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THIS CAT, SANS HAT, IS JUICE FOR SEUSS In Karl ZoBell’s office is a Cat in a Hat, a Grinch, and a Sneetch (one of the star-bellied kind.) The Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich partner isn’t in his second childhood, but he does spend much of his time protecting the Dr. Seuss legacy. In fact, ZoBell represented Theodor Seuss Geisel, the artist and author known as Dr. Seuss, for some 30 years before Geisel’s death in 1991. Since then, the Dr. Seuss books and cast of characters have been protected in an intellectual property portfolio closely overseen by ZoBell, who is also on the board of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that manages the portfolio. On the board, ZoBell works alongside Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel, and the artist’s longtime agent. “I couldn’t have a better client and such a fun context in which to work,” said ZoBell, who also has a hand in the upcoming “Cat in The Hat” movie. “I didn’t think 40 years ago or even 15 years ago that I would be an entertainment lawyer,” ZoBell said. Nevertheless, he got to work on both the blockbuster movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” as well as the forthcoming “Cat in the Hat,” starring Mike Myers. Because he’s the keeper of Dr. Seuss images, ZoBell has to read and approve the scripts and the overall look and feel of the characters and sets. The script for “Cat in the Hat” took eight rewrites, he said, because of the challenge moviemakers faced in turning a book that can be read in a few minutes into a 90-minute film. Representing the writer of such classic tales as “Horton Hears A Who!” and “ And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” wasn’t always so glamorous. ZoBell started out representing Geisel in a real estate transaction and the relationship blossomed over the years. The Dr. Seuss legacy centers on the 44 books Geisel wrote and illustrated. Making extra cash from licensing Dr. Seuss characters was never a goal of the author or the holding company that protects his work. It wasn’t until unflattering Dr. Seuss images started popping up that ZoBell was put to work policing their use. In order to protect the copyrights, Dr. Seuss Enterprises also had to participate in the marketing of licensing agreements, ZoBell said. So, the company engaged in some 60 licensing deals, allowing Dr. Seuss characters to appear in educational materials, on children’s clothing and in movies. Still, that’s a fraction of the exposure the company could get for the images, ZoBell said. ZoBell and Seuss’s widow are concerned that the images will become overexposed and children will lose interest, so they proceed very carefully with licensing deals. And that way, the books, all of which are still in print, remain the core of Dr. Seuss’ memory, he said. In fact, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” lands on best-seller lists each May and June, ZoBell said, because people buy the book as graduation gifts. — Renee Deger HEALTHIER LIVES Providing legal services to the HIV/AIDS community has become markedly more complex over the past 10 years. While better medical care means longer, healthier lives, the demand has risen for legal services to help people collect disability, get Social Services insurance benefits and deal with a host of employment law challenges. San Francisco’s Positive Resource Center began working with people with HIV/AIDS in 1987, and says it helps more than 2,500 people every year. In the late 1980s, few of the center’s clients felt they had a future, so its main job was helping people collect benefits until they died. But that’s not the case anymore. “When protease inhibitors kicked in, people all of a sudden had a future,” said Mairi McKeever, a former PRC staff attorney who now serves on the center’s board of directors. “People started wanting to go back to work, so we had to deliver employment resources.” To achieve this, the center merged with another clinic that provided employment legal services, and it’s been jumping ever since. The clinic saw 546 job placements in 2001, including 143 long-term placements. In addition to helping people get jobs, the clinic also holds workshops and does career-planning counseling. But a healthier HIV/AIDS community has made dealing with private insurance carriers and the federal government more complex. McKeever said that because people with HIV/AIDS are living longer, the government and private insurance companies have sought new ways to disqualify their clients from collecting benefits. “People on long-term disability — their carriers are cutting their benefits arbitrarily, just seeing who will fight back,” McKeever said. “There has been a huge increase in private carriers who say [a client's] health has improved, so they aren’t disabled anymore.” In addition, like most businesses, the clinic has faced tough financial times and had to lay off 30 percent of its staff in 2001. “We often have to close down our new clients list when it gets six months out,” said McKeever. — Jason Dearen APOLOGY HOAX Last week, a Web site claiming to be the home page of a Southern California law firm carried a conciliatory message to Los Angelinos. The site said the Trevor Law Group, which is currently under investigation for allegedly abusing the Unfair Competition Law (also known as Business and Professions Code � 17200), wanted to make nice by donating $40,000 to the Boy Scouts and a local food bank. As quickly as the statement was picked up by those following the controversy over the lawyers’ activities, the message was determined to be a hoax. It appeared Tuesday morning at www.trevorlawgroup.com. Besides offering money, it also pledged “limited pro bono legal services to those businesses most seriously affected by our actions.” The Civil Justice Association of California quickly put out a statement criticizing the Web site, then retracted it when the real Trevor Law Group in Beverly Hills disavowed any connection. Lawyers there didn’t return calls to discuss whether they ever had control of the domain name. The hoax page was taken down Friday morning. A quick Internet search revealed the hoaxer seems to have an ironic sense of humor. Some of the coding for the site appears to be lifted from the homepage of another lawyer under investigation, Brian Kindsvater of Sacramento. And, public records show that whoever registered the site used a fake address and even managed to misspell Chatsworth, a small town near Simi Valley. The fake street address given in the domain name registry — “1435 JohnKen Wy.” — is an inside joke to anyone following the recent debate over the law. “John” and “Ken” are the first names of two radio talk show hosts who are crusading to sanction the Trevor Law Group and change the much-used state law. — Jeff Chorney SCHOOL CLASS The ACLU of Northern California filed a class action challenging the round-up of approximately 60 students at James Logan High School in Union City on Feb. 22, 2002. The students were gathered, detained for up to two hours, searched, interrogated and photographed by Union City police officers and school officials, according to the suit, which was filed on behalf of three students. “These high school students, most of them Latino or Asian, were subjected to the most humiliating kind of treatment: They were rounded up, patted down, forced to let officials search their backpacks and purses, and then interrogated and photographed by the police so that they could be added to a gang database, when there was no justification for any of these actions,” said Ann Brick, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. Brick said the school’s actions were “a blatant violation of the students’ Fourth Amendment rights.” “I think it is very disturbing when our kids are treated like this,” said Ron Prentice, a parent of one of the plaintiffs. The suit is seeking a permanent injunction against any future detentions, searches, seizures, interrogations and photographing of students without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and orders the officials to expunge any records, files and/or databases containing information gathered on Feb. 22, 2002. It also asks the court to issue an order requiring the Union City police to return the photographs they took that day. “School officials and the police have an obligation to respect students’ constitutional rights,” said John Hansen, attorney with Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott, who is working with the ACLU on a pro bono basis in representing the students. — Recorder Staff

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