issues, including defending against defamation, invasion of privacy, and related claims; access to closed courts and records; challenging denials of Freedom of Information Act claims; undoing gag orders; and defending reporters' privilege to keep sources confidential. See, e.g., Shumake v. Wolchek (Oakland Co. 2018); Convertino v. Ashenfelter, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13338 (6th Cir. July 31, 2015); State News v. MSU, 481 Mich. 692 (2008); Radio One v. Wooten, 452 F. Supp.2d. 754 (E.D. Mich. 2006); Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, 303 F.3d 681 (6th Cir. 2002)
  • Defended a parts manufacturer against product liability claims in fatal accidents.
  • Defended a high-tech manufacturer in partnership dispute valued at $300 million
     

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America, Intellectual Property Litigation and Advertising Law (2011-Present)
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2013-Present
  • Named as a Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star, 2009, 2011 and 2012
  • Named a Top Lawyer by DBusiness, 2013-2017, 2019
  • Recognized with the 2014-15 "Special Service Award" for work with Business Court, Macomb County Bar Association
  • "Certificate of Appreciation" recognizing pro bono services, 2013, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

News

Publications

Books
  • Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics, Elsevier (2015)
Treatise Chapters 
  • Trademark Laws: Michigan (Practical Law) (2014-2017)
  • Right of Publicity Laws: Michigan (Practical Law) (2014-2017)
  • Open Government Guide: Open Records and Meetings Laws in Michigan, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) (with H. Fink) (2006-present)
  • Employment Libel and Privacy Law: Michigan, Media Law Resource Center (2011-present) (with C. Evans)
  • Identity and its Consequences: The Importance of Self-Image, Social Media, and the Right of Publicity to IP Litigators, Litigation Strategies for Intellectual Property Cases (Aspatore) (2012)
Law Review Scholarship 
  • "Uncertainty Squared: the Right of Publicity and Social Media," Syracuse Law Review (2013)
  • "Unforced Rhythms of Grace: Freeing Houses of Worship from the Specter of Copyright Infringement Liability," Fordham Intellectual Property & Media & Entertainment Law Journal (2005)
  • "Copyright Infringement in Worship Services: Problems and Potential Solutions," Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society (2006)
  • "The Exception That Swallowed the Rule? Women’s Medical Professional Corporation v. Voinovich and the Mental Health Exception to Post-Viability Abortion Bans," Case Western Reserve Law Review (1999)
  • "Copyright Implications Of Unconventional Linking on the World Wide Web: Framing, Deep Linking and Inlining," Case Western Reserve Law Review (1998)
Periodical Articles 
  • "DSRC vs. SGLTE: Which Will It Bee for Connected Vehicles?," Wards Auto (July 23, 2018)
  • "Restrictions on location based augmented reality games likely to be unconstitutional," Cyber Security Practitioner, August 25, 2017
  • "How Pokémon GO Players Could Run Into Real-Life Legal Problems," The Hollywood Reporter, July 11, 2016
  • "Emerging Legal Issues in the Internet of Things," Legal Frontiers in Digital Media (Media Law Resource Center) (May 2015)
  • "Navigating the Rights and Risks in Social Reading," Publishing Research Quarterly (Sep. 2015)
  • "Protecting and Exploiting Rights of Publicity," The Licensing Journal (2014)
  • "Body Cameras For Police Officers: What About For Ordinary Citizens?," Forbes (Dec. 23, 2014) (with Dr. Steve Mann)
  • "Book Review: Year Zero by Rob Reid," Landslide (ABA Section on IP) (2013)
  • "IP in an Augmented Reality," Landslide (ABA Section on IP) (2014)
  • "Augmenting Perceptions of Society and Self," CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (2012)
  • "The Coming Conundra: Real Laws in an Augmented Reality," SideBar (FBA Federal Litigation Section) (2011)
