Latest & Greatest – Blockchain for Business Lawyers

 Edited by James A. Cox and Mark W. Rasmussen  Published by American Bar Association. Section of Science & Technology Law  KF 1030 .E4 C69 2018

Edited by James A. Cox and Mark W. Rasmussen

Published by American Bar Association. Section of Science & Technology Law

KF 1030 .E4 C69 2018

You’ve probably heard the term “blockchain” before. You also probably know that it is one of the newer and constantly evolving technologies that can change the way business is conducted. But, do you really know what it is and what it can do for you and your law practice? Co-editors James A. Cox and Mark W. Rasmussen have teamed up with a host of experts to explain and (hopefully) demystify this innovative technology in their new book, Blockchain for Business Lawyers

To do this, the authors begin with an introduction to blockchain technology, discussing its origin, its implications, and its advantages and disadvantages for business. Succeeding chapters define cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, describe some other financial blockchain applications, and discuss smart contracts, their ramifications and their enforceability. From a legal perspective, the authors examine securities and commodities laws and regulations, antitrust regulation and key antitrust issues, federal and state regulation of money transmitters, state laws addressing blockchain technology, and the means of resolving disputes arising from use of blockchain. No discussion of technology would ever be complete without an explanation of data security and privacy. 

So, if you want to know what all the buzz is about blockchain, be sure to have a look at Blockchain for Business Lawyers. Find it in our Legal Tech Collection.

Latest & Greatest – U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Congressional Serial Set.png

HeinOnline has recently announced the release of Phase I of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. The digitization of these documents was and is a vast undertaking, considering that the set spans more than two centuries and includes more than 17,000 bound volumes. The ability to access these documents in one database is of great importance to legislative history researchers and history buffs alike.

For those of you who may not know, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set is comprised of House and Senate documents, reports, and journals, first published in 1817 for the 15th Congress. Examples of congressional documents include letters submitted to the House or Senate, presidential messages, patent decisions, diplomatic papers detailing the foreign relations of the United States at a given time, and Senate treaty documents, to name a few. The release also includes access to the American State Papers, legislative and executive documents published between 1789-1838 in 38 volumes. The documents contained in the American State Papers predate the U.S. Congressional Serial Set and comprise the 1st through 25th Congresses. The papers are divided into 10 classes: Foreign Relations, Indian Affairs, Finances, Commerce and Navigation, Military Affairs, Naval Affairs, Post Office Department, Public Lands, Claims, and Miscellaneous. Of note: the very first document in the set is the inaugural speech of President Washington delivered on Thursday, April 30, 1789.

With the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, researchers also have access to these additional resources:

  • Congressional documents and reports from the 114th-115th Congress (2015-2019);

  • American Indian Documents in the Congressional Serial set 1817-1899;

  • Overview of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set;

  • Using the Congressional Serial Set for Genealogical Research, and

  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set: What It Is and Its History.


As with other HeinOnline databases and libraries, searching the Serial Set could not be easier. There is a Volume & Citation Quick Locator for those who already know the volume or particular citation. Researchers can also browse through the list of Congress numbers to find the desired volume. You can also search by Congress, document number, keywords, title, volume and/or year and narrow your search to specific sections, including congressional bills, House reports, Senate reports, Senate treaty documents, etc. HeinOnline has also provided direct links to specific Serial Set volumes that are not yet available on its database but have been digitized and are accessible at the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Latest & Greatest – Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office

 By David Pressman and David E. Blau  Published by Nolo Press  KF 3144.6 .P74 2018

By David Pressman and David E. Blau

Published by Nolo Press

KF 3144.6 .P74 2018

Do you think that you’ve created the world’s greatest invention, the thing that will be talked about for ages to come? Or perhaps, it’s not something so grandiose, but nevertheless useful. At any rate, no matter the invention, you want to protect it or commercially market it. So, what can you do? A good place to start is Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office. Now in its 19th edition, Patent It Yourself guides its readers through the patent process: from the patentability search through the preparation of the patent application to the filing of the necessary paperwork.

The book begins with an introduction to patents and the other types of intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets before moving onto the nuts and bolts of submitting an application for a patent. The authors, two patent attorneys, also present some questions to consider when filing for a patent or when thinking about filing for one: will the invention sell? Is it patentable? Is a patentability search necessary, and if so, how is it done? The authors also address issues that may arise after a patent is issued, such as supplemental applications; use, maintenance, and infringement; and ownership, assignment, and licensing of the invention.

Aside from the information contained in the text, there is a lot of useful information in the appendices:

  • a list of government publications and patent websites;

  • glossary of technical terms;

  • glossary of legal terms,

  • a quick-reference timing chart, and

  • forms.

There is also a Quick-Start Guide at the front that points readers to specific chapters depending on the task at hand. Before you send that application off to the Patent Office, be sure to have a look at Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office. It can make the process much easier to navigate.

Wills and Probate Resource Month - October 2018

Wills and Probate Resources Book Graphic 2018.png

October is Wills and Probate Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. All month long, you will find materials on wills, estate planning, and probate and trust administration on display in the Law Library and online.

