School of Law News
USD Students Named Best Oral Argument Team at Int'l Trademark Moot Competition
SAN DIEGO (May 3, 2010) – The University of San Diego School of Law is pleased to announce the moot court team of third-year law students Sean Flaherty and Chris Rhoads won Best Oral Argument Team in the Western Regional Competition at the 19th Annual Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition.
An annual competition organized by the International Trademark Association (INTA), the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition is the only moot court competition in the United States with a focus on trademark and unfair competition law.
This year's competition pitted the owners of two marks against one another. The fictional Utopia State University had fought diligently to rid itself of its party school label. When fictional local rock band “Knights Errant” sought to change its name to “UDOP~IA,” the university brought suit. The university claimed that the band’s mark “UDOP~IA” diluted and infringed the university's mark, “UTOPIA.” Competitors were required to brief and argue the following issues: Was the mark “UDOP~IA” un-registerable for being immoral or scandalous? Was “UDOP~IA” unlikely to be confused with “UTOPIA?” Did “UDOP~IA” cause dilution to “UTOPIA” by tarnishment? Was use of the mark “UDOP~IA” constitutionally protected free speech?
“We are so proud of Sean and Chris,” says Kris Panikowski, moot court advisor and lawyering skills instructor at USD School of Law. “Their hard work paid off and demonstrated, once again, that USD law students know how to put together winning written and oral arguments in competition and in practice.”
The annual event is named in honor of Saul Lefkowitz whose entire distinguished career was dedicated to the development of trademark and unfair competition law. For more than 30 years, Lefkowitz was a member of the trademark examining corps in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was a member of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) from its creation in 1958. In 1975, he was named its chairman.
Open to teams of law school students from accredited law schools throughout the United States, competitors are expected to write a brief and argue the case in regional and national competitions before a panel of volunteer attorneys, judges from various district and other courts, members of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and jurists from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
The objective of the competition is to introduce law students to important issues arising in United States trademark and unfair competition law. Law students who participate in the competition have the opportunity to develop their brief writing and oral advocacy skills in a mock courtroom experience.
The regional competition takes place every February in Atlanta (South Region), Chicago (Midwest Region), New York (East Region) and San Francisco (West Region). The winning team from each of the regions advances to the National Final Competition, which takes place every March in Washington, D.C. Approximately sixty teams of law students participate in the competition each year. This was the first year USD law students participated in the competition.
About the International Trademark Association (INTA)
The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a not-for-profit membership association of 5,900 trademark owners, professionals and academics, from more than 190 countries, dedicated to the support and advancement of trademarks and related intellectual property as elements of fair and effective national and international commerce.
The association was founded in 1878 by 17 merchants and manufacturers who saw a need for an organization “to protect and promote the rights of trademark owners, to secure useful legislation and to give aid and encouragement to all efforts for the advancement and observance of trademark rights.” After 130 years, INTA continues its mission to represent the trademark community, shape public policy and advance professional knowledge and development.
About the University of San Diego School of Law
The University of San Diego School of Law is a center of academic excellence focused on preparing its students for legal practice in the new century. One of the most selective law schools in the country, the School of Law’s nationally recognized faculty create a demanding, yet welcoming environment that emphasizes individualized education. USD law school graduates consistently score higher than the state average on the California Bar Exam and go on to practice law throughout the country and abroad, forming an influential network of alumni. USD School of Law is one of only 81 law schools in the country to have a chapter of the Order of the Coif, the most distinguished rank of American law schools. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.
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