Web week

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@thelawyer.com.

Cisco hopes to take a bite out of Apple
Tech geeks and gadget lovers everywhere rejoiced last week with Apple’s announcement of its newfangled iPhone – everywhere, that is, except at Cisco, which promptly filed a lawsuit claiming breach of trademark.

Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler took the ever-increasingly common move in the tech world of posting a blog (http://blogs.cisco.com/home/) to outline the company’s position.

“This is not a suit against Apple’s innovation, their modern design, or their cool phone. It is not a suit about money or royalties. This is a suit about trademark infringement,” writes Chandler on his blog.

“At Macworld [the exhibition where the iPhone was launched], Apple discussed the patents pending on their new phone technology,” Chandler continued. “They clearly seem to value intellectual property. If the tables were turned, do you think Apple would allow someone to blatantly infringe on their rights? We know the answer – Apple is a very aggressive enforcer of their trademark rights. And that needs to be a two-way street.”

Stirring stuff, and a very interesting case for the US district court to ponder. Cisco claims it inherited the iPhone trademark in 2000 after acquiring Infogear, which filed for the trademark in 1996. Commentators on MacDailyNews (http://macdailynews. com/index.php/weblog/comments/ 12258/) suggested that other companies had been infringing on the iPhone trademark and questioned why Cisco is targeting Apple when it had failed to target others.

Much a-Dewey about nothing
The demise of the Dewey Ballantine-Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe merger generated plenty of material for bloggers, as today’s front page is likely to do as well. Web Week’s favourite so far was the ‘Above The Law’ blog (http://www.abovethelaw.com/2007/01/more_on_the_death_of_deweyorri.php), which not only gave the proposed merger the nickname ‘Dewy Orifice’, but also provided the following interesting take on the relationship between the firms: “At first we thought: Orrick is like a Lothario who seduced Dewey, gave her a loathsome disease, and then dumped her.”

The blog goes on to provide a less sensationalist critique of the possible future.

“This is very bad news for Dewey. Uncertainty in the wake of the merger caused several of their top partners, including leading M&A lawyers, to leave for other firms. So Dewey is now worse off than it was before the announcement of the merger – and now without a merger partner.”

Learning to deride
To get your Monday morning off to a bright start, why not have a read of University of California Los Angeles law professor Stephen Bainbridge’s column entitled ‘First, kill all the transactional lawyers. (http:// www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=122106A).

“Much of the work of transactional lawyers entails giving advice that could be given by other professionals. Accordingly, it seems fair to ask: why does anybody hire transactional lawyers?”Surely there’s more than a few readers who might have a view to express to Professor Bainbridge on that one.

After going through a series of ‘slice of the pie’ theories, Bainbridge concludes: “Transactional lawyers must understand the business, financial, and economic aspects of deals so as to draft workable contracts and disclosure documents, conduct due diligence, or counsel clients on issues that require business savvy as well as knowing the law.”

Web Week is reminded of that old saying: “Those who can, do; those that can’t, teach.”