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Protected pleadings: Attorneys could copyright their documents, but should they? (access required)

Of course lawyers don't need anyone's blessing to copyright their own work. The question is, when they do, are their claimed rights enforceable? The short answer is yes, maybe. Intellectual property attorney John C. Nipp of Charlotte, N.C.-based Summa, Additon & Ashe told Lawyers Weekly that the requirements for obtaining a copyright are not strict. "It has to be a literary work in a tangible form of expression that involves some degree of creativity," he said. "Plenty of documents in the legal world meet that definition."

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Commentary: Patents and collectivism – Snowballs in Hades (access required)

"Nearly two years ago, I exhorted business owners and inventors to protect their intellectual property due to - not in spite of - the depressed economy. My suggestion still stands. However, the passage of time begs this question: is intellectual property - patents in particular - incompatible with policies that trend toward such things as 'redistribution of wealth' and 'universal health care?'," Greenville attorney Bernard Klosowski writes in a guest commentary.

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Homebuyers who profited and sued anyway get second chance (access required)

Robert and Susan Coake sold their Anderson property in January 2006, about a year before the housing market began its long tumble. They sold the property for $440,000 after purchasing it in 2004 from Kathleen Burt for $296,900. They enjoyed a nice profit, but in order to get it, they spent $38,390 on repairs and improvements - $10,090 of which they attributed to Burt's alleged failure to disclose certain defects in the property. The Coakes sued Burt alleging that she violated the Disclosure Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 27-50-80, by filling out a disclosure form but failing to alert them to the defects. Greenville attorney Kirsten E. Small (pictured) of Nexsen Pruet, who represented the Coakes, said the suit wasn't as much about the $10,090 as "the principle of not knowing what they were getting when they bought the house because of the disclosures."

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Better IOLTA rates boost Bar Foundation revenue (access required)

Buoyed by a midyear change in a state rule governing IOLTA interest rates, the S.C. Bar Foundation is enjoying the first uptick it's seen in IOLTA revenue since 2008. "We're seeing more revenues than we had last year, but in this low-interest-rate environment, it's certainly not the amount of revenues that we saw several years ago," said Shannon W. Scruggs (pictured), executive director of the foundation.

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With market still in the tank, real estate lawyers diversify (access required)

For many of South Carolina's real estate attorneys, the most recent housing and foreclosure reports probably won't boost their holiday spirits. Home sales plummeted nearly 26 percent statewide in October compared to a year ago, according to a report by S.C. Realtors. "I've been doing this for 17 years, and this is the worst I've seen this," attorney Trey Harrell (pictured), founding member of the Chapin firm of Harrell and Martin, told Lawyers Weekly in a recent interview. Harrell said that as recently as 2006, about 80 percent of the firm's business was connected to real estate. Now, that percentage has dropped to about 60 percent, he said. "If you're relying solely on real estate, you're asking for some sad times," he said.

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‘It’s not just lawyers’ – New SCDTAA leader says shortfall affects all (access required)

The next time Gray T. Culbreath takes to the halls of the State House to lobby on behalf of the S.C. Defense Trial Attorneys' Association, he will be speaking as the association's new president. His top priority: "I plan to be over at the State House with other leaders of the bar advocating for judicial funding," the Columbia attorney told Lawyers Weekly.

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Bar leaders hit the road to tackle profession’s issues (access required)

When he took office at the end of May, South Carolina Bar President Carl Solomon pledged to hit "the streets" as an advocate for better judicial funding. Now, six months later, he's on the road, traveling across the state to have frank conversations with lawyers about the funding crisis and other concerns they have about the state of the profession.

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Justices toss Greenville street preacher’s ‘disturbance’ conviction (access required)

The S.C. Supreme Court struck down a Greenville city prohibition against comments that "humiliate," "insult" and "scare" people, ruling it was too vague to be enforced and overturning the conviction of a man arrested while preaching against homosexuality. Samuel Harms (pictured), a Greenville lawyer who represented Bane, said the police officer testified that she arrested Bane because he was preaching against homosexuality. The officer testified she spent about an hour telling the preacher "what he could say under the city code and what he could not say under the city code," Harms said. "This is nothing more than the city of Greenville taking sides in the cultural debate over homosexuality, and they've sided with the homosexuals and they want to shut down any Christians that want to preach that homosexuality is a sin," Harms said.

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