The Traklight Blog

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

Spurious Copyright Case Against Netflix, 'Outer Banks' Dismissed

I’m not privy to the thoughts of smart, creative people, but if I had to guess there are many ideas and stories bouncing around at all times, and enough creatives in the world to guarantee that there is going to be overlap between ideas, or similar ideas that occur concurrently, without any theft or misappropriation. Who could forget the summer of Dante’s Peak and Volcano, or the very next summer of Armageddon and Deep Impact? The point is that coincidences happen, and that we had a real taste for natural disaster movies in the 90s. 

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Instagram Faces Copyright Suit Over Embed Policy

If you’re of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with the many practices that were necessary to circumvent ownership and copyright in the halcyon days of the 1990s (and earlier). Given that many of us were too young to think about the relative morality of what we were doing, or to even be aware of copyright, taping songs off of the radio onto a cassette, or using the two-VCR method of making copies of the tapes you rented from the local video store was something you did without compunction. The point isn’t about the advance of technology or the relative behavior of kids decades ago, but rather that means of working around copyright protection have always existed, and persist to this day.  

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Banksy Loses Trademark Bid In EUIPO Case

Part of the problem with being an artist that is both world famous and also anonymous (or perhaps more accurately, pseudonymous) is that it presents a real challenge in protecting your work, should you choose to do so. Or at least one assumes; I am not a world famous anything, so I can’t speak definitively on the topic. But it seems to be a problem for Banksy, who has run into some trademark issues in the past that are undoubtedly harder to contest when you’re exerting so much effort to maintain a hidden identity. 

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Are Copyright Filings Spoiler Material?

If you’re someone who prefers to go into a movie or show cold, with no knowledge of what might happen, then you’re living in challenging times. Regardless of how you feel about the concept, we’re in the age of spoilers, inescapably and ineluctably. Avoiding knowing how the hottest show or biggest movie of the moment involves staying off the internet entirely, which is wholly inconvenient; conversely, if you’re the impatient type who just has to know the big twist or shock ending, there are plenty of places to go to get the information you’re looking for — including, improbably, the Copyright Office. 

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Rockstar Games Loses DMCA Bid To Take Down Recreated GTA Source Code

If you’re unacquainted with modern video games, having dropped out of that world as soon as the real world offered something more substantive to cling to (if you ever picked up gaming at all), you might assume that video games, by their nature, would be easy to find and play at any time. They’re entirely the creation of programming, so they would seem a likely candidate to be ported into whatever database to be replicated across platforms until the end of time. They aren’t, though, and while the game industry’s reasons for that decision requiring some explanation, gamers themselves have gone to great measures to circumvent those choices — often drawing action from game publishers and studios.

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Candy Maker Goes After Infringement Case For THC Knockoffs

Anyone who has been in a grocery store is well aware of what are, for lack of a better term, knock-off or generic versions of more widely recognizable products. Indeed, as a kid there was few greater disappointments than asking your parents for a snack or sugary cereal from the store, only to have them return with the lesser version that they picked up because it was cheaper, because your parents had to think about things like budgets and not solely about snacks or the day’s Nickelodeon lineup. Brand names matter, is the point, and they matter a lot when it comes to candy, at least when you’re in the target demographic its makers are appealing to.

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IBM To Offer NFTs For Patents

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are hard to escape in the news as the hot tech trend of the moment, as it seems that every business is jumping into the game trying to make some money. And if you’re wondering how exactly they make money, or what those buyers are purchasing, or really what any of it is about, you’re not alone; as prolific as stories about NFTs are articles attempting to explain what NFTs are to a public still working on wrapping its collective mind around how blockchain works. 

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Nirvana Faces Copyright Infringement Suit

As a purveyor of IP news, there are certain stories you come across that, because of your age, make absolutely no sense to you as they pertain to the principal parties of the story. Conversely, there are other stories that, because of your age, appeal directly to you and those in your age cohort and likely no one else. The story that follows is of the latter variety. 

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Company Employs New Approach To Patent Troll Fight

Capitalism as it exists in this moment (and for some significant portion of its history) prizes individualism, or at least a version of that ideology in which corporations as entities are considered individuals. It’s a zero-sum game, we’re led to believe, and so each company is out to claim some share of the market, thereby taking from or excluding competitors. There’s not much room for collective action, and as such each becomes in its way vulnerable to discrete actions from bad actors. 

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Walmart Files Opposition to Kanye West's Trademark Application

Perhaps the best kind of IP story reads like a Mad Libs, with disparate entities who may have otherwise never interacted now thrown together to fight over a trademark or copyright filing or alleged infringement. Take something as mundane as, say, tires: a hypothetical story about Goodyear and Yokohama in some sort of scuffle might be interesting if you choose to dive into it, but there’s a far greater chance it’s written off as tire companies fighting over tire things like types of rubber or whatever they fight over. 