  • "Is “Google Scholar” the Lexis/Westlaw-Killer?," The Litgation Newsletter (Mich. Bar Litigation Section) (2010)
  • "Rule 12(b)(6) Motions: Not Just for 'Little Green Men' Anymore," SideBar (FBA Federal Litigation Section) (2010)
  • "The Right of Publicity: Why the Red-Headed Stepchild of the IP World Deserves a Second Look," IPLS Proceedings (Mich. Bar IP Section) (2009)
  • "The Right of Publicity," Bar Briefs (Macomb County Bar Association) (2009)
  • "The Basics of Protecting Your Client’s Intellectual Property," Bar Briefs (Macomb County Bar Association) (2008)
  • "Utah Federal Court Rejects Copyright Lawsuit Challenging Advertisers’ Right to Freely Use “Digitzed” Vehicle Images," IPLS Proceedings (Mich. Bar IP Section) (2007)
  • "Practice Tips: Cyber Court," Michigan Bar Journal (2003)
  • "Removing an Ethical Barrier to Serving the Poor," Michigan Bar Journal (2002)
  • "Learning to Sweat the Small Stuff in Life Insurance Litigation," Bar Briefs (Macomb County Bar Association) (2002)
  • "A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy: Can Michigan Attorneys Safely Use Unencrypted lnternet E-Mail for Confidential Communications?," Michigan Bar Journal (1999)
Ebooks 
  • Social Media & School Discipline (2013)
  • Augmented Legality 1.0 (2012)
  • Michigan and 6th Circuit Case Law on the Right of Publicity (2012) 
Blogs 
  • Augmented Legality®: Covering the law of augmented reality and emerging media since 2011
  • Ahead of the Curve: Virtual Reality Could Expose Automotive Companies to New Claims of False Advertising (11/3/16)
  • Wassom.com: Discussion on the Law of Social and Emerging Media (2011-present)
Media Mentions
  • "Rights Management in Augmented Reality,” Medium (July 30, 2018)
  • “Augmented Reality Incitement: How the Creator of Pokémon GO, and Those Who Follow, are Open to Tortious Liability,” Nat. Law Review (April 29, 2018)
  • “6th Circ. Revives TM Suit Over Gun Scope Grip,” Law360 (Jan. 10, 2018)
  • “Project Mapping and the Law: What Advertisers Should Know,” business.com, https://www.business.com/ (Jan. 31, 2018)
  • “Pokèmon, Go Get a Permit: Free-Speech Suit Ropes in Reactionary County Ordinance,” Washington Legal Foundation (Aug. 11, 2017)
  • “Take that Milwaukee. Pokemon Go is protected free speech,” CNET (July 21, 2017) 
  • “Judge Rules Milwaukee Flouted U.S. Constitution in Response to ‘Pokemon Go’ Craze,” Hollywood Reporter (July 20, 2017)
  • “Augmented reality wins big in 1st Amendment legal flap,” Ars Technica (July 20, 2017)
  • “Regulators should think twice before cracking down on ‘augmented reality,’ The Hill (June 18, 2017)
  • “When can real-world laws invade augmented reality fantasies? A trial in Milwaukee will decide,” The Register (June 7, 2017)
  • “Milwaukee’s War on ‘Pokémon GO’ Could Change Tech Forever,” Inverse (May 4, 2017)
  • “Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sued for Requiring Permits on Augmented Reality Games,” Hollywood Reporter (Apr. 21, 2017) 
  • “Game company sues Milwaukee over permit requirement for developing Pokemon Go-type games,” Associated Press (Apr. 21, 2017)
  • “After Request by Police, Pokémon Go developer makes changes at Ballast Point,” TBO.com (Nov. 4, 2016)
  • “Get off my lawn! Pokemon Go tests global property laws,” Daily Mail (Sept. 22, 2016)
  • “The things you cannot copy in VR,” Versions (Aug. 11, 2016)
  • “The Internet of Medical Things, Part 3: Safety First,” TechNewsWorld (July 20, 2016) 
  • “Pokémon Go away: Who owns the augmented reality we play in?” New Scientist (July 14, 2016)
  • “Pokemon Go shines new attention on trespass laws,” Constitution Daily (July 13, 2016)
  • “3 Big TTAB Rule Changes You Need To Know,” Law360 (June 6, 2016)
  • “5 Tips To Avoid Stepping On TTAB Landmines,” Law360 (May 23, 2016)
  • “5 Advertising Mistakes Small Businesses Make,” NFIB (Sept. 23, 2013)
  • “Macomb Business Court gains national recognition,” Macomb Daily (June 17, 2013)

Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • IAAP Detroit KnowledgeNet Chapter
    Co-Chair (2017-18)
  • Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Media Law Resource Center (MLRC)
  • Christian Legal Society (1996-Present)
    Chapter President (1996-98)
  • Macomb County Bar Foundation
    Board of Directors (2010-11), Trustee (2000-Present)
  • AugmentedReality.Org
    Secretary (2012-Present)

Community Affiliations

  • Christian Legal Aid of Southeast Michigan
    Director and Officer (2001-05)
  • Board member of local church and ministry organizations

Speaking Engagements

In 2018:
  • “AR/VR Device Use on College Campuses,” Legal Trends and Challenges for Higher Educational Institutions Webinar (11/29/18)
  • “Where Are We Now? The State of Copyright Law on Emerging Issues,” 2018 AIPLA Annual Meeting, Washington, DC (10/25/18)
  • “How Augmented Reality & the Digital Environment Will Change IP Law,” Intellectual Property Committee of the Attorneys-at-Law Association, Kiev, Ukraine (7/3/18)
  • “Immersive Experiences, Applications, and Non-technical Impacts,“ Augmented World Expo 2018, Santa Clara, CA (5/30/18)
  • “Law & ARder,“ Augmented World Expo 2018, Santa Clara, CA (5/30/18)
  • “When it Rains, It Pours: How Data Breaches Can Get You Sued, and What to Do About It, ” Warner Data Solutions Symposium, Troy & Grand Rapids, MI (4/18 & 26/18)
  • “AR Legal Issues, ” IoT Tech Connect Conference, Troy, MI (4/4/18) 
  • “AR Legal Issues,” University of Cincinnati AR Grad Class Guest Lecture (3/6/18)
  • “Keynote Panel-Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Diminished Reality: Do You Really Know What They Are? Can You Spot the Legal Issues?” ABA 23rd Annual Conference of the Forum on Communications Law, Napa Valley, CA (3/2/18) 
  • “Intellectual Property Issues in Augmented Reality,” US Courthouse, Detroit, MI (2/16/18)

