The Traklight Blog

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

Mike Willee

Mike is Traklight's Internet Media Coordinator, handling any project thrown his way. No matter how big or small, important or trivial the task might be, give it to Mikey. Before joining Traklight, Mike spent four years in the Navy, where he saw the world; the ocean parts of it, anyway. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Toledo, which is a superior school to Bowling Green State University in every respect. In his spare time, Mike enjoys writing about baseball and complaining about how underrated Joey Votto is to anyone who’ll listen.
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Recent Posts

Supreme Court to Hear Case of Booking.com Trademark

It's once again time to look to the Supreme Court for its determination on a matter of great import to the very foundation of our nation as one still capable of upholding its laws, norms and traditions in the face of wanton disregard of those very precepts.

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USPTO Seeking Input on AI Copyright Law

There's been some time spent in this space considering how technology will impact the future of copyright law, both in therms of how copyrighted material is now made (and how much), and also in how we as consumers are able to interact with that material, and if we so choose, violate that copyright with something like ease. It's been a consideration of how technology will change the relationship between creator/owner and the public, but to this point the principal players have remained the same.

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Supreme Court Also Taking On Google and Oracle Copyright Fight

Regular readers will recall that I cited a trademark case involving Booking.com and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as the matter of the moment, the case that was undoubtedly from of mind for every legal observer and pundit, the one that would shape the very future of these United States and our conception of ourselves as a civil society within something like democratic governance. And as loathe as I am to admit it, I was wrong. There is of course a monumental case awaiting the court's ruling, one that will actually have far-reaching impact, with consequences resounding throughout halls of power in the land, and I'm ashamed to say that I somehow missed it.

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"Spinal Tap" Creators Settle Lawsuit Over Song Rights

Music copyrights and royalties are already a sordid and messy affair, and that's without the added complication of streaming. There's artists, publishers, songwriters, and any number of other folks who have some stake in any given song, which means that there are just that many more people who can get lost in the shuffle as works move across media. Now add in a group that kinda exists but not really, with real songs for a fake documentary that's actually one of the great works of comedy filmmaking of the past (if you don't believe me, ask The Guardian) and you can find a particularly complex case of copyright and music.

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"Baby Yoda" GIFs Removed Over Copyright Concerns, Then Quickly Restored, Ending National Nightmare

As ephemeral and inconsequential as they many seem, GIFs are now an important part of the broader cultural conversation around TV or movies, all of which takes place on the internet, where GIFs are the lingua franca of the medium. It's how fans create a shorthand with one another, and it's also how shows and movies we've never seen can nevertheless have some fragment embed itself in our minds. They're the most important, least important part of a terribly important unimportant subject.

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Copyright Case Against Taylor Swift Heads Back to District Court

For observers of such things, there's nothing quite so confusing or maddening as the minds that make up the minds of the U.S. federal court system on matters of intellectual property law. (Though that feeling undoubtedly spreads to other areas, depending on your interests.) Although it's the nature of the beast that not every decision be one that you agree with, one would hope that the logic used to arrive at those decisions would at least hold up to scrutiny. Even as rulings might fall against your desired outcome, you want to at least think that the most basic precepts of law still apply, even as they are interpreted in a manner less to your liking.

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A Music Streaming Service on the Blockchain? What Could Go Wrong?

If there's one thing that I hope regular readers have noted, it's that I enjoy a story about the unintended consequences of decisions and actions. Perhaps enjoy is too strong; I highlight them to hopefully serve as an example of the perils of not fully thinking through one's choices, perhaps as a way to justify my own ponderous nature, if you were to take the thought to its logical end. Regardless, this is a space where you can see many an individual or business go astray because they simply thought about the good that might come of their choices without considering the bad that might accompany it.

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A Google Play Copyright Case: When Can We Blame Tools For How They're Used?

To what extent can creators be held responsible for the ways in which their creations are used, particularly if those uses fall outside of what is legal or ethical? It's a worthwhile question to consider these days. We've more technology in our hands —quite literally in the case of smartphones— than could have been dreamt of by technologists of yore, and yet all of that tech and all of those tools being readily available to so many means that there are those who would use them for less than legitimate means. You can think of identity theft and the dark web and any number of other nefarious enterprises and wonder how much blame is apportioned to those who helped to create the internet, a consideration that's probably unfair given how unlikely it was for anyone to imagine what the internet would become.

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Monster Energy Pushes Trademark Case Against Small Root Beer Maker

A common theme in this space, and many others like it, is the law as a weapon as much as a shield. Laws exist in theory to protect us, sure, but we're all eventually indoctrinated into the idea that laws also exist to protect the more powerful against challenge or consequence. There's a reason that we see companies like Facebook and others unencumbered by any fear of repercussion or reprisal when they do as they wish in the face of the greater good, and that's because there's rarely much chance that they'll face any measure of accountability. When you become so big that you can impose your will and face little pushback from even the bodies meant to keep you in check, we're reminded that justice and access to it are real and serious problems for many.

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TikTok to be Investigated for Copyright Theft?