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Ocean Spray Gets Cease & Desist For Using Its Own Trademarks

There is a future in which the text of the law fails to mean much of anything to those who wish to avail themselves of it, and instead it becomes merely a tool for stopping the things one simply doesn’t like. The latter pairs well with a mindset that the law is meant to protect you, and thus bind those who find themselves in opposition to you. In the space of intellectual property, it would mean going after any brand that used a logo or branding deemed too close to your own, without much time to sift through the relative merits of your case before potentially embarrassing yourself.

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Choreographer Creates Studio For Copyrighting Dance Moves

The notion of copyrighting dance moves might strike many of us as strange, given both the nature of the activity and our own relationship to it. Copyright involves setting something down in a fixed medium, and for those who enjoy it, dance is something that comes spontaneously from moments of joy, away from cameras and separate from the idea of trying to potentially profit. Then there are those of us who are terrible at dancing, and would spend any amount of money necessary to have recordings of ourselves moving on the dance floor scrubbed from the internet, if not the minds of those who witnessed it. 

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Patent Waivers For COVID Vaccines May Not Be Enough

It’s not often that intellectual property makes truly big news, but it’s not often the case that the fate of the world seems to hinge upon a vaccine. (Though to be fair, vaccines have shaped the course of history on those occasions when they have been introduced to curb disease or illness.)

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Screenwriters Try To Reclaim 'Predator' Copyright From Disney

It would come as a surprise to no one, save those too young to even consider the past reaching beyond a few scant years, that the Hollywood studio system of the past was none too kind to the writers who helped to make it what it was. You don’t even need to have a memory to get some notion of that; this year’s Best Picture nominee Mank is a vehicle for just that message, positioning its protagonist as a figure robbed by history of his due credit for his part in creating an iconic film. Even now, in an era where credit is a bit more freely given, it’s still hard for writers to reclaim their rights. 

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Shoe's On The Other Foot: Nike Sued For Trademark Infringement

It’s certainly not unusual to see businesses, particularly large businesses involved with a lot of different products, to be on both sides of trademark or copyright issues, but typically there’s something of an interval between their times as the offender and the offended. Credit, then, to Nike for responding to the needs of our fast-paced world and cutting down that intervening period to something like mere hours. 

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Ice Cube Expresses Himself With Trademark Suit Aimed At Robinhood

It’s a generally good rule to be cautious of what images you use for your business on the grounds of copyright infringement — no company wants to be on the receiving end of a C&D or even a lawsuit, if things take that turn. It should be an ironclad one to steer absolutely clear when dealing with images of brands or athletes or celebrities or generally anyone who has the resources to take you on and the willingness - eagerness, even - to do so. 

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Why Won't Amazon Let Libraries Lend Its e-Books?

In the category of “new products, new problems” copyright for e-books might not rank terribly high, but the relative lack of attention doesn’t mean that there aren’t underlying issues that need to be resolved, lest they come to a head. As with other creations of its type, it’s a new iteration on a very old product, and that fundamental alteration either renders moot old questions or raises entirely new ones. Copyright law as it applies to books was written at a time when the process and resources involved in creating books places constraints upon the number of books that could be printed and then sold. So what happens with e-books, which can theoretically be sold or lent ad infinitum, with the only limits being hard drive space? 

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Zoom Takes Up Trademark Case Against Long-Time Partner

In business as in life, friends and partners can grow apart over time as one or both parties change. And in both instances, success can play no small part in shifting the nature of those relationships, particularly if one party experiences far more of it than the other. 

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Peleton Challenges Trademarks on Spin and Spinning

Trademarks are meant to protect a business’ particular brand, its unique identity and creativity that it has carved out for itself in the landscape. The best trademarks are the ones immediately evocative of a particular product or pitch, rendered in the space in your brain previously reserved for childhood memories or something else not pervaded by capitalism. Whatever you may think of branding, there is something to be said for it when done correctly and cleverly, and even the most sceptical wouldn’t begrudge it the legal protection it has earned. 

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'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Reboot Runs Into Copyright Suit

Wait long enough and you’ll live to see your favorite films come around again in a new, rebooted form, to the lamentations of those old enough to either remember the original or even care about such things. It’s trite to say that Hollywood currently is nothing but sequels, reboots and overextended franchises (and prospective overextended franchises) but the truth is in the headlines: most movies coming out came from something preexisting. And given that level of reliance upon such material, it seems only a matter of time before we see a growing docket of copyright cases against those revived films. 

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