Intellectual Property

You’re tired of him. I’m tired of him. Even Juggalo is tired of him.

I get it. Believe me, if Liam Neeson’s second cousin’s dogwalker so much as had gotten a parking ticket this week, I would have snapped that juicy news item up for Fame Brief. But alas, as your faithful celebrity news correspondent, I must deliver to you yet another Charlie Sheen post. Last one, I promise.*

In an inevitable move to cash-in on his enhanced celebrity, Charlie applied for trademarks on 22 of his now-passé catchphrases, including Adonis DNA, Tiger Blood, Rock Star from Mars and other mania-induced gems. Luckily still available: SmallLaw Total Bitchin’ Rock Star from Mars….

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Chris Webby

As many of you figured out, the cease and desist letter from Chris Webby, claiming ownership of the hashtag #webby, was an April Fool’s hoax. This week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon was a hologram launched by the Webby Awards people. Here’s the official reveal.

Really, we thought a few more of our loyal readers would see through it. The firm that purportedly sent the letter, Baxter, Butler & Associates, doesn’t exist. This commenter got it. But I guess most commenters don’t fire up Google unless an attractive girl is involved.

You can see why the Webbys weren’t able to get a real law firm to participate in this prank. It might have been a joke today, but the first hashtag infringement suit is surely just around the corner.

Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m going to go back to drinking heavily now.

Earlier: Cease and Desist Letter of the Day: Who Owns Your Hashtag?

Chris Webby

If you enjoy the fact that a company called PeerViews apparently claims ownership of the term “Small Law,” you’re going to love this latest piece of IP ridiculousness.

Rapper Chris Webby has sent a cease and desist order to the Webby Awards. He wants them to stop using the hashtag, #webby.

I’m pretty sure that trademarking hashtags is one of the prerequisites for the Rapture.

And yes, of course Chris Webby made a video about his legal complaint…

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Bret Michaels

* It would probably be good if I had heard of more than a handful of the 34 most influential lawyers in the United States. Now this is going to turn into a Pokémon-esque game for me. [National Law Journal]

* Instead of fighting over App Stores, BigLaw, and SmallLaw, shouldn’t tech innovators be innovating instead? Because seriously, who fights over generic trademarks? That’s so SmallLaw. [New York Times]

* Bret Michaels suffered the horrors of the STD-laden Rock of Love Bus without injury, yet Broadway gave him a brain hemorrhage. Go figure. I guess every rose really does have its thorn. [Reuters]

* Speaking of buses, lawsuits seeking a total of $220 million have been filed in the wake of the World Wide Tours crash. On the bright side, the odds here will likely be better than playing the Mohegan Sun slots. [Sify News]

* A severely disabled mother was granted visitation time with her kids. If Terri Schiavo was alive today, she would have blinked with happiness after learning about this precedential decision. [Huffington Post]

* Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Oops! McDonald’s, you forgot the public masturbation — but I guess that’s the special sauce. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Some “real housewives” of New Jersey are suing Campbell’s over salty soup. Let’s get real here: New Jersey housewives don’t know how to cook. Using the microwave doesn’t count. [Star-Ledger]

One morning last week, I walked past dozens of loyal Apple customers lined up to buy the new iPad 2. I scoffed as I walked by, my old, beat-up iPod nano playing in my ears. I also had the misfortune of walking past the same store later in the evening.

A sign in the doorway said something like, “Sorry, you’re too late. We’re sold out, na na na na.” Of course sample iPads were spread across the tables for gullible saps like me to play with, and I couldn’t resist. I really wanted to be able to legitimately say the gadget is silly and excessive, but — curse you, Steve Jobs — that thing is really cool.

It’s been, obviously, an exciting week for the company, but coincidentally (or not?) the Apple legal team has probably been working overtime too. Apple is no stranger to litigation, and we’ve covered Apple’s legal wrangling before.

Details about Apple’s hyperactive legal week — why Steve Jobs got deposed, who owns the phrase “App Store,” and a company that claims Apple stole intellectual property — after the jump.

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On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).

As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.

Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.

Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….

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Earlier this month, we presented you with a trademark law hypothetical. It was based on a dispute between Lawyerist and PeerViews Inc., parent company of TechnoLawyer, over the term “Small Law.” Lawyerist used the words “Small Law” in the title and text of this post — about Above the Law’s new offerings for small-firm readers, incidentally — and PeerViews objected.

In a letter by Kristen McCallion of Fish & Richardson, PeerViews expressed the concern that Lawyerist’s use of the words “Small Law” would diminish PeerViews’s goodwill in its “distinctive SmallLaw trademark.” PeerViews uses the mark for the TechnoLawyer newsletter on small firms.

We asked you, our readers, for your opinions on this matter. In the comments to our post, most of you sided with Lawyerist (but there were a handful of very vocal dissenters).

How will a judge or jury feel about this dispute? Because that’s who will get the next crack at this controversy. Lawyerist Media just filed a lawsuit against PeerViews in federal district court in Minnesota, seeking to invalidate the PeerViews trademarks on the terms “BigLaw” and “SmallLaw”….

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Under normal circumstances, Lady Gaga can do no wrong in my eyes. After all, she’s done a lot for me. When I was sad, she advised me to just dance, because it would be okay. When I was drunk, she reminded me that I can’t text with a drink in my hand. When I was in court, she made sure I didn’t let anyone read my poker face.

Today, however, Lady Gaga has let me down. Today, Lady Gaga is disobeying her own mantra, because instead of being a queen, she’s just being a drag. Today, my friends, Lady Gaga has threatened to sue a company that sells human breast milk ice cream.

Why does she want to sue, you ask?

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(Or: Another intellectual-property hypothetical.)

In our most recent practice area survey of the Above the Law readership, the most popular single response was “Intellectual Property.” Eighteen percent of survey respondents identified themselves as IP attorneys.

So many of you might be interested in the latest controversy to heat up the small-firm blogosphere. If you’re an IP lawyer, if you work at a small law firm, or if you’re a law student who enjoys intellectual-property hypotheticals, keep reading….

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* Awesome diary of a rich wife trying to cut back on expenses. [Going Concern]

* Justice Elena Kagan — who currently lives in D.C., and apparently plans to stay there — was called for jury duty by the District. She wasn’t seated, since we don’t let supremely qualified people sit on juries. [ABC News]

* Bros at George Washington have been charged with being bros. Given what I think about bullying, you can imagine how little tolerance I have for anti-hazing laws. [Jezebel]

* Real prison time for a virtual bully. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Elective leg amputation? Somebody’s been watching too much House. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Is patent law so easy a caveman could do it? Probably not — but a 15-year-old has a shot. [Kansas City Star]

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