Rejoice, wedding fans! We have some compelling mid-summer material for you this week: Wachtell, SCOTUS, lesbians, French nobility — read on for the details on all of that and more, as reported in the New York Times and filtered by us.
Our finalist couples:
* California lawyer Ryan Kent has accused Dahn Yoga of being a cult and filed a class action suit against the Brain Wave Vibrators. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Ross Mitchell spent just $38,000 on his online law degree and became his own first client. He won his lawsuit to be admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. [Boston Herald]
* Richard Posner is bearish on newspapers and bullish on draconian copyright protection for online news. Permission to link? [The Becker-Posner Blog]
* Is 12 years enough for Bernie? [Am Law Daily]
* Law school is great preparation for doing something other than law. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Musical chairs: Morgan Lewis taps gas from Baker Botts. [Am Law Daily]
It’s an exciting day here at ATL when we can find three excuses to cover the salacious beat (see #1 and #2). Judge Richard Posner brings us our third opportunity.
Judge Posner issued a ruling [PDF] Friday in a patent infringement case involving “sex aids” companies. Posner brings his dry humor and excellent wit to the decision, starting off by defining the nature of the business the plaintiff and the defendant are in:
Both firms produce what the parties call “sex aids” but are colloquially referred to as “sex toys.” A more perspicuous term is “sexual devices,” by analogy to “medical devices.” The analogy lies in the fact that, like many medical devices (thermometers for example), what we are calling sexual devices are intended to be inserted into bodily orifices, albeit for a different purpose.
Never before has patent infringement been so sexy… and sex toys so un-sexy:
The devices are generally in the shape of rods of various curvatures and are made out of rubber, plastic, glass, or some combination of these materials. Until the plaintiffs began manufacturing their patented sexual devices, glass sexual devices were made out of soda-lime glass, the most common form of glass.
We are not as well-versed in the nature of sex toys as is Judge Posner. We didn’t realize there were such things as glass dildos — despite the presence of this commenter in our threads — but apparently there are, and they have been around for a long time. The plaintiffs in Ritchie (Know Mind Enterprises/Topco) v. Vast Resources Inc. claimed to innovate the glass dildo design, obtaining a patent for those made with borosilicate glass (the stuff used by Pyrex). Adding silica makes the devices “slippery,” “lubricious,” and “resistant to heat, chemicals, electricity and bacterial absorptions.” While we like chemistry in bed, electricity might be a bit much.
Ritchie sued Vast Resources for violating its patent, and making their own slippery glass rods. The Seventh Circuit, in Judge Posner’s opinion, reversed the lower court’s decision in the plaintiff’s favor, ruling that Pyrexing sex devices is not patentable. It’s an “obvious” invention, an example of “modest, routine, everyday, incremental improvements of an existing product or process that confer commercial value… but do not involve sufficient inventiveness to merit patent protection.”
Posner is a judge on the Seventh Circuit but sat on this Federal Circuit case by designation. Like us, Posner likes writing on salacious topics. After all, having penned the book Sex and Reason in 1992, Posner is a judicial sexpert.
You never know where you’ll find sexism in our society and our profession. It knows no party or ideology.
But it has no place in court. In a decision yesterday, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner took a shot at a plaintiff’s attorney who thought this was still 1950.
The case, Thorogood v. Sears Roebuck, was perfectly set up for a sexist wisecrack by an attorney cheap enough to take it. The case involved stainless steel clothes dryers that nonetheless caused rust stains on some clothing. A massive class action suit was mounted against Sears because “stainless steel” was not used for every part of the appliance.
During oral argument, the plaintiff’s attorney suggested that the all-male bench “ask their wives” about the problems associated with rust stains from dryers.
Posner did not find this funny. Writing for the majority (and holding for Sears) Posner shot back:
At argument the plaintiff’s lawyer, skeptical that men ever operate clothes dryers–oddly, since his client does–asked us to ask our wives whether they are concerned about rust stains in their dryers. None is.
