The Traklight Blog

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

Congress Contemplates Calamitous Copyright Law

Finding a balance between accused and accuser in cases of intellectual property law has been one trick the U. S. legal system has yet to get quite right, although lawmakers and administrators continue the endeavor to find that elusive point that serves all involved equally. Too far one way, and you're stifling the ability of rightsholders to take action to protect their IP; too far the other and you're opening the floodgates for cases brought before the court, including those lacking any real validity. But a fear of making things worse has never stopped the United States government before, and it certainly won't be deterred in this instance.

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Controversial Copyright Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Bad Behavior

The questions of good faith and intent can be hard to divine, and the line between earnest zeal and cynical gaming is a fine one. Lawyers are tasked with the vigorous defense of their clients' interests, and no one would begrudge an attorney for taking on as many as they feel they can responsibly handle. But does that ambition, if it can be termed that, cross at a certain point into a ploy to extract as much money from a flawed system as possible? At what point do certain behaviors cross that line from proponent of the law to one who violates and exploits that which they're meant to hold sacred?

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Kimono Trademark Kerfuffle Draws the Attention of Japan

For those closely following the news, one reality show star continues to dominate headlines. The star's behavior invokes questions of ego and avarice, and decisions made demonstrate a lack of sensitivity, both cultural and interpersonal. Despite these personal failings, the star counts nearly as many ardent fans as avowed detractors, with a family that casts itself as American royalty, despite a discernible lack of skills or scruples.

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Supreme Court to Hear Case on Copyright for State Laws

The question of how much the government remains a body comprised of and belonging to the people it governs, or to what extent it exists as an entity now wholly separate, is a pressing matter, but one too big for the purview of this particular blog. That broader question does beg itself in the copyright case that is heading to the Supreme Court, however, in addition to the more immediate concerns that will be addressed in the decision.

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Mechanical Licensing Collective Chosen by USCO to Manage Digital Music Royalties

One thing about technological change is that it forces many of our old, dated institutions to update and adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. The internet and the attendant changes it has brought has been particularly effective in highlighting the cracks in the facade, the holes in the boat, or any other metaphor you might choose to illustrate the shortcomings in many of the laws and bodies that govern us when it comes to an era where the physical has given way to digital.

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Cardi B Loses Bid to Trademark Catchphrase

We have previously celebrated the new-ish advent of personal branding as it relates to celebrities big and small. Who are any of us to judge those who want to create a bigger identity for themselves, complete with signifiers? After all, celebrities are businesses unto themselves, and every business needs their own branding if they hope to grow and expand. We might not necessarily understand what these artists and entertainers have in mind with their choice in branding, but if we truly understood what goes into being a megastar, we'd probably be one ourselves, or at least close enough to one to bask in some reflected glory.

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Andy Warhol Estate Wins Copyright Case

The question of copyright in cases of addition and transformation of one artist's work on the part another is a perpetually challenging question. Art, as we are frequently told, is subjective, and the extent to which changes must be made to an original work for it to be deemed an entirely new thing is again subjective. Certain cases make the matter clear, but in more subtle alterations, it falls to others to make the final determination as to whether something is in violation of a copyright, or is significantly different as to escape any such offense.

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Gigi Hadid Challenges Paparazzi Photo Ownership, and Copyright Law As Well

The peculiar invention of the celebrity has grown to hold a strange and uncomfortable place in our culture for both subject and audience alike. Much like the animals at the zoos we pack to see, we are both intrigued and horrified at the sight, aware of how unnatural the arrangement is and guilty at our own part in building those cages and the half-lives of those enclosed. That's perhaps a bit melodramatic — no one has much sympathy for celebrities making more money than any of us could dream of, even as they're the subject of constant hounding by the paparazzi, though perhaps we should.

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Carrie Underwood Facing Copyright Lawsuit for Sunday Night Football Theme

Many of the fine American institutions that prop up our society aren't recognized in any founding documents, and those holding such office given far more regard than we hold for our actual elected officials. Among these exalted figures are the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest winner, the Batman actor of the moment, and of course the current singer of the theme tune to primetime football games.

