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April 1, 2014 Vol. 69 No. 7 Back to Bulletin Main Page

UC Berkeley School of Law Takes First in 23rd Annual Lefkowitz Competition


Finalists from across the United States competed on March 15, 2014 in another successful final round of INTA’s annual Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition, held at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. In addition to likelihood of confusion and trade dress, this year’s problem zeroed in on counterfeiting, thanks to the collaboration between the Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition Committee and the Anticounterfeiting Committee.

Among the 86 teams that participated in this year’s competition, the West Region had a strong showing again, with teams from the region taking both first and second place in the National Finals. Christina Farmer and Wilson Dunlavey from the University of California at Berkeley won the competition, while Brittany Zummer and Jillian Ewan from the University of San Diego took a close second.

The competition expanded from four regions to five this year—adding the Southwest Region, which hosted the regional competition in Dallas, Texas. As a hat tip to the newest region, the problem featured the fictional case of Riggs Houston v. Laredo Specialty Products, Inc. and Lance Laredo, a dispute between a famous musician and a novelty souvenir company. The case turned on whether musician Riggs Houston held a valid trade dress in his iconic guitar, and if so, whether there was a likelihood of confusion between Mr. Houston’s guitar and Lance Laredo’s miniature toy guitar he sold at a local music festival. In addition to trade dress infringement, Mr. Houston alleged that Mr. Laredo’s product was a counterfeit of his guitar. After weighing the facts, the District Court of Utopia found that Mr. Houston held a valid trade dress that Mr. Laredo infringed. The court did not find Mr. Laredo’s product to be counterfeit. Both parties appealed just in time for the outstanding student teams to step in and advocate for their clients before the fictional Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Circuit.

Jeffrey Kobulnick (Ezra Brutzkus Gubner, LLP, USA) who chaired the Lefkowitz Committee this year, noted that yet again, the students’ oral advocacy was of impressive quality, showing maturity and poise that are sometimes difficult for even the most seasoned practitioners to attain. “Not only did this year’s problem feature several thorny substantive issues, the students were faced with judges who are experts in these areas and who vigorously questioned the students on their positions,” Mr. Kobulnick said. He thanked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board judges, including Chief Judge Gerard Rogers, and interlocutory attorneys, who volunteered their time to judge the final competition, as well as the firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, and its partner Chris Foley, for organizing and running the National Finals. Mr. Kobulnick also recognized each of the firms and organizations that sponsored the five regional competitions, held in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas in February.

Bryce Coughlin (Fox Entertainment Group, USA) will be the Chair of the Committee for the 2014–2015 year, with Gary Nelson (Christie Parker Hale, LLP, USA) as the Vice Chair. “This year’s dynamic problem is a tough act to follow, but I look forward to leading this dedicated and diverse group of practitioners on the committee through another challenging and exciting year,” Mr. Coughlin said. “Our commitment to this competition is an investment in the future of our trademark bar, and we take that responsibility very seriously.” However, he noted, “That said, we like to have a little fun along the way as well.”

The competition was established to introduce law students to the challenging and varied issues involved in trademark and unfair competition law. It is named in honor of the late Saul Lefkowitz, whose entire distinguished career was dedicated to the development of trademark and unfair competition law. For over 30 years, Mr. Lefkowitz was a member of the trademark examining corps in the Trademark Office and was a member of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board from its creation in 1958. In 1975, he was named its Chairman. He is most particularly and fondly remembered as a mentor to young practitioners, helping them develop an understanding of trademark law and procedures.

Many students involved in the competition go on to careers with INTA-member organizations, as well as leadership positions in the Association. Firms involved with the Lefkowitz Competition and many other INTA members have hired new associates based partly on their performance in the competition.


The following teams advanced to the National Finals:

East Region
First Place Team (total combined brief and oral argument scores): Boston College Law School (Isaac Kalish, Harrison Levy)

Second Place Team: Columbia University School of Law (Fiona Finlay-Hunt, Stephanie Piper, William Sears, Daniel Straus)

Midwest Region
First Place Team (total combined brief and oral argument scores): Chicago Kent College of Law (Sarah Aagaard, Ben Boroughf)

Second Place Team: The John Marshall Law School (Timothy James Oliver, Alex James Fawell)

Southeast Region
First Place Team (total combined brief and oral argument scores): University of Alabama School of Law (Matthew Donze, David Beasley, Joshua Davenport, Tiffany Palmer)

Second Place Team: Emory University School of Law (Michael Wiseman, Alyssa Baskam, Dana Schulman, David Stewart)

Southwest Region
First Place Team (total combined brief and oral argument scores): University of Houston Law Center (Grant Buchanan, Pierce Cox, Katherine James)

Second Place Team: University of Houston Law Center (Brandon Bludau, Jason Beesinger, Shanice Newton)

West Region
First Place Team (total combined brief and oral argument scores): University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Christina Farmer, Wilson Dunlavey)

Second Place Team: University of San Diego School of Law (Brittany Zummer, Jillian Ewan)

The National Finals Winners were:
Winning Team: University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Wilson Dunlavey, Christina Farmer)

Second Place Team: University of San Diego School of Law (Jillian Ewan, Brittany Zummer)

Third Place Team: The John Marshall Law School (Timothy James Oliver, Alex James Fawell)

Dolores K. Hanna Best Brief Award: University of Houston Law Center (Grant Buchanan, Pierce Cox, Katherine James)
Second Place Brief: University of San Diego School of Law
Best Oral Argument: Columbia University School of Law (Fiona Finlay-Hunt, Stephanie Piper, William Sears, Daniel Straus)
Second Place Oral Argument Team: The John Marshall Law School

INTA would like to thank the Saul Lefkowitz Competition Committee members, volunteers and sponsors. See the full list here.

*Correction: This article incorrectly lists James Walsh as an Administrative Trademark Judge with the TTAB. Mr. Walsh retired from the USPTO two years ago and now runs the Law Office of James Walsh.


Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2014 International Trademark Association