Friday, December 26, 2014

Patently Devious

One of the newest titles in the Goodson Law Library is Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America (KF3116 .B43 2015), by Brooklyn Law School professor Christopher Beauchamp. This engaging, accessible work details the legal battles surrounding the invention of the telephone, giving a fascinating history of American patent law in the process.

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell's patent for Improvement of Telegraphy (No. 174,465) was approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO). It was an unusually fast approval process, with three applications hand-delivered by Bell's lawyer on February 14, mere hours before a competing application was submitted by engineer Elisha Gray. Bell's legal maneuvering strongly suggested that an unknown informant within the PTO was assisting efforts to beat Gray to the telephone patent. Subsequent litigation reached the U.S. Supreme Court twice in 1888, first with The Telephone Cases (126 U.S. 1),  and then with United States v. American Bell Telephone Corp. (128 U.S. 315). Beauchamp untangles these lawsuits and analyzes their aftermath in a way that should appeal to even intellectual property novices.

For further reading on the history of patent law, search the Duke Libraries Catalog with a subject keyword search for patent laws and legislation and history. To learn more about modern patent law, consult the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

World Treaty Library Now Available in HeinOnline

The Goodson Law Library has just added the new World Treaty Library to its HeinOnline subscription. Members of the Duke University community can access the new library from the HeinOnline Welcome screen.

This library includes digital versions of many important treaty indexes and compilations, including the League of Nations Treaty Series (L.N.T.S.), the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.), and the Kavass (KAV) treaty collection. Of particular interest to historical treaty researchers is Wiktor's Multilateral Treaty Calendar, 1648-1995, which extends the library's historical reach to the mid-17th century. In all, Hein estimates that more than 180,000 treaty records are available through this library.

Long-time treaty researchers will likely appreciate the convenience of a single source for searching and accessing the text of historical treaties. (For example, one foreign & international law librarian described the collection as "a truly monumental library" in a review published this month on the blog DipLawMatic Dialogues.) Even novice treaty researchers should find the Treaty Index search feature to be easy to use; its 12 search options include keyword or full text, citation, countries/party, and even place or date of signature. The Browse Options also simplify navigation through the default Treaty Index search, separate landing pages specifically for U.S. or U.N. treaty collections, or collections of treatises and articles on international law topics.

HeinOnline has prepared a 7-minute training video to help users navigate the new library. For further assistance with treaty research, consult the Goodson Law Library research guide to Treaties or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Law Students

'Tis the season for holiday shopping! If you are still in search of the perfect gift for the legal eagles in your life, check out the Goodson Blogson's suggestions. Blogger Reid Trautz's 10th edition of his annual gift guide at Reid My Blog has higher-end gifts for lawyers covered, so our gift guide focuses on affordable items which should appeal to law students.

If your law student is also a Supreme Court geek, the Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop is always worth a browse. It's made our shopping list every year for good reason – there is a wide variety of Court-themed books, ornaments, office accessories, and even glassware. SCOTUS-lovers might also enjoy National Public Radio’s Warhol-esque tribute to its Legal Affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg – the Nina Totin' Bag.

The "Notorious R.B.G." meme hit the mainstream this fall, with cheerful approval from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself. There are a few variations on the Notorious R.B.G. t-shirt out there, but this one is sold by the makers of the original Tumblr. (Another law-related social media phenomenon, Twitter's Kanye WestLaw, offers its "Law So Hard" t-shirt in black or blue for both men's and ladies' sizing.)

Also in apparel: if your law student still mourns the end of Breaking Bad and/or is just counting the days until the 2015 debut of its prequel spin-off Better Call Saul, the series' gift shop offers a walking advertisement for shady lawyer Saul Goodman's practice. (If you're also shopping for some sci-fi/fantasy fans and want to combine shipments, the same shirt is also available through ThinkGeek.)

Legal history buffs might like the Library of Congress's Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, a companion book to the current exhibit featured in the Goodson Blogson last month. (A Magna Carta coffee mug is also available.)

On the lighter side of legal history are the head-scratching tchotchkes at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library gift shop, including a stackable head-and-top hat salt-and-pepper shaker set...or perhaps an Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln figurine salt-and-pepper shaker set. (The site also includes jams and jellies from Mary Todd Lincoln's own recipes and a Log Cabin play set.)

If you need stocking stuffers, the Lucky Bar Exam Pencil set on Etsy is sure to be a hit for either the holidays or graduation. The American Bar Association's "Little Book of ___ Law" publication series might not fit into every stocking, but could contain a fun idea for a small gift if your recipient is interested in one of the 17 available topics (including movies, fashion, and even BBQ).

Finally, most law students would certainly appreciate a trusty gift card to help purchase pricey spring semester casebooks (and perhaps a few select other goodies for themselves). But did you know your Amazon purchases can do double-duty through the Amazon Smile program for charitable organizations? Simply log in to, and select a charity before shopping. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase to a worthy organization on its list – which, if you want to stick with our theme, includes more than 700 legal aid providers in the United States.

For more gift ideas, explore the New York Times' interactive 2014 Gift Guide, review the daily updates to the best online sales at Kinja Deals, or check out the many law-themed gifts at The Billable Hour. Happy holidays to all our readers!