With US News consistently ranking George Washington as one of the top Intellectual Property law schools in the nation, it is no surprise that the Giles Sutherland Rich Intellectual Property Law Competition is one of our most popular internal moot court competitions. The preliminary and semifinal rounds occurred this past weekend, the 9th and 10th of January 2010, with the final round to be held on January 19th. The team that wins the final round on the 19th will continue on to compete in the external regional round and then potentially the national round of the Giles Rich competition in March and April respectively. This year's national finals will be held here in Washington D.C.
Always a well participated-in competition, the number of Giles Rich participants has nearly doubled this year with twenty-eight teams competing for the chance to represent GW in the regional and national rounds. Moot Court Board President, Jocelyn Bond, attributes this spike in entrants to the efforts of new Associate Dean of Intellectual Property Law, Dean John Whealan. Bond says, "Dean Whealan has been a tremendous help in raising the profile of Giles Rich at GW Law School, particularly through its efforts to recruit top notch practitioners to serve as judges for our final round."
This year's Giles Rich student chairs are Jason Fitzsimmons and Patrick Stafford. Both are 2Ls and have been working extremely hard since September to organize a successful competition. The problem they came up with focuses on patent law in the field of alternate energy sources—specifically patenting processes to derive fuel additives from starchy foods. Competitors note that Fitzsimmons and Stafford wrote an excellent and challenging problem. One competitor, 3L Darrell Stark, said "the problem this year was well-written and has many intricacies that are sure to be good question points for the judges during oral argument." 2L Samhitha Muralidhar echoed this sentiment and added that as a student taking patent law during the competition, "it was interesting to see how the issues we touched on in class played out in the competition's fact pattern."
This seems to be the consensus when asking competitors why they chose Giles Rich over other moot court or mock trial competitions. Students across the board relish invaluable experience putting the abstract intellectual property concepts they've learned in the classroom to practical use. Even those who haven't taken patent law, which was the focus of this year's competition, welcomed the opportunity to put an interest in intellectual property to action. 2L Elizabeth Edwards became interested in soft intellectual property while working for a senator before coming to law school and plans to focus her studies there rather than on science-driven patent law. Still Edwards said, "Without ever taking Patent Law, this competition has been a bit challenging. [But] I'm a big fan of moot court generally, so I feel good about the competition. I think it's fun." (She did go on to add that she hopes she never has to say the words "tuber class solvents", a major part of the problem, again.)
Beyond grappling with a new scientific vocabulary, Edwards did lay out one critique: "It [felt] odd to write the briefs, then have about a month off before prepping for oral argument." This difficulty is no doubt good experience for the real world however, and Edwards reports that the weekend went well and that the judges were very fair.
The impressive teams moving on this year to the final round on January 19th are Kevin McGrath (2L) and Daniel Tucker (2L) representing the appellant, versus Jordan Faux (3L) and Benjamin Roberts (3L) for the appellee. The final panel will be Judge Randall Rader (US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), Judge Edward Damich (US Court of Federal Claims), and Dean John Whealan (Intellectual Property Law Studies). An Awards Reception will follow in Faculty Conference Center. One of the teams will then represent GW Law at the regional round and no doubt prove why we are always on top of the intellectual property heap.