Nicole Haff | Litigation Partner - Romano Law

Nicole Haff

Litigation Partner

NH Profile


New York (2008)

District of Columbia (2009)

U.S.  District Court for the Southern District of New York (2009)

U.S.  District Court for the Eastern District of New York (2009)

U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2015)

Law School

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.  (2007)

The Georgetown Journal of Gender and Law, Articles and Notes Editor


State University of New York, University at Albany, B.A.,  summa cum laude (2003)


Nicole Haff is a Partner and Chair of the Litigation Department.  Nicole is a civil litigator with substantial experience representing businesses (and their officers, directors and founders), as well as professionals and creative people in disputes before the federal and state trial courts.  She has also argued, or has played a central role in, successful appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division and New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court).

Nicole’s experience is broad and includes matters relating to breach of contractcopyrighttrademark and unfair competition law, civil fraud (including claims asserted under the civil RICO statute), breach of fiduciary and defamation.

She also provides legal counsel to clients in the music, television, new media, publishing, theater, film, fashion, and toy industries.

From 2020-2022, Nicole was named a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.  Previously, she was included on the Super Lawyers “Rising Star” list for four consecutive years.  She is a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated attorney.

Nicole is currently the Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Council on Intellectual Property.  She also serves on the City Bar’s Task Force on Digital Technologies.  In the past, she has been a member of the City’s Bar’s Fashion Law and Information Technology & Cyber Law Committees.  She has also served as co-chair of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

She has been quoted by CNN, Forbes, Bloomberg, Time Magazine, the Daily Mail, the New York Law Journal and other publications.

Nicole is admitted to practice law in the State of New York, the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  She has also represented clients in proceedings, with permission of the Court, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the State of Florida.

Outside of the law, Nicole enjoys traveling and spending time near the water.  She resides with her family in Manhattan.

Blog Entries

  • Can I Represent My Business in Court, Without An Attorney?

    Generally, corporations and voluntary associations must retain counsel when bringing or defending a lawsuit.  See CPLR 321(a).  This means corporations and voluntary associations may not use non-attorney company officials to represent the company, except in certain instances, described below. What is a Voluntary Association? Voluntary associations are companies that have attributes of limited liability protection.

  • Breach of Contract: What Makes a Case Worth Pursuing?

    Updated: June 23, 2021 BEFORE PURSUING A BREACH OF CONTRACT LAWSUIT, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CLEARLY ASSESS THE CHANCES OF SUCCESS, THE APPLICABLE DAMAGES, AND OTHER FACTORS  Few things are more frustrating for a business owner than having a client or vendor breach a contract. The other party failing to live up to its end of

  • What to Do If Your Business Is Sued in New York

    Updated: June 23, 2021 AN INTRODUCTION TO HOW LAWSUITS ARE COMMENCED IN NEW YORK, AND THE STEPS YOU SHOULD TAKE IF YOUR BUSINESS IS SUED Lawsuits are becoming an ever-increasing presence in the business landscape. In one study, 43 percent of small business owners reported that their company had been engaged with, or threatened with, a civil

  • What is an Enforcement of a Judgement, and How Can You Collect Your Money?

    Now that you have successfully filed a Confession of Judgment, obtaining the money that is owed to you seems effortless. Well, it’s not that simple. Why? A Confession of Judgment is simply a type of judgment, and like all other judgments, it does not guarantee payment. While this device allows you to obtain a judgment

  • Understanding Breach of Fiduciary Duties Claims

    Many types of business relationships can result in creating a fiduciary duty from one party to the other. Partners in a business, officers, and directors of a company, participants in a joint venture, principals, and agents are all examples of trust relationships which give rise to fiduciary duty and can lead to litigation if someone breaches their duty.

  • When Does the Business Judgment Rule Protect Directors and Officers from Liability?

    The Business Judgment Rule is a long-standing principle that is intended to protect directors and officers from liability arising from decisions they make in their corporate capacities.  Generally, a court will defer to the decision of a director or officer as long as their decision was made in good faith and with a degree of

  • Do You Have Permission to Use That Image?

