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Google In Battle With Its Own Lawyers

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the keeps-your-friends-close dept.

Android 271

An anonymous reader writes "Google is at daggers end with a law firm it's been using since 2008, after discovering that lawyers in the law firm, named Pepper Hamilton LLP, were representing a patent licensing business that sued Google's Android partners last month. Google has claimed that Pepper Hamilton LLP never provided notice that it was hired by Digitude Innovations LLC, the firm that filed patent infringement complaints against Google's business allies."

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271 comments

So, (5, Funny)

rotorbudd (1242864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937153)

We're talking lawyers here.

Re:So, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937315)

except google has a good case since it clearly falls under conflict of interest.

Lesson of the day: (5, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937171)

Never, never trust a lawyer.

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937301)

I really don't get the irrational hatred for lawyers on Slashdot. It's possible that the facts here will show that the law firm has broken a professional code of conduct, which if their jurisdiction is like mine carries penalties under the law. You might as well say "never, never trust a black man" after the hundredth item of news about a black man committing a violent crime, conveniently ignoring the other x million non-violent black men.

Let me summarise as simply as possible: lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do. They don't get to make law and they'll face worse consequences than a layperson if they break it. If you don't like the law - and there are lots of laws not to like - then by attacking the lawyers you are essentially saying, "I believe the problem is not some particular law but that we even have the rule of law." You are annoyed because some legislative process exists which gives rights and duties and there are remedies for enforcing those rights and duties. But ubi remedium ibi ius: there is no law/justice without a means of enforcing it.

Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population. We have a similar problem on the other side of the pond, although in our case it's more apathetic cynicism than mindless patriotism. Deal with them and let your judiciary enforce the laws you want. Common law systems are really top of their class, as far as this planet goes.

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937363)

That sounds like lawyer talk. GET A ROPE!

What kind of Slashdot is this? (-1, Troll)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937883)

That sounds like lawyer talk. GET A ROPE!

Above message being modded as "Funny" ??

How would you feel if someone post a similar message, something like "That sounds like "chinky/niggie" talk. GET A ROPE!" ?

Would that message still be modded as "Funny" ??

Re:What kind of Slashdot is this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937919)

No - but it should be!

Re:Lesson of the day: (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937417)

lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law

In this case, those lawyers both defend Google's rights and the rights of their direct competitors. Could be fun in court, one lawyer defending *both* parties. I don't think any judge would accept that.

Now admittedly, what's going on here is probably a slight bit more subtle: different (I might hope!!) lawyers working for the same company, defending both Google and their competitors. Still it's a pretty clear-cut case of conflicting interests there. If they're ethical, they can be professional about it and not talk about their clients to each other. The problem is, how do you know? At least if those lawyers work for different entities, it's less likely they'll leak information to each other around the water cooler.

Re:Lesson of the day: (3, Informative)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937723)

Not how it works... Obviously, Google would be using ANOTHER FIRM to sue this one...

The whole problem is that these guys are representing Google while working against them. When Google makes this allegation, they're pretty much automatically fired as Google's lawyers...

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937513)

Let me summarise as simply as possible: lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do.

No, they do one other thing, which is the thing people hate them for: They self-replicate. If you encounter a lawyer, you need to get your own lawyer to deal with them. When it turns out that your lawyer has a conflict of interest, you need another lawyer to take on the work the first lawyer had, the lawyer's other client that created the conflict needs another lawyer for the same reason, you then need a different kind of lawyer to consider going after the first lawyer for malpractice for not disclosing the conflict, your old lawyer needs his own lawyer to defend against the possible malpractice claim, on and on. By the time you're the size of Google you're drowning in a sea of lawyers.

While it's true that the legislature is in part responsible for the laws that result in anyone attempting to do business in this country needing to hire an entire division of attorneys, the attorneys themselves are the ones who lobby to keep it that way.

