Intellectual Property

About a month ago, I read an article about a new position available for experienced attorneys at a certain Biglaw firm. The firm? Kilpatrick Townsend. The position? Something called a “department attorney.”

Before we get into what that is, and some of the implications for Biglaw if this new kind of position takes hold, let’s take a look at the listing of open positions on Kilpatrick’s website. Currently, the firm is advertising for nine associate positions, six of which are in the patent area (including two for patent “prosection” (sic) associates, who hopefully will be better at including all the letters in a word than the firm’s recruiting staff).

Want to be a department attorney? Well, for you there are ten open positions. The breakdown? Eight in trademarks, two in patent prosecution. The common denominator of those disciplines? Shrinking margins for Biglaw, in the face of competition from IP boutiques specializing in volume work, and bulked-up in-house departments doing more on their own. In light of those shrinking margins, the firm’s desire to hire more department attorneys than full-bore associates is understandable. At least they are hiring….

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‘Dear Sir or Madam, you are infringing on my patent, now pay up!’

I think fundamentally the term ‘patent troll’ gets thrown at anybody who you don’t like who is a plaintiff in a patent case.

Nathan Myhrvold — former CTO of Microsoft, current CEO of Intellectual Ventures Management, and co-author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (affiliate link), a six-volume, 2,438-page cookbook — speaking on Capitol Hill yesterday about patent reform. Myhrvold’s critics claim that Intellectual Ventures Management is one of the biggest patent trolls around.

* Congrats to @FenwickWest on landing the big Twitter IPO! #yaylegalfees [American Lawyer]

* The Deal Professor, Steven Davidoff, surveys the legal landscape around the Twitter filing, focusing on the #JOBSAct. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Jamie McCourt, a former family law attorney, strikes out in trying to set aside her divorce settlement with Frank McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’s stuck with $131 million and several luxury homes. #richpeopleproblems [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* An inquest reveals that a Hogan Lovells partner who took his own life had warned a colleague that he was going to kill himself the day before his death. [Daily Mail via ABA Journal]

* Good news for the news business: the Senate Judiciary Committee approves a federal media-shield bill. [Washington Wire / Wall Street Journal]

* Nathan Myhrvold, the CEO of a patent holding company, warns that anti-patent-troll sentiment could have unforeseen consequences. [Corporate Counsel]

* Praise in the WSJ for Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (affiliate link), the new book by Professor Josh Blackman (who recently wrote a guest post for us on Supreme Court beauty contests). [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congrats to George Mason Law on its two high-profile hires: D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg and Covington antitrust partner Damien Geradin. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* If you’re in New York this weekend, go see Arguendo. Or buy tickets for the 7 p.m. performance on September 22, when I’ll be doing a talkback with artistic director John Collins after the show. Enter the discount code “ABOVE” for $35 tickets (a special rate for ATL readers). [Public Theater]

Scalia/Ginsburg: coming soon to an opera house near you?

We recently shared with you a fascinating, legally themed musical project: Scalia/Ginsburg, an opera about two of the U.S. Supreme Court’s leading lights, by award-winning composer Derrick Wang.

Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg, longtime colleagues and good friends, don’t share much in terms of jurisprudence but do share a love of opera. It’s fitting, then, that their Con Law clashes will serve as the basis for a new operatic work.

Where did Wang come up with the idea for an opera about these two distinguished jurists? As it turns out, Wang is not only a composer but a law school graduate. Where did he go to law school, and why?

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Back in June, we got a chance to see an absolutely great response to a cease and desist letter. The author of that response letter, Stephen B. Kaplitt, is an Above the Law folk hero for kicking off his response to an unnecessarily threatening C&D with “obviously [this] was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire,” before systematically ripping the opposing attorneys a new one.

Now comes another great response to a C&D letter, and this one may even be better because of the firm on the receiving end.

Teaser: Biglaw smackdown! Snarky footnotes! Spice Girls references! Lollipops!

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As you hopefully are aware, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful, moving and memorable I have a dream… speech. In a just world, that speech would be in the public domain. And, legally, it might be. While King did apparently send a copy of the speech to the Copyright Office, he did so as an “unpublished work.” There has been a dispute, then, about the speech itself, since that would be a publication. His estate, however, has argued that the speech was not a “general publication,” but rather a “limited publication” and thus King retained a common law copyright — and an appeals court appeared to agree, but the lawsuit over this was settled without a final ruling, and no one has challenged it since. However, King’s estate has beenridiculously aggressive in trying to lock up his speeches and take down videos commemorating his talks, with a focus on this momentous speech.