    In a digital world where you can find most any content you want online for free, it is easy to think you can use someone else’s photo, graphic, logo, chart or another image for your own purposes. It makes everyone think, do you have permission to use that image? Celebrities are even guilty of this.  Dozens

  • How to Compel Specific Performance of a Contract

    Updated: August 28, 2021 When there is a breach of contract, the non-breaching party typically sues for monetary damages. There is a specific performance of a contract. In some instances, that party would rather have the court force the other party to comply with the terms of the agreement. In that situation, the non-breaching party

  • Is Breach of a Licensing Agreement Considered a Breach of Contract or Copyright Infringement?

    Updated: June 30, 2020 Most adults have entered into a licensing agreement, sometimes without realizing it. It may have been in the context of a business arrangement to gain permission to use someone’s intellectual property or in a consumer setting relating to software or online subscription services. Is a breach of a licensing agreement considered

  • Age Discrimination in Employment

    Many people think of age discrimination as only affecting the elderly. However, the age at which an employee is protected from discrimination impacts a significant portion of the working population under federal law.  New York law takes a step further safeguarding most employees regardless of age.  The best way to minimize age discrimination claims is to understand

  • The Basics of ADA Compliance in New York

    Recently, a wave of litigants in New York have commenced lawsuits, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), alleging that a company’s failure to provide Braille on gift cards violates the ADA. While businesses may be familiar with the basics of ADA compliance, this new litigation may come as a surprise. The ADA prohibits

  • Understanding the Relationship Between Artists and Art Dealers

    New York law has long recognized the need to protect artists in their dealings with art dealers (also known as art merchants) in order to foster the arts as a vital resource in the State. However, art dealers and artists are often confused about the dealer’s responsibilities as well as the terms required in consignment agreements. Art

  • How are Transgender Rights Protected in Employment?

    Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender status is prohibited by both New York City and New York State statutory law. However, under federal law, the protection of transgender rights is more complicated. Some federal appellate courts have held that transgender discrimination falls under the umbrella of “sex discrimination,” which federal law prohibits.

  • Finding Safe Harbor; Navigating a DMCA Takedown Notice

    Updated: June 30, 2020 If you run a website that hosts user-generated content, or are yourself a user of social media or a cloud-based storage service, you have likely heard of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, codified as 17 U.S.C. §512.  The DMCA is the federal law that expanded the ability to enforce copyright to

  • Gay and Transgender Rights Protected from Employment Discrimination

    In New York City, New York State and 21 other states, an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity is protected from employment discrimination based on state and local law.  Under federal law, however, LGBTQ individuals’ protection from employment discrimination depended on what federal circuit they lived in. On Monday, the Supreme Court announced in a 6-3

  • Considerations When Selecting A Brand

    You are launching a new company, product or service and need a brand name.  There are many factors to consider when selecting a brand name. One factor that you may not have weighed is the ease by which you can trademark a brand name and how much legal protection that name would receive if others

  • Knockoffs, Infringing Products and Counterfeits

    Walking down the streets of New York City (pre-pandemic) you were bound to encounter vendors selling fake designer bags or products.  Since the pandemic, the online marketplace for these goods has surged.  It is now easy to find third-party vendors selling fake, defective or counterfeit goods.  Now, more than ever, it is important for designers

  • Does Photographing Someone Else’s Artwork Constitute Copyright Infringement?

    Generally, under U.S. copyright law, the person who created a work is the copyright owner.  As a result, a photographer who takes a picture would own the rights to the image.  However, what if the photograph is taken of something that is copyrighted by another party, such as a work of art?  In that scenario,

  • Cheerleader Gives a F – For the First Amendment

    Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., also known as “the Cheerleader First Amendment Case.”  This case poses several questions for the Court, notably (1) can schools regulate student speech that occurs off school grounds, and (2) if so, what standard will be used to determine when

  • When Are Business Owners Personally Liable for the Debts of the Business?

