Legally Ranting

Some Random Thoughts About Law School

Posted in Law School by legalrants on June 8, 2010

I had my first law school exam today — Property I.

Personally, I think that law exams should be incorporated into the Olympics as a marathon. 15mins into the paper, my wrist and elbow turned so numb that I could barely write anymore. Obviously, if you are gonna participate in a marathon, it would be prudent to at least TRAIN for one! All the years of typing on the keyboard — blogs, emails, Facebook! — has left me physically inept in the art of penmanship.

Judging from the way the exam begun for me today, I should have known I was in for a tough time. One of the things I learnt in law school is NEVER MAKE ANY ASSUMPTIONS — this applies not just to applying the law or whatever that is related to law — it also includes NOT ASSUMING that you are taking the exam IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOUR FRIEND!

But for the graces of a kind examiner, who let me sit into her supervised hall to take the exam, I would still be scouring the campus now looking for the correct hall to take the paper. Amazing ain’t it? 4 years of undergrad school should have taught me to be wiser…. Hey wait a minute, all my undergrad papers were taken in a giagantic hall that accomodated everyone taking the same paper. Why should it be any different for law school?

Like I said, my first maxim in law school is — NEVER assume anything. Always check, then later, verify it. Then confirm what you’ve verified. I guess it would be prudent to CHECK one last time….. then confirm again.

You think I’m paranoid? You haven’t seen the worst of me.

To be honest, I stand corrected about a law school exam being a marathon event. On hindsight, it felt more like I was playing a pro chess tournament WHILE running a marathon — not only do you have to write EXTREMELY FAST (not to mention legibly), you have to be thinking about what you are currently writing, while planning the next point, while contemplating whether the last point you have written has contradicted any of your current points.  Isn’t that what you do in chess (not that I’m an avid chess player), always planning your next 10 moves and wondering if you made a mistake in your previous 20 moves?

And I was planning on finishing the paper with time to spare so that I could go back and “beautify” some of the answers …..prior equitable interest v subsequent legal interest, mortgages, Deed of Conveyances, determinable life estates, fixtures, adverse possession… it’s all becoming a blur to me now.

Thank goodness Property 1 is over…..well, Contracts 1, Criminal Law 1 and Torts 1 still await…

Tagged with:

The Ins and Outs of Bestiality

Posted in Bestiality, Crime, Rape by legalrants on April 13, 2010

A man in the United Kingdom has pleaded guilty to 4 separate offences of sexual penetrating a horse and a donkey between 1999 to 2004.  According to his lawyer, he “does not have a stable address although he says his daughter can provide an address” (I’m really not sure if the pun was intended by him though). Read more here.

I must admit, I’ve always had sort of a curious interest with regards to the subject of bestiality. No, don’t get me wrong, I possess no desire to have nor maintain ANY sort of carnal knowledge with animals of any sort whatsoever. Rest assured that I am a normal heterosexual man (as my wife can surely attest). Nevertheless, it eludes me  why anybody would want to stick his ‘thing’ into an animal orifice; or for that matter, allow any animal to stick its ‘thing’ into his/her orifice. Surely, the mere thought of it would disgust anybody.

Or so I thought…. According to Wiki, zoophilia or bestiality (the difference, if any, is arguable) has become more prominent over the last 2 decades: “The internet and its predecessors made people able to search for topics and information in areas which were not otherwise easily accessible, and to talk with relative safety and anonymity. Because of the diary-like intimacy of blogs and the anonymity, zoophiles had the ideal opportunity in which to come out and express their sexuality” —- the internet, has of course, provided a platform for the promotion of other kinds of alternative sub-culture, not all easily approved by the conventional society, but I digress.

The convenience of the internet allowed me to perform a quick google search on “bestiality”. Gosh, was I amazed at the amount of “shit”  that came out of “bestiality” (pardon the pun!). There was “bestiality.com”, a site dedicated to “amateur and professionally bestiality and animal sex movies”; “zootube365.com” which I inferred to be a youtube-equivalent for animal porn…. and loads others.

You can check out the same Wiki link for general laws of various countries with regards to bestiality. But I cannot resist sharing a case that happened in Queensland, Australia, in 1956 — R v Edwards (1956) QWN 16.

