Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Colonel Sanders Collection

During library tours, there's usually a collective chuckle on Level 2 when groups pass by the call numbers beginning with KFC—the prefix for library materials about the law of California, Connecticut and Colorado. Blame the Library of Congress, whose classification system has forever linked the law of these states with the popular fast-food restaurant. But as the Goodson Blogson recently discovered, there’s another KFC connection buried in the Archives on Level 1—a mysterious box full of files about Kentucky Fried Chicken trademarks and service marks (click for enlarged image).

As the catalog record suggests, these folders contain copies of file wrappers, the contents of files at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office related to a particular patent, trademark or service mark. The file wrappers contain the original application, as well as any subsequent correspondence about the application. Although some of these same documents are available online through the USPTO (search TESS and select the TDR button to view portions of the file wrapper), the box contains more correspondence than is reflected in the online search. (However, the files do not actually disclose the Colonel’s secret recipe—the application refers only to “an herb and spice blend,” of which the contents are a protected trade secret.)

No one is entirely sure why this box ended up at the Goodson Law Library. But the evidence suggests that the contents may have previously been in the files of area restaurateur Pete Rinaldi, the son of two prominent Durham restaurant owners (Pete Sr. and “Mama” Arline operated Rinaldi’s Grill, a beloved eatery among Duke students). In 1963, the younger Pete branched out on his own, paying $23,000 for the city’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise (see the former Ninth Street location). In just a few years, his business had grown to seven KFC franchises, which he sold to a competitor in 1969. A decade later, he opened his own eatery, Pete Rinaldi’s Fried Chicken, on Guess Road; that location closed in the 1980s, but the restaurant resurfaced in the Northgate Mall food court in 1989.

One might naturally suspect that the files are related to litigation between KFC and its former franchise operator over misappropriation of the famous secret recipe. However, Rinaldi and Colonel Sanders remained personal friends long after the 1969 sale of the Durham franchises—the Colonel even visited the grand opening of Rinaldi’s Guess Road location, and the pair frequently traveled together (with the Colonel in his trademark white suits, and Rinaldi in contrasting black suits). Perhaps Rinaldi was modeling his own trademark applications after his famous friend's, or perhaps he was preemptively trying to avoid infringement of the famous “eleven herbs and spices.” (For what it’s worth, long-time members of the Goodson Law Library staff maintain that Rinaldi’s fried chicken recipe was superior. Sadly, you cannot taste for yourself: the Northgate Mall location closed in 1990, less than a year before Rinaldi died of cancer.)

If you’d like to peruse the file wrappers, you’ll need to ask at the service desk for assistance—they’re in a locked area on Level 1. You might also wish to peruse biographies of the Colonel for further evidence of this Durham connection. The Duke University Libraries’ print collection is woefully small, but a catalog search for the subject keywords harland sanders and biography does return a 1982 bio, The Colonel: The Captivating Biography of the Dynamic Founder of a Fast-Food Empire (Perkins/Bostock TX910.5.S25 P4 1982). Regrettably, our collection does not include some additional promising titles in WorldCat, such as The Colonel’s Secret: Eleven Herbs and a Spicy Daughter or the 1981 KFC corporate biography, It Wasn’t All Gravy. But that’s why we have interlibrary loan service.

Additional sources:
  • David Newton, Rinaldi, 59, Bounces Back with Another Fried Chicken Shop, Durham Morning Herald, Oct. 22, 1989, at B1.
  • Rocky Rosen, Col. Sanders Protégé Dies at 61, Durham Herald-Sun, Nov. 20, 1991, at C1.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Working Stiffs"

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a fascinating segment about Mark Roesler, an intellectual property lawyer who made his career by representing dead celebrities (or as correspondent Steve Kroft rather tastelessly calls them, "working stiffs"). Roesler’s Indianapolis-based company CMG Worldwide manages and licenses the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Bettie Page, and Babe Ruth, to name just a few.

(read transcript)

Roesler’s work falls under a section of intellectual property law called the postmortem right of publicity. It’s an area of law that can elicit strong emotions from fans, particularly when dead celebrities’ images are used to endorse products that the celebrity would likely have not endorsed during life. (Sure, manly-man Steve McQueen might not mind starring in a postmortem ad for Ford Mustangs, but would he really have wanted his face adorning a $200 t-shirt from Dolce & Gabbana?) There has been a wealth of interesting case law on the topic, involving such celebs as Bela Lugosi, Elvis Presley, the Marx Brothers, and Marilyn Monroe. To learn more, check out chapter 9 of the “bible” on this topic, J. Thomas McCarthy’s The Rights of Publicity and Privacy (KF1262 .M42; also available on Westlaw as the RTPUBPRIV database).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A New Twist in Government Transparency

Earlier this month, the White House announced that for the first time in history, its visitor log will be made available to the public on a rolling 90-day delay. The automatic publication will begin with visits after September 15, which will be published by December 31, 2009; records of visits dating from the Obama inauguration to September 15 may now be requested on a case-by-case basis at http://www.whitehouse.gov/RequestVisitorRecords/.

The reversal comes after several lawsuits from advocacy groups, which sought information on visits by a number of health care industry executives. The Obama administration agreed to the “voluntary” disclosure policy in order to settle the lawsuits, but maintains the historical White House position that release of the visitor logs is not actually required under the Freedom of Information Act. (Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also resisted the release of visitor records during their time in office, and both relented only after legal pressures mounted. Story.)