I'll give you an example: Software patents. The strongest lobby preventing software patents from being eliminated is the software patent lawyers. Larger software companies hate them (because of patent trolls), smaller software companies hate them (because it allows larger companies to crush them), individual software engineers hate them (because it's all a giant waste of time). The only people who want them are patent lawyers and patent trolling companies that are full of patent lawyers.

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937625)

You miss the fact that most of those laws you need lawyers to deal with were written by lawyers. To quote the GP, "Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population." And most of those people in the legislature are lawyers.
This brings up my second law of voting, "Vote against the lawyer." When voting, if one of the candidates is not a lawyer, unless there is an overwhelmingly convincing reason to do otherwise, that is the candidate you should vote for.

Re:Lesson of the day: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937811)

Knowing the law is kinda advantageous both to reach and to work in a position where you're making it. Lawyers are a good example of people who know and understand the law. Now it's not necessary to have as much understanding as a lawyer to work in the legislature, nor is it sufficient. How about having a word with your fellow voter about this? Your representatives don't vote themselves in, no matter how cynically you want to try to paint it.

Or look at it another way. Choose a random lawyer then choose a random engineer. The random lawyer is very unlikely to have anything whatever to do with choosing your laws. The random engineer is fairly unlikely to be involved in [some field of which you disapprove], but much more likely to be so. Do you hate on all scientists?

Now the wording of bills is doubtless going to be prepared by lawyers, but this is only on behalf of whoever's proposing the bill. Hopefully you can see the advantage of laws written in a language suitable for application by the judiciary and executive, as opposed to laws written by a layman which become fairly loosely interpretable according to the whims of the reader. They laws may still be too broadly or vaguely written, and whose fault is that? Tell your legislature to stop accepting vague laws.

The purposive approach makes this worse or better, depending on how you look at it - it's increasingly popular in the UK and already at the top of the methods of interpretation for EU law.

Re:Lesson of the day: (4, Funny)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937983)

Exactly, that's what I learned attending the Operating Systems course at the university:

A lawyer does not work for only one client at time. While one case is waiting to go to trial or have papers typed, the lawyer can work on another case. If she has enough clients, the lawyer will never be idle for lack of work. (Idle lawyers tend to become politicians, so there is a certain social value in keeping lawyers busy.)

Silberschatz, Galvin & Gagne, Operating System Concepts

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Funny)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937735)

Well put.

Personally, I've found my opinion of lawyers is concisely stated in this quote from Henry Peter Brougham, a British Lord, statesman, and, yes, lawyer:
"A lawyer is a learned gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself."

Or paraphrasing a friend going through a divorce:
Seeing my lawyer has all the all the discomfort of a dental procedure, all the frustration of a visit to the DMV, and all the aggrivation of a cell phone bill. Except I don't get anything as useful as a root canal, a drivers licence, or a cell phone. I just get the promise of another visit in a month.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937971)

No, they do one other thing, which is the thing people hate them for: They self-replicate.

Are you talking about lawyers or techs?

You need a Java developer. And an Oracle DBA. And a Linux admin. And a Windows server admin. And someone to babysit your NetApp. And a network admin. And a .NET person. And on, and on, and on.

And then they still tell you that you need consultants because upgrading a critical part of infrastructure is very complicated.

See? Easy to make global rationalizations. In fact, you could take just about any comment in this thread and apply it or twist it pretty easily to apply to techs. Example: someone said never trust anyone in a suit. How about "never trust a neckbeard"? Just as sensible.

The post below this one, as I'm typing, says "most of those laws you need lawyers to deal with were written by lawyers". Well, golly, who'd have thought that? Just parse it for a second and see how stupid this is. Most of the technology you need techs to deal with was invented by techs. Most of the medical procedures you need doctors to perform were written by doctors.

Re:Lesson of the day: (2)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937523)

In my experience lawyers exist to extract money from clients. It is either in the form
of retainer fees, hourly charges or percentages of court winnings. In the case of a "bad" lawyer it is
probably all three.

