PUBLISHED:March 22, 2010

Duke Law team wins North American round of ELSA WTO Moot Court Competition

For the third consecutive year, a Duke Law team has won the North American Regional Grand Final Round of the ELSA World Trade Organization (WTO) Moot Court Competition.

First-year classmates Calvin Winder, Catherine Martinez, Lucy Chang, and Dayné Duff, who competed in Ottawa, Canada, over the past weekend, also won a number of accolades for oral and written advocacy: They won team awards for the best complainant's written submission and the best overall written submission; Winder was named best orator in the grand final round and the third-best orator in the preliminary rounds; and Martinez received an honorable mention as the fourth-best orator in the preliminary rounds.

The team now advances to represent North America in the international round of the competition — the “final oral round” — in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on May 24 through 30.

“We're especially proud of this year's team,” said Michael Gilles JD/LLM ’10, one of the team coaches. “These first-year students have worked extremely hard to develop their expertise in an exceptionally complex area of law.”

This year’s competition case presents a dispute between two neighboring WTO member countries concerning legislation restricting certain intellectual property rights as well as transit in certain goods through the territory of one of the parties, Gilles explained. The complaining party alleges violations of both the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreements, while the responding party refutes those allegations and asserts defenses under various exceptions to those agreements. “The case focuses heavily on international intellectual property law, including patent, trademark, and geographic indication rights,” he said. “It also implicates highly controversial and unsettled areas of WTO jurisprudence, including the role of preferential trade agreements, the scope of exceptions to the covered agreements, and the interaction between the TRIPS and GATT agreements in cases where their provisions may overlap.”

In Ottawa, the Duke Law team faced off against teams from the University of Ottawa, the University of Pennsylvania, and the American University Washington College of Law. In the grand final round they competed against the University of Ottawa, the top-ranked team after the preliminary rounds.

The team is coached by 3Ls who competed in previous years — Gilles, Greg Dixon, Amber Jordan, and Jonathan Skinner. Duke’s Center for International and Comparative Law supported the team’s participation in the North American Regional Round.

The ELSA Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the European Law Students Association, is a simulated hearing in the WTO dispute- settlement system. Competitor teams represent both the complainant and respondent parties to the case by presenting oral submissions in front of a panel.