October 30, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:48:30 pm The big verdicts keep coming for intellectual property law firm McKool Smith
What a year it's been for McKool Smith, PC. The big verdicts just keep coming. Just this week, the firm won a $59 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tokyo-
Earlier this year, the firm won a $21 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Tyler, Texas, based technology company Anascape against Nintendo in a fight over patents used in video game controllers like the Wii and Gamecube. In May, McKool Smith attorneys won a $250 million patent infringement verdict for Medtronic against Boston Scientific relating to a balloon catheter patent used in the surgical treatment of heart disease. In June, the firm reached an $83 million settlement for i2 Technologies in a patent dispute against SAP AG.
October 28, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:50:46 pm Blogging is fun, until the libel lawsuits start piling up
October 24, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 1:47:03 pm From Wall Street to Main Street, Financial Crisis Echoes in Vacant Retail Spaces
If any doubt remains that the financial meltdown is extending to Main Street, consider this recent sobering announcement: Circuit City is planning to
October 14, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:04:25 pm Court slaps Harry Potter fan
Intelectual property attorney Dyan House: There's a lesson for everyone in the Harry Potter IP ruling
There's a teaching opportunity from the recent ruling against a Harry Potter fan who sought to publish a detailed guide to the works of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
October 13, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:17:07 pm Credit crunch is both a global and local story
To put the credit crisis in context you can consider the prospect of an entire nation like Iceland on the brink of collapse or individual homeowners here in Texas forced
October 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:31:54 pm Natural gas bonanza carries legal risks in states without production history
Thompson & Knight oil and gas attorney Michael Byrd warns wildcatters to beware in states without production caselaw
Natural gas fever is rising in the most unexpected places, thanks to drilling technology that allows production companies to extract natural gas from shale. One of the
October 10, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:42:29 pm Credit crunch double whammy, or where'd all the money go?
Thompson & Knight attorney Chris Schaeper says worldwide credit crisis affecting even the fiscally strong.
The U.S. and other countries may be pouring funds into the worldwide financial system, but so far the credit markets remain jammed. As a result, routine transactions that
October 9, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:33:21 pm Attorney Angel Reyes publishes important analysis of Hispanic workforce trends
What he found is an eye opener when you consider that the Hispanic workforce is one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the workforce. The analysis concludes that Hispanic workers are at particular risk during economic downturns, suffering negative effects sooner, more severely and for longer duration than their white counterparts. With such a large segment of the workforce at risk, the study concludes that it is extremely worthwhile for the sake of the broader economy to try to reverse these trends. Read more here.
October 8, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:30:59 am Law firms responding swiftly to epic economic turmoil
Senior attorneys at Gardere Wynne Sewell quickly establish Financial Crisis Recovery Team
While some would prefer to burry their heads in the sand until this epic financial turmoil is over, for an example of how some law firms are reacting nimbly, consider Gardere Wynne Sewell's creation of its multi-disciplinary Financial Crisis Recovery
The firm's business and litigation attorneys are already working together on tasks including problem loans, debt restructuring, securities violations, tax issues, government contracts, employment law, breached contracts, and investigations and crisis management. Senior attorneys on the team are able to response to clients affected by the global crisis from every conceivable scenario. Cliff Risman, chair of Gardere's Business Department, notes that it's hard to understand the impact that this crisis on businesses and individuals. "This is more than a financial crisis - it poses fundamental challenges to the foundations and integrity of business operations," he says.
October 3, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 12:46:29 pm Is there a law firm marketing lesson in the bailout postmortem?
Schlepping the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan to an angry electorate would be a chore for even the most capable p.r. maestro. By most accounts, Henry Paulson was hardly up for the p.r. job of connecting with the American people. Time has an insightful analysis of the p.r. missteps that failed to inspire the public and no-doubt led to the plan's initial defeat. The Time
piece is dead-on. Shoot, this is stuff any good trial attorney knows about explaining complex arguments to regular folks, things like making sure your message is specific and easily understood, personal, accurate and targeted.
The Time piece offers some suggestions to resell the bailout, including: Find a face: Human beings are not moved by numbers or by vague predictions of certain doom. They are moved by stories. "It's simple," says Dennis Mileti, an expert on risk communications who has studied hundreds of disasters of the more conventional kind at the University of Colorado. "You get one family in America. You go to their house. And you paint a picture of what their life is like one year from now. You describe a kid who can't go to college, the house that can't be sold, the inability of anyone to use a credit card. They need to get a camera crew and go to Omaha and find a family."
