BLIP clinic students, led by Professor Jonathan Askin, have been busy supporting the innovative tech startups of Brooklyn and are understandably quite proud when their client’s young businesses take off, gaining traction in the media and winning notable victories in uncharted areas of internet law.
“Our clinic has been around for five years already, so we have seen a number of our startup clients grow their ventures successfully,” said Askin. “Our students get to see the direct results of their work as these companies develop and come into their own.”
Recently, a BLIP client, Kicker, has been attracting some media attention. Kicker, an online media venture focused on educating teens about current affairs, was started by Holly Ojalvo, a Brooklyn-based entrepreneur and former New York Times editor. Ojalvo came to BLIP with the idea to make the news accessible and engaging to teenagers, a population that, as studies have shown, is not paying attention to important news and events. BLIP provided Kicker with transactional assistance in forming the venture, reviewed intellectual property issues on their behalf and continues to provide Kicker with counseling as the venture grows.
“We think Kicker is a great idea and we are pleased to be providing them with legal support,” said Askin. “BLIP students have been counseling Kicker since its inception and it’s nice to see them getting some media attention as the concept really takes off.”
Another BLIP client, Chick Fil A Foundation, recently won a victory in a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution case (UDRP) against Chick-fil-A, the national fast food chain. Students in the BLIP clinic conducted research and drafted pleadings in defense of their clients Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler, two New York based comedians and parodists who created a website to criticize the controversial views expressed by Chick-fil-A and its president with regards to same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A’s parent company, CFA Properties, Inc. brought the UDRP claim challenging Selvig and Davram’s rights in the domain name, arguing that it was confusingly similar to their trademark and that it was registered in bad faith. In response, students in BLIP, in partnership with the Dumbo law firm of Lewis & Lin, argued that their clients had a legitimate right and interest in the domain name as they were simply exercising their First Amendment right of free speech and their right to criticize the controversial views expressed by Chick-fil-A. They also argued that the company could not prove bad faith, as Selvig and Stiefler were not seeking to commercially benefit from the website.
“BLIP students won this victory for the clients in the end by drawing a line between lawful parody and unlawful satire,” said Askin. “This was a great experience for students to defend clients in an actual case and really get a feel for the complexities at the intersection of internet law and free speech.”
BLIP has several events planned for the spring including hosting a Brooklyn Tech Meetup in late January, a Legal Hackers event in April, and in March, another installment of its popular “Future plus 30” series in which BLIP designates a subject and ponders what that subject will be like in 30 years.