Patents

The patent world can at times seem very small. The same firms, representing the same group of technology companies, pursuing the same strategies, both to maximize profits for their firms and to deliver results for their clients. Sure people move around, but the players in the larger sense are pretty static. Most patent cases are of limited importance to everyone but the parties involved as well. Sometimes a case has a broader scope, and becomes of interest to industry competitors or even investors. Every once in a while a patent case captures the public fancy, as Apple v. Samsung undoubtedly has, usually because of the nature of the parties involved or the ubiquity of the technology at issue. When that happens, the patent world can seem very big — global in scope, even.

Sometimes a little case can actually turn into a huge deal. When the Supreme Court gets involved, for example. Especially when the issue in the case has far-reaching economic implications for society at large, and not just for the litigants involved. I have seen a number of “big” patent cases during my career, but none has the disruptive potential of a case that is set for oral argument next week in the Supreme Court. From humble beginnings as a declaratory judgment action filed in an unusual forum for patent cases (District of D.C.,) the dispute between Alice Corp. and CLS Bank has grown into one of the most closely-watched and debated patent cases — ever. And deservedly so, because the viability of software patents is on the line. With major ramifications possible: for technology companies of all sizes, IP firms and lawyers, the courts, and the good old global economy as well….

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* A Minnesota court ruled that it is not a crime to encourage people to commit suicide. So… keep commenting assholes, just know that you’ll feel really bad if I do it. [Gawker]

* I might be in the market for a used car, and I’m hoping to get a really good deal on one of these “recalled” GMs. I hope the DOJ doesn’t screw up my plans. [Reuters Legal]

* Speaking of cars, Alan Dershowitz calls for vigorous prosecution of reckless drivers. I call for vigorous prosecution of any box-blocking suburbanite who drives around Manhattan on a Saturday like they’re cruising to the country fair. [ABA Journal]

* Alabama thinks that people over 70 should be excused from jury duty. YES, they deserve to be excused and I hope they burn in Hell! [WSJ Law Blog]

* Narc is the new tattletale. [Simple Justice]

* Are you an IP lawyer, especially a patent litigator? Here’s a symposium you should consider attending (featuring ATL columnist Gaston Kroub). [Markman Advisors]

* Speaking of conferences, who wants to hang out with Lat in Las Vegas? Read on for details (plus video)….

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I think you really have to bust your butt.

Eric Bernsen, patent counsel at Knobbe Martens, recalling the hard work that was necessary to get a job at a respected firm after law school. Bernsen graduated magna cum laude from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2012.

Kevin Trudeau

* “How many years would you put a TV pitchman in jail? 3 years? 5 years? Don’t answer yet…” [Sentencing Law and Policy]

* So there’s a sex tape of Chris Christie. Except it isn’t him. They should have known Christie could never be a porn star. You can’t get far in the porn biz by saying, “This lane is closed.” [Gawker]

* Dolt Duped By Date Sues OKCupid. [NY Post]

* Patents are a terrible measure of innovation. Hold on, I defy you to besmirch the Anti-Drowning Hat. [Concurring Opinions]

* Wage theft in fast food shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the role played by the franchise model in creating labor law violations is intriguing. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* A gathering of business development tips, including shout outs to Anonymous Partner and Mark Herrmann. [Corporette]

* What better qualification to challenge for the Vegas DA’s job than to be prosecuted by that office days before the election? [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* A Baltimore lawyer aggressively used the habeas process to release mentally ill girls to serve as personal slaves to the wealthy. [Slate]

* Weil’s Business Finance & Restructuring team is putting together a March Madness bracket based on quotes from bankruptcy decisions. Let the excitement wash over you. Having not seen the bracket yet, I’m reserving judgment on what an awesome array of bankruptcy quotes would look like. [Bankruptcy Blog]

* Kevin O’Keefe, who presented on my panel at our Attorney@Blog conference, left all of us touched with his tribute to Above the Law. [Real Lawyers Have Blogs]

* Missouri lawyer is hauled into a disciplinary hearing about his practice of showing a picture of a naked woman to a female client. He says it wasn’t about sex and he was just showing her the kinds of pictures that come up in a divorce proceeding. That sounds like a fine explanation. I mean, every divorce involves autographed photos of strippers. He also commingled funds. That’s less easy to explain. [Inside the Ozarks]

* Hey look! They brought back Debtors’ Prison. The prison-industrial complex has gotta get paid somehow. [Bergen Dispatch]

* Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are now looking into David Samson, the chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a Christie appointee. If government agencies aren’t for petty revenge and plunder, then what are they for? [Talking Points Memo]

* Insurance company cronies threaten that insurance company may have to get out of the business because of all the lawyers winning cases making the insurance company actually pay their contractual obligations. Don’t they understand the purpose of litigation is just to collect premiums? [Legal Newsline Legal Journal]

* How ACLU attorney Ben Wizner became Snowden’s lawyer. [Forbes]

* “One of the reasons I could never imagine being a lawyer is because you have to account for your time in 15-minute increments.” Thankfully she was corrected and told that lawyers are actually more irritatingly measured in 6-minute increments. [Dear Prudence / Slate]

