Michael A. Johnson

Top rated business litigation attorney in Nashville, Tennessee

Kay Griffin, PLLC
Michael A. Johnson
Kay Griffin, PLLC

Practice Areas: Business litigation, Entertainment & sports, Intellectual property; view more

Licensed in Tennessee since: 2011

Education: Vanderbilt University Law School

Selected to Rising Stars: 2013 - 2022

Kay Griffin, PLLC

222 2nd Ave. N.
Suite 340M
Nashville, TN 37201 Visit website


Michael A. Johnson is a partner at the law firm of Kay Griffin, PLLC, and represents the best interests of clients throughout Nashville, Tennessee. He has handled a variety of complicated legal matters during his tenure with the firm:

·       Intellectual property and entertainment law: Patents, trademarks, contracts and licensing, copyrights, defamation, unfair competition, right of privacy and publicity

·       Construction law: Contract disputes, mechanic's liens, workplace injury claims, design issues and construction defect claims

·       Business Litigation: Commercial litigation, mergers and acquisitions and more

A magna cum laude Bachelor of Science graduate of Kentucky Christian University, Mr. Johnson received his Juris Doctor from the Vanderbilt Law School. During his time there, he was placed on the dean’s list and was a part of the Vanderbilt Law Review. He won the Vanderbilt Scholastic Excellence Award and the Editor’s Award for his outstanding contribution to law review.

Mr. Johnson has successfully litigated a number of cases in the state and appellate courts of Tennessee. He is licensed to practice in Tennessee, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Middle, Eastern and Western Districts of Tennessee, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee.

An eloquent and ardent writer, Mr. Johnson was awarded the Ladas Memorial Award by the International Trademark Association for his exceptional contributions to international IP law through the article “The Waning Consumer Protection Rationale of Trademark Law: Over-Protective Courts and the Path to Stifling Post-Sale Consumer Use.”

Practice areas

Business litigation, Entertainment & sports, Intellectual property

Focus areas

Copyrights, Trademarks, Intellectual property law

  • 40% Business litigation
  • 30% Entertainment & sports
  • 30% Intellectual property

First Admitted: 2011, Tennessee

Professional Webpage: https://www.kaygriffin.com/our-people/michael-a-johnson

  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Mkt. v. Glowco, LLC, 958 F.3d 532 (6th Cir. 2020)
  • Brantley Gilbert v. Average Joes Entertainment Group, LLC et al., No. 11-202-III (Davidson County Chancery Court 2012)
  • Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publ’g, LLC, 672 F.3d 434 (6th Cir. 2012)
  • One Media IP Ltd. v. S.A.A.R. SrL, 122 F. Supp. 3d 705 (M.D. Tenn. 2015)
  • David Pell v. Kellie Pickler Touring, Inc. et al., No. 15C2646 (Davidson County Circuit Court)
  • Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Holland, No. M2014-01630-COA-R3-CV, 2016 Tenn. App. LEXIS 114 (Feb. 12, 2016)
  • Tennessee v. Gibbons, 698 F. App'x 307 (6th Cir. 2017)
  • Tenn. Clutch & Supply, Inc. v. Auto-Owners (Mut.) Ins. Co., 556 S.W.3d 203 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2017)
  • Servpro Intellectual Prop. v. Zerorez Franchising Sys., No. 3:17-cv-00699-JPM, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114504 (M.D. Tenn. July 9, 2018)
  • Brown v. J. Rockett Audio Designs, LLC, No. 1:17-cv-00093, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68739 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 23, 2019)
  • RN Entm’t, LLC v. Clement, 380 F. Supp. 3d 711 (M.D. Tenn. 2019)
  • Elsten v. Coker, No. M2019-00034-COA-R3-CV, 2019 Tenn. App. LEXIS 493 (Oct. 4, 2019)
  • Funk v. Scripps Media, Inc., 570 S.W.3d 205 (Tenn. 2019)
  • Burns v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. E2019-00044-COA-R3-CV, 2020 Tenn. App. LEXIS 98 (Mar. 6, 2020)
  • In re Ex Parte Caterpillar Inc., No. 3:19-mc-0031, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70913 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 21, 2020)
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Tennessee
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Tennessee
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2013-2021
  • Vanderbilt Scholastic Excellence Award
  • Vanderbilt Law Review Editor's Award
  • The Ladas Memorial Award was established in memory of Stephen P. Ladas, distinguished practitioner and author. Funded by Ladas & Parry LLP, this yearly award is presented in Student and Professional categories for a paper on trademark law or a matter that directly relates to or affects trademarks, Ladas Memorial Award, International Trademark Association, 2011
Educational Background:
  • Kentucky Christian University, B.S., magna cum laude, 2006
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • One of the principal functions of a court in a trademark dispute is to protect consumer interests, shaping consumer expectations in accordance with those interests. Many commentators have criticized modern courts for drifting from this goal of consumer protection. Contrary to these commentators’ assertions, courts have actually over-protected consumers from confusion through the expansion of various trademark doctrines, largely due to the supposed consumer confusion that has corresponded with the proliferation of product placement in popular media. The subjective 'reasonable consumer' standard in trademark law’s confusion doctrine – combined with changing consumer executions and the courts’ hasty validation of those expectations – harmed consumer interests and prevented consumers from receiving the full benefit of the post-sale use of trademarks in which they have invested. Thus, rather than shaping consumer expectations through trademark litigation in a way that is beneficial to consumer interests, courts have simply reflected social norms to the detriment of consumer interests. Courts can still remedy this shift away from consumer protection by shaping consumer expectations in a way that is actually beneficial to consumer interests. However, because actual consumer expectations are difficult to divine from often biased party-gathered surveys, courts need assistance in balancing these considerations. The parties to trademark litigation are of little help in this regard. They typically advocate for consumer interests only to the extent that it is beneficial to their own position, and their definition of consumer interests may be more rhetorical volleys than empirically demonstrable assertions. Therefore, the author proposes the addition of a third-party neutral to trademark litigation - a guardian ad item of sorts, who would conduct surveys, advocate for consumers more generally, and advise the court of relevant consumer interests and how to shape consumer expectations in a way that will protect those interests, The Waning Consumer Protection Rationale of Trademark Law: Over-Protective Courts and the Path to Stifling Post-Sale Consumer Use, The Trademark Reporter, 101 TMR 1321, 2011

Office location for Michael A. Johnson

222 2nd Ave. N.
Suite 340M
Nashville, TN 37201

Phone: 615-709-3582


10 Years Rising Stars
  • Rising Stars: 2013 - 2022

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