Lawyer in Your Living Room

davidPapkeI enjoyed serving on “the jury” chosen by the American Bar Association to pick the top 25 law shows during the history of prime-time television.  Our list and sketches of the shows just appeared in the August, 2009 ABA Journal.  I was pleased but surprised that “The Defenders,” a fine series from the early 1960s ranked third.  The other top series – “L.A. Law,” “Perry Mason,” and “Law & Order” – are not only great law shows but also milestones in the history of entertainment television.  Meanwhile, I’m not sure “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” deserve their places on the list.  I enjoy both, but they seem to me police procedurals rather than law shows.

If anyone is curious, here’s the full list:

  1. “L.A. Law” (1986-94)
  2. “Perry Mason” (1957-66)
  3. “The Defenders” (1961-65)
  4. “Law & Order” (1990-present)
  5. “The Practice” (1997-2004)
  6. “Ally McBeal “ (1997-2002)
  7. “Rumpole of the Bailey” (1978-1992)
  8. “Boston Legal” (2004-08)
  9. “Damages” (2007-present)
  10. “Night Court” (1984-1992)
  11. “Judging Amy” (1999-2005
  12. “Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law” (1971-74)
  13. “JAG” (1995-2005)
  14. “Shark” (2006-08)
  15. “Civil Wars” (1991-93)
  16. “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” (2000-9)
  17. “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (2001-present)
  18. “Murder One” (1995-97)
  19. “Matlock” (1986-1995)
  20. “Reasonable Doubts” (1991-93)
  21. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (1999-present)
  22. “Judd for the Defense” (1967-69)
  23. “Paper Chase” (1978-79, 1983-86)
  24. “Petrocelli” (1974-76)
  25. “Eli Stone” (2008-09)
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Say, You’re a Copyright Lawyer–Can I Get a Patent on That Name?

Reading the New York Times this morning, I was intrigued by this entry in the table of contents:


Copyrights in India? Cool! But hang on a second—what’s that about “brands”?


Ah, I see, it’s another journalist confused about the difference between patents, copyright, and trademarks. (The title of this post is the punchline of a joke told by Paul Goldstein about this problem.) It matters, to me at least, because copyright has enough of a public image problem without getting blamed for patent and trademark controversies as well.

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You Got the Wrong Guy

Part of my job is to be engaged on issues of law and public policy, so I am usually happy to talk to the media and pleased when the law school’s clipping service picks up some brilliant comment that I have made and posts it to the school’s website. They miss most of them so I guess that I’m not as brilliant as I think. (But I knew that.)

But there is one up there as we speak from the Lehighton (Pa.) Time-News reporting my comment on the Supreme Court’s decision in Ricci v. DeStafano. I did issue some comments on Ricci through the Heartland Institute where I am a Policy Advisor.

But I didn’t say what was quoted in the article.

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