Intellectual Property

On the “Our Professionals” section of its website, Finnegan Henderson boasts that it has “375 lawyers focused on IP.” It may be time to revise that downward: “371 lawyers focused on IP.”

Last night, the high-powered, intellectual-property-focused firm announced four notable partner departures. The Finnegan partners in question practice in the generally hot area of IP litigation (although we’ve heard anecdotal reports of cooling, including stealth layoffs of IP litigators — see here and here).

Who are the departing Finnegan partners, and where are they going?

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Anthony Weiner, surprisingly not nude.

* Bernard Knight Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be taking his intellectual property talents to McDermott Will & Emery as a new — and rather cute — partner. Congratulations! [Corporate Counsel]

* The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas man in a Monopoly money Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately for him, the associated jail time for the crime isn’t virtual. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* When applying to law school, it’s wise to have a unique personal statement topic. But considering the application cycle, you could probably get away with writing “LOL” and still get into the school of your choice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Russia has granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a pass to leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone. Be prepared to welcome borscht into your life, and be sure to always say spasibo. [Associated Press]

* Sorry folks, but Carlos Danger, more popularly known as Anthony Weiner, won’t be pulling out of the New York City mayoral race. I, for one, would love to see his AMAs on Reddit. [New York Times]

* It looks like Aaron Hernandez shot himself in the foot when lawyering up for a civil suit where he’s accused of shooting someone in the eye. His attorney specializes in banking litigation. [USA Today]

No change to spare for Quinn Emanuel associates.

Earlier this month, when we wrote about Cahill Gordon’s summer bonuses, we floated a question about mid-year bonuses at other firms. Specifically, we wondered if Quinn Emanuel, a top-flight litigation shop that paid such bonuses last year, would do so again.

After hearing rumors of no mid-year bonuses at QE, we reached out to the firm for comment. Founding partner John Quinn confirmed the reports, correctly noting that the market has not paid spring or summer bonuses this year.

John Quinn also denied various other rumors about Quinn Emanuel, to which we now turn….

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There have been a couple of major developments this week in the ongoing lawsuit that pits Ed O’Bannon, and a group of other former college athletes, against the NCAA, Electronic Arts, and the Collegiate Licensing Company. If you are not familiar with O’Bannon v. NCAA, Sports Illustrated has a good primer. O’Bannon is suing the NCAA for antitrust violations stemming from the NCAA’s alleged licensing of players’ likenesses.

If you can’t understand that in sports terms, South Park has you covered in moral terms.

The NCAA has been operating with impunity, profiting on the backs of an unpaid labor force, for decades. I cannot think of a worse organization in the country right now, and you know I don’t say that idly: not the ABA, not Sallie Mae, not the Catholic Church. No organization seems more dedicated to directly profiteering off of young people without providing for their best interests as the NCAA.

But finally, the law might step in and stop this very powerful organization from taking complete advantage of their “student-athletes”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Current Real Players Join The Lawsuit Against NCAA, They’ve Always Been In The Game”

Tom Wallerstein

Last week, I was having a business lunch at Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta overlooking the San Francisco Bay. (Those who know me won’t be surprised that I managed to combine a business meeting with some good eats. I’ll save my restaurant review for another time, or you can read it on OpenTable.)

Anyway, my lunch was with a partner at Leason Ellis, a thriving IP boutique in New York. The firm is a boutique in that the lawyers are specialists in intellectual property; as far as I know, that is their only practice area. But within that subject matter, they have both a litigation and transactional practice. Conversely, with limited exceptions, my own firm has remained a litigation-only boutique since it was founded four years ago. We handle a wide range of subject matters, but only do litigation within those subjects.

What are the pros and cons of running a litigation-only shop? Why haven’t we added a robust transactional practice as well?

