If you're up for a little mind-bending, I recommend a ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals called Autor v. Pritzker.
Here we learn that Congress created 16 Industry Trade Advisory Committees and the president is required to "seek information and advice" from them whether he wants it or not.
How he actually does this seeking and whether some beleaguered flunky rather than the president listens to these committees isn't entirely clear.
I'm hoping it's the flunky. I'm hoping the flunky is playing Angry Birds while pretending to listen.
Be that as it may, President Obama told his agency heads not to name registered lobbyists to those committees.
If you're going to have committees representing special interests, you shouldn't have people who are paid to represent those interests doing the representing.
Only amateurs will do.
Nor should the committees contain people who are paid by corporations or unions, or whatever - but not for talking to the government - more than 20 percent of the time.
You're not technically a paid lobbyist unless you spend at least 20 percent of your working time on one client's manipulation of government.
In other words, there are lots of people who can represent special interests on those committees.
The CEO and majority shareholder of Evil Job-Exporter Corporation can be on a committee, but not EJE Corp.'s lobbyist.
All of this is weird, but who cares?
That's not a rhetorical question. Think about it - who cares?
Lobbyists themselves are now officially an interest group.
They went to court to overturn the president's directive because they claimed it denied a government benefit to them.
The D.C. Circuit, in case you're wondering, agreed that committee membership is indeed a government benefit, but it didn't decide anything else. The trial court gets to think about it all again.
I'm thinking the appellate judges are hoping this just goes away.
In the meantime, here's a real, not rhetorical, question for you specially interested people out there: How effective could those lobbyists you're paying be if they had to go to court because they couldn't lobby to get something for themselves?
How to have fun: I know I'm a little weird, but I can't be the only person spend a good half hour giggling over a web posting that began with this sentence:
"This afternoon the London office of Baker & McKenzie LLP set the scene for an exciting seminar on Passing Off and Unfair Competition."
Imagine the frenzy in that room.
I found this item on a website called "Marques" which is dedicated to riveting discussions of trademarks.
I recommend reading the full posting. If you don't think it's entertaining, check out this from the second paragraph: "Baker & McKenzie Partner Ben Allgrove started off by giving an overview over the status quo of English Passing Off law which was informative as it was entertaining. He repeatedly referred back to his first proposition ..."
Because it was so darned entertaining.
Then a guy from a German law firm delighted the audience with a recounting of German unfair competition laws dating back to 1896.
What more could you want?
Well, I'll tell you. It's in the last paragraph of the post: "The afternoon ended with an enjoyable discussion of Steiff teddy bears, and how the Steiff 'ear button' ("Knopf im Ohr") may best be protected under trademark and unfair competition law/passing off."
Bet you don't think trademark law is boring now.
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