Representing both sides is just an opportunity to get the most money from the most people.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937609)

Well, slavery's not cool. So what you're saying is one or more of:

(i) There needs to be more state help to fund people needing legal help;
(ii) Laws (substantive or procedural) need to be simpler;
(iii) The British or German methods of assigning costs are better than the US.
(iv) There need to be more lawyers so they're not so expensive; ...

(i) to (iii) are certainly in the hands of your legislature, and (iv) somewhat, since environment and regulation determines number and quality of lawyers.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937617)

A friend of mine heard the following statement while in law school from a professor: "Lawyers exist basically to slow things down and get paid a lot of money." From my experience as a pro se litigant, I would have to agree. I honestly would never be able to afford to pay a lawyer for the work that I do myself. It's like working on your own car: if you can afford to have someone else do it for you, that's great.. but I've never been that guy. :)

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

mrbester (200927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937537)

How many lawyers are politicians and thus can make law? Last I heard it was a distinctly significant number.

Re:Lesson of the day: (2)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937975)

It's not that most lawyers are politicians. Very few are. It's that most politicians are lawyers. Almost all are.

Re:Lesson of the day: (3, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937539)

In an ideal world you would be correct, but in the real world lawyers give so many reasons to be hated that it is very, very difficult to speak well of them.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937571)

I was going to moderate you Insightful until I read the last sentence which has all the marks of Flamebait considering the previously shown insight.
Then I read your post again and found the statement "They don't get to make law" a bit less than insightful considering over 1/3th. of the US congress is lawyer or attorney.

So I'll leave it with Flamebait.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937605)

That's like saying engineers get to put people on the moon. Sure, some engineers do. But lots of 'em don't.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937949)

I work in IT, we neither make laws nor put people on the moon.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937587)

You are describing the ideal of a lawyer and fairly probably the majority are close to it.

The dislike or sometimes even hatred for lawyers stems from the fact that these days it seems a lot of them have become essentially hired muscle to get people what they want.
They are the professional duelists, bullies or assault troops in the civilian world.

Lots of lawyers are paid to purposefully not understand laws to find loopholes or otherwise get their clients wishes pushed through.
Add costs of the proceedings and you essentially just get the old rule of the stronger, just with briefcases instead of swords

Here in Germany you additionally get the cease-and-desist letter writers. In Germany for at least some classes of these letters the _recipient_ has to pay the costs if at all valid, so you get entrepreneurial lawyers looking out for peoples often honest mistakes to jump in for a few hundred or even thousands of euros in fees (I guess the american equivalent could be the settlement chasers suing for copyright infringement whether the targets actually infringed or not)

Also people dislike the fact that often if an lawyer attacks for said reasons, often the only recourse is to hire your own. I think people don't like it when a lawyer creates a situation in which a lawyer always gets your money and it's just a matter of if it's only yours or yours and the other one.

 

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937649)

lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do.

Oh? So the verb "advocacy" derived from the noun synonym for a lawyer, "advocate", never describes the professional behavior of lawyers? They never advocate for bad causes in order to benefit financially? Sure, other professions might do it as well, but lawyers are the ones who formally do it.

Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population.

Pure nonsense. The legislature has been stripped of virtually all power at this point. You'd be hard pressed to name a legislative power which the executive branch has not also claimed for itself.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937661)

You know all those politicians and judges that wrote up those laws and beat them into law? They were lawyers.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937667)

Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population.

Which is made up predominately with lawyers.

Lawyers who use lawyer speak and care not for what is right for society, but with technicalities and winning arguments and power using them.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937707)

I really don't get the irrational hatred for lawyers on Slashdot.

You don't huh? I guess you've never been on the receiving end of a group of faceless lawyers representing a group of people from something like workmans compensation or anything like that. Where lawyers will tie up your case in legal arguments when you're injured, and in turn you need to hire your own lawyer to defend yourself against the accusations that you are injured.

Pray you never get injured on the job and spend 10 years not working with no source of income because you can't. I'm in a common law location, it's better, but still woefully fucked up.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937757)

I really don't get the irrational hatred for lawyers on Slashdot.

