March 31, 2009
Georgia State University College of Law students Alexis Fairweather and Matthew McNeill won first place in the Southern Regional Competition of the 2009 Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Competition, held in Houston, Texas, March 20-22.
Now in its thirty-sixth year, the AIPLA Moot Court Competition is named for a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit who was the most distinguished jurist in the field of patent law in the world, and is one of the premiere moot court competitions dealing with issues of intellectual property law. This is the first team from any Georgia university to advance to the national level of this competition.
Fairweather and MvNeill, both third-year law students, beat teams from Emory University and Franklin Pierce Law Center before defeating a second Franklin Pierce Law Center team in the final round. Brett Bartel and Steve Perkins, third-year and second-year law students at Georgia State, respectively, attended the Southern Regional Competition as well, making it to the semifinal round for a second year in a row after defeating teams from the University of Richmond and the University of Texas. Also represented at the competition were the University of Houston and the University of Tennessee.
In addition to winning the regional championship, Fairweather, a student associate at Finnegan, and McNeill, an incoming associate for Alston & Bird, post-graduation, also won top honors for Best Appellant Brief while McNeill won top honors for Best Oral Advocate. Teams prepared both appellant and appellee briefs, addressing issues relating to patent exhaustion and patent inventorship. Patent exhaustion has been in the spotlight since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc. while patent inventorship is a recurring issue in many matters, including a recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The teams received a tremendous outpouring of support from the Atlanta legal community. The teams primarily were coached by Jeff Kuester of Thomas Kayden, Elizabeth Lester of Sutherland, and Anita Bhushan of Finnegan. Jeff Kuester is a 1993 Georgia State Law alumnus who has coached every Georgia State AIPLA team since 2005 and also serves as an adjunct professor of Intellectual Property law at Georgia State. Elizabeth Lester is a 2005 Georgia State Law alumnus who participated in 2005 on the first Georgia State team to enter the competition. Since then, Lester has coached teams competing in the competition in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Anita Bhushan is a 2007 GSU Law alumnus who participated in the tournament in 2006.
Many other members of the Atlanta IP community rallied around the teams to help judge their practice rounds and offer advice and support, including: Steve Park, Virginia Carron, Robert Stanley, Robert Dulaney, John Cox, Tara Stuart, Nathan Sloan, Brad Rametta, and Gabriel Azar of Finnegan; Josh Aronson, Ph.D. of Sutherland; Greg Ourada or Hill, Kertscher & Wharton; Art Gardner of Gardner Groff; Michael Terapane of Papst Patent Group; Robbie Ashe, an incoming associate of Bondurant, Mixon & Elmore, post graduation; Todd De Jong; and Gaylon Hollis.
The Georgia State team will compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC on April 22–24, 2009, against the top two teams from three other regional competitions (Silicon Valley, Chicago, and Boston) and the runner-up from the Southern Regional Competition.