Legal Research Blog
Get your week started off right with a Fastcase Research Tip. Today, we have tips for creating a broad search query. When you are getting started on a new research project, it is usually a good idea to start with a broad search query and then narrow your query until you get an acceptable number of results. Use these tips to make sure you are not inadvertently excluding decisions that address your topic.
Instead of: “fourth amendment” & car
Try: “fourth amendment” & car or “fourth amendment” & vehicle or “fourth amendment” & automobile
Contractor, contracting, contracts, contracting, contracted, etc.
Instead of: breach of contract
Try: breach w/3 contract because this picks up phrases like breached its contract, breach of the contract, etc.
In the past, we have blogged about how social-networking can get lawyers and defendants in to hot water. Well, there are two-sides to every coin, and today The New York Times reports how 19 year-old Rodney Bradford’s Facebook status updates kept him out of jail. Bradford’s defense lawyer persuaded a prosecutor to drop robbery charges against his client for a robbery in Brooklyn by demonstrating that Bradford had an alibi — he had updated his status in Manhattan at the time of the incident proving that he couldn’t have been in Brooklyn at the time.
Traveling during the holidays is always a harrowing, but Google is taking the edge off this year by providing free wi-fi at 47 participating airports (and on Virgin America flights). The program (which honestly sounds a little too good to be true) starts next Monday November 16, 2009 and runs through January 15, 2010. Check out whether your local airport is participating: here.
We’ve been on sort of an intellectual-property law roll here on the Fastcase blog, and today we have another IP news flash for you — and this one is a doozie. The amicus count (70!) on this one blows McDonald v. Chicago out of the water.
1) Did the Federal Circuit err by using the machine-or-transformation test in determining patentable subject matter?
2) Does the machine-or-transformation test prevent patent protection for many business methods and thus contradict congressional intent that patents protect “methods of doing or conducting business.”
At the center of Bilski is a business-method patent application — a patent for a method for trading commodities — that was denied by the PTO. Business-method patents have been viewed with skepticism by many practioners and it is starting to look like the high court shares this view. According to media coverage of the oral argument, here, here, and here, the Justices were in rare form, each suggesting ludicrous patents that might also be enforceable if the Bilski patent could pass muster:
Justice Sotomayor reportedly suggested “method of speed dating” while Justice Breyer drew laughs by “great, wonderful, really original method of teaching antitrust law”. Which ever way this one goes, you have to love a case that turns Supreme Court Justices into comedians.