I don't get why anyone would consider hatred for lawyers "irrational" in any context.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937771)

You might as well say "never, never trust a criminal" after the hundredth item of news about a criminal committing a violent crime, conveniently ignoring the other x million non-violent criminals.

There FTFY.
You see, lawyers are lawyers by choice. Black men aren't black by choice, so that would be racism.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937797)

And you HAVE to be a lawyer! What do you call 1000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the sea? Let's hear it "A good start!"

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937817)

Black people do not take an oath to do evil. Lawyers do.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937831)

Actually, your express quite well why most people hate lawyers...

They don't get to make law and they'll face worse consequences than a layperson if they break it.

And in my experience that is the entirely of their behavioral grounding. If lawyers had a motto like Google, it would be "don't be illegal". Evil is perfectly ok as long there is no law or code it violates.

This case is a perfect example. Had Digitude Innovations LLC actually represented someone who sued Google, it would have violated rules that can get a lawyer into deep trouble. Since they did not sue Google though, it is all perfectly legal and there is no issue.

Unless of course your Google and your law firm just sued the crap out of a bunch of your close business partners over patents that, if they were actually violated, where in fact violated by YOU. Yeah, perfectly ok behavior... Thanks for being my "advocate" Mr. Laywer.

Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards

...who are almost all lawyers. It may just be me, but I find the very high overlap between "lawyer" and "corrupt shower of bastards" a quite compelling argument against the entirety of your post.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937893)

It's only natural. Lawyers are more or less the public face of a very broken judicial system. This is because of the terrible commercials the bottom feeders have running 24/7 trying to convince people to sue for anything and everything imaginable. While those lawyers are not all of them and may not be truly representative of the profession, it's what people see. Other than cases where the defendant has deep pockets, it is nearly impossible for a person making the median income in the U.S. to afford a lawyer but the courts are geared such that one is nearly mandatory if you want access (the exception is small claims court). In spite of that, anyone can be put in a position of having to hire one regardless of the long term financial consequences to their family, even if they are quite careful to do no wrong.

Why WOULDN'T people look on the profession with mistrust?

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937897)

They don't get to make law

Which is total bullshit. A majority (55) of US Senators have law degrees. Laws are set up by lawyers, for lawyers. Non-lawyers have no hope of redress through the courts without lawyers.

Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population.

This is true. And they have found that the best way to cloak their corruption is by getting a law degree.

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937941)

There are, indeed, legal penalties. They are almost never enforced. Most "decent lawyers" defend the actions of the obviously criminally corrupt ones. Hatred of them is not irrational, when they are your deadly enemies. (As a class. Please note that there are significant exceptions.)

It's like the way doctors support other doctors who are criminally incompetent or careless. Or corporation heads support corporation heads. In each case the hatered is justified, because these are people who regularly and heedlessly injure "us".

Now let's talk about programmers...

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937461)

Hear that, New York Country Lawyer? Begone!

Re:Lesson of the day: (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937473)

Never, never trust a lawyer.

Soooooo.... thats "Always trust a lawyer"?
Rather lawyer-like double-speak there.

Re:Lesson of the day: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937541)

Everyone hates lawyers until they need one.

Re:Lesson of the day: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937607)

Everyone hates lawyers until they need one

... and then they continue to hate them, with a passion that only increases every time they open their mailbox and find a bill from their lawyer. Justice has become so expensive that normal citizens can't afford it. Greedy lawyers are a big reason for why we find ourselves in that position.

An outside law firm ? (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937179)

google has the finances to buy out entire u.s. legal system. why have not they set up their own shark team yet ? ............

really. the way silicon valley takes these threats to the digital age - like copyright/big media, patent trolls etc, anti-net neutrality etc - is WAY too carefree and lighthearted. even, totally oblivious.

for example, sopa/pipa thwarted, another is being cooked, acta already being pushed, and silicon valley is not doing shit.

