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Former Mayor Wants View From Behind the Bench

Will Los Angeles lawyers soon be referring to James Hahn as “your honor”? The former Los Angeles mayor announced last week that he is seeking a position on the Los Angeles Superior Court bench.

Currently, Hahn is a neutral at Los Angeles-based conflict resolution provider Alternative Resolution Centers LLC.

If he is appointed to the bench, Hahn will be bucking the trend of retired judges going into the lucrative world of private mediation.

“The money isn’t much of an incentive,” said Amy Newman, president of Alternative Resolution Centers. “His heart is in the public sector.”

Before winning his seat as mayor in 2001, Hahn was L.A. city attorney for four terms.

Hahn ended his 24-year tenure in politics in 2005 when he lost his re-election bid to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

After spending time as managing director and partner at real estate investment firm Chadwick Saylor & Co., Hahn joined Alternative Resolution Centers in January. As a neutral, Hahn resolves business, finance and public policy disputes.

Newman said Hahn has started building a reputation as a mediator since he joined Alternative Resolution six months ago. And Newman said the skills he developed resolving disputes will help him on the bench.

“Anything that he has accomplished here transfers to being a judge,” she said. “But I hate to see him go.”


International Addition

Los Angeles-based Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP is opening a Singapore office, and the new outpost means at least one of the firm’s lawyers will have a place to work when traveling to the island.

Jai Pathak, a transactional lawyer who will serve as partner-in-charge of the Singapore office, already spends a substantial amount of his time in Southeast Asia to advise clients.

“The reality is, that even though I am based in L.A., I have been going there at least once a month,” Pathak said.

But Pathak said he doesn’t mind traveling. When he practiced at Jones Day LLP’s L.A. office, he often traveled to Southeast Asia.

So after joining Gibson Dunn in February, Pathak continued his routine, going to Singapore to counsel his telecommunications, hospitality and pharmaceutical industry clients.

Pathak will be joined in the Singapore office by three former Jones Day partners, Emad Khalil, John Viverito and Saptak Santra.

The new group is filled with some familiar faces for Pathak, who worked with the trio during his 24-year tenure at Jones Day.

“I am not responsible for them coming, but they are very talented and experienced attorneys with tremendous practices in the region,” Pathak said.

The Singapore office will be staffed by six associates in addition to the partners. The group of lawyers will focus on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, energy and infrastructure financing, real estate and private equity.

“Many of our clients have chosen Singapore as their headquarters for Asia or Southeast Asia,” said Ken Doran, managing partner of Gibson Dunn.

The firm, which houses 950 attorneys in 15 offices, has been continuing to increase its international presence in the past year.

At the end of 2007, Gibson Dunn opened a Dubai office, which was also established to advise clients on financing, real estate investment and litigation.

“There is tremendous synergy between Dubai, South East Asia, India and Singapore,” Doran said. “And our clients are increasing their activity in those parts of the world.”


Slip ‘n Slide

For most adults, the name Slip ‘n Slide brings back memories of gliding down a wet yellow sheet of plastic stretched across a backyard.

But for toymaker SLB Toys USA Inc., Slip ‘n Slide doesn’t evoke the same fond memories.

The Los Angeles-based company, which does business as ToyQuest, was ordered to pay $700,000 in damages after a federal judge ruled that the company infringed on one of Slip ‘n Slide maker Wham-O Inc.’s trademarks.

Emeryville-based Wham-O filed a lawsuit against ToyQuest in 2006, claiming the company’s Motorized Wave Rider and Banzai Falls Wave Rider infringed on Wham-O’s trademark Wave Rider.

Wham-O markets three of its Slip ‘n Slide products with the name Wave Rider, including the original Wave Rider, the Double Wave Rider and the Wave Rider Deep Sea.

The company claimed consumers associate the name Wave Rider with those Slip ‘n Slide products, therefore ToyQuest’s use of the Wave Rider name confuses customers.

A trial was scheduled to begin June 3, but ToyQuest did not hire new counsel after its attorney withdrew from the case, and company representatives did not appear at a final pretrial conference. As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew granted Wham-O’s request for a default judgment against ToyQuest.

The judgment found that ToyQuest was engaging in unfair business by advertising and selling its Wave Rider products.

Lew granted an injunction that prevents ToyQuest from using the Wave Rider name on the merchandising, packaging or advertising of any water toy products.

Before Wham-O filed a lawsuit against ToyQuest, the company sent a cease-and-desist letter asking ToyQuest to stop infringing on its trademark.


Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at

ahyland@labusinessjournal.com

or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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