Even Punxsutawney Phil Needs a Lawyer

Punxsutawney Phil is not merely a celebrity groundhog, he’s a trademark that needs protection. A trademark search on TESS—the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System—reveals that “Punxsutawney Phil” is a trademark owned by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Inc.

Jeff Lundy, a member of the club’s “Inner Circle” since 1990, is also the attorney responsible for sending out cease and desist letters to those who attempt to misappropriate Phil’s trademark. While Lundy’s practice involves more than protecting this woodchuck’s mark, according to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Phil is definitely his “No. 1 client.” In an interview, Lundy said: “Some lawyers have the opportunity to argue before the United States Supreme Court . . . .  But only one represents Punxsutawney Phil.”

Happy Groundhog Day!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Law Library will have limited hours:  noon-10:00 PM.  The Reference Office will be closed.

In 1983, fifteen years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law. The holiday was first observed in January, 1986.  It took another 17 years for every state to recognize the holiday.  In 1994, the holiday was designated a day of service under the direction of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

For resources about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visit the King Center Website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated pursuant to a proclamation issued by President George Washington. An 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday of November as the regular date for this celebration.

That tradition continued until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the holiday would be celebrated on the second to last Thursday of November.  President Roosevelt was concerned that celebrating the holiday on the last Thursday of the month, which in 1939 was the last day of the month, would shorten the Christmas shopping season thus interferring with the country’s economic recovery.  Not surprisingly, this change prompted much controversy, including a split among states, a majority following the President but others refusing to change the date. (Listen to an NPR story about this change here).

On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a joint congressional resolution, known as the Thanksgiving Day Act (55 Stat. 862) establishing Thanksgiving as a Federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the law library will have reduced hours:

  • Wed. Nov. 23 9:00am-5:00pm, References Services available 9:00am-2:00pm
  • Thurs. Nov. 24 Closed
  • Fri. Nov. 25 Closed
  • Sat. Nov. 26 Noon-6:00pm
  • Sun. Nov. 27 11:00am-11:00pm, Reference Services Available 2:00pm-9:00pm

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

Veterans Day

Veterans Day, a holiday for Federal employees, will be observed on Friday, November 11.  All GMU Law Library services will operate on a normal Friday schedule: the library will be open 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Reference Services will be available 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website provides links to veterans-related legislation (106th-111th Congress) available on Thomas, the Library of Congress site for legislative information.  Additional information regarding congressional action related to veterans issues may be found on the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ web pages.

Other resources related to the legal rights of veterans include:

Board of Veterans Appeals:  Part of the Veterans Administration, this web page includes links to forms and BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims:  This Court reviews certain BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:  This Court’s jurisdiction includes review of UCAVC decisions.

Labor Day

In observance of Labor Day, the Law Library will be closed on Monday, September 5.

Want more information about Labor Day: the U.S. Department of Labor website is a good place to start. The DOL also provides statutory, regulatory, and general information about issues that come under its jurisdiction, including:  wage & hours, occupational health & safety, worker’s compensation, whistleblowing, and family leave.

Find a “Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor” here.

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  But what exactly is this document?  It is printed in Statutes at Large.  It is included in the the United States Code as one of  “The Organic Laws of the United States of America.”  It has been mentioned periodically in Supreme Court decisions. Not surprisingly, the relevance of this document has been the subject of some debate in the legal academy. “Declaration of Independence” as a title search in HeinOnline will yield several articles.      

Visit the National Archives website to view images of the Declaration of Independence and to read a brief history of this document.  The original is housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.  You can also view a 1998 video of then members of the Supreme Court reading the complete text.

The law library will be closed on July 4th in observance of Independence Day.  Enjoy the fireworks!

Memorial Day

In observance of Memorial Day, the Law Library will close at 6 pm on Sunday, May 29 and remain closed on Monday, May 30.

A brief Memorial Day History is available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Website.  Also of interest may be two famous Memorial Day speeches delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one in 1884 and the other addressed to the graduating class at Harvard Law School in 1895.  PDFs of these speeches are available using The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises Database (GMULS users link to this database here).  Select Advanced Search>Enter Title “Speeches,” Author “Oliver Wendell Holmes.”

And where is Memorial Day officially designated a Federal holiday? Title 36 of the United States Code includes statutes relating to “Patriotic and National Observances.” 36 U.S.C. § 116 designates the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.