The Traklight Blog

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

Tiger King Offers Insight Into The Flaws of Copyright Law

The thing about notoriety, or infamy, is that it places a magnifying glass over every part of your life, and that's particularly true of the reality television stars of today. That means any legal trouble of legal issues you face become fodder for the internet, because there's seemingly nothing we enjoy more than the rise and fall of stars.

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National Geographic Wins Trademark Case Over "Untamed" Documentary

When it comes to products, names mean a lot, as do descriptors; some of the best brands are able to work descriptions into the name so as to leave no ambiguity as to what you're getting. The abstract or esoteric works for books that are looking to win awards, but is far less useful to other work that requires an audience to understand what is being offered so they can determine if they want to watch it. Within that rubric, creators are generally limited in how to describe any film or show; as much as we wish our vocabulary was more expansive, we generally confine ourselves to a few terms to describe certain ideas and concepts, and so it becomes hard for any creator to claim ownership over those terms.

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Is the Patent Office Awarding Too Many Patents?

As a political science student, you learn that much of what law and regulation ends up being in practice comes down to interpretation and implementation and enforcement on the part of the relevant agencies. Laws don't mean much if they're not enforced, or if the enforcement ends up being something different entirely from the original intent of lawmakers and regulators, but that, as we learned, is the nature of a government that relies upon a bureaucracy of numerous agencies and thousands and thousands of employees that can operate with semi-autonomy absent any direct guidance from above.

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NYU Law's Copyright Panel Gets Copyright Claim on YouTube

The general absurdity of YouTube's copyright system is well-trod territory on this blog, but it's always worth reiterating anytime the company bungles cases or otherwise misses the mark on IP matters; after all, YouTube is perhaps the repository of videos online, so if the copyright system is wrong on the site, it's going to affect far more people than almost anywhere else.

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Mashable Wins Copyright Case Over Embedded Post

Who owns what we see online? It's perhaps not a question we give too much thought about, at least beyond our own purview; so long as we don't see something that we own or created on some website, we're not too worried about the question, particularly given the overwhelming number of other worries we have on a daily basis.

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Should Copyright Be Eternal? UNESCO Seems To Think So

How long does our work survive beyond our time among the living? It's not a question that the average person has to much consider, although given how the internet is bound to our current existence, it's fair to say that traces of us will live on for years to come, even if you have to hit up the Wayback Machine to find them. For creators, questions about legacy and immortality are usually reserved for thinking of the collective consciousness, while realizing that the day will come when the financial benefits will disappear and the work will enter the public domain.

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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

While this space remains focused on intellectual property and all matters related, I would like to take the occasion presented by the story covered today to talk briefly about the importance of Michael Jordan. The fact that he was important isn't questioned by anyone who lived through the past thirty to thirty-five years as a sentient being, but he had a special significance to those of us who were kids at the point he was at the peak of his athletic and commercial powers. Words hardly do it justice; he was omnipresent and seemingly all-powerful, and anything that he deigned to endorse was a thing worth having, doubly so when your parents (rightfully, in retrospect) refused to accede to your whims and some clever marketing.

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Medical Technicians and IP Law

Need is a strong motivator, and urgent need of the kind felt in many walks of life during this pandemic will hopefully spur the kind of ingenuity that is demanded at the moment. Need during times of crisis is also not generally subject to the kinds of normal restrictions of law and regulation that might normally apply, either due to a suspension of or flaunting of the law, and so it serves as a window to examine the efficacy or need of those particular laws. Intellectual property might feel ephemeral in a time like this, but the story of how copyright and medical care intersect show how it underpins so much of the work we do and how its enforcement can do more damage than good.

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Disney's Tweet Claims Raise Copyright Questions

The story of copyright in the twenty-first century tends to be one of corporate overreach, though you perhaps can't blame big business for trying; after all, it falls to regulatory and oversight bodies to rein in the worst actions and instances of IP abuse, and those institutions don't always appear to be up to the challenge. That's not to say the overstepping companies bear no culpability, just that you can't expect those corporations to act in anything other than naked self-interest, and in the absence of someone telling them "no" they might assert rights they have no basis to claim.

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Tesla, Zoox Settle Trade Secrets Lawsuit

Nothing good can be said of the coronavirus, but to the extend that anything like the slightest silver lining on the darkest cloud can be seen, we can take the smallest amount of solace in the fact that banal misdeeds seem so much lesser now than they did a mere few weeks ago, and in fact almost seem a relief in comparison to the other news we're forced to confront on a daily basis. In that spirit, here is a quant story about trade secrets that harkens back to a simpler time when corporate misdeeds felt like a relatively significant issue.