Although the names of purely personal and “exceptionally sensitive” visitors will still be withheld from disclosure, the policy represents an important step toward greater government transparency. Researchers have long used publicly-available campaign contribution data as a tool for measuring the potential influence of particular special interests on an administration; it’s not hard to imagine incorporating data on White House visitors into such an assessment. Expect interesting mash-up projects from government watchdog groups like the Sunlight Foundation, OpenSecrets.org, and the Center for Public Integrity.

In the meantime, if you’d like to research similar lobbying and campaign finance data at the state politics level, check out Follow the Money, Unfluence, and the official sites of the election commissions in a particular state. (Unsurprisingly, most governors' visitor logs appear not to be posted online, although they may be subject to state FOIA requests. Check out WikiFOIA for tips on using a particular state’s open records laws.) Any other lobbying/campaign data sites that you like? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Did the Facebook Page Say to the Bar Examiner?

What did the Facebook page say to the bar examiner? Maybe more than you intended. Earlier this month, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners made waves by announcing that it will investigate the social networking profiles of applicants on a case-by-case basis. (This policy replaced a previous recommendation, which would have required all Florida bar applicants to submit a list of their social networking pages for review.) Will this policy lead other state bar examiners to follow suit? Only time will tell; for now, set those photo albums and status updates to "private".

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security after the character & fitness review is complete. Yesterday the New York Times ran a fascinating story about practicing attorneys who have been disciplined for the content of their Facebook profiles and blog posts, including a Florida attorney who was sanctioned for referring to the judge in his case as an "Evil, Unfair Witch." Another attorney in Texas, who had requested a trial delay to attend a funeral, was denied an extension after the judge noticed a distinct lack of grieving on the attorney's Facebook page. Cases like these have prompted many law firms to create guidelines for attorney social networking; this is something to keep in mind during interview season (and beyond).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Robot Law: Tomorrow's Trendy LLM?

Without a doubt, the most eye-catching title to arrive at the Goodson Law Library this summer was Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons (UG479 .K75 2009). Author Armin Krishnan assures us in his introduction that autonomous killing machines imagined by films like the Terminator franchise do not exist. For the next six chapters, though, he explores what would happen if they did. Far-fetched? Perhaps-- but as a result of the astonishing growth in remote-controlled military robots over the last decade, some researchers suggest that truly autonomous weapons could be developed by as early as 2025. Krishnan’s text focuses mostly on the historical development of robotics in the military and the ethical implications of using autonomous weaponry. Chapter 4, however, examines “The Legality of Autonomous Weapons,” considering possible implications on the field of international law.

Although Killer Robots looks a bit lonely on the Goodson Law Library’s shelf, it turns out to be just the latest entry in “robot scholarship”. Additional titles in the Duke Libraries’ catalog can be found with a subject keyword search for military robots; additional titles might be located under artificial intelligence or autonomous robots. Article searching for keywords like robots and law may turn up additional results, including the British Society for Computers and Law’s October/November 2008 Computers & Law cover story on the legal implications of autonomous weapons. (Unfortunately, the Duke Libraries do not subscribe to this title, so the truly curious will need to submit an interlibrary loan request.)

The Goodson Blogson can only hope that the current academic interest in military robots will usher in a sweeping new era of robot legal studies, in which every area of law must be examined through the prism of its robotic implications. For example, no debate on health care reform could be complete without considering Saturday Night Live’s 1995 dystopian vision of the impact of killer robots on insurance coverage:

But perhaps we will need to wait until 2025 for our dreams to become reality.

Monday, September 7, 2009

로앤비법률정보서비스 : Researching Korean Law

If you can read the title of this blog post, you can research on LAWnB Legal Information Service, a Korean-language portal to legal information which is now available to the Duke University community. LAWnB indexes more than 50 law-related topics, including statutes, precedents, administrative documents, and legal articles. For assistance using LAWnB, contact Miree Ku, Korean Studies Librarian at Perkins/Bostock Library (miree.ku@duke.edu).

If you require your Korean law in translation, though, you’re still in luck. Translated, historical versions of the constitutions for both the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) can be found in Constitutions of the Countries and Territories of the World, while other sources can be found in print in the Goodson Law Library.

Statutes of the Republic of Korea, a 20-volume set kept up to date by looseleaf pages, is available on Level 1 at the call number KPA13 1997. Historical statutes as well as treatises about South Korean law can be found nearby, in the call number range KPA1-KPA4990. (North Korean law books are classified under KPC1-KPC4990, although the Goodson Law Library’s collection will be much smaller.)

Keep in mind that there may be additional books about Korea located at other call numbers, particularly in interdisciplinary subjects (e.g., An Economic Approach to Korean Corporate Structure and Corporate Law, at HG4247 .K6 2007). To retrieve a complete listing of the available books on a particular topic, search the Duke University Libraries catalog. The catalog search will retrieve materials available in the Law Library as well as the other campus libraries, including the East Asian collection at Perkins/Bostock library.

The catalog will also display several Korean law journals, including Journal of Korean Judicature and Korea University Law Review. These journals can be found in the Law Library’s Periodicals collection on Level 4, organized alphabetically by title. Many provide English tables of contents, and some provide articles in English as well as Korean. vLex Global also contains a set of “Korea (South) Law Articles in English”, mostly on business and securities law topics. To access these, choose “See More” under “Contents by Country” and scroll down to Korea.

For assistance with researching legal materials from Korea (or any other country), just Ask a Librarian.