* With all the talk of patent law reform coming from the President, this is an excellent time to look back at eight dumb patents. [Mashable]

Watching other lawyers in action is fun. Much more fun than watching myself in action, as I have had the opportunity to do on a number of occasions. Such as during my trial training days, when the instructors decided that making us watch clips of ourselves try and conduct a direct examination was valuable. At least they got a kick out of it. But as edifying as watching video of yourself can be, you can learn a whole lot more by watching other lawyers. This lesson was ingrained in me as far back as my 1L “summer clerkship” in New Jersey state court. I remember the clerks gathering around on motion day to check out arguments in front of other judges, mostly to watch the lawyers in action. Ditto for trials.

Of course, once you enter practice — especially in Biglaw, where opportunities to even get out of the office are hard-earned — it becomes even more important to turn opportunities to watch other advocates into learning experiences. Because of the nature of the cases we were handling, many of which involved Biglaw firms of some repute on both sides, there were plenty of opportunities to watch great lawyers in action. Just as frequently, I was able to watch inexperienced lawyers from great firms struggle to get through routine litigation events. I am sure that many other lawyers were forced to endure my inexperienced attempts to handle those events along the way as well. Experienced lawyers just love sitting through a deposition where the questioner spends an hour getting through the educational background of the witness…

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You learn a lot of lessons practicing in Biglaw. A big one is that you can never be prepared enough. There is always another opinion of your presiding judge to read, or a brief drafted by your opponent in an earlier case to review. Anyone who makes it more than a few years in Biglaw learns that lesson. But as much as preparation is valued, and pursued with fervor as an ideal onto itself, there is absolutely no way for even the most idealistic Biglaw recruit to fully appreciate what they are getting themselves into.

As many know, law school itself has little to teach about the realities of Biglaw, other than to idealize it as a fantasy land of big paychecks and “interesting work.” And everyone’s Biglaw experience is so unique that anecdotal tidbits are of limited utility. Does the professor, who so proudly includes on his resume a two year stint as a M&A associate at a white-shoe firm two decades ago, have much actionable advice to give a graduating 3L headed for a first-year post at even that same firm? Not really, except to perhaps suggest that the best type of relationship with that firm is one where it is your former employer….

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As humanity veers closer to becoming straight-up cyborgs, it was only a matter of time before the law started messing with the course of wearable technology. We’re not ready to deal with a world where we’re all little Robocops accessing the Internet in real-time with a literal blink of an eye. And that means it’s time for some square-peg-round-hole legal challenges.

Someday we’ll have a legal answer for Google Glass. For now, we’ll just have to agree that they look stupid….

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* Congrats to Weil Gotshal and Fenwick & West for getting in on Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, the biggest Internet deal in a decade. [The Recorder]

* In South Carolina, you can get arrested for crimes that aren’t even things any more. Like “failure to return a VHS tape.” [Lowering the Bar]

* Drunk lawyer at heart of alleged insider trading scheme. [Dealbreaker]

* Did LBJ colossally screw up the Supreme Court? [Concurring Opinions]

* Were you curious about who would be on the Mount Rushmore of Tax Law professors? No? Well, here they are anyway. [TaxProf Blog]

* The so-called “trial penalty” is really a myth and empirical data confirms that defendants who reject plea deals and go to trial actually garner a “trial discount.” Yep, prosecutors aren’t overreaching at all. [PrawfsBlawg]

* President Obama called for patent law reform in the State of the Union address. Now we have some insight into what he’s thinking about. [Patently-O]

* Congratulations to Matthew Skinner, the next executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York! [LeGal]

‘Try and make it look painful, we’ve got a bloodthirsty audience here!’

* Allegations that a prison told a death row inmate to “put on a show” while getting a lethal injection. Just when you thought the death penalty couldn’t manifest itself as more cruel and unusual… [NBC News]

* A discussion of how early voting is bad. Apparently, after an electoral dialogue that usually lasts a year or more, we’re all lemmings swayed by the events of the last day of campaigning so there’s no justification for allowing voters to show up three days before the finish line. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Kentucky legend Richie Farmer’s basketball jersey may be retired, but the Bureau of Prisons decided to give Farmer, now a political figure heading to prison for abusing his office, his old number back as an inmate number. Thanks? [Legal Juice]

* In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama came out strong for patent law reform. Exactly the issue he needed to rally voters for the midterms! [Patently-O]

* And while it didn’t make the address itself, Attorney General Eric Holder is signaling a new administrative interest in reforming the out of whack sentencing laws. [Sentencing Law and Policy]

* On February 12, our own David Lat will be speaking at Georgetown at an ABA Journal sponsored talk on “#21stCenturyLaw.” Let’s see that hash tag start trending. [ABA Journal]

* Joshua Gilliland of The Legal Geeks reacts to the revelation that the new costuming for next season’s Doctor Who will ditch Gilliland’s beloved bow tie. Our hearts go out to you in your pain. Video embedded below… [The Legal Geeks]

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