John Joseph Kirby was born in Falls Church, Virginia back in 1939 to John and Rose. He graduated from Fordham University in 1961, he was a Rhodes scholar, earning a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree from Merton Collee at Oxford University. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1956.
After graduation, he worked at the United States Department of Justice in the Civil Rights Division in the 1960’s. due to his research on widespread discrimination against African-Americans formed the basis of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He personally escorted African-American children into segregated schools, surrounded by federal marshals. He left the Justice Department working with the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP retiring in 2007. Some of his most notable clients were PepsiCo, General Foods and Warner-Lambert.
However, what he is most noted for is his successful defense for Nintendo against Universal Studios over the copyrightability of the character Donkey Kong in 1984. After the win Nintendo named the character Kirby to honor him.
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