Bag and Baggage

by Lee Gesmer on November 4, 2005

Denise Howell at Bag and Baggage complimented my firm’s various blogs (1, 2 and 3) and I have to return the compliment. When I sat down with our web/blog master Nathan Burke to show him what I considered the best legal blogs, we basically started and stopped with Bag and Baggage. If I could bring only one blog to a desert island ….Read the full article

Politics, Sausages and Computer File Formats

by Lee Gesmer on November 2, 2005

Technology. Did you ever think you’d see politicians debating software file formats?

Massachusetts has become embroiled in a politicized debate over a state agency’s decision to move away from Microsoft’s proprietary standards and require that all state employees, commencing in 2007, save documents in two state-approved file formats: Adobe Acrobat PDF files and the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications.

The logic behind this issue is simple: if Massachusetts moves to Oasis OpenDocument, anyone with Internet access will be able to read state documents. As things now stand, if a document was created with Word or Excel (representing the two most common applications, word processing and spreadsheets), a citizen would need to have a licensed copy of Microsoft software to read the document. Of course, Microsoft claims that its Office formats are sufficiently open to satisfy the Commonwealth’s requirements.

Needless to say, there have been all kinds of business and political cross-currents swirling around this issue since it first emerged, and it has thrust the Massachusetts Information Technology Division (or ITD), which usually labors in obscurity, into the spotlight.… Read the full article

Yet Another Google Keyword Trademark Case

by Lee Gesmer on October 27, 2005

Yet Another Google Keyword Trademark Case

Office Depot, the office supply giant, has filed a lawsuit against arch rival Staples in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida. Office Depot’s complaint alleges that Staples has engaged in trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and deceptive trade practices by buying VIKING, a trademark owned by one of Office Depot’s subsidiaries, as an advertising keyword from Google. Google has successfully defended its right to use third party trademarks in its keyword advertising program in a number of recent suits, including the recent GEICO v. Google case that we first discussed here, and reported settled here, but this is the first time that a trademark owner has bypassed Google and gone directly after the company actually buying the keywords.

Assuming this case doesn’t settle, we expect that Staples ultimately will prevail, as keyword advertising on the Internet these days is analogous to the completely legal practice of Burger King putting up a billboard next to a McDonald’s in the brick-and-mortar world.… Read the full article

Business Litigation Session Conference

by Lee Gesmer on October 10, 2005

The Massachusetts Bar Association held an outstanding conference on the BLS in Boston on September 29, 2005. Several interesting documents distributed at the conference are linked below.

Here are a few observations on the conference.

First, the question foremost on everyone’s mind is whether Judge Allan Van Gestel will be “recalled” once he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in December. In the eyes of most business lawyers in Massachusetts Judge Van Gestel is synonymous with the BLS. He was the first and only judge in the session five years ago, and although the session has had several other judge rotate through a second session (BLS2), its hard to imagine the BLS without Judge Van Gestel at the helm.

Moreover, Judge Van Gestel has created a Superior Court jurisprudence in the BLS which gives an unprecedented level of predictability to Superior Court practice. A quick Westlaw search on “Van Gestel” during the last five years results in over 250 written decisions.… Read the full article