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Law School wins national championship in intellectual property moot court competition

The University of Texas School of Law has won the 40th Annual Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition. To seal its victory, the Law School’s team of Colleen Bloss, ’13, and Yingying Zeng, ’14, defeated the University of Pennsylvania Law School on April 19, 2013, in the final round of competition in Washington, D.C. This prestigious and rigorous competition is sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). The AIPLA is the premier professional development organization for intellectual property lawyers in the country.

The AIPLA competition culminates in a round judged by members of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the court devoted to adjudicating all appeals involving intellectual property law issues. For the AIPLA competition, members of the two-person team must write two distinct briefs—one for the appellant, one for the appellee. Both advocates then participate in oral argument before panels of judges on both sides of the appeal. The competition problem routinely involves complex intellectual property law issues, simulating cases that would be appealed to the Federal Circuit, the only subject-matter-specific federal appellate court. The competition is named for Judge Giles Sutherland Rich, who was the Federal Circuit’s first chief judge. This year’s problem involved a claim for patent infringement against sellers of a smart-phone mapping application.

Both Bloss and Zeng plan to pursue careers in intellectual property litigation. Bloss, who will graduate in May, will join a Texas-based national litigation boutique that specializes in high-stakes intellectual property litigation, McKool Smith. Bloss will exit Law School having amassed several prestigious advocacy awards—including admission to the Order of Barristers and a 2013 Niemann Cup award in addition to this national championship. Zeng, as a rising 2L, has been awarded an Advocacy Scholarship in honor of her achievements.

On April 22, 2013, the University’s Tower will be lit burnt orange to recognize the Law School’s advocacy champions.

“The Law School is very proud of these students’ commitment to excellence in oral and written advocacy,” said director of interscholastic moot court, Gretchen Sween, ’03. “Their investment in this demanding extracurricular endeavor has earned them well-deserved accolades and the school they represent is delighted to be able to bask in their burnt-orange glory! Their success will also accrue to the benefit of the IP bar they will soon join.”

This championship team was coached by Shalla Santos Sluyter, ’06, and Meredith Fitzpatrick, ’07. Sluyter and Fitzpatrick themselves represented the Law School in this same competition as students, winning a national championship in 2006. Since graduating, Sluyter has coached several moot court teams for the Law School, including the 2009 and 2011 champions in the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Uvaldo Herrera National Moot Court Competition. Fitzpatrick practices at an intellectual property law boutique, Daffer McDaniel LLP, in Austin. The proud coaches will join Bloss and Zeng for the Tower lighting on April 22.

The Law School’s participation in interscholastic moot court competitions is made possible in part by The David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy. The new Beck Center was launched last spring with the generous support of David J. Beck, ’65. Beck is a life trustee of the Law School Foundation, founder of the litigation boutique Beck Redden LLP, and a nationally recognized trial lawyer.

Contact: Gretchen Sween, gsween@law.utexas.edu

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