Rebrand the Bill: The phrase "bailout" is a deal-killer. "People feel the breaks are being given to financial institutions and not to the consumer," says Slovic. He recommends "Consumer Protection Act." It may be too late for this change to have much impact, but any change in language that acknowledges real people would be an improvement.
Shoot the Messenger: If you want people to support the radical idea of rescuing rich investment bankers, don't send a rich, former investment banker (Henry Paulson) to convince them. And don't send a discredited, lame duck President, either. As in normal life, people are more likely to believe the advice of someone they trust. There aren't many well-known experts in this field who aren't rich, but even Warren Buffet would have brought less baggage to the process than George Bush.
Be Specific: People need to know what will happen if they do nothing - or if they do something.
October 2, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 3:59:49 pm On China trip, lawyer finds parallels to law firm glass ceilings
In her latest Texas Lawyer commentary, Andrews Kurth attorney Kathleen J. Wu offers this important reminder: Sometimes it takes hitting the road to appreciate what
Writes Wu: I know: It seems like we haven't made any progress. Women lawyers haven't achieved anything near parity in the partnership ranks at major firms. We only have one woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, down from two. To the naked eye, it can seem like we're actually moving backward. But we're not. Trust me. When Sandra Day O'Connor graduated No. 3 in her class at Stanford Law School in 1952, the only legal job offer she could get was as a secretary. In the 1970s, a group of women law students in Dallas had to sue even to get interviews at firms. When I started in the late 1980s, I wasn't allowed to wear pants to work.
Now, not only can I wear pants, but women are entering the profession at the same rate as men. Some of the largest firms in the world have had female managing partners. And while parity is a long way off, the percentage of female partners has inched up steadily over the years. The most encouraging trend I've seen, though, is the number of firms that have started meaningful women's initiatives and put real money and political support behind them. These firms are making an effort to recruit, develop and retain women lawyers. While they aren't always successful, and there are lots of structural and cultural hurdles to overcome before there's real parity, I have to remember that these things move in geologic time. Progress can't be measured in months or years. It has to be measured in decades and centuries.
The sticks that punish the legal profession for its resistance to change -- the flight of talented yet discouraged and overwhelmed women from the profession -- coupled with the carrots offered by clients demanding diversity in their legal service providers make progress as inevitable here as it is in China. It's going to take a while, but if the Chinese can keep fighting the good fight, so can we.
October 2, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:31:57 pm Texas jury returns $1.5 million verdict for Ellis County truck crash
When Dallas attorney James Craig Orr walked away with a $1.5 million verdict Tuesday on behalf of two Austin men who were seriously injured when an 18-wheeler crashed into their car, trucking company Celadon Trucking sought to mitigate the court loss with the following public statement: Celadon does not hire trainee drivers,
and has a very high safety standard relating to its drivers. We have won numerous national and regional safety awards. We are reviewing the jury verdict, and are considering our options regarding an appeal of the decision.
The Indianapolis Star, Celadon's home-town paper, faithfully included the company's statement in an Associated Press story of the court verdict secured by Dallas-based law firm Heygood, Orr, Reyes, Pearson & Bartolomei. That's great, but we wonder how long it took the reporter to find this this contradictory tidbit in the very next paragraph that casts a little doubt on that sincerity of Celadon's response: In 2005, Celadon Trucking agreed to pay $1.25 million to the parents of a soldier who died when his car rear-ended a tractor-trailer that stalled along a Texas highway in 2002 after its brake hose failed. The husband-wife truck driving team in that case had tried to repair a high-pressure brake hose with a toothpick wrapped with tape.
The lesson for everyone: don't assume reporters will swallow your statement without a little fact-checking.
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 4:09:55 pm The IRS and IKE
Thompson & Knight attorney Roger Aksamit says IRS is offering some relief
For those rebuilding from Hurricane Ike, end-of-the-year federal income tax strategies no doubt fall somewhere near the bottom of the priority list. Houston attorney Roger Aksamit of Thompson & Knight's Houston offices says the IRS is offering some relief. Taxpayers in the 29 Texas counties declared as Hurricane Ike disaster areas may be able
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 2:55:52 pm Trial lawyer of the year...the envelope please
The awards ceremony is still weeks away, but the cat's out of the bag. Dallas attorney Charla G. Aldous is the American Board of Trial Advocates' Trial Lawyer of the
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 11:02:40 am In-house lawyer, you can go home again
October 1, 2008 by Robert Tharp at 10:30:02 am Fatal train crash aftermath: Cel phones now off limits for California train engineers
Transportation attorney Mike Richardson of Dallas law firm Rose•Walker says other industries likely to follow.
It didn't take long for California safety regulators to ban cell phone usage by on-duty engineers following a deadly train collision in which one of the engineers was
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