The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Star Wars Director is After a Beer Brewery in Trademark Suit

If you were anything like me as a child, you had an unyielding love of the Star Wars films. From the wreched hive of scum and villainy that was Mos Eisley to a floating outpost called Cloud City, the films presented a world unlike anything I had ever seen. Perhaps most important to its longevity, it created an entire universe ready to be filled with stories of heroes and villains and rogues and every dramatic possibility that might ensue. And in the 35+ years since A New Hope landed in theaters, Star Wars has grown from a single movie to an entire industry, with numerous books, video games, and TV series building on the far,far away galaxy George Lucas created. Given the moneymaking potential inherent in putting the Star Wars name on a product, the desire to protect the brand is understandable, which is why Luke and Leia's parent company finds a recent trademark filing disturbing.

Read More

One Shoe to Rule them All: Converse All-Star's Trademark Dispute

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Nothing is constant, but change.” This applies markedly to the fashion industry. Style is a constantly evolving phenomenon. We laughed at the clothes our parents wore but it’s not long till our children start mocking the clothes we wear. Each generation etches its own signature in the ebbs of time but one product has stood out amongst the rest. Something that our grandparents wore while playing basketball, our parents wore while being rebels and listening to punk, and something most of us have worn at some point in our lives. 

Read More

3 Reasons Why You Should Protect Your Intellectual Property

You've heard people talk about intangible assets and why it's important to protect your intellectual property (IP), as well as why you should protect it from the time you have the idea (not after you get into business). Have you ever asked yourself, "So what? Why is it important to me as a small business owner?"

Here are some examples of recent cases and how protecting their IP helped them make a case for what was originally theirs:

If I still haven't gotten your attention, here are three reasons why you should consider securing that IP:

Read More

Add Trademarks to the "Trill" List

College football is one of America’s most popular sports, and it affords the young men who play it the opportunity to become household names before they even reach the legal drinking age. From the greats of yesteryear like Archie Griffin, Herchel Walker, and Doug Flutie, to more recent icons like Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel, the game affords these nascent stars a brief moment to burnish a legacy that will live as long as their respective universities field a football team. Given the fleeting nature of college athletics (and college in general), and the particularly short shelf lives of football players, it would seem the logical step for any high-profile athlete to try and cash in on that stardom, which is exactly what one young quarterback seems poised to do.

Read More

Eminem and Iggy Azalea Out for Blood: Copyright Infringement

Last week saw two popular artists file a complaint for copyright infringement.

Eminem, the Detroit rapper who rocked the world with his hard hitting rhymes is suing the National Party of New Zealand for using the music for his hit song "Lose Yourself" in a campaign video. The campaign video to promote John Key, who is up for re-election, has since been taken down but the National Party rejected the allegations leveled against it stating the music was taken from the Beatbox library and, although similar, is not identical nor does it include any lyrics.

The complaint has been filed in Wellington, New Zealand. Hopefully the High Court will recognize the importance of respecting foreign copyrights, certainly considering how important the New Zealand legal system considers intellectual property rights. A spokesman for Eminem’s publisher stated, “It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the three strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright.” Lose Yourself has been licensed to only a handful of companies and certainly not to any political party as the publishers are against such usage.

Read More

Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights: Protection v. Free Speech

Intellectual property (IP) protection is necessary. But with rights comes responsibility; a responsibility to not misuse such rights. Automattic, the web publishing platform most famous for Wordpress, uploaded a ‘Hall of Shame’ list after getting tired of its users being harassed by copyright and trademark infringement notices. Wordpress is a free blogging tool and content management system. As with any site uploading content there are bound to be intellectual property issues from time to time but not all have merit.

At Traklight we are all about protecting intellectual property, but understanding when you have an actual cause of action is equally important as needless litigation wastes time and effort, while giving you a bad reputation in the market (assuming you do not have a legitimate claim). Creation of IP rights is to protect against exploitation, not curb the freedom of speech. Among the various people/ companies on Automattic’s list is Janet Jackson. Her lawyers attempted to remove / control all references of her on Wordpress. One of the claims included trademark infringement for using her name in the following blog “Dinner Party Conversation: What would your WWE Smackdown name be?”:

Read More

TwitPic Learns a Trademark Lesson the Hard Way

For social media fans, Twitter is a great tool for staying informed on the latest news, sharing your personal adventures with your followers, or getting in fights with strangers (maybe that last part isn’t so great). And because Twitter has become a huge platform, with 271 million active monthly users, third parties are quick to integrate themselves with the site to try and take advantage of the huge market it offers. Just about every blog and news site you’ll read offers you the ability to post a story to your Twitter feed. Sites like offer link-shortening services so that you can share without running into the 140-character limit, and platforms like Instagram and Vine allow you to share what you’ve uploaded with them to your Twitter account. Unfortunately, due to a trademark scuffle, that list of apps will drop by one by the end of this month.

