Burchett Confesses, Gets 4 Years Probation in Cyber-Attacks

Knox County’s former first lady confessed Thursday to cyber-harassing the cancer-stricken estranged wife of her millionaire beau, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Allison Burchett, 35, pleaded guilty in Knox County Criminal Court to six misdemeanor charges of unlawful access to computer accounts. She will serve no jail time, but will spend four years on probation.

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Survey: Lawyers Are Underperforming, Slow to Change

A recent survey of nearly 400 managing partners and chairs nationwide suggests that changes in the legal market are continuing to affect performance, Bloomberg Law reports. In response to survey questions posed by legal management consulting firm Altman Weil, 88 percent of respondents said they have chronically underperforming lawyers, 61 percent said overcapacity is diluting their profitability, and 65 percent said their partners resist most efforts to change how to they do business. This comes at a time when most (72 percent) law firm leaders said the pace of change in the legal industry will only continue to increase in the coming years. Join the TBA's Evolving Legal Market Discussion Forum to weigh in on this.

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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at

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SCOTUS Limits Venue Shopping in Patent Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today narrowed the locations where patent infringement lawsuits can be filed, the ABA Journal reports. The court found that a law authorizing patent suits to be filed in the district where the defendant “resides” was not supplanted by a general law that gives the word “resides” a broad meaning. The narrow definition requires patent suits filed under that prong of the venue statute to be filed in the state where the company is incorporated. The opinion in the unanimous decision was written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
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U.S. Judge Blocks DOJ Move Against Immigration Legal Aid

After the Justice Department attempted to stop a nonprofit from advising immigrants who cannot afford a lawyer, a federal judge granted the organization a temporary restraining order and issued an order to stop the department from taking similar actions against legal nonprofits, Reuters reports. The government had told the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project of Washington state that it could not advise people in immigration court without formally representing them. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones’ order prevents the department from enforcing the rule against legal nonprofits.
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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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Las Vegas Restaurant Sues Chattanooga Eatery for Trademark Infringement

The Las Vegas-based Heart Attack Grill is suing Chattanooga restaurant Heart Attack Shack for trademark infringement, reports. The suit was filed March 27 in the Middle District of Tennessee Court and alleges that the local spot was attempting to confuse customers into believing the Chattanooga location was somehow endorsed or related to the Las Vegas restaurant. 
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ABC to Hold Nashville Benefit

The Arts and Business Council will host a benefit on May 24 in Nashville, with proceeds going to the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts program. The evening will showcase music, dance, film and more from local artists, as well as a silent auction featuring items like co-writing sessions with Nashville songwriters. The event will take place at W.O. Smith Music School, 1125 8th Ave. South, from 6 – 9 p.m.
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Trump Names Federal Claims Chief Judge

The Trump administration announced the appointment of Susan G. Braden as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims today. Braden has served on the court since 2003, when she was appointed by President George W. Bush. She has had a long career in intellectual property practice.
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Last Chance to Register for IP CLE

Last chance to register! A CLE on intellectual property will be held April 5 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. The morning sessions will cover trademarks and the First Amendment, the punitive use of trademark law, and recent developments in copyright law. The afternoon sessions will address aspects of IPR proceedings, patent damages and trade secrets. Registration is open all day allowing you to come and go for the topics you are interested in. Take as many or as few hours as you need and pay only for the hours you attend. Find out more and register here.

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Producer Claims Piracy Law ‘Threatens to Destroy’ Music

Tennessee music producer T Bone Burnett said that federal laws governing music piracy are insufficient and “threaten to destroy” the music industry, the Tennessean reports. Burnett is joining others in providing comments that will be sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is reviewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Burnett said that there are loopholes in the law that make it difficult for artists and those in the industry to stop piracy.
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Patent Professor Finds Links Between Law, Science

Vanderbilt Law Professor Sean B. Seymore was profiled by the Vanderbilt Hustler for his research in patent law, in which he looks into how the law should progress to keep up with advances in science and technology. Seymore grew up with a passion for science and even worked as a chemistry professor before changing careers. His current work involves researching how much an inventor should have to disclose to obtain a patent.
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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SCOTUS Reviews Trademark Case Over 'Offensive' Band Name

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday began to review the constitutionality of a federal law that denies protection to disparaging trademarks. According to a Reuters report published by the Daily Mail, the case was brought by the Asian-American rock band The Slants, who were denied a trademark on the name after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it offensive to Asians. The band’s attorney claims the decision violates the group's First Amendment rights. The court’s ruling could set new parameters for trademark registration, and could affect other high-profile disputes, such as the case of the Washington Redskins football team's trademark, which was canceled in 2014.
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Opinion: Lawyers Need to Protect Against Ransomware

Ransomware attacks against law firms and other businesses are “the fastest growing threat that we see across industries,” Trey Forgety tells the American Bar Association Bar Leader magazine in its new issue. Ransomware is software that can encrypt the data on a computer and force the computer owner to pay a “ransom” to have the data unencrypted. “In the past we’ve worried a lot about data theft, ... Now, the biggest concern is the threat to the attorney’s business,” he says. Forgety, director of government affairs and regulatory counsel to NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, wrote the December 2016 Tennessee Bar Journal cover story, "Is Your Client Information Safe: Data Security Is Your Responsibility Even If You Don't Understand How it Works."

