Intellectual Property

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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lady Gaga, There’s No Use Crying Over Spilled Breast Milk
(Or: Another intellectual-property hypothetical.)

Lindsay Lohan

* Obama has created an indefinite detention system for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Because he’s too soft on terrorism to make it definite. [Washington Post]

* Utah’s new immigration laws will create a legal storm. El Niño! Spanish for The… Niño! [USA Today]

* Lilo finally starred in another movie, and former wet poodle perm enthusiast Marcia Clark is here to break it down for you. [Entertainment Tonight News]

* Hiring partners have entered the U.S. News rankings fray. Number 1? Yep, Cooley. [U.S. News & World Report]

Charlie Sheen

* Some New Yorkers are suing over a bike lane in Brooklyn. Four wheels good, two wheels bad! [New York Times]

* “Pow! Appeals court upholds comic con’s guilty plea.” [New York Post]

* Charlie Sheen’s attorney isn’t wasting any time fighting Tiger Blood’s dismissal from that show he starred in with Duckie and the lumpy kid. [Hollywood Reporter; New York City Employment Lawyer]

* Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Congress may take works out of the public domain and slap a copyright on them. I’m never going to fill this Zune up if I can’t score some free Stravinsky. [Wired News]

A day without bonus news is a day without sunshine. We wouldn’t let this Monday pass without giving you some new compensation information to wrap your heads around.

Today’s bonus news comes from the prominent intellectual-property firm of Fish & Richardson. Fish’s approach to associate compensation is closely watched by other IP shops, so we expect this announcement to be of interest to many of you.

IP lawyers like numbers, right? So let’s look at the FR memo, which includes lots of ‘em — tables for bonuses, in 2010 and 2009 (for comparison purposes), and also a table of 2011 base salaries….

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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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Julian Assange

* A British court ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden. [Reuters]

* Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions. Men, barbecue, I like you, I like you too dawg, let’s get… civil unioned? [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

* Seems like Betty Boop was passed around like a two-bit whore. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Lindsay! Lindsay Lohan! Who are you wearing? [Entertainment Weekly]

Lindsay Lohan

* More than 100 law professors are lobbying Congress to apply an ethics code to the Supreme Court. In related news, Clarence Thomas continues to troll the f**k out of a bunch of law professors. [ABA Journal]

* Arizona might have a host of new anti-immigration laws. The state hasn’t been this welcoming since The Brothers Brothers were working for their tourism commission. [New York Times]

* “Teachers accused of steamy lesbian romp fire back at city with $2M suit.” [New York Post]

After all, there are fewer partners for Howrey to lose with each passing day, as the Howrey lawyer diaspora continues to grow. Let’s review the recent activity — and discuss some possible future defections.

On Friday we reported that IP litigator Mark Whitaker would be joining Baker Botts. That news has now been publicly announced.

Back on February 4, we mentioned that government contracts lawyer Barbara Werther was leaving Howrey, most likely for Ober|Kaler. She’s now on the Ober|Kaler website (although the firm apparently didn’t issue a press release touting her arrival, as it did for two first-year associates).

UPDATE: Just this morning, Ober|Kaler issued a press release on Werther and insurance coverage litigator Stephen Palley (who also joined from Howrey).

UPDATE (4/5/11): All in all, five Howrey construction lawyers joined Ober|Kaler.

Other outlets have noted additional partner departures. K.T. “Sunny” Cherian, described by The Recorder as a “top IP litigation rainmaker” with a book of business worth more than $10 million, joined the San Francisco office of Hogan Lovells this past weekend. Four other partners will join him in soaking up the Ho-Love: John Hamann, Sarah Jalali, Constance Ramos, and Scott Wales (who had been the hiring partner for Howrey’s S.F. office).

Also in S.F., Pillsbury Winthrop picked up IP partner Duane Mathiowetz. The news was reported by the Daily Journal (subscription), which noted that Mathiowetz, who worked as a mechanical engineer for a decade before going into law, has taken five patent cases to trial in the past five years (winning four).

Who might be the next to leave Howrey? Here’s some speculation….

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This week has been fairly quiet in terms of news about the troubled Howrey law firm. A post over at the Howrey Doody Time blog — with a brilliant punny title (wish I had thought of it myself) — describes the current state of affairs as “a painful holding pattern.”

Well, this morning we do have some Howrey news to report. Above the Law has learned that IP partner Mark Whitaker is leaving the D.C. office of Howrey, his professional home for the past decade or so, to join Baker Botts.

“He’s going to Baker Botts to be the 337 guy,” said a source, referring to Section 337 (19 U.S.C. § 1337), which governs fast-track intellectual property litigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC). “He has a very nice stable of clients he has developed independent of Howrey.”

Mark Whitaker

The hiring of Mark Whitaker — described to us as a “great, great guy,” as well as a former Navy officer (like fellow Howrey partner Richard Beckler) — is a nice coup for Baker Botts, since § 337 expertise is an in-demand area. And luckily for Whitaker, the move won’t mess with his commute: both Howrey and Baker are in the Warner Building, at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue.

We understand that Whitaker was part of the group of Howrey partners invited to join Winston & Strawn, but he had other plans underway when the Winston talks were announced. His departure from Howrey comes just a few days after WilmerHale’s announcement that it was picking up another noted Howrey IP litigator, Robert Galvin (in Palo Alto).

So that’s the latest Howrey partner news. What’s going on with associates and staff?

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When asked for some 2011 predictions by the folks over at Hellerman Baretz, I had this to say (among other commentary): “Although business is generally picking up, some firms still haven’t managed to shake off the effects of the recession — and they are now seeing significant defections, as their partners leave for firms that have weathered the storm better. So, in the next year, look for at least one large — i.e., Am Law 200 — law firm to either dissolve or be swallowed up by another firm as an alternative to dissolution.”

One firm that has been experiencing some major partner departures and general upheaval is Howrey. This post is the first of what we expect to be a series of stories about the firm. If you have information about Howrey that you can share, please email us or text us.

It’s getting hard to keep track of all the partner defections at Howrey. But let’s give it a shot, as well as talk about various Howrey offices that might not be long for this world….

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My dream would be to have 10,000-20,000 people file all three documents to the lawyers and severely cripple the entire process and show them that you shouldn’t be allowed to join so many defendants.

Graham Syfert, a lawyer who created standardized documents to help people defend themselves from illegal download lawsuits without having to pay for a legal defense (and who now is the subject of a motion for sanctions by lawyers for Voltage Pictures, makers of The Hurt Locker, who are upset over the extra legal work created for them).

We know that most Biglaw shops couldn’t care less about mass associate departures. As exhibit A, I present this year’s bonus news.

But partner defections are another matter entirely — especially if a number of partners leave all at once, or if a thriving practice group jumps ship all at the same time. According to Above the Law sources, this is the situation Nixon Peabody could be facing in the days and weeks ahead. Multiple sources have told Above the Law to expect a significant exodus of Nixon Peabody partners and that the defections could start as early as this week.

We’ve been told that these defections will happen unless the disgruntled partners receive significant concessions from Nixon Peabody managing partner Richard Langan. And apparently some partners will not be satisfied with anything less than Langan’s outright removal…

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