Prior ATL articles have shown that some men really expect their wives to do all the laundry, but they are a dying breed (I think). There’s no way that attorney would have joked about women washing clothes if there was a woman on the 7th Circuit panel.
Hopefully, getting smacked around by Posner will teach this attorney that he should not make sexist remarks in open court regardless of the gender diversity on the bench.
Procrastination is a terrible habit, and the internet is truly the great enabler. How many hours of productivity are lost to YouTube each year?
Judging from Law Firm March Madness traffic, lawyers are definitely among the office workers looking for distraction. Slate has gathered “procrastination rituals” from various professionals. One of the contributors is Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. His ritual is not to procrastinate:
Procrastination is very unhealthy. It causes problems for the people who are counting on you to complete things in a timely fashion and it makes your own life more difficult…. It helps to be a little compulsive. Then you feel uncomfortable if something is hanging over you — that’s the opposite of procrastination, a compulsion to complete things and get rid of the albatross hanging over you…. I have that compulsion.
In the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, you’ll find their list of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. The list appears here (and you can vote for your top five). Bios of the honorees — and we must confess, some of these names didn’t ring a bell — appear here.
The public intellectuals explicitly identified on the list as lawyers, judges, or legal scholars are (in alphabetical order):
– Aitzaz Ahsan, president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, and a leader in the Pakistan People’s Party;
– Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate;
Professor Nussbaum is a former flame of Professor Sunstein, while Professor Power is his current main squeeze. Rumor has it that his move to Harvard Law School from his longtime academic home, the University of Chicago Law School, was prompted by a desire to be closer to the center of power — Samantha Power, that is.
Greetings from the great — but frigid — city of Chicago. We’re hanging out with friends and doing some sightseeing, but the main reason for our visit is this event, taking place on Thursday (and open to the public):
While in Chi-town, we will also be meeting readers at an ATL “Happy Hour,” similar to the event we held in Miami last year. It will take place on Wednesday, February 20, sometime after work (time and place to be determined). Update: The Chicago “Happy Hour” will take place on Wednesday, February 20, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Miller’s Pub (134 S. Wabash). Hope to see you there! Schedule of Events [University of Chicago Law School Federalist Society]
I’m creating a proposal for a downtown performance art show based on US sex laws – the quirkier the better. There are many lists online of these laws, but it’s really hard to find the actual statute or case number. In some cases, they either don’t exist or are changed to sound funny but the actual law is not so strange. Like, if its illegal to bring an animal into a public space, you could say that porcupines are not allowed at the opera but then neither is a dog. So much for your funny porcupine law.
The strength of the show is based on the truth – like the real Texas law where having 7 or more sex toys in your possession is “intent to distribute”. I’m looking to see if some defunct laws ever existed – like the supposed Florida law that banned unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays.
If you even understand what I’m going for and have access to a law library (online or brick&mortar), please contact me.
Our tipster writes: “I’d take it on myself, but I’m not sure how I’d bill it. I know Loyola 2L is pretty hard up; perhaps he could use the extra bucks. Plus, something tells me Gabrielle’s gotta be hot (Roissy would surely agree).”
Gabrielle: you might want to drop Howard Bashman a line. He is a recognized authority on sex toys (as a legal if not practical matter). Update: A diligent associate at a bonus-bestowing firm recommends A Guide to America’s Sex Laws, by no less an authority than the eminent Judge Richard Posner.
But this sex law compendium might come with a big red flag over it, in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas. The diligent associate points out: “Note that it’s out of date, coming as it did in the Bowers era.” RESEARCH – Strange Laws for Performance Piece (Lower East Side) [Craigslist]
Well, not in Illinois. In Cavel International v. Madigan (PDF; via How Appealing), the Seventh Circuit upheld an Illinois law making it unlawful to “slaughter a horse if that person knows or should know that any of the horse meat will be used for human consumption.”
It’s a quirky and interesting case. Howard Bashman provides a concise summary and more discussion over here.
Don’t miss page 11 of Judge Richard Posner’s slip opinion, which features a photograph of a “birthday cake” made of horse meat. YUM!!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.