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3M Sues Counterfeit N95 Mask Seller for  Trademark Infringement

Our current moment of crisis requires some combination of ingenuity and communal spirit and flexibility and, well, the results thus far are a mixed bag. There are countless people willing to give of themselves and their time to help both medical workers working long hours with dangerously low supplies and those people thrown out of work as the national economy abruptly slammed to a halt and companies began laying off employees. There are also those unable or unwilling to let a good crisis go unexploited, and we can only hope that history will be as unforgiving of them as they deserve.

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Online Education Exposes the Flaws of Copyright Law

The lockdown and isolation that we're all living through has brought certain realities to light; namely, that as much as many people may have lamented that much of life had moved online prior to March 2020, it was nothing compared to what we're experiencing right now. The last bastions of in-person activites have shuttered or moved online out of necessity, creating a brave new world that no one could have entirely predicted or prepared for. It's given us a new appreciation for the hassles of the physical world; personally, I'd give my paper towel supply to have the back of my seat kicked in a movie theater.

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Amazon Wins Trademark Duspute Over Third Party Infringement

Now more than ever we are made aware of our reliance upon Amazon in providing us with what we want and need, and for the duration of our current crisis questions about wages and hours for warehouse workers or the sheer dominance of the online retailer and whether that's good for anybody but Amazon become secondary to the urgent demand to get things without having to leave our homes. Seamless ordering and touchless delivery are vital at the moment, and Amazon has perfected the process of letting people order just about anything over the past decade. Who's actually providing those goods is another question, and it's at the center of a recent trademark case.

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Coronavirus Trademark Scams Pose Risk for Businesses and Consumers Alike

Given that the current moment we're living through, in which the coronavirus dominates every aspect of our lives, has been both recent and sudden and also seemingly eternal, it's both shocking and not at all surprising to see the amount of COVID-19 -related malfeasance and opportunism that has been unearthed. Bad actors are to be expected, even in a crisis (or perhaps especially in a crisis) but the speed with which the trademark applicants and patent trolls have made their plays would be impressive were it not so depressing.

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NBA2K Makers Win Summary Judgment in Copyright Case

There are no shortage of new problems technology has introduced into the world, but notionally there are some things that should be exempted from that principle, and for many young people, video games is front of mind as an example. The internet and smartphones may provide new ways to spy on us or hack our personal information along with their provided benefits, but there would seem to be little downside to the exponential improvement in video games over the course of this century. The load faster and look better than ever before, and with hundreds of millions of dollars poured into hardware and game development, we start to approach something like verisimilitude — which might be a problem, in some cases.

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Comedian Changes Name to Protest Trademark Misuse

It's become commonplace for big companies to target smaller businesses with trademark or copyright complaints over what could be termed marginal cases, if we're being generous. It's easy enough for the big companies to do — most have the budget for considerable in-house or outside counsel to pursue such cases, and there's no penalty for their aggressiveness; the worst that can happen is that they lose the case, at which point things return to the status quo ante.

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Musician Tries To Fix Copyright By Copyrighting All The Melodies

Music copyright has proven to be a tricky topic in recent years, given how readily available music is at present paired with the ability to take on alleged infringement, both through YouTube and in the courts. (Not that any court case would ever be considered easy.) The exponential growth in copyright cases within music is a matter of some debate and contention; some believe in the absolute ability of creators to protect their work from infringement, while others argue that influence and sampling are simply part of the art form, and that to take those away is to remove the ability for new artists to build upon what others have done, as they have for decades, if not centuries. It's not an argument that looks to be resolved anytime soon, although one ambitious musician is seeking to short-circuit the issue entirely.

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Quibi Accused of Patent Infringement Ahead of Launch

The idea that much of what is considered innovative or revolutionary may actually simply built upon a foundation of borrowed or stolen ideas is not a new one, but it's one that gets trotted out a lot in this century. The usual sequence of events dictates that a company gets big off a great new idea, another company pops up to content that new idea isn't in fact new and is their old idea stolen and re-purposed, and the matter goes to court to be settled months or years down the line. Our cynicism jades our view and begs the question: Is this company taking legal action now because the success brought the infringement to light, or because the success offers an opportunity to cash in? It's unfair to the businesses duly wronged, sure, but there are enough cases to suggest there's something to the latter view — enough to raise questions about every case you come across.

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Netflix Sued by Broadcom Over Alleged Patent Infringement

Great advances in technological innovation can make us marvel at where we are as a society and what's possible, but it's to the losers of the tech race to remind us that advances don't necessarily bring everyone along. Just as the horse and buggy was left in the dust by the advent of the automobile (almost quite literally), we now see that same obsolescence now, only more frequently and on an accelerated timeline. A quick look around the house probably reveals some device that was once a huge leap forward and now is on its way out, if not entirely outmoded already.

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