The following is a representative list of topics and over 100 audiences Brian addressed between 2009-2017:
  • Augmented Reality (including IP, automotive, health care, public policy, social change, and other legal issues)
    • Government:
      • Legal staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
      • WIPO Summer School, US Patent & Trademark Office
    • Professional Seminars:
      • DETRealities Conference, Grand Circus, Detroit
      • TIECon, Detroit
      • Detroit Startup Week
      • CPCU Society and the Information Technology Interest Groups
      • “AR in Automotive,” Euroforum, Cologne, Germany
      • IEEE webinar
      • Quicken Loans Technology Conference, Detroit, Michigan
      • AHLA Telemedicine Bootcamp Series
      • AdCraft Detroit, Royal Oak, Michigan
      • ArtServe Michigan, Grand Rapids
      • Augmented World Expo, Santa Clara, California
      • VOX: The 4D Summit, Long Beach, California
      • MBA Media and Entertainment Conference, NYU Kimmel Center, New York
      • Mobile AR for Smartphones & Tablets Conference, CTIA, San Diego, California
    • Legal Associations:
      • ABA Forum on Communication Law Annual Meeting (Keynote)
      • AIPLA Spring Meeting
      • ABA Section on Intellectual Property Law
      • State Bar of Georgia
      • Michigan IP Law Association
      • Dayton IP Law Association
      • IT Section of the Michigan State Bar
    • Meetups:
      • AR Barcelona
      • AR New York
      • AR Chicago
      • AR Detroit
      • Tech248
      • Interact: Augmented Reality and Perfect Vision by 2020, Seattle, Washington
      • Mobile Monday Detroit
    • School Lectures:
      • CWRU Law School
      • NYU Polytechnic (guest lecturer)
      • Thomas Cooley Law School;
      • Michigan State University College of Law, International Law Journal Symposium, “Modern Global Revolution”
      • University of Michigan Law School
    • Media Interviews:
      • WISN-TV ABC (Milwaukee, WI)
      • MITechNews
      • Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast
      • Barely Legal Radio, The Patriot, AM1150
      • KNX 1070 NewsRadio, Los Angeles, California
  • Social & Digital Media (including IP, evidence, litigation, marketing, FTC regulation, legal ethics, student safety, policies, and other legal issues)
    • Professional Seminars:
      • Coverys Midwest Claims Legal Retreat
      • IDPF Digital Book, New York, New York
      • University of Texas Tech Law Conference, Austin, Texas
      • The Mobile Host Show
      • American Marketing Association of Southwest Michigan
      • Media Profs Enterprise Series
      • Strafford CLE Seminar
      • HCCS Webinar
      • New Media Expo, Las Vegas, Nevada
      • Michigan Society of Association Executives
      • The Hawaii Social Media Summit, Honolulu, Hawaii
      • Michigan Health & Hospital Association
    • Legal Associations:
      • Michigan Judicial Institute Spring Seminar, Michigan Hall of Justice, Lansing, Michigan
      • Annual Meeting of the Michigan District Judges Association
      • State Bar of Georgia
      • Washtenaw County Bar Association
      • State Bar of Michigan Paralegal Section
      • Institute for Continuing Legal Education
      • Technology Forum and Vendor Fair, Lake Oswego, Oregon
      • ABA TechShow
      • Interlaw
      • Michigan Poverty Law Center
      • Women's Bar Association, Oakland County Chapter
      • Macomb County Bar Association
    • Schools: 
      • University of Michigan Ross Business School
      • Fraser Public Schools, Fraser, Michigan
      • Cooley Law School
      • Michigan State University College of Law
      • Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana
    • Client In-House Presentations:
      • Legal staff of a Fortune 150 company
      • Journalist staff of a statewide news organization
    • Media Interviews:
      • IT in the D Podcast
      • Bloomberg Law Show, Bloomberg Radio
      • The Emily Rooney Show, WGBH Radio, Boston, Massachusetts
      • Channel 56's Due Process
  • Privacy/Cybersecurity
    • North American International CyberSummit
    • IAPP KnowledgeNet
    • Embedded Vision Alliance, San Diego, California
    • Automated Vehicle Symposium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Mobile Monday Detroit, NextWave Accelerator, Troy, Michigan
    • CreativeMany, Detroit, Michigan
    • Augmented World Expo, Santa Clara, California
    • Security Symposium, Detroit Athletic Club
    • Original Equipment Suppliers Associateion (OESA) Symposium & Legal Issues Council
  • Media Law (including the First Amendment, free speech, press freedoms, Freedom of Information Act, Open Meetings Act, public records, defamation, public relations)
    • Journalist staff of a statewide news organization
    • PRSA APR Prep Sessions
    • Lorman Education Services, Dearborn, Michigan
    • Oakland County Circuit Court, Pontiac, Michigan
    • Warren Consolidated School District
    • Lake Shore High School
  • IP Law (including copyrights, trademarks, and the right of publicity)
    • Strafford CLE Webinars
    • University of Dayton Law School
    • International Association of Speakers Bureaus Annual Meeting, Miami, Florida
    • Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills, Michigan
    • Dayton Intellectual Property Law Association
    • Michigan Intellectual Property Lawyers Association
    • State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law Section Spring Seminar
    • Macomb County Bar Association
    • AIPLA Spring Meeting
  • Litigation Technology
    • Federal Bar Association, ED Mich. Chapter, Federal Courthouse, Detroit, Michigan
    • ABA TechShow
    • State Bar of Michigan, Bar Leadership Forum
  • Business Courts
    • "Legally Speaking," Sterling Heights Television (guest host)
    • "Trends in Business Court Practice," Institute for Continuing Legal Education (video)
  • Professionalism, Leadership, Critical Thinking
    • Wayne State University, Dept. of Radiation Oncology (several guest lectures)
    • Utica Academy for International Studies, Sterling Heights, Michigan (keynote)

Video

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.

ACCEPTCANCEL

Text

+ -

Reset