Of course, they’re more than happy to license the speech to the highest bidder…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Let Freedom Ka-Ching! On The 50th Anniversary Of ‘I Have A Dream,’ AT&T Can Use The Speech To Sell Phones, But You Can’t Post It”

* Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan gets the death penalty. Looks like that gradual end of the death penalty won’t be fast enough for him. [CNN]

* Man gets 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old who later killed herself. The judge explained that he’d already been punished with “the scarlet letter of the internet.” The new sentencing guidelines are really web-literate. [Jezebel]

* Infilaw is taking over Charleston School of Law eliminating all the pretense. [Post and Courier]

* On that note, Steven J. Harper discusses President Obama’s call to eliminate the third year of law school. Simpler Harper: Law schools and the ABA are too vested in ripping off students to listen to reason. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* The “most intimidating man in hip-hop” is a Columbia Law grad. Hip-hop has come a long way from allegedly dangling rappers off hotel balconies. [GQ]

* The Internet Strikes Back: A new crowdsourcing tool tracks IP trolls. [Technology Law Source]

* A call for former law clerks to fight for an end to sequestration. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* The state-legal yet federal-illegal status of medical marijuana leads to some very complex tax returns. You should smoke up to take the edge off. [TaxProf Blog]

* For those beginning law school, here’s some advice from the National Women Law Students’ Organization. [Ms. JD]

Representing patent trolls: harder than it looks?

Has the “mojo hand” lost its mojo?

In 2008, a paralegal at Weil Gotshal alleged in a lawsuit that Matthew Powers, co-chair of litigation at Weil at the time, ruled over his domain with the “pimp hand” and the “mojo hand.” The “pimp hand” was used to intimidate and coerce, while the “mojo hand” was used to stroke and cajole.

In 2011, Powers, one of the nation’s leading intellectual-property litigators, left Weil to start his own firm, Tensegrity Law Group. In leaving Biglaw, he also left behind a stable of blue-chip clients, focusing instead on representing plaintiffs on a contingency basis.

Two years into his new venture, some observers are wondering whether Matt Powers has lost his powers….

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* Mike Brown, the man at the center of the would-be South Carolina restaurant racial discrimination suit, has a post over at xoJane telling his story. [xoJane]

* Time for a Team Prenda update! Now they are making really embarrassingly terrible “your mom” jokes. [Popehat]

* Contrary to Elie’s tweet, there is kind of a legal angle to the debacle at the VMAs that was Miley Cyrus dancing with an aging Michael Keaton dressed as Beetlejuice Robin Thicke. MuckRock has submitted a FOIA request to find out how many complaints were filed with the FCC. Unfortunately, my bet is that the number is more than zero, despite the FCC having no legal authority over indecency on MTV. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a collection of GIFs. [MuckRock]

* Shots fired! Law Librarian Blog snarks on Law Professor Blogs 2.0 re-design. Palace Intrigue: Blogger Edition. [Law Librarian Blog]

* A new website provides an online course in general deposition prep for witnesses. Will this work? Pro: Deposition prep involves haphazard application of life lessons from a lawyer’s individual career and a professionalized course is beneficial. Con: Why would a firm forfeit all those billable hours to a third-party? [The Perfect Witness]

* Not every law school is cutting back. San Joaquin College of Law is expanding its enrollment. It’s not ABA-accredited, so all these students are sure to land on their feet. [KFSN]

* Since we’re likely to be at war with Syria by the end of the week, here’s a thoughtful piece on the legality of intervention in light of the UN charter and moral obligations. [Boston Review]

There’s a very cool group out there called the Hacker Scouts, which was started last year, trying to get kids interested in cool hacking stuff:

Hacker Scouts is a national non profit organization, founded in the Fall of 2012 in Oakland CA, that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big. A variety of experts and mentors from the community ensure a well rounded and high level of attention and skill building for all ages through accessible programs that meet the different needs of our young makers. Hacker Scouts provides open source material and a support program for Hacker Scout programs globally.

Awesome, right? Definitely the kind of thing that should be encouraged. But, then the Boy Scouts of America went ballistic and threatened the Hacker Scouts with trademark infringement claims…

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