    Many business owners set up their companies as a corporation or other limited liability entity (like an LLC), in part because it allows them to avoid personal liability for the debts of the business.  This protection, however, is not absolute.  In certain circumstances, courts will allow a party to sue the owners of a company

  • Why You Should File Declaration of Incontestability for Your Trademark

    Trademark law provides legal protection to company brands.  However, there are different levels of protection depending on whether the trademark is registered and how it is used and for how long.  Every business should try to meet the requirements for trademark incontestability status because it offers the most advantages in the event of a trademark

  • The Waiver of Fiduciary Duties in Delaware

    What happens when the manager of a company acts in their own self-interest, rather than for the benefit of the company or those that own the company?  This is where the concept of “fiduciary duties” comes into play.  Fiduciary duties obligate the people who make important decisions for an entity act in the best interests

  • Are Fashion Parodies Legal?

    The fashion industry spends significant time and money protecting its brands from copyright and trademark infringement.  Knockoffs, counterfeits and other copying can cause significant damage to a brand’s reputation and revenue.  If a company fails to “police” their trademarks (prevent others from using their marks) those companies can lose their trademark rights.  Not all forms

  • What Licenses Do You Need to Open a Dispensary in NYC?

    On March 31, 2021, New York became the 15th state to make recreational cannabis legal with the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act — and experts anticipate it will become one of the biggest cannabis markets nationwide.  In fact, the New York Comptroller expects that it could generate $3.1 billion in revenue annually, with New York

  • What Constitutes a Bona Fide Trademark Use in Commerce?

    Trademarks are valuable assets to a company, but not all business names, logos, and other identifiers are trademarkable.  Among the requirements for a valid trademark are that the owner makes bona fide use of the trademark in commerce.  Unfortunately, the definition of bona fide use in commerce can be confusing leaving some business owners with

  • Was Your Trademark Rejected for Failure to Function?

    Registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a good practice because it gives you the enhanced ability to enforce your rights against trademark infringers.  However, not all trademarks qualify for registration.  One reason your trademark may be rejected is because of its “failure to function” as a source identifier.

  • What is Copyright Fair Use?

    Ever wonder how your favorite YouTube star can create a parody of a hit song without obtaining the permission of the artist of the original work?  Or how a teacher can distribute photocopies of a book to her students without the author suing for copyright infringement?  The answer lies in the fair use doctrine.  The

  • What is Copyright Infringement?

    If you have created a piece of art, written a story, or composed a song, you do not want someone else to steal, copy or profit from it.  The purpose of copyright law is to protect original works of authorship from a third party using your work without your permission.  Unlawful use of your copyrighted work constitutes

  • What is Trademark Infringement?

    Trademark law protects the name, logo, slogan, packaging and other identifying features that brands use to distinguish their goods or services from the goods and services of others. Not all trademarks, however, are entitled to protection.  If you believe that another party is using your trademark, or a confusingly similar trademark, without your permission or

  • Can You Trademark a Personal Name?

    Many people will use their personal name when naming their business.  This can be problematic because personal names are only eligible for trademark protection if they meet certain criteria. When Can a Personal Name Be Trademarked? A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies a brand.  It is a source identifier that

  • How The Parodist “Stole” The Grinch: Fair Use Ruling Upheld

    Updated: December 21, 2021 In 2018, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City affirmed a ruling of the Southern District of New York which held that Who’s Holiday—a modern play in which the main character, Cindy-Lou Who from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, is now an adult, humorously engaging in adult behavior—is a

  • “What is Intellectual Property?” – Nicole Haff on Getting Schooled with Abby Hornacek

    Nicole Haff joins Abby Hornacek of Fox News Radio’s Getting Schooled  to discuss the basics of intellectual property law and review examples of IP cases in the news today.  The conversation begins with some background – at the basic level intellectual property is intangible property derived from human intellect.  Nicole also shares some of the

  • False Advertising

    Competitors Can Sue Each Other For False Advertising? When a company makes misleading or false claims about its products or services, it may obtain an unfair advantage over other businesses and harm consumers.  As a result, “false advertising” is prohibited under federal and state laws governing unfair competition and consumer protection.  The consequences of violating

  • Confession of Judgment in New York

    Updated: January 25, 2022 A confession of judgment is an instrument used to secure the full payment of an agreed upon settlement amount.  It often arises when one party to a settlement agreement has concerns about the other party’s ability to provide full payment.  Usually, this is in instances where the settlement amount is broken

  • Can Social Media Influencers Be Liable for Trademark Infringement?

