May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Everybody assumes everybody has a cell phone.
RIM and NTP Are In The Make-up Honeymoon Phase. Will It Last This Time?
OK, MIPTC was wrong. I had predicted the downfall of the BlackBerry because it seemed the parties were so far apart and in philosophically different camps that they wouldn't be able to reach an agreement. But, as most BlackBerry users have found out by now, RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry, and NTP, the holder of the patent for the software that makes the BlackBerry work, have resolved their differences and patched things up.
For $612 million, but without future royalties. For now. While I've learned not to say I told you so on this one, we had a deal once before (for $450 million) that fell apart. It's not a deal I would have made, but then again, if somebody gave me $450 million, I probably wouldn't complain.
Time will tell if this one holds together. After all, the verdict was for $695 million, and Judge James Spencer sent a strong signal to RIM in Friday's hearing that he was about to issue the injunction, putting RIM out of business. RIM apparently (and finally) got the message.
Will the wife of the now-deceased inventor be satisfied with a $83 million discount and no future royalties? If you're in the driver's seat, would you be satisfied?
Coast to Coast Internet Radio Explores Big Firms and Big Business
Law firm mergers and acquisitions are making law firms much like corporate America. Coast to Coast, with my co-host Bob Ambrogi, an East coast attorney and fellow Law.com Blog Network blogger, explores this growing trend toward mega-firms on this show. Our guests are experts with compelling insights on this topic: Attorney and national legal writer, Eric J. Sinrod, partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP - one of the largest firms in the U.S. and Attorney, fellow Law.com blogger and well-known legal consultant, Bruce MacEwen from New York. We discuss whether mega-firms better serve legal clients in a new global legal community.
Bruce MacEwen is a lawyer, businessman, and consultant to law firms. He is a charter member of the New York State Bar’s Section on Law Practice Management, and has been nominated as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. Bruce will be an adjunct professor at SUNY/Stony Brook's Graduate School of Business, teaching the core course "Strategic Technology & Innovation," in the school's MBA program, exclusively for law firm leaders (the first of its kind in the country). You can also check out Bruce’s wildly popular and widely read blog, “Adam Smith, Esq.,” which addresses the business side of law firms.
Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP. Mr. Sinrod’s trial, appellate, and overall litigation practice, which includes experience before the United States Supreme Court, has covered a number of important Internet, technology, intellectual property, information, communications, commercial, antitrust and insurance coverage issues. He has represented domestic and international clients in major class actions and where hundreds of millions of dollars have been at stake. He also has handled numerous matters for smaller companies and individuals. Mr. Sinrod recently was highlighted by an outside publication as "the leading IP attorney in the land," and he has been selected by his peers as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in the area of Cyber Law and as a "Super Lawyer" for Business Litigation. Recently, Mr. Sinrod wrote an article featured on Findlaw.com and CNETnews.com entitled, “I Want My BlackBerry.” Click on the podcast link below and give a listen to this week's show.
Sea Sponges Take Over Appellate Brief
Hold on to your computer mouse before you hit "Replace All" on your word processor's spell check. Here's a story that will make any spell-check conscious lawyer cringe.
A Santa Cruz solo practitioner representing a judge, now retired from the bench, sought reversal of his somewhat forced resignation due to a flap over traffic ticket convictions. The lawyer submitted a brief to the court of appeal and dutifully ran spell check before submitting it. The brief contained the Latin words sua sponte, which mean "of one's own will," and commonly meant by lawyers to refer to a Court's own power to do something on its own.
After submitting the brief, he got a call from his client, the former judge, asking for an explanation of the Latin phrase "sea sponge." (Side note here, and although I haven't taken Latin classes in awhile, "sea sponge" isn't Latin.)
Turns out that the lawyer was using Word Perfect, which doesn't have sua sponte in its dictionary.
The program does, however, think that "sua" was probably meant to refer to "sea," and since you've been paying attention so far - yep you guessed it - Word Perfect also thought "sponte" was supposed to be "sponge."
When the lawyer clicked "Replace All" each time on those two words, the word processor replaced sua sponte five times, and gave the brief such gems as: "An appropriate instruction limiting the judge's criminal liability in such a prosecution must be given sea sponge explaining that certain acts or omissions by themselves are not sufficient to support a conviction," as well as "It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense."
MITPC is checking to see if there's a Black's Dictionary download for the Word and Word Perfect dictionaries. We'll keep you informed.
March 4, 2006 Update: faithful spellcheckers may want to try SpellEx's product for law firms, software recommended by one of MIPTC's technical consultants. We're going to give it a try and will let you know how it turns out.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David's Day!
Today, March 1, is St. David's day, and celebrated by wearing a leek or a daffodil in your buttonhole if you're Welsh like me. You can also fly his flag, St. David's Cross, which has a black background and a yellow cross. According to his biography written in the 11th Century, St. David, known as Dewi Sant, died on March 1, 589. Born in approximately 487, his lineage is considered royal, and he is popularly and proudly traced back to King Arthur through his mother, Lady Non, who was the daughter of a local chieftain. Legend has it that Lady Non was a niece of King Arthur.
