Wednesday, January 30, 2013

USPTO Provides Patent Term Calculator!

USPTO logo

We've all heard the joke in response to mathematical questions, "I'm terrible at math, that's why I went to law school."  Well, the USPTO has taken the joke seriously and has now provided a downloadable patent term calculator
The United States Patent and Trademark Office does not calculate expiration dates for patents. In response to patent owner and public inquiry, the USPTO is providing a downloadable patent term calculator (beta version) as a resource to help the public estimate the expiration date of a patent. The calculator can be used to estimate the expiration dates of utility, plant, or design patents. The calculator contains prompts to enter specific information related to the patent in order to help in estimating expiration dates. 
The calculator can be downloaded here but heed the USPTO Notice:
This calculator is only an educational tool. It was developed based on assumptions that may or may not apply in a particular case. It does not provide a determination of any kind by USPTO. It is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.
And now, our own disclaimer...heehee:
This post, or anything provided through this post, does not constitute mathematical advice and is not intended to constitute advertising of mathematical services. Nothing in this post should be construed as a source of mathematical advice. Do not rely or act upon the contents of this post without seeking advice from your own mathematician. Use and access to this post or any materials or information provided on this post does not create a mathematician-client relationship.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is There a Right to be Forgotten?

There might be in the European Union in the near future.

Discussions concerning a new legal framework for data protection and privacy reforms are taking place in the European Parliament. Two legislative proposals under consideration include:

  • 2012/0011(COD) - Personal data protection and free movement of data (General Data Protection Regulation)
  • 2012/0010(COD) - Personal data protection: processing of data for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or execution of criminal penalties, and free movement of data
The links above are to the European Parliament’s electronic Procedure File, which includes basic information, key players, key events, technical information, and a documentation gateway.
For more information, see the European Parliament’s information on Data protection day: is your private life safe?
Image Source: European Parliament, Data protection day: is your private life safe?

For recent U.S. news coverage, see Kevin J. O'Brien, Silicon Valley Companies Lobbying Against Europe’s Privacy Proposals, N.Y. Times, Jan. 25, 2013.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Socrates on Trial—Again

The philosopher Socrates was tried for impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens. He was found guilty and executed in 399 B.C. Next week, he will be tried again—but in Chicago, not Athens.

screen shot of NHM's ad for Trial of Socrates

The Trial of Socrates, organized by the National Hellenic Museum, will feature a lot of legal star power. The presiding judge will be 7th Circuit judge, law professor, and prolific author Richard Posner. You can read or hear an interview with one of the prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, here (NPR Weekend Edition, Jan. 26, 2013).

For the history, see The Trial of Socrates, by Prof. Douglas O. Linder. It's just one of many trials for which Linder presents essays, transcripts, images, and more on his Famous Trials site.

Update (Feb. 13, 2013): 
Curious about how this turned out?
The jurors found Socrates guilty but, since Illinois has abolished the death penalty, he was fined but not condemned to death. One journalist, who was on the jury, described the trial: Neil Steinberg, How Could We Find Socrates Guilty?, Chicago Sun Times, Feb. 2, 2013. Links to other coverage are on the National Hellenic Museum's press page

Friday, January 25, 2013

Libraries in Film

Who doesn't love a movie that includes a good library scene?  Book Riot has a fun list of sixteen great library scenes, including, of course, The Breakfast Club. 

Those of you who are law students might occasionally relate to the theme of library as prison, particularly around exam time.  But unlike those unlucky students in The Breakfast Club we don't give detention and we strive to make the library an enjoyable place to study.  In fact, a friendly reference librarian is available every day of the week to help with your research needs!

And although we don't generally break into song like Marion the Librarian, we do allow covered beverages, which is almost as fun.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Faculty Publication: Sallie Sanford on a Multi-Payer Pilot

Sallie Thieme Sanford, Designing Model Homes for the Changing Medical Neighborhood: A Multi-Payer Pilot Offers Lessons for ACO and PCMH Construction, 42 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1519 (2012).

Abstract from the SSRN posting:

Sallie Thieme Sanford
Elements of the Affordable Care Act function as a rezoning effort, allowing and encouraging development of new health care structures. Among these structures is the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a form of enhanced primary care that is “not far removed in principle” from the Accountable Care Organization (ACO). Indeed, in some formulations a PCMH is a necessary part of any well-functioning ACO. This article focuses on a state-directed, multi-payer medical home pilot that includes accountable care features such as upfront payments, possible shared savings, quality targets, and downside financial risk.

This pilot’s design and early construction thus offer ideas for others attempting similar delivery system remodels. And ideas are especially useful as to this type of remodel because, while construction proceeds around the country, we do not yet have many generalizable results and “unrealistic expectations . . . abound.” As with any fast-track construction project, mid-development blueprint revisions are to be expected. This article considers key questions about accountable care in general and the PCMH in particular, with a focus on how these redesigned homes could fit into a rezoned, “high-performing medical neighborhood.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Citing Foreign Law

The Bluebook has guidance on citing law from 43 jurisdictions, but that's not all the countries you might care about. Even for the countries covered, it might not be enough, since The Bluebook can only devote a few pages to each country.

