Intellectual Property

The crappy thing about being a martyr is that you have to die. Just ask Obama how the whole “savior” thing is working out for him.

The recording industry has set out to make an example out of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a woman guilty of illegally downloading 24 songs. We mentioned her third trial this week while talking about Professor Charlie Nesson’s speedy benchslap.

Thomas-Rasset was trying to reduce the amount of money she had to pay for downloading the songs. You know, since the material costs $2, max, one would think her penalty wouldn’t be significantly more than a speeding ticket.

But like I said, the recording industry really wanted to make an example out of her. And apparently our judicial system is happy to be the compliant lapdogs of corporate interests. So Thomas-Rasset is going to have to ascend the pyre, because the courts lit her up, again…

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Professor Charlie Nesson

Tomorrow, Jammie Thomas-Rasset goes to trial for a third time over her illegal downloads of 24 songs. As we’ve reported before, the music industry is determined to make an example of her, and tomorrow they’ll be fighting over damages the Thomas-Rasset should pay for stealing things valued at $1 on iTunes.

But what should and will happen to Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a substantive discussion for another day. Right now, I want somebody to tell me who holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for quickest benchslap. Because District Judge Michael Davis just knocked around Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson so quickly you wonder if the clerk pulled a hamstring trying to get everything filed in the correct chronological order…

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected]

Dear Above the Law,

I’m a jobless 3L with waning hope (shocking). I want to practice patent law in some capacity, but I majored in mathematics and only gained patent bar eligibility through an 8 hour engineering exam last April. Apparently I’m not a hedonist these days. Anyway, by the time I got my passing results on the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering exam), the summer Chicago Patent Firm Festival application deadline had lapsed.

I’m now considering going back to school to get a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Do you think it would injure my (non-existent) law career to take a couple years away from the law in order to educate myself further in eventual pursuit of patent aspirations?? (And to give myself a back up career, let’s be serious).

– Patently Nerdy

Dear Patently Nerdy,

I stared at the sentence “Apparently I’m not a hedonist these days,” wondering what that meant and if it was final confirmation that I had lost cognitive abilities after the concussion, but I concluded that that sentence makes no sense and that you were trying to say “I’m a glutton for punishment.”

Let’s move on, quickly…

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The University of Illinois College of Law knows a thing our two about scandals. It’s a public university in one of the most politically corrupt states in the union, so we can forgive the occasional admissions scandal (like the one that popped up back in 2009).

You’d think that a school which has had its own problems keeping everything on the up-and-up wouldn’t be so eager to go after its own students who commit the little white crime of illegally downloading something off of the internet. But you’d be wrong. Apparently the Illinois Law administration will aggressively discipline students caught making illegal downloads.

Wonderful — so the job market is in the tank, you’re starting to figure out that living in Champaign is nothing like living in Chicago, and now the law school itself is going to come down on you if grab Iron Man 2 without paying Paramount its pound of flesh? Things are rough…

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Craigslist might have had to close down its adult section, but its Missed Connections area is still alive and kicking.

And that’s a good thing, at least for one UC Hastings law student who had one stimulating lecture with an adjunct law professor teaching intellectual property. The lady was quite taken by the guest lecturer, as the title to her Missed Connections post implies:

You: Adjunct law professor unjustly enriching my imagination – w4m – 25

That’s just the headline. The body of the note is much more steamy.

Maybe not New York Jets talking to Ines Sainz sexy-talk, but pretty damn explicit for an IP law class, taking place on a lazy day out in California…

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Now this is a list that matters. Corporate Counsel (an American Lawyer publication) has complied its annual list of the firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This is a list of which firms are getting work from clients with deep pockets. If you care at all about the business end of the law, then you care about this list.

And while the firms that are tapped for this kind of work won’t surprise anybody, it’s always good to take a look at who clients want to be with.

For general corporate law, these are the firms that were mentioned most by clients reporting to the magazine:

Cleary: 12 mentions
Davis Polk: 11 mentions
Cravath: 10 mentions
Simpson Thacher: 10 mentions

Yep, no real surprises there.

But what about some other practice areas? Well, the names start to change…

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Though there are signs that things are looking up for the legal market next year, the economy remains troubled. This week the recession claimed 18 at intellectual-property boutique Brinks Hofer.

We spoke with firm president Gary Ropski, who confirmed that seven attorneys, one patent agent, and ten staff were laid off this week. [FN1] Most of these layoffs took place in the firm’s main Chicago office. The firm spoke individually with every person let go, and had a firm-wide conference call yesterday to discuss the layoffs.

“It’s the toughest part of my job,” said Ropski. This was less than 5% of the total workforce of the firm, which has 400 employees nationally.

There’s been much talk in the legal sector about problems for IP boutiques as bigger firms encroach on their turf. Earlier this year, IP firm Darby & Darby dissolved. We asked Ropski whether he was worried about the outlook for IP boutiques in today’s economy….

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After a 16-year-long fight, Valentino has prevailed in litigation with Florence Fashions over the use of the Valentino trademark. Read an interesting interview with Valentino’s lawyer, Anne Sterba, and comment — over at our sister site, Fashionista.

Valentino Wins 16-Year Trademark Case; Valentino’s Lawyer Explains the Ruling [Fashionista]

Back in May, we reported on merger rumors involving Kilpatrick Stockton and Townsend and Townsend and Crew. As it turns out, the firms were in talks — but now those talks have fallen apart.

As the two firms told the Daily Journal, the talks were called off because of a familiar reason: potential client conflicts. According to a statement issued by Kilpatrick’s co-managing partner, William Dorris, “We explored merger discussions with our friends at Townsend, but clients always come first. When client-related conflicts could not be resolved, we could not proceed further.”

What made the merger alluring initially?

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I kind of blew my Star Wars referential load when we found out that the Star Wars Kid was going to law school. But that was weeks ago. Who could have known that in the past month Lucasfilms would become embroiled in some actual legal battles? Earlier this week, we found out that pregnant women have a bad feeling about working for the company. And on Tuesday, CNN reported that Lucasfilms sent a cease-and-desist letter to a laser pointer company because their product looks too much like the iconic lightsaber:

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas wants to force a laser company to stop making a new, high-powered product he says looks too much like the famous lightsaber from his classic sci-fi series.

Lucasfilm Ltd. has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hong Kong-based Wicked Lasers, threatening legal action if it doesn’t change its Pro Arctic Laser series or stop selling it altogether.

I actually own a full sized lightsaber replica (of course I do — do I look like I got laid ever in high school). It lights up (red, d’uh, have you met me?), and it makes all the sounds when you swing it around. And let me tell you, this laser product looks nothing like a real lightsaber…

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