Self-Help Guides from Nolo Press

Nolo’s Plan Your Estate is your go-to estate planning guide. With coverage of common estate planning goals, such as leaving property, providing for minors, planning for incapacity, avoiding probate, and reducing the estate tax, it is a go-to source for easy-to-understand estate planning information. Another useful Nolo resource is Estate Planning Basics. Both of these Nolo titles can be found in our Self-Help Collection in the Law Library. For assistance in finding these guides, please ask a member of the reference staff.

TexasLawHelp Wills & Estate Planning is an incredibly useful online legal research tool for the general public. Take a look at their Wills & Estate Planning resources for information about filing a small estate affidavit, a transfer on death deed, or an affidavit of heirship. Also find a link to the Texas Probate Passport, a publication of the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association.

Harris County Law Library Research Guides

Visit our Research Guides page to download a free copy of our Probate, Trusts, and Estates Research Guide. This topical guide helps you quickly find the most practical resources available at the Law Library, including the Texas Probate System, a State Bar of Texas publication, and O’Connor’s Texas Probate Law Handbook (both of which are pictured above).Ask for these and other titles at the Law Library reference desk.

Register to vote... at your local public library

Register by October 9

Tomorrow, October 9, 2018, is the last day Texans can register to vote if they intend to cast a ballot on November 6, 2018 (per the Texas Secretary of State). If you’ve waited until the last minute, your local public libraries, including the Harris County Law Library, are here to help.

Texas Public Libraries = Voter Registration Agencies

Under the National Voter Rights Act of 1993, states can designate “voter registration agencies” to distribute and accept voter registration forms (see NVRA Q&A from the US Dept. of Justice). Texas has designated all public libraries as voter registration agencies in §20.001 of the Texas Election Code. That means you can find voter registration applications on hand at the Harris County Law Library and other libraries open to the public like Harris County Public Library. You can also complete and submit the form in your community at your local library, which makes it easy and convenient to get ready for election day on November 6, 2018.

Further Reading

Latest & Greatest – Legal Malpractice Insurance in One Hour for Lawyers

 By JoAnn L. Hathaway  Published by American Bar Association. Law Practice Division.  KF 313 .H38 2017

By JoAnn L. Hathaway

Published by American Bar Association. Law Practice Division.

KF 313 .H38 2017

Part of the popular In One Hour series published by the American Bar Association, Legal Malpractice Insurance in One Hour for Lawyers is a handy reference guide that sorts through the confusion surrounding lawyers professional liability (LPL) insurance. Author JoAnn Hathaway provides the information lawyers need to select the best LPL coverage for their practice. With this book, lawyers will learn about the costs involved in acquiring the insurance, the relevance of responses on the LPL insurance application, and the how-tos of choosing the right carrier. The author walks her readers through a “typical” LPL insurance policy and explains key provisions and endorsements. She also sheds some light on coverage limits and the practice of claims-made coverage. And what happens if you change firms or form a new one? Hathaway has some answers for you on that issue as well.

Before you purchase LPL insurance for your practice, have a look at Legal Malpractice Insurance in One Hour for Lawyers. One hour now can save you from lots of headaches later.

DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners

 By Connie J. Mabelson  Published by American Bar Association. Section of Intellectual Property Law.  KF 3030.1 .M33 2018

By Connie J. Mabelson

Published by American Bar Association. Section of Intellectual Property Law.

KF 3030.1 .M33 2018

Enacted in 1998 as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from contributory copyright infringement in connection with the transmitting, caching, storing, or indexing of online copyrighted content. Within the DMCA are four safe harbors that give immunity to OSPs from monetary damages resulting from copyright infringement. Of course, some things are easier said than done. That is where attorney Connie J. Mabelson and her book DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners come in to save the day. Mabelson explains all that OSPs need to know about acquiring the immunity and protection promised by the DMCA in the event that the OSP, either knowingly or unknowingly, transmitted, cached, stored, or indexed infringing content on its servers. She begins, though, with the basics. She defines an OSP and what qualifies as a service provider, whether it be a website, a search engine, or a host of other providers of online content. She then provides an overview of the content protected by copyright law, how such content can be infringed upon, specifically in an online environment, and the affirmative defenses that an alleged infringer may assert in a suit for copyright infringement.

Mabelson reminds us that OSPs can limit their liability for claims of contributory or vicarious copyright infringement through the application of the safe harbors set forth in the DMCA. These safe harbors exist for transmitting, caching, storing, and indexing online content. However, the safe harbors can only be used if the OSP is eligible and if the OSP followed the process specifically laid out in the DMCA, including the take-down process. The author also includes some sample forms, such as take-down notices and letters to alleged infringers.

Whether you are a website owner, copyright owner, or content creator, you will want to read DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners for a clearer understanding of the DMCA, its requirements, and its protections.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources

On this day in 2017, Harris County was still reeling from the devastation caused by the worst flooding event in U.S. history. A year later, Hurricane Harvey's toll is still being felt throughout our community. That is why the Harris County Law Library remains committed to connecting those impacted with relevant information about resources and services to help with recovery. Visit our Harvey Recovery Resources page or visit our downtown Houston location to find information on legal helplines, referral services, and clinics that can help with the legal aspects of the recovery process.