The Chicago IP Colloquium has another strong line up for its 2009 edition. The Colloquium jointly sponsored by Chicago-Kent and Loyola Chicago began yesterday at Kent with Professor Joseph Miller of Lewis & Clark Law School presenting his paper Hoisting Originality. Papers from past Colloquia are available here.
The leaders of the Colloquium are Professor Graeme Dinwoodie, Director, Program in Intellectual Property Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law and Professor Cynthia Ho, Loyola law School. Mark your calendars for the remaining sessions of the 2009 Colloquium:
February 10, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Room 1103
Professor Colleen Chien, Santa Clara University Law School
Paper: Patent Detente – Solutions to the Patent Arms Race
February 24, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Room 305
Professor Anupam Chander, UC Davis School of Law
Paper: Youthful Indiscretion & Digital Memory
March 24, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Room 1103
Professor David Adelman, The University of Arizona
Paper: Visualizing Patent Domains: Emerging Empirical Methods & Their Implications for Patent Policy
April 7, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Room 305
Professor Lisa Ramsey, University of San Diego School of Law
Paper: Free Speech and International Obligations to Protect Trademarks
April 21, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Room 1103
Professor Frank Pasquale, Seton Hall University School of Law
Paper: Search, Copyright, and Speech

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Brinks Hofer’s Robyn Bowland is the winner of the 2008 George Hutchinson Writing Competition, Hutchinson was the first Federal Circuit Chief Clerk. The competition honors an excellent articls or paper from a law student. Bowland’s article — Distress Signals: Considering the Patentability of Signals in Light of Nuijten considered whether electromagnetic signals were patentable focusing on In re Nuijten. It is expected to be published later this month in the Federal Circuit Bar Journal. It is great to see another strong writer joining the Chicago IP bar.
* Hat tip to the Chicago Lawyer for identifying this story.

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Few skills are more important to litigators than legal writing. That is especially true for IP litigators tasked with explaining complex technologies to an audience without a deep background in the technology. Your ability to package facts and law into a compelling, understandable story can make or break your case. Because of that, I follow several writing blogs, for example Manage Your Writing and Adams Drafting. Here are a few writing tips from some of my favorite writing blogs:
Managing Your Writing has a great post focused on using parallel language in lists — click here to read it and here to read the cited Writing Matters post. I love bulleted lists in briefs and letters, but if you do not make them parallel, you really harm the effectiveness of the list. My additional thought is that you also must pay attention to the visual layout of the list, going for approximately equally sized bullets whenever possible (as you can see from this list, it does not always work.
Trial Practice Tips Weblog discussed the dangers of overstating your positions — click here to read it and here to read the cited Robust Writing post. Zealous advocacy puts litigators in danger of overstating their positions. The overstatement often reads well in a vacuum, but rarely fares well with the court. Few things are as detrimental to a lawyer or litigant’s credibility than overstatements in pleadings. Practice tip: When team-editing a brief you have to be especially careful to do a final edit to remove accidental overstatements.

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Funny Cide Ventures, LLC v. Miami Herald Publishing Co., No. 4D06-2347, Slip Op. (Fla. 4th Dist. May 16, 2007).
Funny Cide Ventures is not a Northern District opinion, nor is it about intellectual property, but it is worth reading. In a two-page per curiam opinion, the appellate panel dismissed Funny Cide Venture’s (“FCV”) claims of injurious falsehood against defendants the Miami Herald and Knight-Ridder. FCV’s horse Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby in 2003. After the race, the Miami Herald falsely reported that Funny Cide’s jockey admitted carrying something during the race and implied that the jockey had cheated by carrying an illegal, battery-operated device perhaps to shock Funny Cide. Funny Cide and his jockey went on to win the Preakness Stakes with a substantial lead over the field, completing two-thirds of the Triple Crown. But they lost the final race at Belmont and, with it, the Triple Crown. FCV filed suit against defendants claiming that the Miami Herald’s erroneous story caused the jockey to run Funny Cide too hard at the Preakness in an effort to prove his and Funny Cide’s superiority and, therefore, their innocence. As a result of that effort, Funny Cide lost at Belmont and, therefore, lost the revenue generated by a Triple Crown winner. The Court held that despite the “novelty and creativity” of the claims, the loss was not a direct result of defendants’ article.
While the opinion is timely (the Preakness was run last weekend), what is most interesting about it is Judge Farmer’s concurring opinion. His concurrence does not make any novel legal arguments or take issue with the substance of the per curiam decision. Instead, it leads with an argument against “dreary,” “tedious” and unnecessarily long judicial opinions.
Judge Farmer argued that some opinions should be written in alternative styles to open the law to a larger audience, and he resolved to occasionally write in other styles:
In my view nothing that is available in human experience ought to be banned by convention in judicial opinion writing.
I should state publicly my own resolution, made several months ago. I had decided that the style of some opinions could–and should– be unconventionally changed for greater openness to all readers. I would try to write some opinions in styles and tones calculated to make legal reasoning clearer for those without law degrees. Then came this case.
Judge Farmer chose this case to act upon his resolution. He wrote his opinion as though he were telling a story/writing a novel — it has a plot (at least a loose one), avoided legal-ease or citation, and it used short, decisive sentences:

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Mader v. Motorola Inc., No. 92 C 8089, 1999 WL 519020 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 14, 1999) (Manning, J.).

This opinion intersects with IP only to the extent that you consider the opinion a derivative work based on its use of Beatles and Pink Floyd song titles and quotes.  But it does highlight a fun area of legal writing — the use of song lyrics in judicial opinions.  A recent law review article,  [Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics in Legal Writing, by Professor Alex Long analyzes the use of music in legal writing (Bob Dylan is the most cited artist in judicial opinions, followed by Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen). (Note: If my wife were a federal district judge, you might see a sharp increase in judicial citations to Judas Priest and KISS. Thankfully – at least for the sake of good musical taste – she is not, although she would otherwise make a great judge.)


Continue Reading Rocking Out in the Northern District