When we last wrote about the epic trademark war that Gucci launched against Guess in 2009, we noted that the case made headlines soon after the first filing. Apparently Gucci’s former in-house counsel, Jonathan Moss, had been engaging in faux lawyering, and he paid for it dearly — with his job.
Gucci v. Guess has been a dramatic roller coaster ride ever since, complete with men crying on the witness stand, and hours upon hours of in-court questioning for one company’s chief executive officer.
But as we noted in Morning Docket, a verdict has finally been reached in the case, and it looks like Guess will have to own up to its fashion faux pas with a payout of more than $4 million dollars in damages. But how will this ruling affect the fashion world at large? Let’s take a look….
* “Bring me Solo and the Wookiee. They will all suffer for this outrage.” Rajabba the Hut seems to have had a second Goldman Sachs tipper. Say hello to Rajat Gupta, who has pleaded not guilty. [Bloomberg]
* Counsel in the Gucci v. Guess trademark case wrapped up their closing arguments in court yesterday. It’s generally not a good thing when the judge interrupts you to question your late filing. [Businessweek]
* Uh, apparently there’s a legal battle concerning intellectual property having to do with a Three Stooges porn parody. I personally shudder to think of how Curly is portrayed. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]
* After taking a blow from that fake beef lawsuit, Taco Bell’s sales are up thanks to its Doritos taco. Because getting your fingers covered in orange crap totally makes up for the “taco meat filling.” [Washington Post]
Litigators at large law firms spend an inordinate (and depressing) amount of time on discovery disputes. They bombard poor magistrate judges with motions to compel. They bicker over deposition timing and location. They compile massive privilege logs. They file letter briefs with the court, explaining their entitlement to certain documents that opposing counsel is withholding, without justification.
Partners who work on such matters often say to their associates, “Find me a case in which a judge sanctioned a party for failure to comply with discovery obligations — preferably a case in which the non-compliance is exactly what opposing counsel is doing here, and ideally featuring soaring rhetoric about the importance of following discovery rules.” The associate spends several hours on Westlaw or Lexis, then returns empty-handed; there was nothing quite on-point. There was certainly no soaring rhetoric.
This shouldn’t be surprising. Do you think successful lawyers give up the practice of law in order to keep dealing with discovery-related headaches, for a fraction of what they earned in the private sector? Of course not. Federal district judges prefer to write published opinions about Sexy Constitutional Issues, leaving their magistrates to oversee the discovery playpen. In the rare discovery-related cases that do go up on appeal, federal circuit judges affirm as quickly and summarily as possible, so they can get back to the fun stuff. [FN1]
If you’re a Biglaw litigator searching for a published opinion addressing discovery issues, well, today is your lucky day. Check out this great opinion, just handed down — not by a mere magistrate or district judge, but by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit….
Ed. note: Gabe Acevedo will be covering LegalTech for Above the Law this year. If you are interested in communicating with someone from ATL about LegalTech coverage, please contact Gabe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
It seems that judges are no longer afraid to unleash the power of the gavel when it comes to e-discovery violations.
Back in April 2010, we bestowed Lawyer of the Day honors upon Jonathan Moss, former in-house counsel to Gucci. There was a question, however, as to how much of a “lawyer” Moss was.
During his seven years working at the luxury fashion house, Moss did not have an active law license: he was a graduate of Fordham Law and a member of the California bar, but with “inactive” status. As a result, during the discovery process in some trademark litigation, opposing counsel from Guess? challenged Gucci’s assertion of attorney-client privilege over communications to and from Moss. The reasoning: because Moss wasn’t entitled to practice law in any jurisdiction, due to his inactive status with the California bar, the attorney-client privilege did not extend to communications with him.
A federal magistrate judge sided with Guess, concluding that Gucci’s communications with Moss weren’t privileged — and subject to disclosure. Yikes. After conducting an investigation that confirmed Moss’s inactive bar status, Gucci fired him in March 2010.
But now a federal district judge — Judge Shira Scheindlin, that delicious judicial diva of Zubulake fame — has set aside the magistrate’s order, and granted Gucci’s motion for a protective order….
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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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