Federal Circuit

We have a whole contest here at Above the Law in which law students sing, dance, and show off the talents they’re murdering to become lawyers. We’ve seen other lawyers who balance practicing law and making music, such as Anthony McNamer, or who leave the law to pursue music full-time, such as Weil Gotshal associate turned rapper Mekka Don (who just released his debut album).

But there are very few lawyers use their musical talents to promote their legal careers, like the attorney we’re about to discuss. He’s also footnoted his lyrics, so you can tie some of his hard, gangsta action to specific Federal Circuit cases. Which is a sentence that would have made Tupac roll over in his grave… if he were really dead. Don’t tell me a dead guy is still releasing a hit every couple of years….

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Mediation. For some lawyers, it is a great way to spend a day; for others, it is an interminable bore, and ineffective to boot. It is easy to imagine that lawyers who have had successful mediation experiences are more likely to fall into the former category than the latter. What is more certain, however, is that mediation skills are increasingly important for a litigator to have, for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, most lawyers, especially Biglaw attorneys, are left to fend for themselves when it comes to developing those skills. That is a shame, as the importance of being able to mediate successfully has only grown in today’s business climate. More generally, negotiation skills remain under-taught in law schools and by law firms, and as a result are underdeveloped in many lawyers.

Any chance a lawyer has to develop their mediation skills should be seized. As an intellectual property litigator, all of my cases originate in federal district courts, and throughout the country, almost every case schedule includes mediation (or some other form of alternative dispute resolution) as a distinct event. Where on the schedule the mediation occurs, and whether it is held before a magistrate judge or local certified mediator, is usually up for negotiation between the parties. What is important is that mandated mediation is on the schedule. As a result, just as litigators need to know how to handle a discovery motion in a particular court, so should they be prepared to make the most out of whatever mediation process their case calls for. Interestingly, mediation has become an important part of appeals as well, including at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a familiar forum for patent litigators like myself….

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Look at all those poor patents…

Unfortunately, I have no link on this one, because someone sent me a copy of an article that is either not online or only behind a paywall somewhere, but at a recent AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Assocation) meeting, Judge Randall Rader, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which handles all patent appeals, apparently complained about “vague language” in the most recent update to patent law, the America Invents Act, to have the US Patent Office’s (USPTO) Patent and Trademark Appeal Board (PTAB) review more patents to dump bad ones. The recently proposed patent reform bill from Rep. Bob Goodlatte would expand this program. Now, anyone who recognizes the importance of getting rid of bad patents, knowing how bad patents can make the overall problem worse, should support this. But, not Judge Randall Rader. He compares it to genocide.

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‘Who’s bad? O’Melveny!’

* U. Penn. Law doesn’t need to toot its own horn about kicking off its visiting jurist program with a Supreme Court justice — we’ll do it on the school’s behalf: toot f-ing toot for Justice Kennedy. [National Law Journal]

* President Obama nominated former OLC attorney and current HLS professor David Barron for a First Circuit vacancy, and a Western New England alum for a district court judgeship. Congrats! [Boston Globe]

* The Senate confirmed Todd Hughes for a seat on the Federal Circuit without any opposition. This is what progress looks like: Hughes will be the first openly gay federal appellate judge in U.S. history. [BuzzFeed]

* Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is pretty pissed that federal budget issues are allowing his office to get outgunned by wealthy financial firms. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “It seems a very coordinated effort of smugness.” As we reported previously, lawyers from the small firm representing Michael Jackson’s family think O’Melveny & Myers is full of d-bags. [Los Angeles Times]

* Sorry, but you can’t bang your clients. Well, that’s not completely true. You can bang your clients, but you have to bang them before there’s a legal relationship to keep banging them ethically. [Daily Report]

* The hits keep on coming for Curt Schilling. Now the SEC has woken up and decided to probe the $75 million he secured from the state of Rhode Island (already the subject of another suit). Maybe he can fake another bloody sock to generate some sympathy. [Bloomberg]

* Apple sold a “Season Pass” to Breaking Bad Season 5 and then refused to honor the second half of the season to its subscribers, prompting an Ohio doctor to file suit for $20, with hopes of building a class action. Look, Apple needed that money; Tim Cook is desperate these days. [Deadline: Hollywood]

* Speaking of Apple, the Federal Circuit looks like it’s going to give Apple another crack at its claim that Google ripped off the iPhone patents, citing “significant” errors on the part of the last judge to rule on the dispute: Richard Posner. You come at the king, you best not miss. [Wall Street Journal]

* And last, but definitely not least, Apple’s new fingerprint ID will be the death of the Fifth Amendment. Discuss. [Wired]

* A film chock-full of unsanctioned footage and insulting knocks on Disney has been picked up for distribution. This is your official warning that it’s time to prepare the beauty pageant pitch for the Disney execs. [Grantland]

* Elie smash, Charlotte Law School. [NPR Charlotte]

* The International Association of Young Lawyers conference will feature a speed dating session (on page 6). Really hard-hitting program there. [International Association of Young Lawyers]

* Congratulations to the 49 firms honored for meeting all of WILEF’s criteria for Gold Standard certification at today’s awards gala! [Women in Law Empowerment Forum]

Are layoffs becoming daily news in Biglaw once again? Today marks the fourth consecutive day that we have news of reductions to report.

The latest layoffs involve both lawyers and staff, based out of two large legal markets, New York and Washington, D.C….

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Sequestration has government lawyers going on mandatory furloughs and facing ethical dilemmas. But the federal bench has cause to bust out the bubbly.

On Monday, the Supreme Court took a pass on an appeal from the Federal Circuit that ordered the government to pay cost-of-living adjustments to six federal judges that the feds routinely stiffed over the last 20 years or so.

Sure, right now this only applies to the six judges who sued, but it’s only a matter of time before a huge swath of the federal judiciary takes the government to court.

How big of a pay day are we looking at?

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Given the Government’s conduct in this case, the court orders the Government to show cause why it should not be sanctioned under this court’s inherent authority. It seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future to treat its commitments and representations to this court and opposing counsel with the seriousness to which they are entitled.

– Judge S. Jay Plager, reprimanding counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs in National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Inc. v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Fed. Cir. Mar 21, 2013), a case concerning the due process rights of veterans seeking benefits.

* If you hate the government and you hate lawyers more, then you’ll love this. In the past five years, the feds have awarded $3.3 billion to more than 4,700 vendors for legal work. [National Law Journal]

* A year and a half after he was nominated for a Federal Circuit judgeship, and more than a year after his hearing, the Senate finally decided to confirm Richard Taranto. How kind. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Pretty pretty please? Zvi Goffer and Michael Kimmelman would really really like it if the Second Circuit could overturn their insider trading convictions due to unfairness. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The U.S. News law school rankings are often criticized, and here’s why: if survey respondents “were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear in the top 20. But it doesn’t exist.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Nevermind the fact that law school applications are down, but Northwestern Law is doing the “responsible thing” and reducing the size of its incoming class — and raising tuition by 3% to boot. [Wall Street Journal]

* Jason Rapert, the Arkansas senator who passed a fetal-heartbeat abortion ban in his state, says he “has no time” for anyone who says it’s unconstitutional. To paraphrase, ain’t nobody got time for that. [New York Times]

When Rick told Ilsa that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, he was right, because a hill of beans is worth a whole hell of a lot thanks to Monsanto.

Today, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Bowman v. Monsanto Co., an appeal from the Federal Circuit regarding the extent of Monsanto’s rights in patented, genetically modified soybean seeds. In addition to the obvious stakes for the agricultural sector, the decision could impact the entire biotechnology industry, as well as computer software and nanotechnology. I mean, I want to know who holds the patent when the grey goo overruns the planet!

So, who are the players and why do they care?

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