    Many brands are using social media influencers to help market their products.  While this can be lucrative for both parties, there are risks, including potential liability under advertising, unfair competition, and trademark laws.  Often, influencers do not realize that they can be held liable for the statements they make in promoting a company’s product.  A

  • New U.S. Supreme Court Decision Explained: Unicolors v. H&M

    Last week, in Unicolors v. H&M, the Supreme Court held that the Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision, found at 17 U.S.C. § 411(b)(1)(A), did not distinguish between a mistake of law and a mistake of fact.  Thus, the lack of either factual or legal knowledge by a copyright applicant can excuse inaccurate information in a

  • Salary Discussions at Work

    Discussing salary at work is sometimes considered taboo and employers often enact confidentiality rules to restrict workers from engaging in such conversations.  An employee’s right to discuss their wages, however, is generally protected by law. What Does the Law Say? – Salary Discussions Qualify as Protected, Concerted Activity under the NLRA Section 7 of the

  • 5 Differences Between Agents and Managers

    Updated: May 13, 2022 If you are in the entertainment business, you have probably come across various talent representatives, particularly agents and managers.  While many view agents and managers as the same, there are several important distinctions between the two roles. Booking Jobs Agents represent talent in seeking and securing employment.  They also help their

  • Follow the Money: New York City’s Wage Transparency Law

    New York City’s Wage Transparency Law goes into effect on November 1, 2022, making it mandatory for employers to share the salary or hourly wage in job postings.  Specifically, the law provides that when employers with four or more employees post an advertisement for a job position or promotion, the employer must also list the

  • Tricky Trademarks: What You Need to Know About Assignment-In-Gross and Naked Licensing

    Trademark law functions to protect brands as well as consumers from those trying to unlawfully exploit the goodwill and reputation of another company’s goods or services.  As a result, restrictions are placed on trademark transfers that cause confusion among consumers.  Two common prohibitions are “assignment-in-gross” and “naked licensing.”  If a trademark owner is found to

  • Can Celebrities Post Photos Taken by Paparazzi to Their Own Social Media Accounts?

    Are Celebrities Guilty of Copyright Infringement for Posting a Paparazzi’s Photos? To the average person, it may seem natural to assume that a picture taken of a celebrity belongs to the celebrity.  In fact, it is common for celebrities to complain about and sometimes sue paparazzi for invading their privacy by taking photos of them. 

  • Cardi B Wins Over $4 Million in Defamation Lawsuit

    Updated: Sept. 29, 2022 Rapper and songwriter, Cardi B, was awarded more than $4 million by a jury in January 2022 after winning a defamation case against YouTube personality, Tasha K.  The lawsuit arose from allegations Tasha K made about the Grammy-winning artist in dozens of YouTube videos.  This was an unusually successful case, because

  • What Authors Need to Know About Morals Clauses

    To a layman, a book publishing contract may appear like it is written in another language, only known to lawyers.  After all, publishing contracts can be pages and pages of dense paragraphs. In the last few years, it has become popular for publishing houses to insert “morals clauses” into their contracts with authors.  Morals clauses

  • New York’s Anti-SLAPP Statute Packs a Punch

    In November 2020, New York expanded its free speech protections through a new anti-SLAPP law.  The statute seeks to deter lawsuits against parties who speak out on an issue of public interest when the purpose of the suit is to discourage individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights.  Both sides should pay careful attention to

  • New York’s Anti-SLAPP Statute Packs a Punch

    In November 2020, New York expanded its free speech protections through a new anti-SLAPP law.  The statute seeks to deter lawsuits against parties who speak out on an issue of public interest when the purpose of the suit is to discourage individuals from exercising their First Amendment rights.  Both sides should pay careful attention to