James Major Provides Insight in U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Posted on November 13th, 2019

In an amicus brief submitted on behalf of the New York City Bar Association, James R. Major, D.Phil., an Associate of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the federal Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, which abrogated state sovereign immunity in copyright suits, was unnecessary based on events around the time of ratification of the U.S. Constitution and on historical practice. Major and his team of Association members also argued that the Act was, in any event, within Congress’ power to enact.

States are frequently immune from suit in federal court. In the brief, available here, Major and the team argued that the States surrendered any sovereign immunity to enforcement of exclusive rights secured by the Constitution’s Copyright and Patent Clause according to the “plan of the convention,” a synonym for the abrogation of the states’ sovereignty around the time that the Constitution was ratified. During oral arguments last week, the petitioner’s counsel asserted that the Copyright and Patent Clause’s “text signals a plan of the convention waiver like no other in Article I.” Subsequently, Justice Sotomayor asked “can you articulate what ‘plan of the convention’ means to you?” to which counsel replied “[a] plan of the convention waiver refers to some reflection that states were surrendering their back-dropped default sovereign immunity in a discrete respect as part of the constitutional convention . . . .” Therefore, counsel’s arguments were consistent with Major and the team’s brief.

About James Major

Major dedicates his practice to U.S. and foreign copyright, patent, and trademark matters.  His doctorate in immunology and virology and over ten years’ legal experience enable him to understand the patentability of new technologies, as well as the science and data required to secure and expand patent protection in light of new statutory subject matter requirements. Major is highly experienced in rendering patentability, landscape, freedom-to-operate, and invalidity opinions, particularly in the field of biologics. He also has patent and trademark litigation experience.

Major is exceptionally qualified in patent prosecution matters relating to small molecules, nucleic acids, proteins, antibodies, chemical processes, formulations, industrial processes, beverages, genetically-modified plants, and methods of treatment. He has also published on patent and cannabis-related matters.  He assists players in the emerging cannabis industry in the evaluation and securing of patents.

Major received his J.D., magna cum laude, in 2011 from New York Law School, where he was on the Dean’s List and was a candidate for the Trustees’ Prize for the highest average in the Evening Division. He was also Staff Editor of the New York Law School Law Review, a John Marshall Harlan Scholar, and a member of the Institute for Information Law and Policy. He received his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 2003 and his B.A. in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1996.