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March 22, 2007

The majesty of the law

It's not every day that a federal court of appeals issues a decision containing a line like this:

Somewhat to our surprise, it turns out that there is a niche market for farting dolls, and it is quite lucrative.
(via How Appealing)

The decision, issued by the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday, was in a case with the rather innocuous caption, JCW Investments, Inc., d/b/a Tekky Toys v. Novelty, Inc., and after I quote the opening paragraph, I'll clue you in on a interesting fact.
Meet Pull My Finger® Fred. He is a white, middle-aged, overweight man with black hair and a receding hairline, sitting in an armchair wearing a white tank top and blue pants. Fred is a plush doll and when one squeezes Fred’s extended finger on his right hand, he farts. He also makes somewhat crude, somewhat funny statements about the bodily noises he emits, such as “Did somebody step on a duck?” or “Silent but deadly.”
The interesting fact is that the opinion, holding that Fartman infringed the copyright of Pull My Finger Fred, was written by Judge Diane P. Wood, the only woman on the panel. Though, perhaps, this might explain why the opinion expressed surprise that there was a lucrative market in farting dolls.

You can get some more background about the case here.

But no discussion of the case would be complete without describing (and quoting) the beginning of the oral argument of this case in the Seventh Circuit, which you can download here in MP3 format by clicking at the link labeled "Oral Argument."

You'll hear the presiding judge call the case by name. There's a 25-second period in which you hear what sounds like the rustling of papers, but if you listen carefully, you can also hear, very indistinctly, someone calling out something in the background. And I'm pretty sure I know, generally, what it was, because the argument continued this way:
THE COURT: Mr. Lueders?

MR. LUEDERS: Yes, your Honor?

THE COURT: I guess we've heard the first sentence of your argument.


MR. LUEDERS: Indeed. My client has decided to represent himself pro se. May it please the court, I along with my partner, Dr. Lisa Hiday, represent Fartman and Fartboy.
And you thought the argument in "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was interesting.