University of Hawai'i Wins 22nd Annual Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition

April 15, 2013

Finalists from across the United States competed on March 16, 2013, in another successful final round of the Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. The arguments this year centered on “bread and butter” trademark issues of priority, tacking, zone of expansion and likelihood of confusion, as one of the participating judges from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) told the students.

Traveling all the way from Hawaii to Washington turned out to be worth the effort, as the University of Hawaii won the final competition. National Finals winners were:

Winning Team: University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law
Second Place Team: University of Iowa College of Law
Dolores K. Hanna Best Brief: University of Iowa College of Law
Second Place Brief: Brooklyn Law School
Best Oral Argument: University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law
Second Place Oral Argument Team: University of Iowa College of Law

This year’s competition had nearly 90 teams from law schools around the United States arguing the fictional case of Blue Fin Surf Sports, Inc. v. Skuyler Finn Enterprises LLC and Skuyler Finn, a dispute about surfboards and snowboards developed by young women athlete-entrepreneurs. The facts involved the well-established Blue Fin surf shop’s expansion into surfboards developed and marketed by the owners’ surfing daughter Lulu and the newly launched line of snowboards by the well-known Skuyler Finn, a world-class snowboarder.

After considering the longstanding federal registration for BLUE FIN SURF SHOP for retail services, the newly filed BLUE FIN BY LULU application for surfboards and Skuyler Finn’s registration for SKUYLER FINN BLUE for snowboards, the District Court of Utopia found that the mark SKUYLER FINN BLUE created a likelihood of confusion with the mark BLUE FIN, and granted a preliminary injunction.

Katherine Basile (Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg, USA), who chaired the Lefkowitz Committee this year, said, “This was an outstanding group of students.” She thanked the TTAB judges and interlocutory attorneys who volunteered their time to judge the final competition, and the firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, and its partner Chris Foley, for organizing and running the National Finals. Ms. Basile also recognized each of the organizations that sponsored the four regional competitions, in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, in February. In addition, Ms. Basile reported that INTA will be adding a fifth region starting in 2014, with the competition to be held in Dallas, Texas; she noted that the IP community in Dallas has welcomed the Lefkowitz competition with open arms and enthusiasm.

Jeff Kobulnick (Ezra Brutzkus Gubner LLP, USA) will be the Committee Chair for the 2013–14 competition, with Vice Chair Bryce Coughlin (Fox Entertainment Group, USA). “I look forward to leading the Lefkowitz competition as we move into our twenty-third year and am very excited about our new region in Dallas,” said Mr. Kobulnick. “By adding a fifth region, we will have ten teams advancing to the competition’s national finals next year.”

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 more than 30 years, Mr. Lefkowitz was a member of the trademark examining corps in the U.S. Trademark Office and was a member of the TTAB from its creation in 1958. In 1975, he was named TTAB 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 participated in the 2013 National Finals:

  • Brooklyn Law School (First place East Regional – Alina Levi, Glenn Schieck)
  • Georgetown University Law Center (Second place East Regional – Jeffrey DeSousa, Samantha Hynes, Sarah Mortazavi, Jessica Pettit)
  • University of Iowa College of Law (First place Midwest Regional – Alexander Johnson, Ravi Narayan, Samuel Young)
  • Northwestern University School of Law (Second place Midwest Regional – Palash Basu, Elizabeth Mazzacco, Victoria Otero, Margaret Shyr)
  • University of Alabama School of Law (First place South Regional – Bo Bledsoe, Christopher Vinson, Glenn Zuercher)
  • Georgia State University College of Law (Second place South Regional – Jennifer Grant, Matt Littlefield, Richard Piercy, Clay Roberts)
  • University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law (First place West Regional – Shirley Lou, Avery Matro, Andrea Maglasang-Miller, Nikki Yamauchi)
  • University of Washington School of Law (Second place West Regional – Timothy Billick, Phaik Janice Goh)

University of Hawai'i Wins 22nd Annual Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition