Category Archives: law

Abandoning Jesus

David Galbraith points out the irony of the “Creative Commons” trademark application. I’ve been heavily immersed in the study of trademark law lately. I’m taking Intellectual Property and Trademarks this semester. The fact that the former includes the latter resulted in my spending four consecutive hours listening to professors describing the Abercrombie & Fitch categorization of fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic marks (“generic marks” is a misnomer of course). My favorite ironic mark is “Freedom of Expression”, registered by Kembrew McLeod, though there was a rumour going around that Coca-Cola was claiming ownership of the “Jesus” mark. (Indeed, it used to be listed on their “brands” page.)
I looked up Jesus registrations to check. It turns out that ten people have actually registered “Jesus” but all of these are logo registrations. I can just see the board meeting now: “Johnson, how did it go with the lawyers?” “Good sir, we have obtained the exclusive rights to Jesus.”
Of course, six of the ten Jesus marks have been abandoned. “(ten years later…) Johnson, do we still have the rights to Jesus?” “No sir, we have abandoned Jesus.”

Illegal Art

Illegal Art says, “Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.” I don’t think the Constitution actually allows congress to promote the exchange of ideas: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”. It seems, rather to favor protection. Despite being “illegal” (in the civil sense, mainly, I don’t think anyone is going to prison over these), Illegal Art showcases some of the best intellectual property violations of our/all time.

Small Restaurant Law

The new “Crispy Crepes” restaurant has opened in my neighborhood. We’ve been waiting for a long time. I used to pass the location every day on the way to school, and now we have another quality eating establishment in the hood.
Working at the Legal Services Center has given me a new appreciation for the restaurant business. There are so many legal factors to consider, and then there’s the financing, the cooking, the employees, etc. For example, I did some state tax research today… If you buy a 24 ounce bottle of Coke to go, you don’t have to pay the 5% Massachusetts food tax, but if you buy it “for here”, you do. If you buy a 20 ounce bottle of Coke, you have to pay the tax regardless, unless you’re buying it from the grocery store (but you can’t buy it from a “restaurant part” of a grocery store (where they also sell food for immediate consumption)). Now if you think this is confusing… it’s not. You just give them some money and they give you the Coke. But someone (ie, the owner) has to figure all this stuff out, charge the tax, and pay the tax to the state. How often he or she pays depends upon how much tax there is. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember to tip your waitresses and bartenders well tonight – and the owner too.
(Note: Entertainment purposes only people. This is not actual legal advice and I disclaim any responsibility for any inaccuracies. I am not an attorney!)

Computer Working / Job Update

Finally, my computer is working again. A few months ago my power supply started getting really hot, and the computer would eventually shut down on its own. Recently, “eventually” has been about half-an-hour, which is just enough time to start doing something but not enough time to have saved what you’re working on. Frustrating. So now it’s fixed. I had to buy a new sony-brand power supply for $150, but it works. So nice.
It’s been brought to my attention that I don’t write very much about my job, considering it takes up over 1/2 of my waking hours. Partly this is because of the attorney/client privilege, which prevents me from spilling the details of what I’ve been working on. More so though, its just because I haven’t been thinking about work while not there. Here’s a midsummer’s update though:
Work is really cool. I’m learning all kinds of practical stuff about setting up corporations (in Mass and en masse). None of my cases have actually gone from start to finish, but the ones that I picked up half-way through are close to done, and the ones I began are getting there. I’ve also been working on a trademark and some music contracts; both are really interesting. The best part is that I can apply a little bit of what I’ve learned in law school to real life. While it sometimes seems like anyone could do the work I’m doing, there are the these subtle details that one would only know to think about had she gone to law school (at least for a year). It’s good to see that some of that studying is paying off.

Law Site Suit

The Contracts exam is now over. It was as difficult as expected so keep your fingers crossed for me. By the time I get the grade it will probably be long forgotten, but then I can pick up my bluebook and ponder the confusing questions once again.
Now there is only one class left for which to study: Civil Procedure. I don’t mind it. (Funny, because I hated it at the beginning of the year.) So it’s going to be couple days of thinking about how it all fits together. Unlike property or Contracts, there aren’t massive amounts of rules and exceptions to learn. Instead, there is a little bit more policy stuff. Plus I feel like we didn’t cover as much this semester as last.
In other news. A student at Louisiana State University Law Center is being sued for copyright infringement due to his domain name: lsulaw.com. A New York Times headline reads, “Welcome to Our Law School, Young Man. We’ll See You in Court.” I think that’s pretty funny. Checking out his site, it doesn’t look like it’s super popular. According to Google, there are no sites that link to it. I’m sure all that has changed with the release of the article, which not only makes me want to link to it, but also makes me want to ask him for a link to lawschooldiscussion.org. He’s undoubtedly seeing a lot of traffic today.
Good luck on your exams Mr. Dorhauer, and good luck with your law suit.

Lessig

Lawrence Lessig gave a presentation at BU Law today for our annual “Distinguished Lecture”. Luckily, my Constitutional Law professor was losing his voice and let the class out an unprecedented 15 minutes early. This allowed me to catch Professor Lessig’s entire presentation.
Professor Lessig presented an entertaining argument for more limited copyright controls, grounded in law but exemplified through “stories”. I’m not going to go into the substance of his argument here, but I will say that I enjoyed the speech and I’m looking forward to getting into more specialized legal issues (such as copyright) in the next two years. I’m getting tired of Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law, though neither is as boring as I thought it would be. Hopefully this summer I’ll have time to read Lessig’s book, “The Future of Ideas“. No time for stuff like that now…