Court of Petty Appeals: Student Body of UVa v. Thimpson Sacher

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court is comprised of four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to jmg3db@virginia.edu.

Student Body of UVa1 v. Thimpson Sacher2 

27 U.Va. 203 (2017)

ZABLOCKI, J., delivered the opinion of a unanimous Court.

The case at bar comes to us on appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, which held this subject matter to be too highly specialized. This matter arises out of events which occurred last Thursday, September 7, during Bar Review and an otherwise generic Thursday night at Bilt. As the entire law school wearily acknowledges, the 2Ls are in the latter phases of OGI, which for many involves offers / offer dinners / accepting offers (note: WE DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE). Thimpson Sacher’s was among those offer dinners hosted in Charlottesville. In addition to free food and alcohol, the representatives of Thimpson Sacher plied attendee-offerees with baseball softball hats that from the front appear as ordinary UVa hats.3 This Court supports uninhibited displays of school spirit, no matter how dismally crushed those spirits may be upon game’s end or, you know, one quarter in. However, the backs of these hats were emblazoned with the true name of party “Thimpson Sacher” (see Exhibit 1). Subsequently, the Thimpson Sacher contingent picked up and headed over to the venerable establishment known as Bilt, where, in keeping with the high-falutin’ nature of the establishment, various offerees succumbed to the urge to dance on tables while wearing the afore-described caps.4 This gives rise to the two claims on which this Court now passes judgment.

 Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 1.

First, the Student Body of UVa claims trademark infringement under the Lanham Act for unauthorized use of a “V” that is confusingly similar to the UVa logo in connection with promotion of Thimpson Sacher’s services of eliminating happiness from the lives of otherwise content young attorneys (“in the experience of those who have walked through that door, waited in the security line, taken the elevator up, walked through another door, successfully completed a maze of cubicles, and perched upon an uncomfortable chair at a cluttered desk in a shared office . . . Big Law’s true purpose is to make life misery for recent law school graduates, even in comparison to their law school experiences, the provision of legal services being merely incidental to this goal.5 And so this Court finds.” Georgetown University Law Center Graduates 2013-16 v. Big Law, 273 F. 3d. 123 (D.C. Cir. 2017)). The base elements of a trademark infringement action are satisfied by (1) holding of a valid mark, which, it’s an orange “V” and we’re in Charlottesville so not even disputed, (2) having priority (Tommy J., 1743-1826 vs. Thimpson Sacher, founded 188X . . . yeah, math checks out, also undisputed), and (3) likelihood of confusion. This latter element is the source of contention. The Student Body strenuously objects to Thimpson Sacher’s casual appropriation on basis of each likelihood of confusion (“We don’t want people thinking we’re with the miserables over there.”) and dilution (“Do you really not get it? School sucks but we still have a reputation for being happy-ish people.”).  

It is unclear from the reception invitation Thimpson Sacher emailed in answer to the Student Body’s complaint whether or not permission was obtained from the school administration prior to customizing and distributing said hats. It is possible that “V” Thimpson Sacher gave up before they started and intended this invitation as a conciliatory outreach, but it wasn’t taken as such and so this Court takes full notice. Regardless, the Student Body disputes the validity of any authorization that may have been given. Being composed largely of current/future employees of competing firms, the Student Body demands a say in the use of a logo that derives value from goodwill that exists because, well, the Student Body is so good, and also because each member thereof pays $60,000 annually for tuition, thereby sustaining the logo. This much being obvious to anyone with the logical capacity of J. Jani a Thanksgiving turkey,6 this Court notes that Thimpson Sacher is equally liable regardless of any attempt to obtain permission because willful ignorance is not a defense. See, something in 1L crim, may that class rot in hell eternally.7 Therefore, on this first claim, this Court finds Thimpson Sacher liable to the nth degree; damages TBD.

The second claim brought by the Student Body against Thimpson Sacher is for inciting douchebaggery among its offerees, who also happen to be members of the Student Body. Though the base elements are the same as those requisite to a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, incited douchebaggery is distinct from IIED in that the emotional distress is determined according to a reasonable person standard rather than the subjective experiences of the victim, whose proximity to the events occurring may be as distant as shared group affiliation. Additionally, the emotional distress suffered can be shame and embarrassment. The tort of inflicted douchebaggery extends from the tort of douchebaggery, in some jurisdictions known as hurt feelings.  UVA Law Class of 2022 v. UVA Law Faculty, xx __ xxx (TBD, 2018) (“This Court acknowledges even the iciest of special little snowflakes may suffer on the hot seat of professorial cold calls; truly extreme examples of such may result in liability for the tort known as douchebaggery. However, this Court warns that such liability could result in legend status for the professor and probs backfire against plaintiff-victim, so really, just do the reading—we’re not here to help.”). Regardless, inflicted douchebaggery typically involves pain and suffering (mental, emotional, or otherwise) of a group of three or more people.

The base elements of IIED corresponding to the base elements of incited douchebaggery are easily satisfied by this fact set. Defendant’s intent is clear from embroidery of “V” and its own name in garish orange and white thread; this conduct was outrageous in the extreme, given reasonable knowledge both the group constituting offerees—to get drunk and dance on tables—and of the group constituting non-offerees—the majority of whom are generally nice, not obnoxious folk who would be appalled by the conduct incited; there is enough distress that we have been forced to take judicial notice;8 and now the Student Body as a whole is suffering severe shame at being associated with the actors in the events of September 7. This Court comprising mostly reasonable individuals who are in no way biased by their membership in the Student Body, we do not hesitate in applying a reasonable-person standard and recoiling in horror at the douchebaggy behavior on display on Bilt’s tabletops last Thursday. Parading around your offers of Big Law jobs with full knowledge there are people nearby who neither know nor, more importantly, care to know about your success is the very definition of douchebaggery. While We hesitate to call classmates douchebags, these individuals are certainly guilty of the crime of douchebaggery and We are ashamed at sharing grounds with them.9

Having determined Thimpson Sacher’s liability on both counts, this Court now turns to the matter of damages. Compensatory damages being impossible to determine, this Court will solely award punitive damages, which it acknowledges will do little to assuage the Student Body but tough shit. It is henceforth decreed that should Thimpson Sacher dare to darken our doors during OGI 2018 and onwards, the firm’s representatives shall leave their hats behind and bring not only Bodo’s, but also donuts. And not just any donuts, DUCK DONUTS. Because what’s up with firms bringing bagels and no donuts??

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amz2ez@virginia.edu

1 Excluding offerees and current/future employees of Thimpson Sacher.

2 A pseudonym to protect against sullying the name of a party not yet shown to bear liability against the wrath of Career Services, those godlike beings who make it rain for us in a way the inhabitants of Mount Olympus only ever aspired to.  See In Rem Noah’s Flood.

3 To which, hoo would object?

4 To those who didn’t . . . you have a defense; use it.

5 Congrats on hitting your target, we guess?

6 The logical ones realize it’s Thanksgiving and hide before they can be turned into Thanksgiving turkeys, DUH.

7 Hi Ferzan.

8 Given that we DGAF about all y’all’s bitching and moaning, this says a lot.  In fact, it says it all.

9 Unfortunately, charges have not been formally brought against these individuals, so we can only hope that shame at being the source of the Student Body’s shame is sufficient punishment.  And karma.  She’s a bitch, in case you haven’t heard.