The Traklight Blog

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

Failed Startup Resurrected to File Patent Infringement Suits?

Most startups fail to survive long term, and the reasons for those failures are as varied as the companies and their products, goals and mission statements. Typically it comes down to money, in the way everything is about money in some form: not having enough money, not being able to convince investors to give them more money, not having enough customers willing to part with their money for what the company is selling. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a hard reality that many of the startups you read about or see will at some point blink out of existence, left as little more than a memory to stumble upon later. 

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Copyright Case Highlights the Risks of Stock Photos

A point we’ve made on this blog and website is that you have to be careful when using anything on your website that you haven’t created yourself, or that you haven’t paid someone to create for you (while ensuring they sign over the rights.) Admittedly it’s not a message that the internet as a whole has caught onto, although there is some distinction between some person reposting pics on Instagram and what gets posted on business websites, with names and addresses and people that can ultimately be sued if they’re not careful. 

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Gin Maker Faces Trademark Opposition From Red Bull

It’s been a while since the last high profile case of trademark bullying, but like the bullies most of us encountered in the schoolyard, absence doesn’t mean they’ve departed the scene; rather, they’re lying in wait for the next opportune moment, or the next small business that can’t afford to push back against the rather absurd assertions made by a global brand about how their business will be damaged by a shop with a handful of employees and a customer base that doesn’t stretch beyond the county line. 

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Model Sues Twitter Over Copyright Infringement By Algorithm

It’s probably not easy to be famous in the age of social media. Certainly it’s easy in the most obvious ways that have carried over for decades: money and some measure of power and certainly free stuff sent to your well-appointed home and invites to the best parties and premieres. But with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and TikTok as the most prominent means of communicating, people can say and post what they want about you (short of the legal definition of libel) and given that fame it’s likely to be tens or hundreds of thousands or even into the millions of mentions you’re getting every day. Which is good when the mentions are good, but when it comes to control of your own image, it’s an uphill battle. 

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University of Kentucky Opposed Trademark Filing From State of Kentucky

We’re in the heart of college football season at the moment, which means everything or nothing to you depending upon where you grew up. If you’re part of the former grouping, you understand just how important Saturdays in fall are to everyone around you, how the fortunes of the college you attended or just support intertwine with your own, to the point that a few dozen college kids you’ve never met losing a football game that ultimately doesn’t matter serves to ruin your day. Being a fan of that school’s teams becomes as much a part of your identity as being a resident of the state itself, and woe betide anyone who should run afoul of the that most beloved institution, even the actual state government.  

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Marvel Tries To Stop Copyright Termination On Iconic Characters

With a few possible exceptions, it’s hard to imagine that most of the creators of wildly popular innovations know that their ideas are going to be a hit when they first put them out into the world. (The inventor of the wheel, on the other hand, probably knew they landed on a winner pretty quickly.) As such, our recent history is littered with stories of creators signing away the rights to their work for little more than a pittance, only to see that creation go on to be worth millions of dollars in the hands of someone else. 

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Judge Rules Against AI as an Inventor in Patent Case

There’s been a lot of discourse over the past few years about what artificial intelligence can do versus what it should do. Those on the side of the machines see an opportunity for terrific advances, and those opposing are understandably nervous of the notion of technology that can come close to approximating human intelligence, particularly if that tech is given some amount of power and control in managing tasks that would otherwise be done by humans. Sure, humans are flawed, make mistakes big and small, but many still feel comfortable knowing that the hand on the proverbial wheel is one of flesh and blood. 

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Non-Profit TV Service Shuts Down Upon Losing Copyright Case

Despite the proliferation of streaming services, there's still a market for broadcast television, as evidenced by the fact that cable packages remain a thing, albeit a diminished thing, and that there are ever more options that offer customers the channels they love served to them over the internet rather than through a cable box. Most are legitimate — YouTubeTV seems to have a healthy subscriber base, as does Sling and other competitors — but there has been a strain of fly-by-night options that can seem too good to be true, often because they flout the established rules regarding licensing and copyright and all the other hoops that mainstream services have to worry about. 

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Disney's Expiring Copyright Gives Rise to 'Famous Mouse' Token

The public domain is, broadly speaking, a good thing for both consumers and creators, although the creators of the original work passing into the public domain might feel differently were they still alive to put up a fuss. Regardless, it’s useful to have works that become available for smart folks to offer their own take and interpretation. And it’s the law as written, so like it or not artists have to accept that their art will one day be made available to the public to do with as they please.

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Who Owns The Copyright On The Moon?