St. David is believed to have established many churches and some five monasteries in Wales and in 545 took a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was anointed by the patriarch. St. David's Cathedral is named for him and dedicated to his memory, and at least one city is named after him. Apart from this productivity, he lived an ascetic life, eating leeks and other vegetarian fare, bread with salt and herbs, drinking only water, avoiding alcohol and meat. In his last sermon before he died he said, "'Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." The phrase, 'Do the little things' ('Gwnewch y pethau bychain') is today a very well-known phrase in Wales, and has proved an inspiration to many.
St. David's influence in the country is far-reaching. As an example, the emblem of Wales is the leek, which came from a battle near a castle between the Welsh and Saxon English. At St. David's advice, troops of Welsh wore leeks on their "uniforms" and were thus able to distinguish each other from troops of Saxon English enemy, who were dressed in similar clothes. The English government has instead developed the daffodil as an alternative emblem in recent history, used and preferred over the leek by the English government because it lacks the overtones of Wales' patriotic defiance associated with the leek.
Unlike many other Welsh saints, David was canonised by Pope Callixtus II in 1120. In 1398, the church ordained that his feast-day was to be kept throughout the Province of Canterbury. The feast of Dewi as a religious festival came to an end, however, with the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, but St. David's Day was established as a national festival during the18th century. The day is celebrated by children wearing the Welsh National Costume: schoolgirls in a pais a betgwn - a petticoat and overcoat - made of Welsh flannel, and a tall beaver hat, worn over a frilled white bonnet. The boys wear a white shirt with a jabbot and wrist frills, a Welsh flannel waistcoat, black breeches, long woollen socks and black shoes and to complete the outfit, also a flat beaver hat.
The day is celebrated by parades, dancing, singing (link has sound, and is the National Anthem of Wales, Land of My Fathers), eating and no school. To honor St. David as you go about your day, don't forget to do the little things. And on St. Patrick's Day, don't forget to wear orange (a typical Welsh dig at the Irish).
Businesses Beware: You Don't Have To Pay A Fee For DocuMinute's 'Shareholder Compliance'
DocuMinute.com (that website now responds with a "Cannot find server") has been sued by the California Attorney General for sending bogus mailings to businesses seeking a $100.00 to $175.00 fee for supposed government compliance with shareholder listings. The suit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, names DocuMinute, Business Compliance Division LLC and Basics Financial Corp. and seeks an injunction to shut down the operations and penalties from the owners. If you receive government-looking "official" letters from these companies, you can safely put them in the round file.
A Google search turned up a blistering thread of posts about this apparent scam. Beware out there: email scams are not the only way to get hoodwinked.
Respecting Religions Results In Similar Kirpan Rulings, Just By Different Words
MIPTC isn't licensed in Canada, where the rule of law is founded on Napoleonic Code, which is supposedly different than the basis for the rule of law in the United States, with the notable exception of Louisiana, which adopts many elements of its law from the French Code. Even though the foundation for the laws that rule our two countries differs, the result is frequently the same.
A decision just handed down in the Supreme Court of Canada is a good example of the similarities in the two approaches to the law, although the wording is much different. For example, you can compare this Canadian decision with a 1995 Ninth Circuit decision, which also allows students to wear Kirpans (a ceremonial dagger) as long as the blade is dull, it is sewn tightly to the sheath, and worn underneath clothing, reasonable restrictions that don't burden the First Amendment. There are other similar results based on U.S. laws. In both countries, it is legal for Sikhs to carry a Kirpan in school, and both countries reached the same decision practically the same way and based on the same protection of freedom of religion. In accordance with their beliefs, Sikhs have been carrying Kirpans since 1699 (scroll down to the 5Ks).
The motto of the United Sikhs is "Recognize the Human Race As One." Given a recent article in this month's National Geographic, I'm inclined to agree.
Google Fights Government Intrusion Into Your Searches
You have to love the internet. In a matter of moments, MIPTC was able to find the government's brief in support of its complaint to get Google to turn over your and my internet searches (shudder). Google has refused to comply.
Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have each already caved and provided the search information, although each claims that no identification was turned over. Oddly enough, Yahoo warns us that Google's Desktop search could compromise our privacy.
Cloaked in the flag of protecting children from pornography (work-and government-safe link) and those who would prey on them, the government seeks to find out what you're searching. "If you have nothing to hide..." the old argument goes.
The hearing on the turnover of Google's search information has not yet been set, but MITPC will keep a close eye on it from a discreet distance.
MIPTC's Book Review: Patent Mediation and Commercial Mediation In Europe
The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution sent two books to MIPTC to review: Patent Mediation and Commercial Mediation in Europe. Both are relatively short, easy reads for counsel, judges and businesses dealing with alternative dispute resolution, and a good guide for all.
Mediation in Europe is a bit of an oxymoron; it's not used in Europe as extensively as it is in the U.S. The Institute's book explains in clear language why businesses in the EU should adopt the model, how it works and the benefit for solving business disputes.
The Patent Mediation book, on the other hand, applies both in the EU and US, and offers a quick but comprehensive guide to resolving patent disputes in a five-step process.
If you're involved in any type of dispute and looking for a "how-to" keep your costs down and focus on business instead of litigation, here are a pair of must-reads.