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* Apple has lost the e-books trial. Didn’t see that coming after Apple’s lawyers ripped the government’s witnesses. [New York Times]

* Vault released its Regional and Practice Area rankings. Yeah, we get it Wachtell, you’re awesome. [Vault]

* Who ever said losing at the Supreme Court was the end? Myriad is suing to enforce its patents in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. [Patently O]

* Woman caught on camera planning her husband’s murder because it’s “easier than divorcing him.” Fair enough! [Lowering the Bar]

* Senators pledging to block court nominee “irrespective of [her] very fine professional qualifications.” Oh. [The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Some jurisdictional nerdiness regarding EPIC’s original filing seeking mandamus, prohibition, or certiorari from SCOTUS to review a FISA judge. [Lawfare]

Last week, we wrote about reductions to the ranks of lawyers and staff at WilmerHale. We noted that the cuts, made in connection with twice-annual performance reviews, seemed to focus on IP litigation and on the Boston and Palo Alto offices.

Today we bring you additional information about the reductions, which look a lot like stealth layoffs. They seem to be more widespread, in terms of offices and practice areas, than previously reported.

And they might be due to some earlier overhiring, reflected in an interesting email we received….

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In the dark days of 2009, we had frequent occasion to discuss the difference between “layoffs” and “performance-based dismissals.” Layoffs are generally understood as economically motivated, large-scale reductions in headcount, while performance-based dismissals involve specific individuals being asked to leave for cause. (Some see this as the difference being getting laid-off versus getting fired, although I’ve sometimes heard layoffs referred to as firings.)

The distinction can be a fine one. Unless cuts are made based on factors like seniority or practice area, layoffs often target weaker performers, so they can look a lot like performance-based terminations. There’s no bright-line cutoff, in numerical terms, for what constitutes a round of layoffs. And you can’t let firm characterization control, since many firms find it in their reputational interest to deny layoffs (unless the cuts are so large as to be undeniable; see, e.g., last week’s Weil Gotshal layoffs).

Today we bring you a story that captures this ambiguity. Several lawyers and staffers, totaling a number believed to be in the double digits, have been asked to leave a firm — but the firm denies that it’s conducting “layoffs.” We’ll present the facts and let you be the judge….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Layoffs? What Layoffs?”

* A bleak, expressionist write-up of the bar exam experience. If you ever wondered what the subject of The Scream was doing right beforehand, it was apparently “taking the bar exam.” [Law of the Dead]

* The traditional summer associate program model needs restructuring. Are you suggesting four-hour lunches are passé? Because… shame, sir, shame. [SSRN]

* The sequester is slowing down the patent office. So now the irate patent attorney has something else to blame for not getting his client’s application approved. [Patently O]

* As our tipster put it, this may be a statement against interest: Snowden once declared that traitors should be “shot in the balls.” [NY Post]

* A breakdown of unconstitutional animus in U.S. v. Windsor. If the author could figure out Justice Kennedy’s train of thought all the way through, kudos! [Associate's Mind]

* If you’re ever planning a graduation party, just don’t do this. [Legal Juice]

* Examining the misappropriation of trade secrets on Earth-616, and whatever Earth the DC people are in these days. I gave up on them two Crises ago. [Law and the Multiverse]

* Federal prosecutors may go after Long Island Power Authority for their poor response to Hurricane Sandy. [Breaking Energy]

* And this recap of the Hollingsworth opinion concludes with a GIF that is sure to warm the hearts of many an ATL commenter. [Eff Yeah SCOTUS]

I have to admit that I’m still a bit surprised that pop-up/pop-under advertisements still exist. The concept is so annoying and so anti-consumer that pretty much all browsers figured out ways to build in pop-up blockers many, many years ago. Every so often one gets through (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way), and I get annoyed and try to remember never to visit that site again. However, Paul Keating alerts us to the news that a company called “ExitExchange” now claims to hold a patent on pop-up ads, and has sued seven porn sites and two travel companies [Ed. note: this link is from a porn industry publication so it's "safe-ish" for work, but be warned] for using them without a license.

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