Saul Lefkowitz Competition Celebrates 27th Annual National Finals Winners

Published: April 15, 2018

Joseph T. Nabor Fitch Even Tabin & Flannery, LLP Chicago, Illinois, USA

Cynthia Walden Fish & Richardson P.C. Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Richard Stockton Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. Chicago, Illinois

INTA’s Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition concluded another successful year at the National Finals on March 17, 2018, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., USA.

Nationwide, 71 teams from 55 law schools participated in this year’s competition. For the first time, the event expanded to include a regional competition in Los Angeles, California. The following 12 teams advanced to the National Finals:

New York Region
Georgetown University Law Center
University of Maine School of Law

Chicago Region
Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
Notre Dame Law School

Atlanta Region
Georgia State University College of Law (two teams)

Dallas Region
SMU Dedman School of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law

San Francisco Region
University of California, Hastings College of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Los Angeles Region
Pepperdine University School of Law
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law

This year’s problem related to the potential for confusion between craft brewpubs and wine bars. Hollywood Hops, a popular craft brewery that opened a tasting room in Hollywood, Utopia, brought suit against a new wine bar in town that opened under the name “Hollywood & Vine.” The wine bar objected to the brewpub’s claims of confusion, arguing that its use was not infringing because it simply identifies the location of the wine bar, which it should be entitled to do, and that the plaintiff acquiesced to its use of “Hollywood.” In order to quell the potential confusion, Hollywood Hops sought a preliminary injunction. Following oral argument, the district court found that the mark HOLLYWOOD HOPS had acquired distinctiveness and that, after a full review of the likelihood of confusion factors, the balance of the factors weighed in favor of a finding of infringement. However, the injunction was denied by the court on the basis that Hollywood Hops acquiesced to the wine bar’s use of “Hollywood” in connection with the defendant’s sale of wine.

On appeal, the parties argued the issue of the protectability of the marks in question, the issue of likelihood of confusion, and the issue of acquiescence by the plaintiff.

At the National Finals, the students argued these issues before Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) judges, including Chief Judge Gerard Rogers, as well as TTAB interlocutory attorneys, all of whom subjected the student advocates to rigorous questioning.

Ultimately, the following teams were named National Finals winners:

  • Winning Team: Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT (Brittany Kaplan and Evan Kline-Wedeen)
  • Second Place Team: University of California Berkeley School of Law (Thao Thai and Kelsey Schuetz)
  • Dolores K. Hanna Best Brief Award: University of California Berkeley School of Law (Thao Thai and Kelsey Schuetz)
  • Second Place Brief: Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT (Brittany Kaplan and Evan Kline-Wedeen)
  • Best Oral Argument: Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT (Brittany Kaplan and Evan Kline-Wedeen)
  • Second Place Oral Argument Team: University of California Los Angeles School of Law (Aidan Welsh and Julie Markham-Cameron)

At the awards ceremony, 2018 Saul Lefkowitz Committee Chair Joseph T. Nabor (Fitch Evan Tabin & Flannery LLP, Ltd., USA) thanked the oral argument judges and other volunteers, and congratulated the students on the completion of another successful competition, the 27th year it has taken place. Mr. Nabor also reflected on the memory of Dolores K. Hanna, INTA Past President and initiator of the competition, who passed away earlier this year.

The organizer of the national finals, Chris Foley (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, USA), then provided personal commentary on Saul Lefkowitz and made other thoughtful observations. Finally, Mr. Nabor announced the winning teams. The competition concluded with a vibrantly themed reception and celebration at the D.C. offices of the Finnegan law firm and longtime sponsor of the National Finals.

For the 2018-19 year, Cindy Walden (Fish & Richardson, USA) will serve as Chair of the Saul Lefkowitz Committee. Joe Nabor (Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery LLP, USA) will become the Immediate Past Chair.

Many students involved in the competition go on to careers with INTA-member organizations as well as leadership positions in the Association itself. It is a valuable educational experience for all concerned.

On behalf of the Saul Lefkowitz Committee, we would like to thank all of the many volunteers who participated in this year’s competition and helped to make the event a success.

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. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

© 2018 International Trademark Association