Re:An outside law firm ? (5, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937279)

why have not they set up their own shark team yet ?

Google has its own legal team, but that doesn't end the need for external legal advice at times, if only because of the ability to scale up quickly by using a law firm (e.g. during a discovery phase of litigation, or due diligence during an acquisition).

(I'm employed as a lawyer in a substantial in-house legal team, which has a panel of law firms.)

Re:An outside law firm ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937427)

Run!!!! We have a lawyer among us!!!!

Re:An outside law firm ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937985)

I'm employed as a lawyer in a substantial in-house legal team

Kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalization for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.

Re:An outside law firm ? (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937321)

Google could buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage, and with cooperation with Facebook and co, even straight out. Due to the way Hollywood accounting and similar practices work, lawsuits against those "not a subsidiary, honest" companies would probably be enough to recover that money, before even starting an asset sale. And even if such a corporate raid would end up with a loss -- heck, the balance in lobbying would shift so much we could even possibly get an outright abolishment of copyright.

Re:An outside law firm ? (4, Insightful)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937471)

Google could buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage, and with cooperation with Facebook and co, even straight out.

...were it not for antitrust legislation.

Re:An outside law firm ? (4, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937765)

Disney has a market cap of $71.86 billion. News Corp (owns Fox Entertainment Group which owns 20th Century Fox) has a market cap of $50 billion. Sony (owns Sony Pictures) has a market cap if $19 billion. Comcast market cap $74 billion (owns Universal Pictures.) Time Warner (owns Warner Bros. Pictures) market cap $38 billion. I've no idea what Viacom is worth as they're private. The five publicly traded companies have a combined market cap of $252 billion.

Google has $44 billion in cash. Facebook's IPO hopes to raise $5 billion. Not only could they not "buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage", they couldn't do it even if they sold their souls. And it's unlikely anyone would want to buy those two souls. FB will have P/E of 166, GOOG's P/E is 20. Two of the most profitable companies in the world don't have such high P/E ratios. (AAPL P/E is 13 & XOM P/E is 10.)

Re:An outside law firm ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937457)

I used to work at a big software company you've heard of. They have a large team of in-house lawyers. When we filed patents* they hired external lawyers. I think they did this so that if someone sues them for patent infringement they can say that the company is unaware of competitor's patents, since the lawyer who looked at prior art wasn't an employee.

* I don't believe in software patents, but some of my team members applied for them and I got my name on some. They also give you a small cash bonus for participating in such evil deeds.

Re:An outside law firm ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937627)

Google has its own legal team (known as the "Legal Shitheads" among engineers) lead by none other than David Drummond, one of the biggest assholes in the legal world. Every engineer at Google hates them but they are a necessary evil.

Re:An outside law firm ? (5, Informative)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937743)

Many things can't be done by in-house lawyers. I don't know how it is in the US, but here in India, a case cannot be argued in court by in-house lawyers. This is done partly to reduce conflicts of interest. An attorney is supposed to be able to give his client advice the client doesn't want to hear, and by being independent, that's supposed to help a bit.

Also, having a specialized company handling multiple clients rather than each company trying to replicate the function is probably more efficient?

retards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937181)

Every time you open a file, first thing you do is check for conflicts.

Re:retards. (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937187)

But the conflict occurred while the file was already open!

Re:retards. (4, Funny)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937207)

Plus, they were probably using Windows Notepad, which almost never seems to be deterred by that sort of thing when it opens a file. It's like it has...connections...

It's even worse than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937485)

They were using Google Docs....

Re:retards. (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937801)

That's just Notepad is a fucking badass and isn't afraid of anything. Open up them locked files, busting a cap in them handles.

Re:retards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937239)

(This is not legal advice. Just general practice around where I am. Your jurisdiction will probably vary.)

If you're acting for both, and you hold material information about each one that prejudices your interests in the other, then you can represent neither client - it conflicts you out of both sides, and they're both going to have to get their own independent - separate - legal advice once again.

