Lawyer's Drawn-Out Cartoon Argument in E-Book Case Goes Viral

By Andrew Lu on September 14, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Attorney Bob Kohn thought of an interesting way to prove a point in court -- he submitted a cartoon brief that took the form of a comic strip.

Kohn was faced with a court-mandated five-page limit to make a complicated point regarding eBooks and price-fixing. So instead of condensing all the words into the five pages, Kohn decided to let his pictures tell thousands of words.

Bob Kohn's cartoon brief appears to comply with all the requirements for submitting a brief -- he begins with a traditional table of contents, the font is 12-points or larger, and he has one-inch margins -- reports the ABA Journal.

It's just that there's a bunch of images with very few words.

The underlying case that led to Bob Kohn's cartoon brief was the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Apple and five publishers for allegedly conspiring to fix prices to combat Amazon's low eBook pricing. The DOJ proposed to settle the case with the alleged price-fixers and this led to some controversy from bystanders.

In Kohn's brief, he actually artfully explains that supply and demand does not operate normally on pricing of e-books due to illegal downloading. As a result, he explains that the DOJ "really blew this one" with their proposed settlement. Kohn finished off his brief by having one of his characters explain how it's impossible to tell a complex story in only five pages.

While Bob Kohn may have gone viral with his cartoon brief, creative associates may want to give pause before rushing out and illustrating their next briefs. Bob Kohn was basically a bystander in the case and he was filing an Amicus Curiae brief. In other words, Kohn was just filing his own opinion, and had no real dog (or client) in the race.

For those attorneys with a client's interests at stake, it may be smarter to leave the creative packaging at the door when submitting something like a legal brief.

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