I do not understand how groups of people who did not sit through the George Zimmerman trial, did not hear the testimony of all of the witnesses, did not view all of the exhibits, and did not read the instructions of law from the Court, can legitimately gather to protest, picket and disagree with the unanimous verdict of a jury of citizens who did. Sometimes people think they know and understand more than they do. Sometimes people become energized by publicity or over a cause they can get behind. Sometimes people make assumptions about the motives and reasoning of others that may or may not be accurate. Perhaps these forces are at work here. Still, I tip my cap to a system of government that is driven by the rule of law, and not the will of the loudest voices, yet still lets those who choose to voice dissent do so freely. The only sure conclusion from all of this: We live in a great country.
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A story published in the American Bar Association Journal highlights a recent trend in the area of patent law, known as “patent privateering.” It seems that a number of small companies have been formed, the sole business of which is to purchase patents from the dustbins of giant companies, not so that they may manufacture and market the product, but so that they can then sue others who are doing so for patent infringement. Critics say that the practice does not fulfill the policy of patent law, to reward the efforts of those who develop ideas for a better world. Proponents disagree, saying the purchase and sale of patents is just like the purchase and sale of any other type of property, such as mortgage debt, credit card debt, or commodities, and the purchase and enforcement of the rights of the patent holder serves to legitimize the value of that being sold, so as to reward its development.
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The parents of two people killed in a Kansas City shooting spree filed suit against the gun shop that sold the shooter the ammunition used in the shooting, claiming that the ammunition was purchased by the shooter with a stolen credit card, and therefore the gun shop knew or should have known that the transaction represented a risk of serious injury. Under the Federal “Commerce in Arms Act,” the seller of ammunition can only be held liable in limited circumstances. In this case, the plaintiffs contended that the sale of the ammo constituted “negligent entrustment,” one of the circumstances where a seller can be held liable. In a decision handed down last week, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, noting that under Missouri Law, the sale of a product does not constitute negligent entrustment. The Court reasoned that negligent entrustment can only occur where the entruster retains ownership, and thus control, of the instrumentality causing the damage or injury, which is not the case with a sale and transfer of ownership. Thus, case dismissed. It wouldn't surprise me if this case ends up being transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court for review.
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at krgarten@yahoo.com