Intellectual Property

In case you’re not an intellectual property practitioner, there exists a mythical creature known as a patent troll who resides in the underbelly of the world of legality. Patent trolls are evil beings whose sole purpose in life is to extort money from their victims for no legitimate purpose. These patent holders don’t use their patents to make anything themselves; instead, they assert patent infringement claims against entities that are productive, and often walk away with wads of cash in hand. They frustrate big and small companies alike, and their nefarious deeds can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees over the course of a patent’s lifetime.

Typically those in charge at companies facing a patent shakedown are quick to pass the claims off to their legal teams, but sometimes, enough is enough. Sometimes, a “less than cordial” response is required when one is faced with a patent troll’s irritating threats. Sometimes patent trolls need to be trolled.

Keep reading for an example of a great response to a patent troll….

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* “Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, if my client was the shooter, why would he have left the witness alive to testify? He’s a man who finishes the damn job.” [ABA Journal]

* Who would pretend to be a lawyer who is not? Apparently this public figure. [Legal Cheek]

* Jill Abramson is out at the New York Times. Could the reason be her decision to lawyer up? [Law and More]

* If you’ve hung around ATL long enough, you’ve heard us speculate that it just doesn’t make economic sense to attend most law schools. Here’s proof — only about 50 are even worth it economically. Which is hard to believe because I thought law degrees were worth $1 million. [TaxProf Blog]

* Lawyers get depressed, and not talking about it makes it worse. [Everyday Health]

* Seven-year-old kids are developing health problems from picking tobacco, because we let children work on tobacco farms apparently. [Slate]

* The Asian American Bar Association will be conducting a trial reenactment of 22 Lewd Chinese Women next Wednesday. Register here! [AABANY]

* As the new movie comes out, lawyers are really worked up over the Godzilla intellectual property. They need to hire Jorge Rivers: Godzilla Lawyer, whose ad appears after the jump (starring Thomas Lennon)…. [The Columbus Dispatch]

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In case you thought casebook publishers held students in anything but rank contempt, this will relieve your doubts. A major publisher has decided to alter its business model to exact more misery from students already paying thousands of dollars on textbooks that they will never again crack open after the semester. Because the only way to save money in the book game for law students is to (a) buy used books; (b) sell back your books; or (c) all of the above.

Aspen Publishers wants to rip those options away from students. Starting with their next editions, Aspen is banning resale of their books and trying to enforce the ban by making students return the books at the end of class.

Check out the full policy and what you can do to fight it….

UPDATE (12:10 p.m.): That was fast! Aspen has changed its policy. Full details below.

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John Quinn

Is there any case so awful that it compares favorably to nearly 20 years of warfare?

No. No, there really isn’t.

So when Quinn Emanuel’s John Quinn was quoted calling the Apple v. Samsung brouhaha “Apple’s Vietnam,” it ruffled a few feathers from the sort of people who still remember the Vietnam War as more than an inconvenience.

I love the smell of IP litigation in the morning! Smells like, victory….

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* When it comes to billing rates, starting at the junior level, female law firm partners are still lagging behind their male counterparts by an average of 10 percent less. Boo. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Just in time for the graduation of one of the largest law school classes in history, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the legal sector is shedding jobs. That sucks. Sorry Class of 2014. [Am Law Daily]

* Law school deans are dropping like flies. Since last week, at least three have announced their intention to leave their positions. We know of one more that we may discuss later. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to work as an attorney, your odds are better if you go to a Top 50 law school. Seventy-five percent of Top 50 grads are working as lawyers, compared to 50% of all others. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* The verdict is in on the latest Apple v. Samsung patent case, and Apple is probably pretty miffed it was awarded only $120M this time, since lawyers for the company requested billions in damages. [Reuters]

* Laura LaPlante, a 3L who was set to graduate from U. Chicago Law on June 16, RIP. [Chicago Tribune]

The ice cream season is finally here! Can’t you tell from the 50 degree weather and driving rain? Well, technically ice cream season is here and that means the streets will be filled with ice cream trucks peddling their tasty wares and blaring “Pop Goes the Weasel” or some such.