Edwards was charged with an “attempt to have carnal knowledge of a hay mare“. He was caught with his pants down (literally), with his penis erect in the vicinity of the mare’s genital organ (no doubt the ASS-hole). Unfortunately, the trial judge could not convince himself that Edwards’ actions were such that he was ABOUT TO penetrate the mare, so as to constitute the ‘attempt’. Now, I really don’t know what was going through the judge’s mind when he was reviewing the evidence. Seriously, in a situation like this, it is quite obvious what the accused intended to do… if not, what else would constitute ‘attempted rape’? Actual penetration??? Then, that would be rape itself (of course, assuming the donkey did not consent)!!

 Fortunately, sanity prevailed in later cases which firmly rejected R v Edwards as a precedent.

All I can say is heee-hawwwww!

 

Tagged with: , ,

Whatever would happen if innovation ceases to exist?

Posted in Design, Intellectual Property, Trademark by legalrants on April 1, 2010

The Law Does Not Recognise The Rights Of A Martian

Posted in Personal Rights, Property Rights, Rights by legalrants on March 2, 2010

I came across this super-laughable case in one of my heavily tautological and superfluous Property Law readings:

In 1999, one Mr Rene Joly filed 3 simultaneous lawsuits, in Ontario, Canada, against then-President of the US, Bill Clinton, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a judge, amongst others. The contention of Mr Joly was that they had, get this:  conspired to eliminate him and interfered with is ability to establish himself and live freely as a Martian. He claimed that he was cloned from debris found on Mars by NASA in the 1960s.

Before Epstein J, gave his judgement, he declared that “Joly properly conducted himself before the Court. He presented himself as polite, articulate, intelligent and appeared to understand completely the issues before the Court and the consequences should I grant the relief sought“.

I’m not sure if Joly engaged an attorney to fight the case (seriously, would any attorney want to take on a case like that?), but had he realised that there were some very fundamentally serious flaws of the case (against his favour, I might add), he may not have filed the suit, given his apparent intelligence:

1) Firstly, he alleged that the defendants had engaged in the tort of conspiracy against him, to establish and live freely as a Martian. However, Joly either forgot or failed, to identify nor submit any claim for damages (compensation or otherwise) for this alleged tort of conspiracy.

2) Joly wasn’t able to prove in any way that he (or should I say it) is a Martian. He claimed that the defendants had falsified his DNA test results to make it appear to be that of a legally human being. Now, I’m not disputing that Joly is not in fact a Martian, but surely he is not the first to accuse the American government of conspiracy and seriously, what were the practical chances of success of that claim succeeding?? Secondly, he assumes that the judge knows for a fact that Martians have DNA at all.

3) Ultimately, to avoid all the controversies with regards to the two reasons above, his case can simply be dismissed based on a technicality. Joly claims, afterall, that he is Martian, and therefore NOT human. A non-human entity, like a Martian, does not enjoy the same rights (at least rights that are recognised on Earth) that all other humans or legally-recognised organisations do. One of those rights is the right to sue —- In other words, since Joly claims he is not human, but a Martian, nowhere on Earth would he have a right to sue.

Epstein J had these parting words for Mr Joly:

More importantly, with all respect to Mr. Joly and his perception of reality, these actions are patently ridiculous and should not be allowed to continue as they utilize scarce public resources, not to mention the time and money of the numerous defendants who have been forced to defend these actions“.

 I think we need to alert the Men-In-Black of an extra-terrestial invasion of the disllusioned mind.

Bing-Go! Microsoft Sued For Trademark Infringement

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark by legalrants on January 15, 2010

(Left: the Bing logo)

If you have been noticing, there’s a new search engine service in town. It is called “Bing”, and is a reworked and rebranded version of Microsoft’s “Live Search”.

However, the use of this name has rattled a design firm, based in St Louis, USA, that goes by the name Bing! Information Designs. Bing! recently filed a lawsuit against Microsoft for alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition. Bing! has been in business since the year 2000. The design firm is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, including having Microsoft pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused.

 According to a spokesman, Microsoft “…believe(s) this suit to be without merit and….do(es) not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regard to the complainant’s offerings and Microsoft’s Bing product.” However, according to unconfirmed reports, there had been complaints of confusion, by Bing!’s customers, between the two offerings.

This is not a typical straightforward trademark infringement case as the offerings by the two companies cannot be considered to be identical. In this case, the court considers whether there is a likelihood of confusion that consumers will believe the products or services originated from the trademark owner.

(Right: image source unknown)

Some of the elements being considered, amongst others, are: strength of the mark, evidence of actual confusion, type of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser, and likelihood of expansion of the product lines.

