Justice Chosen

Gov. Rick Perry didn’t have to look far to make his latest selection for the Texas Supreme Court. On Nov. 26, he chose his chief of staff, Jeff Boyd, to replace Dale Wainwright, who left the high court and is now a partner in Bracewell & Giuliani in Austin. Boyd also has served as Perry’s general counsel, a partner in Thompson & Knight in Austin, and a Texas assistant attorney general. His appointment is effective as of Dec. 3 for a term to expire at the next general election. Boyd says he can hardly wait to head across the Capitol lawn and start his new job, so he’s not wasting any time. “I’m very honored and excited to be heading over there. I don’t know any lawyer or litigator in Texas who wouldn’t consider that the epitome of opportunity,” says Boyd, who notes that he’ll be sworn in as a justice on Dec. 3 and begin work immediately. “It’s going to be a quick turnaround.” Boyd says he hopes to fit in on the court “as a colleague that helps bring and maintain a level of fairness and justice in the cases that come before us.”

Satellite Lands

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced Nov. 29 that it has chosen the Terminal Annex Building in downtown Dallas as the site for its new regional satellite office. The building is located at 207 S. Houston Street on the southern edge of Dealey Plaza. Back in July, the USPTO announced that it had chosen Dallas as the site for a new satellite office program created as part of a mandate by the America Invents Act of 2011, which required the USPTO to establish at least three regional satellite locations by September 2014 as part of a larger effort to modernize the U.S. patent system. The Dallas satellite office and other new satellite offices in Denver, Silicon Valley and Detroit are designed to reduce the backlog of patent applications and allow entrepreneurs and patent attorneys better access to patent examiners and to the USPTO’s comprehensive search databases. The opening date of the Dallas office has not yet been announced. “The Dallas-Fort Worth area is exceedingly rich in engineering talent, patent applicants, and patent grants, and boasts an above average population of potential Veteran employees. This office location positions us well to serve the broad innovation community throughout the Central time zone and the South,” writes David Kappos, undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, in a press release. Max Cicarelli, a partner in Dallas’ Thompson & Knight who is immediate past chairman of the Intellectual Property Section of the Dallas Bar Association, loves that the new office will be in downtown Dallas. “Downtown is working on revitalizing itself. It’s great for downtown Dallas and for Texas in general,” Cicarelli says. “This is part of the PTO’s and Kappos’ effort to reduce caseload by bringing in more examiners. And, additionally, it’s nice that we can have interviews here locally instead of in Washington. That’s a big help, as well.”

Sex Offender Sues

A married couple filed a federal suit on Nov. 20 against a condominium homeowners association, alleging that the association violated the couple’s 14th amendment rights by barring sex offenders from living in its complex. In their complaint in Theodore Whipple, et al v. Valley View Village Condominium Homeowners Association in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, the couple states that Theodore Whipple, the husband and one of the two plaintiffs, has been convicted and is registered as a sex offender based on an offense that occurred 20 years ago. The complaint alleges the homeowners association posted a notice on the couple’s door on Sept. 18, “announcing for the first time that registered sex offenders are not allowed to live in the condominium.” The complaint alleges that, on or around that day, Whipple, having been released from prison, began moving into an apartment in the complex. Also around that same time, the complaint alleges, the homeowners association’s board passed a rule attempting “to deny residence to all persons who are required to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry, on any property within Valley View within 2000 feet of any location at which children congregate.” The complaint alleges the newly passed rule “effectively denies all registered sex offenders, regardless of their risk level, the right to reside within Valley View.” The complaint alleges that the homeowners association, which acted like a government body, violated the couple’s 14th amendment rights, unlawfully infringed on Whipple’s wife’s right to alienate property and violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The couple seeks an injunction to stop the homeowners association from enforcing its newly created rule barring sex offenders. Lawyers for both sides decline comment: Fred Williams, a partner in the Austin office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld represents the couple, and Lance Lackey, of counsel at Niemann & Heyer in Austin, represents the homeowners association.