Two law journals have prepared citation manuals that also cover foreign jurisdictions, including some The Bluebook omits: Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations (from the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics) and International Citation Manual (from the Washington University Global Studies Law Review). These manuals also give a brief overview of the legal system of each country covered.

Our new guide, Citing Foreign Law, has more information, including a table listing the jurisdictions covered in The Bluebook and the two other guides.

Assumption of the Risk Pop Quiz!!

Question 1:
You're at Safeco Field to watch a Mariners game.  Joe Baseball is coming up to bat. He swings...and a miss. He swings and *crack* the ball goes flying in the air and the next thing you know, the ball smacks into your face.  You notice your vision is altered and you are diagnosed with a detached retina. Did you assume the risk?

“[E]veryone who participates in or attends a baseball game assumes the risk of being hit by a ball,” because “the risk of being hit by a baseball is a risk inherent to the game.” Sheppard by Wilson v. Midway R-1 Sch. Dist., 904 S.W.2d 257, 262 (Mo. App. W.D. 1995).

Question 2:
You're at Safeco Field to watch a Mariners game. Between innings, the Mariner Moose comes out to rally the crowd by shooting t-shirts and treats out of an airgun. Everyone is on their feet shouting, hoping, praying for a free treat.  As the crowd chants, "THE MOOSE IS ON THE LOOSE...THE MOOSE IS ON THE LOOSE..." you turn away for just a second to look at the scoreboard and *pop* a foil wrapped hot dog smacks you in the face. You notice your vision is altered and you are diagnosed with a detached retina. Did you assume the risk?

The Missouri Court of Appeals decided in a recent opinion that "the risk of being hit in the face by a hot dog is not a well-known incidental risk of attending a baseball game. Consequently, a plaintiff may not be said to have consented to, and voluntarily assumed, the risk merely by attending the game." Coomer v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp., No. WD74040, 2013 WL 150838, at *3 (Mo. Ct. App. Jan. 15, 2013).

For more facts from the Kansas City Royals case, see here and here.

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v. Wade: Before and Since

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), text on Google Scholar. Various news organizations are featuring the case and the abortion debate more broadly. E.g.,

Before Roe v. Wade book jacket
A fascinating book gathers material about abortion from before 1973, so that you can see what activists, doctors, and others were saying in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Linda Greenhouse & Reva Siegel, Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court's Ruling (2010), KF9315 .B44 2010 at Classified Stacks, catalog record.

The authors make available a 406-page PDF of the book on SSRN. (This is a second edition of the book, about 70 pages longer than the paper edition.)

See the authors' law review article on the topic: Linda Greenhouse & Reva Siegel, Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash, 120 Yale L.J. 2028 (2011), Yale L.J. site, SSRN.

A sampling of other books on Roe and related topics:

  • N.E.H. Hull &  Charles Hoffer, Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History (2001), catalog record
  • David J. Garrow, Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (1994), catalog record
  • Norma McCorvey &Andy Meisler, I am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice (1994), catalog record
  • Ann Fessler, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Fefore Roe v. Wade (2006), catalog record
  • What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said: The Nation's Top Legal Experts Rewrite America's Most Controversial Decision (J. M. Balkin ed., 2005), catalog record
  • Marian Faux, Roe v. Wade: The Untold Story of the Landmark Supreme Court Decision That Made Abortion Legal (2001), catalog record
  • Sarah Ragle Weddington, A Question of Choice (1992), catalog record 
For more, search the catalog. These are among the helpful subject headings:
For a wide variety of websites, see the guide we've prepared for Beginning of Life

A World of Innovation

2012 World Intellectual Property Indicators Report

A useful source for data on global patent, trademark, and industrial design filings is the World Intellectual Property Indicators report. The 2012 report is now available.

The report pulls together annual statistics from intellectual property offices across the globe, offering analysis, trends, and a snapshot of our innovative world.

Published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), highlights from the 2012 report include:

  • Worldwide, there were more than two million patent filings in 2011
  • China received 526,412 patent applications in 2011 and for the first time, more patents were filed at the patent office of China than at any other office in the world
  • The Japan Patent Office granted the largest number of patents at 238,323, followed by the United States with 224,505, and China with 172,113
  • Nike shoe design registered with the European Union OHIM
  • Among the top industrial design filers in the clothing and fashion industry is Nike International, with 319 applications filed with the European Union OHIM (the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market)

The 2012 report includes a useful glossary, a list of abbreviations, and detailed statistical tables. WIPO offers statistical data at

Friday, January 18, 2013

Time Spent Having Sex With Clients is Not Billable

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently filed an order explaining that if you have sex with a client, you can't bill them for it!  While the court refrained from stating the obvious: that billing clients for sex falls into an entirely different profession, it did suspend the attorney indefinitely for his violations of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.  The facts of the case are briefly discussed here and here

If this comes as a surprise to you (it shouldn't but no judgment), feel free to check out any of the law library's resources on professional responsibility or ethics:
Just as a reminder, the Washington Bar Exam dedicates a separate day/session for its Professional Responsibility Exam.  Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct are always available here for your review!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Library Hours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The library will be open from 8:00am-5:00pm.  The reference office will be open from 1:00-4:00pm.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Apps to Help You Work More Efficiently

ABANow has published a list of expert-chosen iPad and iPhone apps to help legal professionals work more efficiently and "make these devices the Swiss Army knife of successful lawyers."   