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Adidas Loses Trademark Case in EU Court

There are few symbols so powerful as the logos of major sports apparel companies in the minds of consumers. In the right hands, they've come to be associated with the greatest in human sporting achievement, a clever bit of branding on the part of the respective marketers who first saw the advantage of having their logos plastered on our best athletes as they appear on TV. For others, particularly those of us who have gone a little soft around the middle, the represent both comfort and potential. The combination of athletic footwear with the requisite shorts or yoga pants suggests, "I could go running today; I won't, but I could." And for many of us, that potential is enough to invest heavily in these brands meant for those gifted with more ability and more determination.

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Patent Troll Attorney Heads to Prison

There's little love from the general public for the legal system, and less still for attorneys. For most, the law is something to be avoided, or suffered when you find yourself within its machinations; few share the view that it can be restorative, or can provide protection or remuneration for harm done to themselves or their property. And few do more to bolster the negative view of the legal process than patent trolls. Distinct from the parties that engage in good faith attempts to protect their intellectual property, patent trolls are simply looking to wield patents as a weapon, looking to make as much money from a flawed system as they can.

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Huawei Challenges Verizon Over Patent and Licensing Fees

Much of what makes business what it is is the push and pull of competition and cooperation between different companies. The fiercest rivals can come to have common cause, and one business can come to rely upon another for its continued operation through the magic of licensing. Licensing is a necessary tool for all involved, a way for some companies to lawfully use the intellectual property needed for their products and others to earn a fair return on their creative work particularly in the case of smaller companies.

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Supreme Court Hears Copyright Case Against North Carolina

Outside of the major decisions that have far-reaching national impact, many of the cases that the Supreme Court deigns to hear can range from pedestrian to the downright dull to the interest of the average citizen. Broadly speaking, most people only concern themselves with the law only in so far as it relates to them and their personal lives, as well as the legal tenants that are understood and accepted on a societal level. Occasionally, though, news from the nation's high court turns up a case that draws interest beyond the devoted court observers, particularly if the case involves a pirate ship.

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Kawhi Leonard Files Trademark Lawsuit Against Nike

Intellectual property is the backbone of any business, as we are often preaching, and there are few bigger businesses in the world of sports these days than the athletes themselves. Far from the days when baseball players sold cars in the off-season, athletes are now brands unto themselves, complete with all of the trappings of any other big business. And part of that business is the branding — the names and sayings and logos that athletes can use to sell their merchandise, their social media presence, and themselves, in essence. And athletes are increasingly willing to zealously guard those aspects of their brand from misuse, even on the part of one of the few entities that might remain bigger than the players themselves.

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Iron Maiden Sues Video Game Creators for Infringement

If there is one thing that we have learned in this space, it is that brands don't take as kindly to puns, allusions or any other type of attempted tribute as those offering it might think. Many of us enjoy a clever play on words, but when there is a brand name and potential profits involved, entities tend to have less of a sense of humor than those of us without a stake in the matter.

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Poland Challenges New EU Copyright Laws

We have written before about the potential problems posed by the new spate of copyright laws introduced in the European Union, and the way that their application could create more problems than they could hope to solve when it comes to trying to serve the people they mean to help (assuming that they aim to help the public at large.) Automated copyright filters might catch all of the potential infringers in the act of uploading the offending material, but it also catches far more than that, and innocent and unsuspecting users might get caught up in the process as well. And given that any governing body should strive to do the least harm in addition to prevent crimes as possible, it seemed that the new measures put in place would eventually find scrutiny from some governmental body or another.

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YouTube is the Latest Venue in an Ongoing Battle Over Copyright Protection

The current era of content has proven difficult to navigate for many of the creators that take advantage of the platform that social media offers to all to make their voices heard, particularly for those working in the areas of education or critique. There has always existed a tension between artists and studios and those who base their own work off of the work of others, but there has never before been the means for such an escalation of the conflict between the two parties as exists now.

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Supreme Court Rules in Trademark Licensing Case

While most of the country only looks to the Supreme Court when matters of broad national importance are on the docket, it's worth observing the court on more under-the-radar issues that could still have a significant impact on businesses or individuals around the country. One recent case could have massive repercussions in bankruptcy cases for years to come.

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Samsung and Huawei Settle Their Patent Dispute

Long, protracted legal battles are something that no company relishes, and can often end up causing as much harm as the harm they're meant to remedy for the plaintiff. Companies of course have to take the necessary steps to protect their intellectual property, but any business would just as soon not have to go to court, even if it is in defense of their IP. Even in instances of companies with devoted legal teams and the resources to afford an extended court case, there's no situation in which anyone would invite the headache involved.

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