Intellectual Property

An official Dominique Ansel "cronut."

An official Dominique Ansel ‘cronut.’

@DominiqueAnsel I am so sad I upset you, I started to cry & I immediately reached for a Kleenex… I mean paper facial tissue #NotACronut

Rounds Bakery, the self-described home of Reno’s best bagels, responding to a cease and desist letter from Dominique Ansel. Rounds had offered a hybrid croissant-doughnut and that sticks in Dominique Ansel’s craw as the registered trademark holder of the “Cronut.” What followed on Twitter was epic trolling by Rounds, listing every proprietary eponym they could think of.

* Looks like someone took a lesson from ATL’s Worst Law School bracket and put out a Worst Colleges in America list. We provide a very important service. [NPR]

* Converse is suing over 31 alleged Chuck Taylor imitators. Are they mounting a “full court press”? Get it? Yeah there was pretty much no way around that one. [Fashionista]

* Lawsuit reveals that struggling business couldn’t keep stores open but could shell out to keep CEO in her 4,560-square-foot home. [Seattle Times]

* Harvard Law faculty members join a statement protesting the university’s new sexual harassment policy. [Boston Globe]

* Is a sheath dress acceptable interview attire? Asking for a friend. [Corporette]

* Aaron Zelinsky’s interesting review of Lat’s upcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions, viewing the characters through the lens of William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep (affiliate links). [Huffington Post Books]

* Which is more galling? That the magistrate tried to weasel out of performing a legal same-sex marriage or that the newspaper felt this worthy of a poll? [The Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads)]

Ed. note: This is the latest post by Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

In August, Personal Audio Inc. — a “patent troll” or a “patent holding company,” depending on your point of view — dropped its case against Adam Carolla for alleged violations of its purported patent on podcasting, or more specifically, creating sequenced playlists for download. Personal Audio apparently thought it could get a settlement out of Carolla, the same way it has against CBS and other big companies, by threatening expensive litigation.

But in his typical %^&# you fashion, Carolla proceeded to join forces with other podcasters, like Jay Mohr and Marc Maron, to crowdfund a legal defense fund against Personal Audio. The resulting litigation ultimately caused Personal Audio to drop its lawsuit. Mike August is a former William & Morris agent, an attorney, and the business manager of Carolla Digital. He has been nice enough to answer some of my questions and tell us about the future of podcasting and crowdfunded lawsuits.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Behind Adam Carolla’s Fight Against A ‘Patent Troll': A Conversation With Carolla Digital’s Mike August”

Buck up, Professor. Your hero Nietzsche always says, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’

* Remember that whole Brian Leiter kerfuffle? Well he’s gone. The world (of philosophy rankings) was not ready for one as beautiful as thee. [Daily Nous]

* Before They Were Famous: Newly released documents reveal a pre-SCOTUS Justice Kagan writing memos admitting that she “really f**ked up” and “God, do I feel like an idiot.” At least she understood how she made her 1L class feel when she was a professor. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* A lawsuit over who owns the word “how.” Can’t make this up. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* How do we know that driverless cars are going to be wonderful for human society? Because they will be absolutely horrible for lawyers and insurers. [Legal Funding Central]

* This guy explains what everyone should understand before going to law school by walking through his decision to not to go to law school despite gaining admission to some T14 heavies. He gives ATL a shout. We hear you buddy, congratulations on your decision. [Chronicle Vitae]

* A Delaware attorney sued for allegedly aiding and abetting a fraudulent emerald salvage operation. Kind of “X marks the disbarment.” [Delaware Online]

* Exxon won an arbitration and got $1.6B from cash-strapped Venezuela, but wanted $14.7B. Poor Exxon, they face so many struggles. [Bloomberg h/t Breaking Energy]

* The D.C. Bar Association is hosting a “Go Formal For Justice” event to raise money for its many programs to help, directly or indirectly, the indigent. [D.C. Bar Foundation]

* Congratulations to Tony West on his new gig as general counsel of PepsiCo. It sounds like an exciting and challenging opportunity. Plus, you know, free Mountain Dew. [Politico]

* What the hell? The feds stole a woman’s identity and made it into a Facebook page. Well, now she’s found out and she’s suing. Identity theft was one thing, but the way the DEA Agent kept spamming the woman’s friends to play Candy Crush Saga was just unacceptable. [Buzzfeed]

* Time for some court news: Ninth Circuit joined the chorus in striking down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]

* It’s Nobel Prize time, and one of the winners for Physics has a personal story about how important it is to hire a good lawyer. In fact, it was about $180 million important. [Slate]

* We constantly beat the drum of how law schools need to adjust to reality and stop duping students into terrible financial decisions. But here’s the PR secret that’s kept law schools from, by and large, collapsing: they sell the experience. [Law and More]

* An open letter begging Amal Alamuddin not to quit her day job now that she’s married to some acting guy. [The Careerist]

* New York City paid $50K to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a child who killed herself after school officials allegedly did nothing despite several warnings that the girl was being brutally bullied. There’s a lot of “in my day…” types who read this site who may not care about bullying, but this is more a question of irresponsibility. If your job is to provide a safe learning environment and you fail, you pay. [DNA Info]

* At oral argument, the Court seemed generally supportive of the Muslim inmate hoping to grow a beard. If this intuition is right, soon individual people may have the same religious rights as corporations! [Supreme Court Brief]

* Finally, thanks to the Rutgers-Newark Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society for hosting a great event today where Elie and I previewed the upcoming SCOTUS Term. My personal highlight was watching Elie’s head explode while talking about Young v. UPS.

This would be a better patent than what these guys received.

