Carole E. Handler




Partner Carole E. Handler has traits in common with the superheroes whose copyrighted beings she champions in the federal courts. While first and foremost a lawyer, her interests in the arts and commitments to the community add to her multidimensional background and persona.   She has successfully tried landmark cases, arguing for the application of copyright principles to new technologies, reconciling antitrust principles with intellectual property rights, and resolving complex entertainment disputes arising from motion picture licensing in the digital era.

She successfully led Marvel Entertainment in its recovery of the rights to its signature property, “Spider-Man,” and has litigated other copyright disputes involving fictional characters in the copyright area. Among her web of groundbreaking representations, she initially established the motion picture industry’s exclusive rights to control the distribution and performance of their copyrighted works in new media. Carole was a part of the team representing the NBA in a significant case involving the “single enterprise” doctrine. She also led a nine-week pro bono jury trial on behalf of noted Holocaust rescuer, Irene Gut Opdyke, recovering the rights to her remarkable life story. Carole is known for developing creative solutions that resolve seemingly insoluble cases.

Most recently, Carole has been lead intellectual property counsel in a multi-faceted eight-year trademark litigation between a major satellite provider and a Midwestern retailer, over the retailer’s alphanumeric use of the provider’s name in toll-free telephone numbers.

As an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Law School, Ms. Handler follows in the footsteps of her father, Milton Handler, who taught antitrust law at Columbia Law School for 44 years. She is editing a compilation of their writings on antitrust and copyright in a treatise. She has taught antitrust, antitrust and intellectual property, and a copyright course on characters and superheroes in old and new media. She also speaks and writes widely from her forward-thinking perspective on topics such as fictional characters in new media, the interplay of law and literature, collaborative creativity, net neutrality, antitrust and intellectual property issues, intellectual property in the electronic age, and the recent Supreme Court opinion on copyright in the fashion industry.

Ms. Handler received her undergraduate degree in History and Literature from Harvard University and, after attending MIT in architecture, received her M.A. in City Planning and her juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been named among the “Top Women Litigators in California” by Daily Journal Extra since 1999 and has regularly been selected for The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. She has organized and participated in over one hundred seminars for PLI, Aspen, Bar Associations, private industry and law firms and law schools in California and New York.

Ms. Handler’s community interests are diverse. Her love of music led her to serve as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and she has served on the Boards of Bet Tzedek Legal Services and Dispute Resolution Services for the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She was for four years a board member of the American Jewish Congress, where she led the work of its legal division. She is active in pro bono organizations and with the Feminist Majority Foundation, for which she provides pro bono review of its ground-breaking publication, Ms. Magazine. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the Philadelphia Bar Association, and Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York


  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D.
  • University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts, M.A., Urban Planning and Design
  • Harvard University, A.B., History and Literature, with honors


  • Author, “Opposition to the Proposed  Settlement in the Google Book Publishing Case-Is Such a far-Reaching Arrangement a Judicial Function?” in ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law, Annual Reivew of Intellectual Property Law Developments, 2009 – 2011
  • Author, “Fictional Characters in New Media,” July 2010
  • Author, ”Net Neutrality: At Stake, the Future of Content on the Internet,” The Hollywood Reporter, Esq., August 2009
  • Author, “The Struggle over Net Neutrality,” e-Commerce Law & Strategy, February 2009
  • Author, “High Court Rulings Have Limited Antitrust Liability,” Securities Law360, August 2008
  • Co-author, “The WGA Strike: Picketing for a Bigger Piece of the New Media Pie, American Bar Association,” Entertainment and Sports Lawyer, Winter 2008
  • Author, “Federal Trade Commission Takes Jurisdiction of Intellectual Property Practices Without Charging Antitrust Violation,” January 2008
  • Author, “The Latest ITC Pronouncements in Health Care Physician-Payer Contracting” October 2007
  • Author, “Surfing Trademark Issues on the Internet,” White Paper, September 2007
  • Author, “Licensees and Intellectual Property Owners Affected by Supreme Court Abandoning Century-Old Per Se Rule Against Resale Price Maintenance,” July 2007
  • Author, “Lessons For Intellectual Property Owners,” JP Law360, August 2006
  • Author, “Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Independent Ink, Inc.: Supreme Court Puts to Rest the Presumption of Patent Market Power in Antitrust Tying Claims,” March 2006
  • Author, “The Application of Antitrust Rules to Standards in the Information Industries; Anomaly or Necessity?” No.11 Computer Lawyer 1, 1997

Associations and Activities

  • Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Antitrust Section
  • Advisory Board, American Bar Association Publications for the Section of Antitrust Law
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • Former Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee of the American Bar Association Antitrust Section
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Board Member, Public Counsel, through 2010
  • Board Member, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, 2000 – 2008
  • Board Member, Bet Tzedek Legal Services

Representative Matters

  • Successfully led Marvel Entertainment Company in its nine-year battle to recover the motion  picture rights to Spider-Man, the company’s iconic signature property, as well as other rights.  This case led her to be tagged as “The Lawyer Who Saved Spider-Man.” She also represented Marvel in other significant litigation
  • Received national recognition for her recovering the life story of Holocaust survivor, Irene Gut Opdyke, following a nine-week pro bono trial
  • As part of the team representation of the National Basketball Association in litigation with the Chicago Bulls, she helped developed the antitrust theory that ultimately prevailed on appeal
  • Represents a retail satellite services provider against a major satellite company in a multifaceted and long-running trademark litigation
  • Represented a major weight loss company in advertising and marketing matters before the FTC
  • Handled FTC and DOJ investigations of antitrust practices of several Fortune 500 companies, including motion  picture studios
  • Counsels several corporations and their employees on antitrust compliance
  • Wrote a brief amicus curiae on behalf of Oracle in its copyright contest with Google
  • Established the motion picture industry’s exclusive rights to control the distribution and performance of their copyrighted works in new media as consistent with the antitrust and copyright laws
  • Successfully represented plaintiffs in antitrust litigation stemming from California’s energy crisis
  • Defended several class actions against social media companies on privacy grounds


  • Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers, 2004-2015, 2017
  • Named one of Super LawyersTop Women Attorneys in Southern California”, Los Angeles Magazine, 2011-2015
  • Named one of the “Top Women Litigators in California”Daily Journal Extra, 2001 – 2011
  • Selected for inclusion in the “Best Lawyers in America”, Antitrust Section, 2009
  • Selected as a “Women of Accomplishment”, 2006
  • Named one of California Lawyers’ “Lawyers of the Year”California Lawyers, 2001