May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - The ocean is a body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills. - Ambrose Bierce
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There are 2033 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 210

What Goes Down Must Come Up

And you thought the National Geographic was all pretty pictures and naked tribespeople (non-sexist remark) in Africa.

It's also known for science news. Like this little tidbit.

I know, you've been sitting at home wondering what happened to all of the carbon dioxide that we've been releasing into the air since the industrial revolution started several hundred years ago. Obviously, you've thought, it can't all have ended up in the atmosphere.

And you'd be right. Half of it has ended up in the ocean, along with other chemicals. Of course. After all, the oceans take up two-thirds of earth. Where else would it end up? Certainly not in Saturn's rings - they found oxygen there. Certainly not.

What does all of this research portend? Plankton will die, and corals will die. So what, you say?

They're at the bottom of the food chain. Contrary to the laws of laws of physics, what goes down, must come up.

Solutions? I don't have any.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 18, 2004 at 09:51. Comments Closed (0) |

"I want a raise." "You're fired."

You've at least thought it, if not said it outright to your boss. No, it's not take this job and shove it. It's "I want a raise." or "you're not paying me enough."

Presumably, that's what Jorja Fox and George Eads did when they went to the producers of CSI. I know, I don't normally write entertainment news, but I'm a big CSI fan, and the story is over contract disputes.

According to news reports, they've been fired for asking for more money.

"How could that be?" you ask. After all, you've probably done the same thing. Well, it's Hollywood. Need I say more?

Technically, it likely works something like this. They're in their fifth year of a seven-year contract. They ask for more pay. It's likely those demands were each a breach of contract. Kind of like a counteroffer to an existing contract, which the employer had no obligation to accept. But more likely, there was a provision in the contracts that prevented increased demands. The "greed provision," as more commonly known.

In other words, take your demand and shove it.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, July 17, 2004 at 12:09. Comments Closed (0) |

Cell Phone Boycott? Wouldn't Work Here.

Not happy with cell phone coverage? Tired of high cell phone bills?

Try boycotting. They're doing it in Lebanon, and expect to have some success - costing the government (who runs the service there) $2.8 million in lost revenues.

I think if we tried it here, people would think it was like the gas boycott hoax. Or was it real and people just said it was a hoax?

I'm going to go home and watch The Matrix, and call my friends.

On my cell phone.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, July 16, 2004 at 13:34. Comments Closed (0) |

Oil Industry, Coastal Commission Battle Over Regs

The Western States Petroleum Association sued the California Coastal Commission over the CCC's attempts to enforce its pollution rules on drilling platforms in federal waters.

That lawsuit just sounds wrong. But, the oil industry may have a good argument. The South Coast Air Quality Management District tried to regulate air quality with its fleet rules, but the Supreme Court shut down that argument (see the last link).

There are big stakes in this dispute - there are about about 4,000 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that other states could try to regulate if California is successful. There are only only about 22 rigs in federal waters here in California. Here's a primer on oil rig pollution.

The USEPA regulates oil platforms in federal waters, and the oil industry claims the Coastal Commission is engaged in a turf war. The Commission claims the oil rigs are dodging legitimate pollution regulations.

My money's on the oil industry on this one.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, July 15, 2004 at 17:47. Comments Closed (0) |

Is Your Attorney Really an Attorney?

An "attorney" in the Bronx Public Defender's Office "practiced" for four years, handling thousands of cases.

The quotes are there for a reason. Turns out the "attorney," Diane Shamis, is not an actual attorney. The bar association found out when one of her clients filed a complaint against her, and she didn't show up on the list of attorneys.

That was their first clue. Apparently, the Bronx Public Defender's Office, who is not returning phone calls asking for comments, failed to check her credentials when they hired her. When the PD found out, she was fired on the spot.

Now, they're calling the thousands of clients to let them know about the mixup. It is unclear whether the cases will be relitigated or overturned.

Shamis faces up to a year in jail. Perhaps, though, it's not that much of a mixup. Her attorney, Marvin Raskin, said she graduated from law school and passed the bar, but did not fill out the proper paperwork to get her credentials. "At this point in time, we are attempting to resolve the issues of admission to the bar as expeditiously as possible given the circumstances of this unfortunate situation," Raskin said.

You can check your attorney's credentials here for California attorneys.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 at 17:12. Comments Closed (0) |

My Learned Friends, Want to be A 1L?

We're back to First Year Law School, and torts class. Specifically, the learned intermediary rule.

The rule deals with the sufficiency of warnings. In this instance, it deals with side effects and injuries that result from taking prescription drugs. Drug manufacturers warn doctors, and doctors are in turn obligated to warn consumers. Or so you would think.

One consumer, Robert Larkin, took drugs manufactured by Pfizer. He contracted toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. He sued Pfizer.

Pfizer had warned Larkin's doctor of the possibility of both of these side effects. The company defended the case on the basis of the learned intermediary rule, and claimed that it wasn't their responsibility to warn Larkin, it was the doctor's.

Larkin lost. The Kentucky Supreme Court held for Pfizer, and endorsed the Rule (Subscription needed to view). By a 4-3 vote.

It was a close one, but still a win for the manufacturer. Now, I assume, Larkin will sue the doctor, who likely doesn't have as deep a pocket as Pfizer.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 at 10:58. Comments Closed (0) |

Keyboard Wars - To Split or Not To Split

I have one, and you may too. Microsoft's split keyboard, that is. You may not know, but apparently, Microsoft doesn't own the patent for that keyboard.

Typeright Keyboard Co., Inc. of Carlsbad, California sued Microsoft in 1998 over the alleged violation of its patent. Microsoft won the first round. Typeright appealed, and reversed Microsoft's win. Chalk one up for the little guy. They used some pretty cool graphics to help win their case.

Microsoft, on the other hand, said that there were German designs for a split keyboard that predated Typeright's patent by about 10 years.

The case will now go back to a jury in San Diego to decide. We'll keep watching.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, July 12, 2004 at 11:32. Comments Closed (0) |

Rubber Stamp Denied on Website Name Trademark

You're able to register a great domain name like sex.com. Ok, that's my hook. Sex. Got your interest? Well, let's try something a little more boring like patent.com or any of its variants. Really boring.

But that's not really the point. Let's say you're a law firm, like Oppedahl & Larson LLP, who registered the domain name patents.com. Quite a bit like patent.com (you can use your own imagination for variants of sex.com). You want to protect your turf, and exclude others from taking advantage of your foresight and good fortune in picking a great domain name.

So, you decide to register patents.com with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Smart idea, it seems. At least initially.

Until the USPTO rejects your trademark application. Says it's not "unique." Being a law firm, you know exactly what to do. You appeal.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (where you go when you have to appeal from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board) said no go (that's a legal term of art), and affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

One of the named partners in the law firm seeking to register the trademark, Carl Oppedahl, argued the case for his law firm. I'd like to say that when a lawyer has himself for a client, he has a fool for a client, but in this case, there's probably no way someone else could have done better. It was a losing argument.

The name has to be unique, and not merely descriptive. Say, for example, this blog. Our trademark application is pending with the USPTO, and our California trademark has already been granted.

Choose wisely.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, July 11, 2004 at 11:08. Comments Closed (0) |



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