SPSS Inc. v. Nie, No. 08 C 66 (N.D. Ill.) (Darrah, Jr.).
The parties recently settled this trademark dispute shortly before trial. For more on the parties’ history and the settlement, click here for Chicago Tribune reporter and Chicago Law blogger Ameet Sachdev’s reporting on the case in the Tribune, and click here for more coverage of the case in the Blog’s archives.

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Congratulations to Sharon Barner, a Chicagoan and the head of Foley & Lardner’s IP practice. Barner has been nominated to become the next Deputy Director of the Patent & Trademark Office. Based upon reputation and my limited contact with Barner, including among others speaking on a panel at Northwestern with her, the administration made an excellent choice. For more on the nomination, check out Patently-O and Chicago Law.

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IP Business Congress 2009 comes to Chicago in about two weeks, June 21-23, 2009 — click here for registration information. In honor of such an impressive group of IP lawyers coming to Chicago, I am hosting Meet the Bloggers VI on Tuesday evening June 23 starting at 5pm.
The IPBC is at the beautiful Four Seasons Chicago, but in order to make sure that attendees get a well-rounded taste of Chicago, Meet the Bloggers VI will be held at the world famous Billy Goat Tavern. The Billy Goat is just down and below the street from the Four Seasons at 430 N. Michigan Avenue. Go to the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue and take the stairs below the sidewalk to find the Billy Goat. Those who have a long history in the IP blogosphere will remember that the Billy Goat was also the site of Meet the Blogger III (I am on the left side of the second picture). Also, I want to thank Meet the Blogger creator and Meet the Blogger III host John Welch of the TTABlog for allowing me to use the Meet the Blogger name.
I am not making any promises, but I am hopeful that if you attend you will meet Chicago legal blogging luminaries such as Internet Cases; Chicago Law (an excellent new blog by the Chicago Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev); the anonymous Editor of Blawg Review; Cyberlaw Central; and 12:01 Tuesday. and the 271 Patent Blog.

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According to Chief Judge Holderman during the annual state of the Northern District speech, the state of the Northern District is “good” — click here for the Northern District’s statement regarding the speech. The Northern District was briefly at full capacity, between Judge Dow’s appointment to the Northern District and Judge Filip’s resignation to join the Department of Justice. Other highlights of the presentation included:
The Northern District remains in the top ten districts in terms of median time to civil case disposition at 6.2 months.
Magistrate Judges Brown and Mahoney were reappointed to additional eight year terms; and
The Northern District’s 2007 civil case load remained nearly constant, falling only .5% from its 2006 level.
The Northern District’s steady civil case load is especially impressive in light of the Seventh Circuit’s reduced case load in 2007. The Chicago Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev reported — click here for the story — that the Seventh Circuit’s Chief Judge Easterbrook, during his state of the Seventh Circuit speech, reported that the Seventh Circuit’s case load dropped 10% for the second year in a row. Sachdev noted that federal appellate court case loads had averaged a 5% drop per year since 2000. And Easterbrook explained the Seventh Circuit’s 10% drop for 2007 as based upon two primary factors:
The Seventh Circuit’s district courts saw an overall 6% drop in their case loads; and
The Seventh Circuit’s preference for bright line rules over totality of the circumstance tests made it easier for entities to settle their disputes, saying:
Rules make it easier for private parties to avoid litigation, or settle their disputes, without asking for appellate evaluation in every case.

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Over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev reported that an ongoing copyright dispute may be coming to a head at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street in Chicago, click here for the Tribune article. In the 1980s, Israeli artist Yaacov Agam was commissioned to create a sculpture for what would become the Stone Container building at 150 N. Michigan Avenue.* Over time, Chicago weather faded the work and the current owner hired an expert to restore the multi-hued work to its original look. Agam is unhappy with the restoration because he believes the colors were not restored to the exact shades he originally used. The work is now back on display at the corner of Michigan and Randolph, and Agam is headed to Chicago this weekend to view the restored, or as he calls it “reconstructed,” work.
In a previous Tribune article, Agam’s counsel admits that VARA, the Visual Artists Rights Act, did not protect Agam’s position because the work was created before 1990 and because Agam no longer owns his work. But Agam claimed to hold the copyright in the work and argued that the copyright allowed him to prevent the current owner from creating a derivative work, which Agam believed the restored or reconstructed work to be because of the changed colors. The dispute is likely governed by the contract commissioning Agam to make the work. Of course, it is possible, and maybe even likely, that the contract is silent or ambiguous regarding derivative works or that it was an oral contract without proof of what the parties intended. It will be interesting to see how the dispute is resolved and, I am sure, people who work in the area will be glad that the wooden stump that stood in the work’s place has been replaced by some restored version of the work.
* Click here for a picture of the sculpture and further discussion of this dispute at the One-Way Street.
** Click here to read the blog’s post about that article.

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