The US Solicitor General is responsible for determining the US’s legal position in matters that reach the Supreme Court and arguing on behalf of the US Government in cases in which they are a party (which is a hefty task in itself). The Solicitor General also files amicus curiae briefs in cases of federal government interest, such as the Google Book Settlement case (see report here). Former President William Howard Taft and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court bench) also acted as the US Solicitor General.
If Verrilli’s name sounds familiar to IPKat readers, it is because Verrilli (picture, left) has been one of the lead attorneys in two famous copyright battles: Grokster and Viacom v YouTube. The Supreme Court’s famous MGM v Grokster ruling in 2005, unanimously held that operators of peer-to-peer file sharing websites could be sued for contributory copyright infringement for the illegal sharing of copyrighted content on their website. The Viacom v YouTube case, which has now reached the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, also involves a claim by Viacom that YouTube should liable for contributory copyright infringement in failing to remove and to prevent the uploading of Viacom’s copyrighted content (see previous reports here). However, Verrilli is known also for acting in cases which pressed for greater rights for prisoners, including methods by which death-row inmates are executed, as well for pro bono clients.
Verrilli takes over from acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal. Katyal, although a top choice for the nomination was considered to be too challenging a choice to get past the now Republican saturated Senate. In 2006 in Hamden v Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration in their plans to hold military commission trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Katyal was part of this legal team. The AmeriKat is sadly not surprised that a lawyer with specialization in the telecommunications and IP, with multi-billion dollar industry clients would be a more palatable choice for some Senate Republicans than a lawyer who won a case against the Bush administration. Americans love nothing more than mixing a bit of politics with their judiciary!
Despite the Amerikat’s general ideological qualms in relation to the Katyal choice, she is excited that the next (hopefully) Solicitor General will be an IP lawyer. This is a further message of the importance of IP to the Obama Administration and the US's economic recovery.
Verrilli will now have to go through the usual confirmation process by the Congress and Senate before he takes office. The AmeriKat will keep you posted on any developments.
Snap! Kodak’s hope for a picture perfect ITC trial is not to be
Last Monday, Eastman Kodak lost the opening round in an US International Trade Commission (ITC) patent battle. Last year following failed negotiations with Apple and Research in Motion (RIM) – the makers of Blackberry – Kodak filed a complaint with the ITC alleging that Apple and RIM infringed their 2001 patent (see previous AmeriKat mention here). The complaint coincided with Kodak filing patent infringement claims against Apple in New York and Texan federal court.
During Monday’s initial recommendation ruling Administrative Law Judge Paul Luckern ruled that Apple’s iPhones and RIM’s Blackberry models did not violate Kodak’s patent. The ITC’s six commissioners now have 4 months to decide to either amend Judge Luckern’s ruling or let it stand. Laura Quatela, Kodak’s chief IP officer stated that the judge’s recommendation represented
“a preliminary step in a process that we are extremely confident will conclude in Kodak’s favor. This very same Kodak patent was upheld by a different ALJ [administrative law judge] at the ITC in our case against LG and Samsung, whose products use the very same Kodak technology to function in the very same manner as similar products from Apple and RIM. What’s more, the attorneys at the ITC’s Office of Unfair Import Investigations, which separately examined this case, agree with Kodak’s interpretation of the patent. We fully expect the ITC Commission will ultimately rule that the patent claim at issue is valid and infringed by Apple and RIM.”
Catcher in the Rye suit settles