Deena R. Merlen is a Partner at the firm. She serves clients at both our New York and Stamford offices and heads the Connecticut practice. Her practice areas include intellectual property, employment and labor law, media and entertainment, general business law, commercial transactions and dispute resolution.
In her employment practice, Ms. Merlen is a trusted “go to” problem solver and counsel to individuals, established name brand companies and startups alike. She has extensive experience representing clients in matters including general counseling, discrimination actions, mediations and dispute resolution, investigations by federal or state agencies, as well as wage and hour claims and other labor law matters. She also advises on and regularly negotiates employment and separation agreements, independent contractor arrangements and other services-related arrangements.
In her intellectual property practice, Ms. Merlen helps her clients with the development, acquisition and protection of their valuable brands and other vital intellectual property assets. She manages and grows trademark portfolios in the U.S. and internationally; negotiates licensing, assignment, distribution and branding agreements; prosecutes trademark and copyright registrations; enforces intellectual property rights; and provides strategic counsel to safeguard brand platforms and expand the value of her clients’ intellectual property assets.
Ms. Merlen’s media practice encompasses the development and protection of creative works in the fields of music, film, television, theatre, publishing, literary arts, performing arts, design and technology. She ran her own business in the entertainment industry for over a decade and brings that business experience and acumen to her legal practice.
In addition, Ms. Merlen provides general business counsel and represents clients in company and transactional matters such as partnerships, joint ventures, licensing arrangements, the purchase or sale of businesses, and a wide range of other corporate matters, including company formation, capitalization and governance.
Prior to her work with RPJ, Ms. Merlen served as Law Clerk to The Honorable Roger J. Miner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, after which she joined Debevoise & Plimpton, where she practiced for over five years in the areas of corporate law and intellectual property.
Ms. Merlen is admitted to practice in Connecticut and New York.
Ms. Merlen received a B.A. from Oberlin College (1984) and a J.D. from New York Law School (summa cum laude, 1996), where she ranked first in her class, was an editor of the Law Review and received the Outstanding Editor Award, several American Jurisprudence Awards, the Trustees’ Prize and a merit scholarship.
Since 2011, Ms. Merlen has served on the Board of Directors of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) NGO formally associated with the UN Department of Public Information and in Consultative Status with ECOSOC and UNESCO. She also is the Co-Chair of the Fairfield County Bar Association’s Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property Law Committee and a member of its Employment Law Committee, which she Co-Chaired from 2015-2018. She also is a member of the Labor and Employment Law, the Intellectual Property Law, and the Entertainment, Art and Sports Law Sections of the New York State Bar Association.
Ms. Merlen is a frequent guest speaker and moderator for employment law, intellectual property and entertainment industry panels on a variety of topics.
Noted Speaking Engagements
- “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 4: Don’t Overlook Employment Agreements,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro Blog – August 23, 2018
- “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 3: Interview Best Practices,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro Blog – August 21, 2018
- “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 2: Posting Jobs & Screening Applicants,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro Blog – August 10, 2018
- “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 1: What Do You Need to Know?,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro Blog – August 3, 2018
- Girls With Impact Luncheon and Press Conference Speaker – June 29, 2017
- “Hot Topics and Changes in the Employment Legal Landscape,” Program Moderator, Fairfield County Bar Association – June 7, 2017
- 19th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations®, Opening Session Speaker – February 3, 2017
- “Navigating the IR Waters So You Don’t Drown,” Co-Moderator with RPJ Counsel Dara L. Onofrio and Associate Allison “Ally” M. Grein, International Trademark Association Roundtable – June 24, 2016
- “Native Advertising, UGC and the Law,” Roundtable Discussion Speaker and Co-Host with RPJ Associate Allison “Ally” M. Grein, Internet Week NY – May 20, 2016
- SUNY Levin Institute FastTrac New Venture for the Female Entrepreneur, Guest Speaker – October 29, 2015
- “Your Client’s Being Knocked Off—Now What? Genuine Approaches to Counteracting Counterfeiters,” CLE Program Speaker, Fairfield County Bar Association – October 28, 2015
- “Trademark Litigation A-Z,” Roundtable Moderator, International Trademark Association – March 18, 2014
Selected Articles & Publications
- “How the Supreme Court’s Arbitration Decision Will Affect You,” by Bourree Lam and Judith Ohikuare, featuring Ms. Merlen, Refinery29 – May 22, 2018
- “#MeToo in Gotham City and Beyond: New Laws for a New Day,” RPJ Blog (co-authored with RPJ Associate Allison “Ally” M. Grein) – May 10, 2018
- “The Answer to: ‘Can I Get Fired for Talking About Politics at Work?” Interview by Stacey Lastoe, The Muse, featuring Ms. Merlen and RPJ Partner Helen D. “Heidi” Reavis – January 20, 2017
- “Will You Be Prepared in Time for the New Overtime Rules?” RPJ Blog – June 22, 2016