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    January 12, 2009  
 
 
Jones Day;
Arnold & Porter;
Banner & Witcoff

For those of you who follow the tech scene, we invite you to our Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze: "Federal IT Trends in the Obama Era: What's Hot and What's Not." All-star panel of top government contractor CEOs and agency CIOs, Tower Club, breakfast, Thursday, January 22. Thanks to great sponsors Ernst & Young, Sheppard Mullin, and Kipps DeSanto. Sign up! 


 

Hard to say that any case is a sure bet for review at the Supreme Court, but last week Jones Day filed cert for a matter from the D.C. Circuit, Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, that might be close.

 

Michael Carvin is Jones Day's lead attorney on the case, a challenge to the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which was established in Sarbanes Oxley and regulates accounting firms that audit companies. The suit, on behalf of The Freedom Fund and a Nevada auditor, charges that the President's lack of authority to appoint, remove, or supervise members of the PCAOB violates the Constitution's separation of powers principle and the Appointments Clause. While quasi-independent agencies like the SEC and FTC are known as the "fourth branch," Michael calls the PCAOB a completely unchecked "fifth branch."

 

It's the type of big Constitutional issue that we can easily see on the syllabus of future Federal Courts classes, and Jones Day has pulled in some appropriately heavyweight co-counsel. Big names Ken Starr (dean at Pepperdine Law) and Viet Dihn (former Asst. AG now at Georgetown) appear on the cert petition, which comes up from two bruising rounds in the D.C. Circuit. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the PCAOB, with Judge Kavanaugh submitting a 58-page dissent. The en banc vote was 5-4, upholding the original panel. If the Supreme Court takes it up, the case will be argued in the '09-'10 term.


Meet the New Partners: Arnold & Porter
 

With lots of new partner classes announced at year end, we thought we'd introduce you to DC's legal debutantes. First up, a four-partner slate in A&P's local office, clockwise from back row: litigator/appellate lawyer Geoff Michael; telecom, Internet, and media whiz Maureen Jeffreys; environmental guy Larry Culleen (fyi, if you've got a rat problem, Larry can fill you in on EPA's proposed modification to rodenticide regs); and litigator Matt Eisenstein. The "class photo" feel was a little boring so we asked them to loosen up and celebrate their new partner status.

 

Matt threatened to sue us if we used this photo—and we hope he doesn't follow up, because that's his job and he's apparently very good at it. He started at A&P the same day as Geoff who, after doing a clerkship for then-Third Circuit judge Samuel Alito in 2000-'01, returned for another stint in his chambers for the '07-'08 Supreme Court term. Geoff and Justice Alito are both Phillies fans, but Geoff got the better deal during their World Series run. He saw Game Four in person, while Justice Alito, visiting his daughter in Italy at the time, had to stay up all hours to follow the games on the "Net.


Banner Year for Design Patents
 

The numbers are in, and for the third year running a DC firm has set a new record for design patents obtained from the Patent & Trademark Office. Coming in with 958, the firm is—drumroll please—Banner & Witcoff, the 90-lawyer shop with offices in DC, Chicago, Boston, and Portland. Rob Katz, a lead member of the design patent team posed for us with patented goodies from clients Nike (ultra-light running shoes, golf clubs), Microsoft (keyboard, computer mice), and Nokia (cell phones, including an ultra-snazzy model worth more than some of the gowns worn at last night's Golden Globes). The 958 number shatters the firm's old record of 744.

 

Rob tells us there's been a slow and steady growth in the number of design patents (covering a product's "ornamental appearance" as opposed to its utility) issued by the USPTO, but Banner & Witcoff's share of the trade has been going more like a hare than a tortoise. In the '90's, the firm had two clients that secured more than 20 patents a year; in 2008, they had six clients that got more than 50 patents. Our research reveals that in addition to clients above, Banner & Witcoff also reps Pepsico, Citizen watches, and the Solo Cup drink lid makers. The patent that broke last year's mark: one for the "control region" on washer/dryers from Electrolux.

John Ford, Bisnow's Legal Editor, is really happy that "Mad Men" won the Golden Globe for best TV series last night. Keep him in a good mood by sending him your story ideas at john@bisnow.com.

 
 
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