2012 Sports & Entertainment Law Symposium
Date of Symposium: March 1, 2012
||William J. Heller, Esq.
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, New York Football Giants
In his role as General Counsel for the Giants, Mr. Heller is responsible for all legal affairs of the team and its affiliates, including those that relate to the operation of MetLife Stadium. From licensing and sponsor and marketing arrangements to labor and employment issues, his practice as in-house counsel for one of the original and storied NFL franchises spans all areas of Sports Law.
In his role as General Counsel, Mr. Heller led the Giants’ negotiation and successful completion of the license, sponsorship and naming rights deal that designated the team’s new, state-of-the-art training center as the “Timex Performance Center,” and later served on the negotiating team for the long-term licensing and naming rights deal that designated the former New Meadowlands Stadium as “MetLife Stadium”. Recently, Mr. Heller led a legal team in the successful conclusion of a green energy initiative for MetLife Stadium, under which a leading energy company will install a solar ring atop MetLife Stadium to generate electricity for the facility. Coaches and Player contracts are also a part of his practice at the Giants, where Mr. Heller also helps to lead human resource, worker’s compensation and privacy issues. Mr. Heller also handles and supervises the team’s litigation matters, including one of the largest claims in the Lehman bankruptcy and the team’s challenge of local property tax issues. Mr. Heller also works closely with lawyers from the National Football League; for example, he was one of the team’s contact points with the NFL during the 2011 labor negotiations and lockout and in that role helped supervise the team’s actions and responses to the developing labor situation.
Prior to his tenure with the Giants, Mr. Heller’s career in private practice spanned over thirty years. As a trial lawyer focusing primarily on complex employment discrimination, commercial, technology and intellectual property cases, his notable cases include patent infringement cases in pharmaceutical (Hatch Waxman Act), software, electronics and other sciences; trade secrets cases for leading nationwide defense contractors (one involving classified electronics technology); representation of a leading telecommunications company in its anti-spam and anti-pretexting initiatives; software copyright infringement; successful vindication of the copyright of a leading china manufacturer whose protected work appeared in an Oscar-winning motion picture without permission; and protection of brand names in trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, anti-cybersquatting cases and UDRP actions to recover domain names using registered trademarks.
Mr. Heller’s experience also includes substantial transactional and counseling engagements. For several clients he was instrumental in the negotiation of and licensing of all forms of intellectual property, including high technology and life sciences agreements, and he regularly advised clients in corporate-wide IP protection programs.
Identity theft and data privacy are hot issues for any business. Several major US corporations consulted with Mr. Heller to remedy data and privacy breaches, and to implement procedures to reduce the risk of further breach and the protection of personally identifiable information. Related to this practice is significant experience working with hospitals and other healthcare institutions seeking to computerize their operations through software licensing and new computer system acquisitions, and by negotiating those deals.
Prior to serving as General Counsel for the Giants, Mr. Heller served as the outside “General Counsel” for several substantial closely held corporations, and in that role earned the position of the trusted advisor to the business, a role that prepared him for his current job responsibilities for the Giants.
In addition to his legal experience, Mr. Heller served in several high-level management positions for his prior law firms, including board level direction of the business of the law firm.