Blue Spike LLC is a patent litigation factory. At one point, it filed over 45 cases in two weeks. It has sued a who’s who of technology companies, ranging from giants to startups, Adobe to Zeitera. Blue Spike claims not to be a troll, but any legitimate business it has pales in comparison to its patent litigation. It says it owns a “revolutionary technology” it refers to as “signal abstracting.” On close inspection, however, its patents turn out to be nothing more than a nebulous wish list. Blue Spike’s massive litigation campaign is a perfect example of how vague and abstract software patents tax innovation.

The basic idea behind Blue Spike’s patents is creating a digital fingerprint (which the patents refer to as an “abstract”) of a file that allows it to be compared to other files (e.g. comparing audio files to see if they are the same song). In very general terms, the patents describe creating a “reference generator,” an “object locator,” a “feature selector,” a “comparing device,” and a “recorder.” You will be amazed to learn that these five elements “may be implemented with software.” That task, however, is left for the reader….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Serial Litigant Blue Spike Wins EFF’s Stupid Patent Of The Month For September”

* We welcome Howard Bashman to his new homepage! [How Appealing / Above the Law]

* An ode to Brian Leiter to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around.” [Philosophy Metablog]

* “Lawyers have a powerful voice in the American legal system, government, and news and entertainment businesses. But do they make their contributions to society while impaired?” You’re goddamned right we do! [SSRN]

* For example, a Louisville lawyer was arrested for allegedly surfing the web while driving drunk. Who says solo practitioners can’t multitask. [WDRB]

* Is litigation finance a loan or an investment? Perhaps tax law holds the answer. [LFC 360]

* Former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. had his law license suspended indefinitely. Apparently his trust account was bouncing checks. This suspension has ramifications for a much bigger case — Bosley had been representing Dorian Johnson, an eyewitness to the Michael Brown killing. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.); St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* Hasbro thinks that owning Scrabble means they own the English language. [Slate]

* Congratulations to legal communications specialists Infinite PR, who just merged with UK outfit Spada to expand their business across the pond. [PR Week]

A time-sensitive matter comes in. An experienced hand is needed to help. Where to look for that help? In Biglaw, the answer is usually an easy one: call up Partner No. 37 in distinguished branch office No. 6, and keep the billable hours rolling — with a happy nod towards a successful “cross-sell,” and instant validation of the underlying “size is good” concept behind so many of today’s firms. But is Partner No. 37 really the best lawyer to help out? Hard to believe that the answer is “yes” more often than not. Because Biglaw firms are constructed the way they are, however, there is a premium on making sure that existing firm resources are utilized as much as possible.

At the same time, we know the legal industry is struggling to cope with demand fluctuations, or all too often a lack of demand for expensive legal services. In the current environment, it is not a surprise to see Biglaw firms contorting themselves to reach optimal size, whether through mergers, layoffs, or lateral growth. Despite their efforts, there are very few firms that are optimally size-calibrated in relation to the demand for their services. For those firms fortunate enough to experience the occasional demand spike, retaining the ability to be nimble on staffing can mean the difference between a satisfied client or one who looks elsewhere “next time there is a big need.” Firms want repeat business, and being able to incorporate experienced additional lawyers — within the budget for a particular matter — onto the legal team can make a real difference in whether or not that repeat business happens.

But where else can firms (of all sizes) go for experienced help on short notice?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: In-House Talent — Access Denied?”

Cease-and-desist letters are usually useful legal tools to help combat the appropriation of intellectual property, but sometimes lawyers are a little too quick to send them out.

Take, for example, a recent C&D letter Instagram’s legal department sent to a website owner who was supposedly infringing upon the photo-sharing service’s trademark with his registration of the “slutsofinstagram.com” domain name.

You can’t blame Instagram for not wanting its mark to be associated with a website purporting to depict the “Sluts of Instagram,” but as it turns out, the offending website doesn’t have any sluts at all…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Instagram Gets Trolled After Sending Cease And Desist Letter To ‘Sluts of Instagram’”

* Justice Sotomayor would like to remind you that just because you’ve been to one Indian casino, that doesn’t mean all Native Americans are fantastically wealthy. [KGOU]

* Nor is every Native American cured by this news, but this is certainly a start — the Department of the Interior will sign a $554 million settlement in the breach of trust case brought by the Navajo nation. [Buckley Sandler LLP]

* A Peruvian woman has sued Disney for $250 million because she alleges that Frozen is a rip-off of her life story. Because she has magic ice powers? I guess. Actually, it looks like the only connection is that she lived in a cold place and had a sister. This reminds me of my lawsuit against Chuck Palahniuk for basing Fight Club on my life story. Not that I ran anarchic underground fight clubs, but because one-time at camp I made a bar of soap. [Bustle]

* Law professor goes after revenge porn and patent trolls because he’s trying to win the title of best person ever. [Brooklyn Paper]

* Harold Hamm, Continental Resources’ Chairman and CEO — and former energy adviser to Mitt Romney — is staring down the barrel of a massive divorce settlement. So he takes a page from Romney’s adversary. Hamm is arguing that his fortune… he didn’t build that! He was just the beneficiary of a good market rather than a contributing factor so he doesn’t have to share. [Upstream Online]

* The CAC launches a new series on the Roberts Court at 10. It’s hard to believe how long ago that was. When the Chief Justice took over we still thought the ending of Lost was going to make sense! [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Winston & Strawn lawyer turned famous LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya opened a new show in London. Sculptures made of thousands and thousands of hand-assembled bricks. Just in case you were wondering if there was a task more boring than document review. [Yahoo! Canada News]

* Paul Clement and Mike Carvin offer a SCOTUS preview. [Heritage Foundation]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 09.25.14″

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