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Songwriters Back Gaye Family in Lawsuit

A group of Hall of Fame songwriters filed a legal brief yesterday opposing a judge’s ruling they say hurts copyright protections for songs recorded before 1978, the Tennessean reports. The family of Marvin Gaye won a multi-million dollar suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who were accused of copying elements of a Gaye hit without permission for their song “Blurred Lines.” On appeal, the judge ruled that the only elements of Gaye’s song that were protected were those included on the lead sheet – a document filed with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Gaye family argues that the copyright should extend to the sound recording. The songwriters agree, arguing that if left to stand, the judge’s ruling effectively disenfranchises writers of pre-1978 songs.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Merck Wins Record Patent Verdict

In the biggest patent-infringement verdict in U.S. history, Gilead Sciences Inc. will pay $2.54 billion to Merck & Co. for willfully using a patented invention as the basis for its hepatitis C drugs. The Delaware jury deliberated for less than two hours and rejected Gilead’s arguments that Merck’s patent was invalid, Bloomberg News reports. Because the action was found to be willful, the judge could increase the damage award by as much as three times the amount set by the jury, Bloomberg reports.

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Stites & Harbison’s Trademarkology Named Top Blog

In addition to two blogs written by individual Tennessee attorneys, the ABA Journal has named Stites & Harbison’s Trademarkology blog as one of the 100 best blogs for a legal audience for 2016. This is the third consecutive year the blog, which focuses on trademark issues, has made the list. Read more from the firm or see other blogs by Tennessee lawyers and firms.

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TBA President Urges Unity, Consensus Building in Profession

In the new Tennessee Bar Journal, President Jason Long discusses our divided country after the recent election, urging lawyers to be “united now more than ever in our commitment to the profession and its bedrock principles.” He writes that “we can provide that opportunity in a controlled and structured environment, operating within the framework of our democratic institutions. If there is an opportunity for consensus building and unity in today’s political climate, the legal profession can and should facilitate that.” Also in this issue, learn if you are protecting your clients’ electronic information enough, in the cover article by Trey Forgety. Brian Dobbs writes to help you understand the law of construction in Tennessee. Read the December issue.

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Patent Pro Bono Program Event Coming to Memphis

The TBA will host an event in Memphis on Dec. 8 to showcase its patent pro bono program and recruit new volunteers. The happy hour will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Adams and Reese LLP. Come enjoy appetizers and a beverage and learn more about Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA). LAVPA has matched seven inventors with volunteer patent attorneys since its launch this past summer but additional volunteers are needed. Recruitment events have already been held in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, 615-277-3207.

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ABA Considers Privacy Law Certification

A program administered by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) that certifies lawyers as privacy law specialists is expected to go before the ABA House of Delegates in February, the ABA Journal reports. If the ABA approves accreditation, lawyers who meet IAPP standards – including passing two exams and working in the field for at least three years – could declare themselves privacy law specialists without fear of violating state ethics rules. The accreditation would last for five years. Those supporting the move say that the rise of cyber, security and intellectual property issues have created a need for a recognized specialty.

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DOJ Files Appeal in Songwriter Licensing Case

The Department of Justice on Friday appealed a federal judge’s decision to strike down its proposal for 100 percent music licensing for songwriters and publishers represented by BMI. Under the scheme proposed by the department, music licensing organizations such as BMI would be forced to license a song even if they only represented a small percentage of the song’s copyright. Songwriters and publishers have criticized the proposal saying it would throw the profession into chaos and threaten the practice of co-writing among songwriters from different performance rights organizations. The appeal was widely expected according to industry watchers, the Tennessean reports.

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Info Session Friday for Patent Pro Bono Program

The TBA will host an information session and happy hour this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. for those interested in learning more about Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA), a program that helps under-resourced inventors and small businesses with their patent legal needs. The event is part of the TIPLA CLE and is sponsored by Patterson Intellectual Property. It will be held at Patterson’s office at 1600 Division St. # 500 in Nashville. For more information about the program, contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, 615-277-3207.

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