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Apr 1, 2018

Jeff Kobulnick Spearheads New Los Angeles Regional Moot Court Competition

Jeff Kobulnick, a longtime active member of the International Trademark Association (INTA) and head of the Brutzkus Gubner Intellectual Property Group, spearheaded the recent effort to create a new regional competition in Los Angeles for INTA’s Saul Lefkowitz Moot Court Competition. 

The moot court competition introduces law student teams to important issues arising in U.S. trademark and unfair competition law. Students develop their brief writing and oral advocacy skills in a mock courtroom experience.  Over 75 teams of law students participate in the competition each year – with many law schools fielding multiple teams.  The law students take a custom made fact pattern touching on cutting edge trademark issues, draft a brief, and conduct oral argument in front of district court and other judges in each region.  The winners from each region argue the case in a national competition before members of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

This year, in honor of the new Los Angeles region, the moot court case was Hollywood themed.  The case consisted of a beer brewing business called HOLLYWOOD HOPS against HOLLYWOOD & VINE – a wine store located right across the street.

Under Jeff’s leadership, INTA added a new region in Los Angeles to increase participation by law schools in Southern California and nearby geographic areas.  The competition was held at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California’s beautiful new federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.  Students argued their case before esteemed panels of judges, including five actual Central District judges, three USPTO TTAB judges, and other experienced trademark law practitioners.

Mr. Kobulnick recognized that the success of the new Los Angeles region competition would not have been possible without the full support of several Central District of California judges.  The late Hon. Beverley Reid O’Connell enthusiastically agreed to help coordinate the use of the Court and the participation of several federal judges before she unexpectedly passed away in October 2017.  All Judges and participants recognized the contributions of Judge O’Connell prior to the regional awards ceremony.  Mr. Kobulnick is also very grateful to Judge Michael Fitzgerald, who served as the competition’s host judge and was instrumental in encouraging fellow Central District judges to participate and ensuring that the entire competition ran smoothly, and to Chief Judge Virginia Phillips who has been a tremendous supporter of the competition and warmly welcomed it to take place at the Central District courthouse.  Plans are already underway for the competition to return to the Central District courthouse next year.

Regional competitions were held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco on February 10, 2018.  The winning teams from each region advanced to the National Finals which took place at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 2018. 

The inaugural Los Angeles region winners were the UCLA School of Law and Pepperdine University School of Law.

The National Finals winners this year were:

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

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