If you’re one of the lucky ones living in a city serviced by the venerable Mister Softee, you’ll get their original song drilled into your head. You can listen to it on a loop here if you’re working at a CIA black site and looking for some new jams to play for your guests. Did you know it had lyrics? Apparently it does. Who knew?

When you’re the preeminent “soft-serve out of a truck” vendor, people come gunning for you. Usually by looking ever so suspiciously exactly like you.

You actually will not believe the name of the company Mister Softee is suing….

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* Donald Sterling may be banned from the NBA, but the recording that placed him on the outside looking in was captured illegally per California law. [The Legal Blitz]

* If the NBA owners agree — as expected — to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, it could cost his heirs over $100 million. Let’s feel sorry that megamillionaires might be slightly less megamillionaires. [Slate]

* The inimitable Charles P. Pierce with more on the horrifically botched execution in Oklahoma last night. Overlooked in the horror was the constitutional crisis that preceded it — where the very authority of the state supreme court was called into question. [Esquire]

* After getting his client acquitted of molesting a child while drunk, a lawyer managed to get arrested for DWI, hours after the verdict. Amazing. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* The conservative argument for copyright reform. Seriously, at this point there’s no political philosophy in favor of lengthy copyright terms, so why can’t we change this? Oh, right. Media companies have tons and tons of money. [R Street]

* UVA Law funds the first jobs of a bunch of its grads. David Lat weighs in. [C-Ville]

* This story could just as easily be entitled “I’m a young Biglaw associate who lives in Williamsburg.” [McSweeneys]

The experience of leaving a Biglaw partnership to start a boutique law firm did not allow me to stop thinking about Biglaw. If anything, I think about Biglaw now more than ever. Because the very nesting grounds that I flew away from, IP litigation departments at national and international law firms, are some of my upstart boutique’s biggest competition for new business. And considering our experience with the first five or so cases that our firm has brought, our adversaries as well. Of course, I continue to work with Biglaw firms as co-counsel on some cases as well.

So I think about Biglaw. How it works, and most often how it fights patent cases. For over a decade I was a Biglaw-branded pugilist, and now that I am on the other side of the ring, I am forced to respect but try and beat the Mike Tyson’s Punchout-worthy cast of characters that Biglaw rolls out on behalf of its clients. There are not many Glass Joe’s in the bunch. Which makes it fun.

I would not have left unless I thought that my partners and I would be competitive — both with Biglaw and with the many quality IP boutiques that have come before us and continue to thrive. But as I think back on how IP litigation practice has changed just in the short amount of time that I have been practicing, I take comfort in the fact that the playing field between Biglaw and boutiques has been leveled across a number of fronts. Two areas in particular deserve focus….

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Whenever clients ask about filing a trademark in China via the Madrid System, our answer is simple: filing a national application directly with the Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO) is better.

China’s trademark system is complicated and overseen by oftentimes capricious examiners, especially as compared to the one-size-fits-all Madrid application that makes registering a trademark in China seem so easy. All you have to do with a China trademark filing via the Madrid System is check the box marked “China.” This lulls Madrid applicants into a sense of complacency, but all too often the result is a rejection that could have been avoided with a national application in China.

Madrid applications are supposed to be cheap and quick, but fixing Madrid problems after the fact is neither. This “Madrid problem” is exacerbated by U.S. lawyers comfortable filing in Madrid but with no experience filing in China.

Trademark prosecution in China is highly mechanical. For the vast majority of applications, you file an application and then wait 18 months for your trademark to be registered or rejected. (A slight oversimplification, but not by much.) China has no CTMO equivalent to a USPTO office action, no back-and-forth with trademark examiners, and no chance to amend an already filed application.

For this reason, the meaningful work for Chinese trademark applications occurs before you file the application…

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Picture of Banana Lady taken from Judge Posner’s opinion.

As it turns out, it was in fact a banana, and she was absolutely not happy to see Judge Posner.

The ridiculous isn’t entirely new to Judge Posner. He’s seen lawyers treating his courtroom as a schoolyard and issued benchslaps complete with pictures of men burying their heads in sand.

But he doubtless never expected to be writing an opinion chastising a woman in a banana suit….

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