Intellectual Property

Sometimes, the internet seems to exist largely in order to rate things. User-generated and unverified reviews of everything from movies to cars abound. The thing with this proliferation of ratings, be they on Yelp, or Amazon, or whatever, is that we usually don’t have any idea whether or not the reviewer has any basis for his rating. (In fact, the spoof product review has become its own literary micro-genre.)

Spurious or baseless ratings are not a problem when it comes to ATL’s Insider Survey (17,300 responses and counting — thanks everyone!), in which practicing attorneys and current students evaluate their own schools or employers. Among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with over- and underrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.

Which firms do those in-the-know consider to be better (or weaker) than their reputations?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Over- And Underrated Biglaw Practice Groups”

A time-sensitive matter comes in. An experienced hand is needed to help. Where to look for that help? In Biglaw, the answer is usually an easy one: call up Partner No. 37 in distinguished branch office No. 6, and keep the billable hours rolling — with a happy nod towards a successful “cross-sell,” and instant validation of the underlying “size is good” concept behind so many of today’s firms. But is Partner No. 37 really the best lawyer to help out? Hard to believe that the answer is “yes” more often than not. Because Biglaw firms are constructed the way they are, however, there is a premium on making sure that existing firm resources are utilized as much as possible.

At the same time, we know the legal industry is struggling to cope with demand fluctuations, or all too often a lack of demand for expensive legal services. In the current environment, it is not a surprise to see Biglaw firms contorting themselves to reach optimal size, whether through mergers, layoffs, or lateral growth. Despite their efforts, there are very few firms that are optimally size-calibrated in relation to the demand for their services. For those firms fortunate enough to experience the occasional demand spike, retaining the ability to be nimble on staffing can mean the difference between a satisfied client or one who looks elsewhere “next time there is a big need.” Firms want repeat business, and being able to incorporate experienced additional lawyers — within the budget for a particular matter — onto the legal team can make a real difference in whether or not that repeat business happens.

But where else can firms (of all sizes) go for experienced help on short notice?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: In-House Talent — Access Denied?”

Cease-and-desist letters are usually useful legal tools to help combat the appropriation of intellectual property, but sometimes lawyers are a little too quick to send them out.

Take, for example, a recent C&D letter Instagram’s legal department sent to a website owner who was supposedly infringing upon the photo-sharing service’s trademark with his registration of the “slutsofinstagram.com” domain name.

You can’t blame Instagram for not wanting its mark to be associated with a website purporting to depict the “Sluts of Instagram,” but as it turns out, the offending website doesn’t have any sluts at all…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Instagram Gets Trolled After Sending Cease And Desist Letter To ‘Sluts of Instagram’”


In the court

The California Court of Appeal held earlier this month that certain right of publicity claims are freely assignable, and that the Copyright Act does not preempt a right of publicity claim where the defendant has no legal right to publish the copyrighted work. The decision, Timed Out v. Youabian, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 830 (Cal. App. Ct. Sept. 12, 2014), will encourage right of publicity lawsuits and increase the costs associated with rights clearances.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California Court of Appeal Rules Models’ Right of Publicity Claims Assignable, Not Preempted by Copyright Act”

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

On September 17, 2014, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bi-partisan federal Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014, H.R. 5233, which we previously wrote about when introduced in July, 2014 by North Carolina Representative George Holding. H.R. 5233 seeks to amend the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 to create a federal civil remedy for trade secret misappropriation. Regarding the importance of the Act, Rep. Holding and other supporters noted that “[a]s of 2009, the value of trade secrets owned by U.S. companies was estimated to be nearly $5 trillion. While current federal law protects other forms of intellectual property by providing access to federal courts for aggrieved parties to seek redress, there is no federal option to do so for trade secret theft.”

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Please go f@ck yourself and die, SCOTUSblog.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent guidance in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, several software patents have been invalidated by the Federal Circuit, and district courts. In Alice Corp., the court set out a two prong validity test. First, whether the subject matter is eligible for a patent; and second, if so, whether the recitation of generic computer components adds something that is not already present when the steps are considered separately? For software patent applicants, Alice Corp. now requires that the method or system 1) improve the functioning of the computer itself, and do more than instruct one to apply the abstract idea on an unspecified generic computer; or 2) effect an improvement in another technology or field.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is This The End of Patent Trolls?”

