Biglaw, Intellectual Property, john quinn, Litigators, Technology, Trials

John Quinn Likens Case To Vietnam — Hopefully With Less Napalm

John Quinn

Is there any case so awful that it compares favorably to nearly 20 years of warfare?

No. No, there really isn’t.

So when Quinn Emanuel’s John Quinn was quoted calling the Apple v. Samsung brouhaha “Apple’s Vietnam,” it ruffled a few feathers from the sort of people who still remember the Vietnam War as more than an inconvenience.

I love the smell of IP litigation in the morning! Smells like, victory….

Quinn was talking about Monday’s verdict in Samsung’s ongoing legal battle with Apple when he told Law360 (sub. req.):

“This is Apple’s Vietnam, and people are sick of it,” Quinn said Monday. But when asked whether he thought Apple might go after Samsung with new patent claims anytime soon, he said he thought the Cupertino, California, tech giant might be suffering “litigation fatigue. I think they’ve had their fill.”

The only proper response is to quote The Dude: “And what was all that s**t about Vietnam? What the f**k, has anything got to do with Vietnam? What the f**k are you talking about?”

Commemorating all the contract attorneys Quinn has employed on this matter.

OK, so Quinn wasn’t so much comparing the case to Vietnam as he was referencing the fatigue the American public felt as the war dragged on. That’s not as bad as suggesting that litigating is akin to being shot at. Still, it got some people upset. The phrase “human monster” was tossed around by an irate tipster. Not sure that’s fair, but it does highlight why comparing cases to wars — particularly wars that people remember — is not the most advisable quote for a high-profile lawyer in a high-profile case.

Most people are a little casual with their analogies. Likening mundane events to warfare and grand human misery isn’t even used as hyperbole half the time. Cases get called death marches, lawyers talk about being in the trenches, and who hasn’t compared their work to Agincourt? Perhaps not the last one. Still, it’s something most of us don’t even think about. And when situated in the full context of a conversation, these things usually fly.

But try not to get that casual when you’re getting quoted — where that sound bite gets to live divorced of all context. If you don’t see why this is problematic, imagine this alternative quote: “Today’s verdict is really Apple’s 9/11.”

Next time give a shout-out to Bleak House and be done with it.

Samsung Atty Quinn Calls IPhone IP War ‘Apple’s Vietnam’ [Law360 (sub. req.)]

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