It is therefore a very good idea to try to avoid such situations, if you even THINK one may arise.

Re:retards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937305)

This is true. However, a friend of mine who works for a large international law firm told me that he gets up to hundreds of conflict-check emails every day and he never looks at them. For a large firm, it is quite possible that they took each client without knowing about the other at all.

Re:retards. (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937899)

Basic conflict-checking should be mostly an automated process. The existing off-the-shelf software has conflict-checking built in, that searches your client database when you open the file.

If that is true, they could be screwed! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937183)

If that happened in my state and Google wanted to push it to the end, that firm could lose its firm license and the lawyers in charge could lose their licenses too.

But then again, my state takes conflicts of interest very seriously.

Concurrent COI (5, Informative)

Jayfield (2317990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937191)

It sounds like this law firm just violated Model Rule 1.7(a)(1), which is concurrently representing adverse clients. Someone's getting in trouble with the state bar...

Re:Concurrent COI (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937275)

Seriously? will they get in "trouble" or will heads really roll? I get the impression that you have to be pretty bad fairly repeatedly before the bar does anything.

Re:Concurrent COI (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937307)

The guild serves to protect its own, not to eat them; if anything ever does come of this, it'll be "trouble" at best.

Re:Concurrent COI (1)

Jayfield (2317990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937319)

Don't forget that there's a wide range of punishment types, ranging from disbarment to a slap-on-the-wrist probationary period. So yeah, they'll get in trouble, but how much trouble depends on lots of factors. The state bar will probably err to the severer side of punishment since this is public.

Wrong measuring variable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937631)

No. While what you said is usually true, it is because of an underlying variable: publicity. When there are repeated screw ups, those are most likely to be public. However, the real measure is publicity. Every interaction that involves a lawyer makes the rest took bad. Therefore, they try to get rid of those as quietly as possible. For example, in my state, if you are willing to admit that you did what they say you did, then they will let it go if you just pay back any missing money to the client, get any substance abuse or depression treatment you need and go to a monthly meeting for 6 months. It doesn't even show up on your record or theirs. All so that it stays quiet.

Here is an example in my state, one lawyer in my state stole $20,000 which was in the paper and resulted in federal charges. He was disbarred with no possibility of reinstatement. Another lawyer, that same year, stole $30,000 which was NOT in the paper and did not result in any criminal charges. He was suspended for two months until he "finished" his drug treatment. And the only reason I know about this situation is because I know the lawyer who represented both of them. He has complained up and down about how corrupt the system is and uses that as one of his *many* examples.

Re:Wrong measuring variable (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937775)

If there were no criminal charges, then surely that implies there wasn't as much evidence in the second case. Or there were circumstances that lead the authorities to believe they wouldn't get a conviction.

So why would it be strange that the bar punishment would also be at a lower level (they don't have the work of the criminal prosecutors to provide them the grounds for a ore severe punishment after all).

Re:Concurrent COI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937277)

Big firms have never heard of conflicts of interest, unless they can use it to help them back out of something.

Re:Concurrent COI (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937287)

A perfect example from Schlock Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com], back when the art was bad, but the writing was amazing. Today the writing is still amazing, and so is the art.

Odd choice of captcha - buttocks.

Re:Concurrent COI (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937291)

The only problem with this is that no one has sued Google, outside of Oracle. The cases were against other companies and not Google itself. It's definitely dishonest, but then again it's lawyers. They probably have plenty of wiggle room to steer clear of any real problems.

Re:Concurrent COI (2)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937331)

No mod points today, but this is spot on - Legally, there isn't a problem here. However, it seems like a poor strategy to follow if you want to keep Google as a client...