Among the top picks are word processing apps like CloudOn and Documents To Go, as well as the always popular Evernote.  One clever app even allows you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a remote for presentations.  Looking for more ideas?  Check out the library's copy of Tom Mighell's iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers.    

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dumb Ways to Die

Have you heard the buzz about a recent PSA released by Metro Trains in Australia? The PSA features cute cartoon characters dying in dumb ways.  From a legal perspective, the PSA is basically a collection of different tort hypos put to song and dance. The advertisement has become Australia’s largest viral hit and the song is even available on iTunes!

With over 36 million views on YouTube, it's obvious that the cute albeit dead dancing figures are a hit. While everyone else laughs, law students and lawyers are probably suffering from flashbacks to hypotheticals posed in their Torts classes or unbelievable but true scenarios recounted in their casebooks.

As a fellow flashback sufferer, my thoughts wandered to Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Company. If suffering through Torts once wasn't enough for you either, check out some of the library's resources on Palsgraf here and here! If you've had enough of Torts but like the catchy "Dumb Ways to Die" tune, the karaoke version is now available for your singing pleasure, but please don't use your private parts as piranha bait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nixon's Birthday

In honor of Richard Nixon's birthday (Jan. 9, 1913), let's take a moment to note some of the legal developments during his time as President.

Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley, Dec. 21, 1970

For an overview of events around the Watergate scandal, see the Washington Post's collection, The Watergate Story. A video of Nixon's resignation is here.

For more events during Nixon's administration, see this timeline.

Photo credit: Nixon Library, National Archives. This post (Tumblr "Our Presidents," Jan. 8, 2013) states that the image "is among the most requested from the National Archives. The Elvis-Nixon meeting draws more inquiries than the Bill of Rights and the Constitution." For more on that meeting—including documents and photos—see this online exhibit.

Nixon and Presley nearly shared birthdays: Elvis was born Jan. 8, 1935.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Bill Available on FDsys

Looking for the text of the "fiscal cliff" bill?  You can access the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 for free on FDsys.

A search for "fiscal cliff bill" on FDsys returns a wealth of legislative material about the Act, including Congressional Record cites that provide more context about the unusual circumstances under which it was passed.  See here and here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Washington Law Help

Looking for legal information or legal assistance in Washington? Washington Law Help offers many resources for civil issues in the state of Washington! For help navigating the site, watch the helpful YouTube Video below:
Washington Law Help is maintained by the Northwest Justice Project; it is designed to provide free legal publications and self-help packets to low income persons and seniors in Washington state.  The resource covers a plethora of common legal issues including family law, housing, consumer debt, protection from abuse, and employment law. The website also features a handy "HIDE" button that will forward the site to Google in case your visit needs to be quickly concealed. Please note that the browsing history will still need to be cleared.

For more information, visit Washington Law Help or the Northwest Justice Project. Be sure to visit the Northwest Justice Project's new YouTube channel; it features helpful videos on foreclosure, fair hearings, sealing juvenile records and more!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

In California, Sex by Impersonation Isn't Rape?

The California Court of Appeal ruled yesterday in People v. Morales, that a man who tricked a woman into thinking he was her boyfriend to have sex with her is not guilty of committing rape. If this offends you, prepare to be floored: due to "historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape," if the man had pretended to be the woman's husband, he would be guilty of committing rape. The unfortunate facts of the case can be found in the Court's opinion as well as in this article published by The Recorder.

In its opinion, the Court discusses at length the history of rape and impersonation of spouse. In 1981, a similar case arose where the irony of marital status was not lost on the court. In Mathews v. Superior Court (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 309, Justice P.J. Paras wrote “to emphasize what I perceive as an obvious and serious oversight in our Penal Code... The section 261, subdivision 5 distinction between married and unmarried victims seems no longer warranted."

Over twenty years later, the Morales Court makes a similar comment (in a footnote) urging "the Legislature to reexamine section 261, subdivisions (a)(4) and (a)(5), and correct the incongruity that exists when a man may commit rape by having intercourse with a woman when impersonating a husband, but not when impersonating a boyfriend." Until the Penal Code is reexamined, requesting two forms of identification and verifying fingerprints of potential partners before engaging in intercourse is advised.