May 12, 2009
Georgia State University College of Law students Alexis Fairweather and Matthew McNeill were national finalists in the 2009 Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition, April 22-24, in Washington, D.C. Fairweather and McNeill, who won the Irving Marcus Award for National Finalists, are the first team from any Georgia university to advance to the national level of this competition, which was held at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Fairweather, a student associate at Finnegan, and McNeil, an incoming associate for Alston & Bird, beat teams from UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and Loyola University Chicago School of Law to make it to the final round. They faced a team from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago in the final round, which was judged by Federal Circuit Judges Raymond C. Clevenger III, Sharon Prost, and Kimberly A. Moore, who critiqued the teams and provided direct feedback on their advocacy. Also represented at the national competition were Franklin Pierce Law Center, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, and George Washington University School of Law.
Fairweather and McNeill advanced to the National Competition after winning the Southern Regional Competition. Now in its thirty-sixth year, the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial 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 the premiere moot court competition dealing with issues of patent law. The team prepared both an appellant and an appellee brief, 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 team received a tremendous outpouring of support from the Atlanta legal community. Many members of the Atlanta IP community rallied around the team to help judge their practice rounds and offer advice and support, including: Steve Park, Virginia Carron, Robert Stanley, Robert Dulaney, John Cox, Ph.D., Tara Stuart, Nathan Sloan, Brad Rametta, and Gabriel Azar of Finnegan; John North, Jeff Blake, Bill Cook, and Josh Aronson, Ph.D. of Sutherland; Greg Ourada of 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; Brett Bartel; Steve Perkins; Todd De Jong; and Gaylon Hollis.
The team primarily was coached by Jeff Kuester of Thomas Kayden, Elizabeth Lester of Sutherland, and Anita Bhushan of Finnegan. Kuester is a 1993 Georgia State Law alumnus who also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property law at Georgia State. Lester, a 2005 Georgia State Law alumnus who participated in 2005 on the first Georgia State team to enter the competition, has helped coach teams competing in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Bhushan is a 2007 Georgia State Law alumnus who participated in the tournament in 2006.