Deena R. Merlen

Deena R. Merlen, Chair of CT Chapter of Licensing Executives Society

Deena R. Merlen


NY Tel:  212-763-4160
CT Tel:  203-653-4422

Practice Areas

Employment & Labor
Intellectual Property
Entertainment, Arts & Media

The Employment Life Cycle

Ms. Merlen's Expert Series highlights best employment practices for companies from job posting through termination.

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. Ms. Merlen also counsels clients on employment and business matters in response to a crisis or other unexpected business impact, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting business closures, including continuity plans, employee furloughs, reductions in force and other critical measures.

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, compliance and contracts. Representative clients include technology companies, schools and other academic institutions, personal care and beauty companies, fashion and design companies, media, arts and entertainment companies, wholesalers, retailers and more.

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.

Ms. Merlen serves on Friendship Ambassadors Foundation Inc.’s Board of Directors, which she chaired until 2014 and on which she has served since 2011. Friendship Ambassadors Foundation is a 501(c)(3) NGO formally associated with the UN Department of Public Information and in Consultative Status with ECOSOC and UNESCO.

Ms. Merlen also chairs the Connecticut chapter of the Licensing Executives Society (USA & Canada), an independent, professional organization that facilitates global IP commerce through education, networking, standards development, and certification. Founded over 50 years ago, LES is a member society of the Licensing Executives Society International, Inc., which has a worldwide membership of licensing and intellectual property professionals across 32 national societies located in more than 90 countries.

Ms. Merlen also is a member of the Fairfield County Bar Association’s Entertainment, Media and Intellectual Property Law Committee, which she co-chaired from 2011-2019, and a member of the Employment Law Committee, which she co-chaired from 2015-2018.

Ms. Merlen is a frequent guest speaker and moderator for employment law, intellectual property and entertainment industry panels on a variety of topics.

Selected Articles & Publications

Noted Speaking Engagements

  • The Boss Lady Pitch, Event Speaker with RPJ Associate Niki Bhargava, Hosted by Northeast Community Innovation Corp. and The Boss Lady Productions – March 20, 2019
  • “The Ultimate Guide to the Employment Life Cycle,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro – January 5, 2019
  • “Advertising and Marketing Pitfalls: Staying on the Right Side of the Law,” CLE Panel Moderator, Fairfield County Bar Association – October 2, 2018
  • “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 4: Don’t Overlook Employment Agreements,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro – August 23, 2018
  • “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 3: Interview Best Practices,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro – August 21, 2018
  • 22nd Session of The Youth Assembly, Opening Ceremony Opening Remarks, Hunter College – August 10, 2018
  • “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 2: Posting Jobs & Screening Applicants,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro – August 10, 2018
  • “The Employment Life Cycle, Part 1: What Do You Need to Know?,” Expert Insights Series, AltaClaro – August 3, 2018
  • International Trademark Association (INTA) North America Roundtable on Trademark Transactions and Due Diligence, Roundtable Host – April 13, 2018
  • Invitation-Only Gala for the 21st Session of The Youth Assembly, Speaker, Japan Society – February 15, 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 Bi-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, International Trademark Association Roundtable – June 24, 2016
  • “Native Advertising, UGC and the Law,” Roundtable Discussion Speaker and Co-Host, 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

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