Want your name on a law school? Just pony up $50 million.

* Voters in Scotland just said no to independence from the United Kingdom (although it might not have been a big deal for the legal profession if the vote had gone the other way). [New York Times]

* Congratulations to Drexel Law on a whopping $50 million gift — and its new name, the Thomas R. Kline School of Law. [Philadelphia Inquirer via WSJ Law Blog]

* The latest chapter in the “cautionary tale” of David Lola: dismissal of the contract attorney’s lawsuit against Skadden and Tower Legal. [American Lawyer]

* An office renovation for Baker Botts in Houston strips junior associates of window offices. [ABA Journal]

* How could Watson transform the practice of patent law? [Corporate Counsel]

* Are we seeing a reversal in the trend of declining prison populations? [Washington Post]

* The chorus of voices calling for Judge Mark Fuller to resign in the wake of domestic violence charges against him continues to grow. [New York Times]

Corporate Counsel just released its annual list of the law firms that Fortune 500 companies utilize as outside counsel (as noted in Morning Docket). Not surprisingly, the nation’s biggest corporations turn to some of the biggest names in Biglaw for legal services.

But as we noted last year, the most-mentioned firms aren’t necessarily the most prestigious or the most profitable. The rankings prioritize quantity, and they’re dominated by firms that excel in a particular practice area. See if you can guess which one….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies? (2014)”

There’s a new sheriff in town, and it’s corporate America.

Companies face pressure to make sure their market competitors aren’t getting a jump on them. And, in an effort to do that, some large companies have noticed that if they can get the United States Department of Justice to help, they have a big advantage.

Take, for example, this new blog about black market cigarettes. I heard a radio interview with the guy who writes it — Richard Marianos. He seems very passionate about the problems of black market cigarettes being trafficked on Interstate 95. His blog argues that I-95 is the new tobacco road.

(The old tobacco road, apparently, was Interstate 40 in North Carolina, which didn’t traffic in tobacco but, rather, collegiate sports, but, still, it’s a catchy name for a blog. Both tobacco roads seem to be separate from David Lee Roth’s understanding of the term.)

Marianos explained on the radio that black market cigarettes are a huge problem.

Often, he says, folks who traffic in cigarettes aren’t treated as seriously by judges as people who traffic, say, heroin, even though, when you think about it, they’re both drugs. (Though, of course, at the same time, an outhouse and the Louvre are both buildings, so I’m not sure how far that kind of reasoning goes.) Marianos is outraged that some cigarette traffickers only get probation.

He strongly suggested that black market cigarette sales are being used to fund terrorists.

Normally, when I hear the word “terrorist” I stop thinking and just hope the government throws money at combating whatever is being talked about. So, at first, I though black market cigarettes might be a very serious problem that the government needed to fund a response to.

Until I realized that a Marianos’s blog is another example of a disturbing development that I’ve been seeing in criminal intellectual property cases lately….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Criminal Intellectual Property Prosecutions and Corporate Police Work”

I asked my fiancée if she wanted to see naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. “Sure.” So I showed her. “She looks good.” Then she scratched her nose and went back to planning our wedding. “What about Kate Upton?” “Sure.” So I showed her. “She’s got huge boobs.” Her nose still itched. The seating chart was still totally fudged up. Pretty uneventful Sunday night as those go.

Last weekend, the Internet exploded in a terrific tumescence over naked pictures of women. You probably heard. But now, after the hot action, and while the whole world smokes a post-coital cigarette, we are left to sort through the regret. Chief among this shame is news that one of the stars of the tawdry affair may have been underage when the pictures were taken. Mc-kay-la: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Mc. Kay. La.

ESPN, your trusted source for manufactured controversy, chose to report on this actual controversy in the most opaque manner possible.

Here’s how…

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