Read More

Disney And DJ Locked In Trademark Dispute Over Mouse Logo

Disney has been known to aggressively protect its intellectual property (IP) in the past and the latest IP issue involving mouse ears is no different. People familiar with electronic dance music (EDM) are no stranger to the music of DeadMau5. Joel Zimmerman, the man behind the mask, is an established producer from Canada that has been performing and selling records for over 10 years now. He has trademarks over his mouse themed logo, known as Mau5head, in over 30 countries.

Read More

Ice Bucket Challenge Trademark Controversy

 The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took America by storm a month ago and has since gained momentum internationally as well. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a debilitating illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration eventually leads to death and there is still no cure.

Who'd have thought that a trademark controversy would have ensued over this charitable awareness campaign?

Read More

Trademark Infringement on the Big Screen?

The world of comic books is a fanciful place, featuring heroes and villains that can seem wholly unrealistic but nevertheless fun. Indeed, if recent box office returns are any indication, our appetite for movies based on those characters have never been higher. Our summers for years to come would appear to be stocked with films that will take us to realms of men of iron, women of wonder, and delightful dancing trees. But one software company tried to claim there’s a bit too much reality in one of our most iconic hero’s films, to no avail.

Read More

Trademarks and Blue Jays v. Bluejays.

In the world of sports, it’s not terribly uncommon for teams to have the same nickname. A quick search of college and professional team names turns up 28 Lions, 39 Tigers, and 26 Bears, to say nothing of derivations thereof, like Bengals or Grizzlies. Teams that don’t adhere to those conventions can end up with names ranging from the unique and inscrutable (I’m still not sure what the Toledo Mud Hens, my hometown minor league baseball team, is named after) to the controversial (notably Washington’s professional football team). For most professional teams, there’s enough differentiation between themselves and their counterparts in both other sports and the amateur ranks to peacefully co-exist. But now one professional team is going after a college sports program that shares its name for perhaps sharing a too-similar logo.

Read More

Artist Sues Pet Toy Company Over Angry Birds Trademark

The mobile app Angry Birds ranks as one of the most popular portable games of all time. Created by the Finnish game developers, Rovio Entertainment, it has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times and has inspired multiple iterations (including Star Wars and Transformers versions). For many, it’s a great way to pass the time if you’re stuck waiting in line or are a passenger on a road trip. The game has turned into a cash cow for its developers––you can find t-shirts, toys, and countless other merchandise with the brand on it. But for one woman, Angry Birds represents a misappropriation of her intellectual property (IP) and she is seeking to slingshot the matter into a courtroom.

Read More

Unzipping the Trade Dress

This is a guest blog by Ian Monat, Owner of Monat Technologies. When the catalytic converter was stolen off his truck he made it his mission to "protect vehicles across the US and UK from catalytic converter theft with the best security solutions on the market": The Catlock.

One of my favorite 80’s comedies is ‘Coming To America’. The entire movie is hilarious but I always loved when Prince Akeem of Zamuda (Eddie Murphy) lands his first American job in Queens, NY at McDowells, a fast food restaurant that is a not-so-subtle rip off of McDonalds, and home to the ‘Big Mic,’ the ‘Golden Arcs.’

This makes for good humor on the silver screen, but when a McDowells sets up shop next to your McDonalds in real life, there’s nothing funny about it––especially when it means lost customers, decreased revenue, and time and money spent on litigation. Have you ever had a McDowells open next to your McDonalds? I have…

Read More

Trademark Suit Ensues Between Soccer Star and US Man

Whether you’re a casual soccer fan or a die-hard devotee of the “beautiful game,” chances are that you know who Christiano Ronaldo is. As the most recent winner of the Ballon d’Or award, given to the European footballer of the year, the 29-year-old Portuguese forward is considered to be on the very short list for consideration as the best player in the world. He’s paid a princely sum (21 million Euros) to play for Real Madrid, arguably the biggest club in the world. He’s graced the covers of magazines and video games, appeared in numerous ads across the world, and has a Twitter following nearly triple the population of his home country. He could rightly be considered one of the most famous people in the world, with his eye fixed on cracking the American market. But a recent trademark suit in the US could pose a threat to his efforts to expand his fame stateside.

Read More

Trademark Infringement Battle of the Comic-Cons

Every July, thousands of pop culture enthusiasts descent on San Diego to take part in what has become the preeminent event in geek culture: San Diego Comic-Con. Fans come looking for merchandise, panel discussions, and the latest news on all their favorite franchises, and entertainment studios are more than willing to oblige in an effort to build excitement for upcoming projects. The name Comic-Con has become synonymous with big stars, bigger films, and internet-melting news. But alleged misuse of the name on the part of another convention has prompted legal action that might determine the course of similarly named events across the country with a trademark infringement battle.

Read More

Snapchat Files Trademarks as Part of IP Protection Strategy

For those not keeping up with the technological trends of America’s youths, Snapchat is a mobile app that allows you to send photos and videos to contacts that are supposed to delete themselves after a few seconds. It gives young people a fun, fast, and free means to communicate with one another that won’t regrettably wind up in the ether of the internet (although that claim has been brought into question). But if recent trademark filings are any indication, the company might be looking to monetize their app in the future.

Read More