The Work

July 16, 2008 9:38 AM


Posted by Jonathan Thrope

Written and Edited by Andrew Longstreth

Considering the SEC's False Rumor Crack Down
Perhaps it was just good timing. That or the New York Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin is a seriously powerful columnist who can make regulators move. Last Tuesday, he wrote a column about rumor-mongering in the financial markets. "There's no way to quantify whether rumors are more rampant today than they used to be or whether they just are traveling faster," he wrote. "But what is clear is that there seems to be little being done about it. It might be difficult to make a case, but you'd think you'd see subpoenas flying at least as fast as the rumor mill."
Message received. On Sunday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said it and other regulators were looking at rumors that were spread intentionally to move stock prices. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC sent out more than 50 subpoenas in its effort.

To get a read on the investigation and what might come of it, the Am Law Daily talked with Davis, Polk & Wardwell partner Joseph Hall.

Covington Wins Reversal of $85 Million Patent Infringement Verdict at Federal Circuit, Beats "Original Patent Troll"
Last summer, Raymond Niro--whom IP Law & Business dubbed the "original patent troll"--had reason to crow about a patent infringement award against Thomson Reuters and i-Deal, LLC. A jury had awarded $38.4 million to his client, MuniAuction Inc., in 2006 for willful infringement, and the following year Pittsburgh federal district judge Gary Lancaster doubled the award and added interest, bringing the recovery to $84.6 million. MuniAuction had accused Thomson and i-Deal of infringing a patent relating to an automated municipal bond auction system, which operated with a web browser.

But now it's Covington & Burling's turn to crow.

On Monday the firm got the award reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Covington had taken over the case from Wilmer Hale after the trial. Partner Richard Rainey made the appellate argument, and partner Tony Herman took the lead on the briefs.

We tried to reach Niro for comment, but he did not return a call to his office. (Just so you know, a patent troll is a not-so-nice name used to describe patent holders that enforce their rights in overly aggressive ways.)

KU Scores Partial Win At Trademark Infringement Trial
Pardon us once more for indulging in a case involving our favorite school, the University of Kansas. Last week, we told you about a trademark infringement lawsuit it had filed against, a local store that sells KU t-shirts, some of which have messages that the university would rather not be associated with. The case went to trial a few weeks ago and we have a verdict. On Monday, a federal jury in Topeka awarded the university $127,000.

The award wasn't a slam-dunk like the kind we see Jayhawks throw down on the basketball court, however. It was about a fourth of what the school sought, according to the Kansas City Star.

We talked to KU's lead lawyer, Charlie Henn, Jr. of Kilpatrick Stockton, to discuss the verdict. He told us that the university had sought to find infringement on about 206 tee-shirts. The jury found only 54 had infringed. "It was definitely a win for the university," said Henn. "It was very important for [KU] that [Joe-College] be found to be a willful infringer. [But] the verdict didn't go as far as we had hoped."

James Tilly of Tulsa, Oklahoma represented Joe-College.

Robbins, Russell Tapped For Creditor Lawsuit In Tousa Bankruptcy
Once again, the dreaded conflicts monster has reared its scaly head.

In the bankruptcy proceedings of homebuilder Tousa Inc., Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld is serving as counsel for the official committee of unsecured creditors. It's a nice assignment. Earlier this month, it filed its first fee application in Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy court asking for $2.7 million for work performed between February 14 through April 30. (For those curious, highest billing rate honors go to partner Daniel Golden at $950 per hour.)

But then the creditors decided to sue more than 65 lenders, including Citicorp, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, and Akin Gump had to step aside. That's not surprising, since most major firms don't want anything to do with suing banks and financial institutions. Instead, the lenders suit was filed by Washington, D.C. boutique Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber. The creditors are seeking up to $800 million for alleged fraudulent transfers before Tousa filed for bankruptcy in January. Name partner Lawrence Robbins told us that Akin Gump had potential conflicts of interest. Akin's Daniel Golden confirmed that and said it will continue to represent the creditors committee in other matters. It's unclear who will represent the defendants.

Senior White-Collar Defense Attorney Leaves Akin For Orrick
At the Litigation Daily, we don't usually report on lateral moves. But some fish are too big to ignore. Michael Madigan's move from Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is one of those. Legal Times reports that Madigan, a long-time Republican and card-carrying member of the Federalist Society who had spent 30 years at Akin, will be joining at Orrick his friend Lanny Davis, a well-known Democrat who appeared tirelessly on cable TV as a surrogate for Senator Hillary Clinton when she was running for President.

Madigan has tons of Washington experience, including stints as an assistant U.S. attorney and counsel to Senator Howard Baker during the Watergate investigation. In 2006 he represented Larry Sonsini when the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati chairman was summoned to Capitol Hill for a Congressional hearing into the Hewlett-Packard Co. spy scandal (Evan Chesler of Cravath, Swaine & Moore was also by Sonsini's side.) Regarding his move, Madigan told the Legal Times that "60 is the new 40" and that it was an ideal time for a change.

Madigan was part of the litigation team that The American Lawyer named as a finalist in its January Litigation Department of the Year issue.

Yesterday, we mistakenly referred to eBay Inc.'s win over Tiffany & Co. as a patent case. It was a trademark case. We regret the error.

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