Questions of ownership have always plagued human existence, dating back to countless wars over tracts of land that more or less continue apace today. They’re also fought in the intellectual property space now, a less bloody but sometimes equally contentious arena. And much like the aforementioned wars, they have as much to do with avarice and rapaciousness and a generally unthinking, reflexive need by some to control as much as possible.

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Cannabis Company Facing Copyright Suit From Sacha Baron Cohen

If you look hard enough, you can find celebrities or pseudo-celebrities endorsing all sorts of products. If you have enough money to splurge on the requisite fees, stars of stage and screen and the athletic arena will pitch your wares to audiences, and the more money you have, the bigger the star will be. I don’t know that I’ve ever been swayed by a celebrity endorsement precisely for the fact that I know they’re being paid for their endorsement, but the star factor is enough to at least have the ad and brand stick in my brain, which may be what these companies are hoping for after all. 

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Sony Music Takes On Gymshark Over Infringement In Ads

It’s hard to sell the idea of working out to people who aren’t already committed to the concept. No one is disagreeing on the benefits of looking and feeling better, but the cost of time and sweat and agony isn’t something many of us are eager to pay. How then can fitness companies sell to those who are hard to persuade? By making working out seem cool.

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Record Labels Take On Charter Communication Over Copyright Infringement

Combating copyright infringement on the internet must seem like an impossible task if you’re a rightsholder, whether you’re a solo creator or a major studio with a dedicated team. As it turns out, a system created for the dissemination of information and data, when turned towards copyrighted material, can spread those songs or images or films far and wide, making it next to impossible to track down every person who may have pirated that work. Such is the nature of the beast, and to try and undo it would be akin to putting the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube.

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Milio Tokens:  Creating Economy for the Social Generation

We all have our gripes about social media, but the biggest for creators, who rely upon the platforms to distribute their content, is that they’re helping those companies more than they're benefiting themselves. User engagement means advertising revenue for Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others, and the individuals helping to drive that engagement rarely if ever see a cent of that money. But creators are left with little recourse if they want access to the wider audience that social media provides.

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Cleveland Guardians Hit Trademark Snag: The Other Cleveland Guardians

The saga of the Cleveland baseball team name change was supposed to be a counterpoint to the situation that unfolded with Washington’s football team; whereas the latter was a crushed process, Cleveland seemingly gave themselves time to do the work to find the right name, which was presumably one that both appeased fans and cleared the hurdle of IP issues that has seemingly stymied the erstwhile Football Team. 

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GM Alleging Trademark Infringement From Ford Over 'Cruise' Feature

Given how competitive various industries and markets can be and how much money is often at stake, it’s not surprising to see similar products or innovations arrive concurrently. It’s not necessarily nefarious for different parties to arrive at the same idea, particularly a good one that fills a hole in a market or provides an obvious improvement on an existing item. Sometimes whatever dispute arises is not in the realm of the item itself, but in the names that companies arrive upon for these features or products, even if they’re not particularly inspired. 

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Gmail to Use Trademarked Logos For Email Authentication

It’s easy to start thinking of trademarks as instruments to profit off of, or to be used in legal battles as either shield or cudgel, but it’s occasionally worth remembering their more basic functions and how those serve businesses in very real and tangible ways. For example, you create a logo to identify your business to identify your company and products to consumers, and in time that logo comes to mean something more than just an image. You build equity in a brand, and in time trust from consumers, and in trademarking that logo you’re protecting not only yourself and your business, you’re also protecting consumers from potential knockoffs that look like what you sell but aren’t to the quality they’ve come to expect. 

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Apple Wins Trademark Case Over 'Memoji' Feature

It’s hard enough for any small or midsize business to take on corporations in any sort of intellectual property case in the best of circumstances, with evidence and the law ostensibly on their side. The court systems are overworked and the process is by design deliberative, which is another way of saying slow, and both of those facts work to the benefit of the bigger business that can afford to let things play out without any significant diversion of energy or resources. Occasionally, with enough perseverance and perhaps a bit of fortune, individuals and small businesses come out on top, but that requires them to get everything right. 

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The Newest Olympic Event: Copyright Hammer Toss

Depending on your level of engagement, the Olympics can be an all-consuming event for the two or so weeks it’s on every two years. It’s typically everywhere on TV across a family of networks, unless you’re NBC and more interested in making viewers jump across websites and channels and platforms called Peacock to find their event of choice as though that hunt was an Olympic event in and of itself. And in recent iterations, it’s all over social media, as viewers share the best or at least most interesting moments of the day’s events. 

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