It's true of most new things that it takes a while for the problems and kinks to get worked out. It tends to be particularly true when something has exploded overnight, as is wont to happen from time to time with new technologies and platforms. The benefits, the appeal are evident to everyone involved, but there's not as much thought given to what the potential drawbacks might be, or what the worst-case scenarios are in respect to users who are going to violate bounds great or small.

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Apple Finds Itself the Target of Patent Infringement Case

The tech world is no stranger to pressure, legal or otherwise, but this moment in time feels a bit different from years past. Suddenly Big Tech finds itself under scrutiny from lawmakers and opinion-makers alike, as they grow so large and so powerful that the biggest among them recognize that the constraints on their power can hardly be said to exist at all, particularly given how their technology underlays the world we now live in. It's probably not surprising given those circumstances that these same companies might try to push against what laws do constrain them, but at least for the moment the law still seems to be working, at least as far as IP goes.

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Does 'Terminator' Copyright Case Portend the Future of Film Rights?

For all of the machinery and marketing behind the big franchise movies we see on weekends, it's easy to forget how much of this is owed to writers who come up with these ideas in the first place, and who often don't get due credit and compensation for what they're ultimately making possible. There's a new case and a newly-resurfacing law that might chance our estimation and the power of writers in Hollywood, however.

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The Business of Delivering Legal Services: Webinar Recap

By way of an introduction to her Business of Delivering Legal Services course for Suffolk Law’s online Legal Innovation & Technology Certificate program, our own Mary Juetten gave a webinar with the fine folks of Suffolk Law to discuss what the course has to offer for attorneys and others adjacent to the legal industry, as well as a brief overview of the principles and ideas that the course imparts in hopes of bringing change a few attorneys at a time to an industry slow to adapt. Here are a few of the key points of the session, which you can watch here.

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Banksy Opens Shop to Fight Trademark Claim

It's hard enough for most of us to conceive of being famous for any reason, and harder still to imagine somehow being both famous and anonymous, which would seem to most to be a middle ground that few would want to occupy. Those who want fame would want all the trappings that come with it, while those fervently avoiding the spotlight likely wouldn't want the hassles that come with maintaining that fame. There are a few to have pulled off the trick over the years — the guys from Daft Punk, pretty much any superhero (though Batman is famous in both of his lives)— but no one has pulled it off quite like the street artist Banksy, and now that remove from direct fame is causing some trouble for his trademarks.

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"Comedians in Cars"Copyright Case Canned in Court

Within the confines of the legal system, copyright cases can seem rather banal compared to the more salacious proceedings on offer within the criminal courts. Copyright cases make the news, sure, but they're not likely to make the front page, save for the possibility of a day when a copyright case threatens to unravel a career or a media empire. There's not going to be a Law & Order iteration that's focused on IP cases, unless they're running really short on ideas. No, copyright cases are usually taking place in the background, everyday occurrences that can be taken for granted, and in that way they're perhaps more reflective of out lives as they actually are.

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Google Drops News Links in France in EU Copyright Battle

The newly enacted copyright laws in the EU have already been the source of no small amount of contention by parties who feel the regulations are too restrictive and onerous to those required to adhere to the guidelines. The laws have already faced a challenge from a country within the bloc, and there has been plenty of rumbling from the tech giants who find themselves now largely responsible for adjusting their practices to be in compliance. It's an incipient battle that might now be seeing its first volley.

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The Copyright Battle Over Lost Interview Tapes

Copyright can occasionally delve into some tricky, murky areas that raise questions about ownership and legalities and who has control over what. The cases are always interesting as observers with no skin in the game, as you get to see courts rule on questions you might never have considered and situations few would have imagined. Much of it circles around issues posed by new technology and the challenges it presents to the idea of copyright as we understand it, but occasionally there's a case that is purely analog and strictly offline that can still serve to raise those yet-unsettled questions.

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Air New Zealand Faces Potential Maori Boycott for Trademark Filing

Trademarks are a vital part of any business, and on most occasions, people don't or wouldn't begrudge a trademark filing from a company, save when it crosses a somewhat ill-defined line. Ohio State University trying to trademark "The" generated a certain amount of opprobrium, and people were upset that LeBron James attempted to trademark Taco Tuesday, and delighted when he was denied in his attempt. Those represent one strain of filings that offend our sensibilities in their ambition to capitalize on our common language, trying to turn a public good into private profit.

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Peloton Hit With Copyright Lawsuit From Music Publishers

Some of us are more intrinsically motivated to work out, more inclined and apt to stay healthy and in shape and disciplined to a diet that allows them to be the best version of themselves. More of us, however, are not that person; we're jealous and more than a little resentful of that person, if we're honest, provided that we've seen one of them in the real world. For the vast majority of us, exercise is a slog, and there's an entire industry that's cropped up to make it easier and more convenient for us to do something that we still nevertheless don't want to do. In recent years, the tricks involved in getting us on these machines have gotten even more advanced: TVs built in, music playing, even immersive experiences that simulate an outdoor bike ride. It's enough to make you consider exercise as near-entertainment, which is rather the point.

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