Web week 10/07/06
10 July 2006
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.
Pepsi can't stomach the deal thing
Widely reported in the news this week was the attempt by three Coca-Cola employees to
sell trade secrets to arch-rival PepsiCo. According to the claims, administration worker
Joya Williams went through files and stuffed documents as well as a new Coca-Cola product
into her bag and then contacted Pepsi. Also accused of stealing trade secrets are Ibrahim
Dimson and Edmund Duhaney.
In an unlikely twist, Pepsi tipped off the FBI and Coca-Cola about the approach from the
thieves, who were looking for $1.5m (£820,000) for the information.
Coca-Cola's recipe has been a trade secret for 120 years. Wikipedia.org reports that the
identity of the famed secret ingredient, known as Merchandise 7X, is locked away
in a security vault in a bank in Atlanta, Georgia.
But IP blog IPKat at http://ip kitten.blogspot.com/ makes a good point about the case,
saying: "The real treasure is the Coca-Cola brand itself. Anyone with access to a reasonable laboratory can analyse and replicate Coke's products, but the brand is literally
Looks like Coca-Cola's most valuable trade secret is in its marketing department.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog http://blogs.wsj.com/law/ had a story about the US
Attorney's Office in Manhattan asking the federal judge overseeing the KPMG tax fraud case
to withdraw statements from his recent decision that criticised his prosecutors.
The blog said: "[US Attorney] Michael Garcia isn't challenging the
substance of Judge Kaplan's opinion, but objecting to the judge's criticism of the
In his letter, Garcia requested that the court withdraw from its opinion the statements
regarding his office and the court's "references by name throughout the opinion to the
In his opinion, Judge Kaplan accused the US Attorney's Office of being "economical with
the truth". The three prosecutors involved in the case are Shirah Neiman, chief counsel to
Garcia, and Stanley Okula and Justin Weddle, assistant US attorneys.
US site www.minoritylawjournal.com released its annual Diversity Scorecard this week,
which ranks law firms based on the ethnic diversity of their lawyers.
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison tops this year's list. Minorities
make up 23 per cent of its US attorneys and 9.9 per cent of its US partners. Second was
Morrison & Foerster, where 22.8 percent of attorneys and 10.2 percent of partners are
Monica Bay at law blog The Common Scold (http://commonscold.typepad.com/), said: "One not surprising finding: the growing diversity among law firm attorneys seems to correlate
positively with the increasing demands from corporate clients that their outside counsel include minority attorneys."
That may be so in the US, but the little island across the pond is still trailing. Only
3 per cent of partners in the UK's top 100 law firms come from ethnic minorities. A third
have no partners from ethnic minorities at all.
Talking the talk, walking the walk
Finally, law blog Great Firms Great Practices run by Gerry Riskin (http://www.gerryriskin.com) features 'The Seven Immutable Laws of Change Management' for law firms.
Law 7 - Turn a spotlight on your initiative and leave it on - has some useful advice to
partners that might be all too familiar to spirit-crushed associates.
For example, Riskin advocates MBWA, or 'Managing by Walking Around'. He describes this
as "frequently dropping in, unannounced, to ask the right questions and to offer help - how
is that list coming… I see you are struggling to get this done in light of your
particularly heavy case load at the moment… let's explore some options…".
Can't see that one catching on in the City somehow.