Re:Concurrent COI (2)

gpmanrpi (548447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937421)

Well I assume they would have violated actual rules in their jurisdiction. Some states have more flexible conflict rules. If we are assuming California, I would have no idea. But to give the allegory in Florida where I am licensed, they would need to alert the clients of the conflict and then most likely withdraw. If the same attorneys worked on both sides of cases they could be in real trouble. They may have to repay legal fees as well, and they may be then disciplined depending on the nature of the harm caused, etc. If there was malicious intent then that would again be another worse can of worms. Bar associations take this kind of violation seriously, large firms pay money for software to manage such conflicts.

Re:Concurrent COI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937463)

Exactly. If there is any truth to this the firm is in serious trouble, and would be in ANY state.

Re:Concurrent COI (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937653)

It sounds like this law firm just violated Model Rule 1.7(a)(1)

Ah ha! a voice of sanity, with a citation,

Pepper Hamilton LLP was wrong in so many way here and it's their business to of known this.

As Google stated "In short, Pepper Hamilton is accusing its own client of infringement"

Love this part: "Digitude is opposing the request to have Pepper Hamilton disqualified from the ITC case"
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-01/google-chafes-as-lawyers-it-hired-sue-company-s-android-partners.html [businessweek.com]
Linked from link, - Digitude is who is suing Google, Google has asked that Pepper Hamilton be "fired" (quotes their's).
Digitude is just stirring the pot.

It' mentioned Pepper Hamilton has over 500 lawyers, and so so much patent litigation there's bound to be overlap.
So? Those aren't excuses for bad law.

google won't defend it's partners so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937203)

I really don't see the problem. Last I checked, google hasn't stepped-up to defend these partners when such litigation is brought forth. Why would they get all huffy about this?

But lawyers turning on their clients reminds me of animal farm just a bit.

Re:google won't defend it's partners so... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937325)

I would assume when you speak to a lawyer or a law firm that there is confidentiality.

If they are representing Google, yet at the same time suing them and passing confidential documents back and forth to the litigant that is acting not in accordance to good faith, representing the interests of the client, nor respecting the confidentiality.

I am no lawyer here but this sounds serious and I wonder if they can be debarred? It would not surprise me if this patent troll used that company on purpose for discovery to gain an advantage to sue. Very slimy indeed if that is the case and evil.

Re:google won't defend it's partners so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937401)

If they're discussing confidential client information then yes, it would be grounds for disbarment.

At the very least, I see grounds for a referral to the ethics committee.

Re:google won't defend it's partners so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937719)

They are not actually suing Google, they are suing other companies who partner with Google. RTFS

lawyers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937303)

have sex with their own children

Impressive - not. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937467)

For a company full to the brim with extraordinarily smart and gifted people, Google sure is being.. less than cunning as of late. Sure, they may succeed, despite themselves, eventually, but fuck, it looks bad. The numerous screw-ups with Google+ come to mind, and then letting Microsoft collect "taxes" from nearly all Android licensees (and Google just sitting around with its dick in hand) and now this.

I look at these apparent mistakes, and kind of hope there is some diabolic plan in place at Google, but the more I observe, the more it looks like good-old stupidity taking hold.

Ethics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937711)

This is what the lawyers in this story do not have.

If you have a client that you represent, you can never never never go against them in a court of law. To do so makes you the absolute worst, scum of the earth.

Lawyers like this need to be disbarred and never allowed to practice law again.

Lawyers are amoral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937749)

Lawyers are paid to be professional and do their jobs to the best of their abilities. If that requires them to be amoral, then thats just part of the job. It has to be selective morality: they can't lie to the judge, at least they can't intentionally lie. The can obfuscate to their hearts content. If buddy is a murdering child molester, they have to defend to the best of their abilities. Of course, money always helps. Think of the law firm in this case acting like an arms dealer. If both sides spend heavily to get better guns, and the war escalates and more people die and that in turn makes each side want to spend even more money for even more and bigger guns, the dealer only makes more money. If he supplies both sides, its like turning the toilet paper over and being able to use both sides. So what's the problem? The law firm gets to profit from both sides. Its what law firms do. Go ahead and try and train a shark to nurse baby salmon. See how far you get.

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