Though Bing! Information Designs is probably not a strong (famous) mark, there may be some evidence of actual confusion (see here). The case is slightly complicated by the fact that the Bing! trademark application is still under assessment by the USPTO. However, under US law, a trademark need not be registered to enjoy enforcement rights.

About Microsoft Bing

Microsoft launched Bing in June 2009 and have since captured approximately 10% of search engine market share. However, some reviewers have not been impressed with the supposed upgrade. But with the US$80 million in marketing that Microsoft is unleashing, it will undoubtedly attract new visitors to Microsoft’s search engine, plus get some who had previously given up on Live Search, to take another look.

Microsoft is marketing Bing as a “decision engine,” stating that the search functions bring more relevant results and organizes them in a more meaningful way. Bing offers tabs for different kinds of searches similar to Google and including “images,” “videos,” “maps” and “shopping”. Probably the most significant change is that Bing now organizes search results into categories. 

I’m not really the adventurous type when coming to search engines, so I guess I’ll be sticking to Google, thank you very much. But if you want to know how they match up, check out this site: Microsoft’s Bing Vs Google: Head To Head Search Results.

The Intellectual Property Right That May Have Won WWII For Germany

Posted in Intellectual Property, Patent by legalrants on December 9, 2009

All you ex-military types, have a look at this picture below:

Picture adopted from Marinedirect

Yes, its the infamous “jerrycan” used in military organisations around the world — a potential intellectual property right that could have made the difference between victory and defeat for Germany in their WWII campaign.

Before WWII hostilites began in 1939, in order to minimize fuel loses common with the German-style Blitzriek attacks, Hitler ordered his staff to design a new fuel container that was robust enough to survive long ardous journeys on military vehicles. In the strictest secrecy, a German design-and-made fuel container (similar to the one above) was produced in the millions, storing essential fuel that would be vital for their European conquests in the early days of WWII. The Blitzriek (or lightning) tactic employed by the Germans required a long logistical line of supplies in order to be sustainable on the battlefield, most important of the supplies was indeed, fuel (gasoline).

This newly designed fuel container had a number of unique features (all of which was likely to be patent material) – it was flat-sided and rectangular (as opposed to the cylindrical designs used by the Allies initially). An air chamber at the top enabled the container to float on water to facilitate sea-borne operations. Its short spout was secured with a snap closure that could be propped open for pouring (the Allies had to use a spanner-like tool to open their fuel container). An air-breathing tube from the spout to the inner air-space kept the pouring smooth instead of gargling. Most importantly, the insides of the container was lined with an impervious plastic material which made it versatile to be used either for gasoline or water.

Whether by luck or by chance, an American engineer managed to lay his hands on 3 of such containers in 1940. But despite repeated attempts to convince the US military to fully adopt the German design, he could not succeed. In the same year, during the German invasion of Norway, the British troops first encountered the German containers and aptly dubbed it the “jerrycan” (German soldiers were nicknamed “Jerries” by the Brits during WWII).

The reluctance of the Allies to adopt the design of the German fuel containers was disasterous, to say the least, on their military campaigns.  The steel drums used by the Allies at the time were leaky and unreliable, often resulting in insufficient fuel due to leakages or explosions. Indeed, General Wavell’s defeat of the Italians in North Africa in 1940 come to naught as his planes and combat vehicles had literally run out of fuel. Likewise in 1941, General Auchinleck’s victory over Rommel (the “Desert Fox”) had withered away. Finally in 1942, General Montgomery saw to it that he had enough supplies, including fuel, to whip Rommel in spite of terrific wastage. And he was helped by captured jerrycans.

At the time, Allied soldiers in Africa knew that the only fuel container worth having was German. General Auchinleck estimates that the original Allied fuel container was  “flimsy and illconstructed” and led to the loss of thirty per cent of petrol between base and consumer. … “The overall loss was almost incalculable. To calculate the tanks destroyed, the number of men who were killed or went into captivity because of shortage of petrol at some crucial moment, the ships and merchant seamen lost in carrying it, would be quite impossible.”

After 1942, over 21 million jerrycans were widely produced for Allied use across Europe. President Roosevelt observed in November 1944, “Without these cans it would have been impossible for our armies to cut their way across France at a lightning pace which exceeded the German Blitz of 1940.”

If only Hitler had the foresight to engage a competent patent attorney and filed the neccessary patent(s) on their “jerrycans”. Not only could they have won WWII, they would be liable to collect handsome royalties on any non-German production of the well-engineered jerrycans thereafter. Certainly, this would have brought the term “patent wars” to a new level!