Intellectual Property

Fair Use Settlement Or A Mediation Heist? How A Stanford English Professor Settled A Copyright Action. . . And Then Recovered Her Attorneys Fees From The Estate of James Joyce

How did Stanford English Professor Carol Shloss, with the pro bono help of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s “Fair Use Project,” take down the Estate of literary giant James Joyce and its sophisticated legal counsel? How did she successfully mediate her copyright lawsuit, dismiss the action, and then recover all of her attorney fees and costs as the “prevailing party?” The answer: through some very clever maneuvering at mediation!

~ Dispute Resolution Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 1

Eating Pie and Trade Secret Theft – What’s the Use?

It is not often a case hits upon two of our favorite topics: Trade secrets and pie.  But when it does, mmmmmmmm, it’s good to be an attorney.  And for this reason, we are grateful to Justice Rushing who provided us with a little of both in his recent opinion in Silvaco Data Systems v. Intel Corp. (Calif 6th App. Dist.), Case No. H032895.

~ Also published: Los Angeles Daily Journal

Hewlett-Packard v. Hurd – A Challenge to California’s Delicate Employer/Employee Balance… or Just a Face-Saving Money Grab?

What was that all about?  Hewlett-Packard sues its former CEO and current Oracle chief Mark Hurd in a California lawsuit that most practitioners here agree is untenable under current California law.  In the complaint, HP seeks to enjoin its former head honcho from working for a competitor relying on what appears to be the discredited inevitable disclosure doctrine.  It is a lawsuit poised to challenge the very balance of power between employers and employees in California.

~ The IP ADR Blog

Battle of the Titans: When Trade Secret Protection and the Prohibition on Non-Competes Clash

We all know that non-competes are generally verboten in California.  California is very protective of its workers’ rights to move from job to job, shopping their talents to the highest bidder (so to speak).  We also know that California is very protective of an employer’s right to protect its intellectual property, including especially its trade secrets.  This includes, of course, customer lists and client information under proper circumstances.  So what happens when these two important and closely protected public policies crash head on into one another?

~ Also published Lexology and ABTL Report

Fake Fartman Found Failing

Sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether anyone really cares about intellectual property at all.  Or class and culture for that matter.  Take the case of the Pull-My-Finger Fred doll versus Fartman, the epic battle of the farting plush dolls.  Now I’m not that far removed from teaching my boys about the incredible magical powers of the pulled finger not to understand how a Pull-My-Finger Fred doll could enjoy a certain amount of commercial success.   (In fact I have a brother who probably rushed out…


Finally, A Citable California Case Confirming Trade Secret Preemption!

It has always been a mystery to me why we in California, home of the Silicon Valley, Goleta, Manhattan Beach, and other hot beds of trade secret development – and trade secret theft – don’t have our very own trade secret preemption case law.  Why have we never had a judicial opinion squarely holding that the California Uniform Trade Secret Act (CUTSA) preempts other related causes of action?  Well, the wait is over….

~ Who’s The Boss?

California’s Trade Secret Disclosure Statute Doesn’t Apply in Federal Court – or Maybe it Does

Recall the state statute requiring plaintiffs to identify their trade secrets “with reasonable particularity” before discovery can be commenced?  Well, the statute is in the legal news again.  This time, the question is whether CCP 2019.210 applies to trade secret cases in federal court.  One would think this would be a relatively easy issue – pick one, yes or no, and let’s get on with it.  But apparently that would take the fun out of it.  Instead, California’s district courts have had a tough time making up their minds on this one…and it’s causing we trade secret practitioners some consternation.

~ The IP ADR Blog

Seagate A Floodgate To Patent ADR?

The U.S. Supreme Court just denied review of Convolve Inc. v. Seagate Technology.  Why do we care?  Because in Seagate, the Federal Circuit reversed a long established precedent and announced a new and higher standard for obtaining treble damages in patent cases, which could have the impact of making some patent cases more receptive to mediation or other ADR processes.  Prior to Seagate, a patent holder seeking to prove that a defendant…


Barbie And Bratz — Sisters At Last?

The federal jury in the Dueling Dollies copyright war has returned a major victory today for Mattel – a unanimous verdict – finding that Bratz designer Carter Bryant (who wisely settled out early) came up with his initial drawings and prototypes for the Bratz doll while he was an employee of Mattel.  What does this mean?

~ The IP ADR Blog

Do You Need a Magic Wand to Settle with a Billionaire?

A mere muggle gets it.  But will IP attorneys heed the call to mediate?  In the epic Harry Potter copyright fair use battle now under way in a District Court in New York, the mortal judge is wondering out loud – from the bench – why these parties can’t just settle their dispute.

~ The IP ADR Blog

Where Fantasy and Fair Use Collide

Harry Potter and Copyright Fair Use junkies know this already — there is a firestorm brewing between the not insignificant powers (and financial resources) of JK Rowling and her Harry Potter franchise (which includes Warner Brothers) on the one hand and RDR, the wanna-be publisher of a fan’s “Lexicon” or reference guide, on the other.  And the battleground is copyright’s amorphous fair use doctrine.

~ The IP ADR Blog

“Sanctions, Get Your Sanctions Here”

$27 million will buy you a whole lot of cake. And you can eat it too.  That’s one of the lessons from the Tennessee Court’s unprecedented sanctions award against an apparent copyright infringer who just refused to stop copying.  In MGE UPS Systems v. Titan Specialized Services, the copyright owner not only obtained a sanctions order worth $27 million against one of its primary competitors (and apparent copyright infringer), but was still entitled to pursue its claim for copyright damages.

~ The IP ADR Blog

When Will IP Disputants Join the Mediation Party?

Is the IP world ready to mediate its disputes yet?  While many of us believe IP practitioners are late in coming to the mediation party, at least one prominent mediator is banking that the right time is now.

~ The IP ADR Blog

Likelihood of Settlement? Not in PerfumeBay vs. eBay

It is hard for an ADR junkie like me to admit this (and don’t spread this around please), but sometimes you just need to try the darned case.  I am referring to, in particular, the trademark lawsuit between Internet giant eBay and scent seller PerfumeBay.

~ The IP ADR Blog

Legal Dangers Of Video Resumes – Has Elle Woods Met Her Match?

I must be too cloistered here at the law firm because I only see paper resumes. I’m talking about the old fashioned kind with “Education” and “Experience” filling the bulk of the page, and maybe some “Hobbies” or “Personal” (“I like movies”) at the bottom to give me something to talk about if the interview is going poorly. (“I like movies too.”)  Which is not to say I didn’t notice Elle Woods’ video application to Harvard Law School in Legally Blonde.  (Uh, my wife made me see it.  Three times.)  Well, apparently, there is a raging debate out there (o.k., “raging” may be a little excessive) over the use of video resumes.

~ Multiple Publications