Look for me in the comments …

It’s been great fun to blog here at Madisonian. So much fun, in fact, that I’ve launched a blog of my own, The Fire of Genius. At TFOG, I’ll focus on patent law, i.p. law, and some questions about creativity and innovation. I hope to see you in the comments there, and I know you’ll see me in comments here.

Thanks, Mike, for being a wonderful host.

Important patent decision

Yesterday, the Federal Circuit issued a quite important decision in the area of willful infringement. The decision, before the court on mandamus, is In re Echostar. The key question in the matter is the scope of the waiver created by Echostar’s reliance on legal advice as a way to dispel the notion that its infringement was willful. Resolving a longstanding split in the district courts, the Federal Circuit holds that (a) the question is a matter of Federal Circuit (not regional circuit) law, and (b) the waiver does not extend to materials that the advising lawyer did not communicate to the client. Instead, these uncommunicated materials remain behind the protective cloak of the work product doctrine.

It’s not the laptop, it’s the web.

A new A.P. story about differing views on laptops in the classroom (and some professors’ efforts to bar them) prompt Gordon Smith at Conglomerate to offer more reflections on the matter (as well as great links to a thread at Althouse). My views are strongly similar to Gordon’s. Blawgs have hit the topic quite a bit this academic year; you can dip in to earlier exchanges at OrinKerr or CoOp.

At the end of fall semester 2005, a few of us here at Lewis & Clark surveyed about 350 students in a variety of classes to gather some data about (a) how students use laptops in class and (b) the degree to which they find others’ use of laptops distracting or annoying. I’ll summarize some of what we found later. For now, let me pass along a short piece I wrote a few weeks ago, at the request of the student semesterly humor paper here at L&C known as Letter of the Law. The piece is after the jump.
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One Law in Many Languages

Will Baude, at Crescat Sententia, offers some engaging thoughts on the creation of a Spanish version of The Star Spangled Banner.

In passing, Baude makes the following observation: “[T]he translation of official texts is rife with all sorts of riddles. My dim recollection is that there were proposals in the First Congress to publish the U.S. Code in German as well as English. What a disaster that might have been for the field of statutory interpretation. It’s hard enough to be a textualist when the text is written in a single language accessible to all of the legislators.”

Disaster or not, the need to grapple with one law in many languages must raise fascinating questions. Of course, there are some nations that do so; Canada and Switzerland come to mind. There are also larger confederations, such as the EU, and treaty contexts that express one law in many lanuages. And even by describing the phenomenon as “one law in many languages,” I suppose I’m beginning to stake out a position. (I’m reminded of another of Baude’s recent posts, this one reporting on class discussion of the Seventh Circuit’s statement, speaking through Judge Easterbrook, that “[s]tatutes are law, not evidence of law.”)

Anyway, I thought I would pass along a few leads on the topic, for the curious to pursue at their leisure:
(a) Here’s a description of a conference in Germany, The Language and Law Conference, two weeks from now (with lots of prof names and paper titles).
(b) Here’s the list of podcasts from this past January’s annual AALS conference, including that of a fun panel called “Lost (and Found) in Translation” at which panelists discussed some one law/many languages issues.
(c) Here’s a summary of a day-long conference at Brooklyn Law School entitled “Creating and Interpreting Law in a Multilingual Environment,” which occurred on Sept. 19, 2003. The Brooklyn Law School page about the conference is here. The papers from the conference appear in Volume 29, Issue 3 (2004) of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, and you can get them as pdfs here.

Petroski Fans …

If you’re a fan, as I am, of Henry Petroski’s work, you may enjoy this article from The New York Times. An especially interesting bit, in connection with a federal work group on the nuclear waste storage problem: “Knowledge of failure is crucial in considering this kind of problem, Dr. Petroski said. ‘I basically argue that engineers should arm themselves with all these case histories of failure and reason by analogy.'” (See, everything is connected …)