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

LeBron James Files Taco Tuesday Trademark

In watching LeBron James display his generational talents on a basketball court (last season notwithstanding), I occasionally give thought to a few passing similarities between us. In many (zero) ways, we could be mirrors of one another: both from Ohio (that much is at least accurate), somewhat close in age (sadly, I'm a year closer to forty than he is), both tall (a reach) and gifted at basketball (I can make a few free throws in a row, maybe). Yet our paths diverged, and he has gone on to fame and glory, a mastery of the sports universe that few could ever hope to achieve and a personal brand that now extends into realms beyond the basketball court. But he doesn't have this nifty blog to chronicle his and others' IP exploits, so I've got that going for me.

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Amazon's New Audiobook Feature Draws Publishers' Ire

New technologies, and the subsequent advances in those new technologies, present new problems, particularly for laws drawn up and passed years, if not decades ago. In fairness, it's hard to plan for a future that you can't predict, and you only have to take a look at the portrayals of the future (now our present) in the movies of the past to see how bad we are at guessing how things will shake out. Largely we've exceeded our own wildest dreams, though I'm still waiting on my hoverboard from Back to the Future Part II.

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"Baby Shark" Heads to Court (Do do do do do do.)

In this space I cover a lot of stories pulled straight from the day's news, often involving multinational corporations and the equivalent level of stars from the entertainment business. All big deals, to be sure, but none could hope to approach the level of status on offer to artists geared to kids. While we as adults have tempered our ideas about the artists themselves, and moderate our consumption of their work, kids have no such notions, and love with a fervor and constancy that many artists could only dream of with their own fans.

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Ohio State University Leans Into Reputation, Files for "The" Trademark

There are few things that can make us take leave of our senses more readily than sports, and when combined with parochialism and a provincial mindset, a certain mania is loosed within the minds of otherwise sane people. In fans, it leads to tattoos, to drunken parking lot fistfights with opposing fans, to shelling out obscene amounts of money on tickets and merchandise and every bit of ephemera that our favorite teams can churn out to make a dollar off of our insanity. In teams and institutions, it produces a hubris that can lead to a host of decisions ranging from questionable to outright objectionable, and that is being kind in the latter.

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A Copyright Hoax Runs Wild

We've all spent enough time on the internet to have seen our share of hoaxes over the years. Maybe we've fallen prey to one or two, although we'd never admit it in public, and maybe not ever to ourselves. P.T. Barnum's dictum of " a sucker born every minute" applies to those other folks sharing our birth-minute, but not us, certainly, savvy minds that we are. But the truth is that we're all susceptible to get got if we don't keep a jaundiced eye to the trends sweeping the world wide web and its component apps, a cynical bend that might make us miss out on a bit of fun but at least protects us from looking the fool on occasion.

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McDonald's Trademark Battle in Ireland

There are few hings more totemically American, at least in origin, as McDonald's. The arches. The colors. The menu items. The subsequent guilt and shame that come with each meal. It's a brand that's been built over decades, and one that serves as the foundation of what we know as fast food today. What we see in the logo and understand with the name is that we are going to get food of a particular quality at an understood price and in short order. That understanding and assumption is the essence of any brand, and it's why McDonald's and others go to such great lengths to protect their brand against what they perceive as a taint or diminution.

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Lady Gaga Facing Copyright Claims For "Shallow"

There's no greater harbinger of potential legal issues than success. In a reading more generous to plaintiffs in the scores of lawsuits that pop up around successful artists, creators and businesses, you could assert that it's the success that brings the infringement to light; the aggrieved doesn't know they've had their idea infringed upon until they see its likeness in the news or on their screens or devices. You could just as easily say that some see a chance at a possible payday in those same stories. Both are undoubtedly true, but the determination of the measure of each is a matter of your outlook on the state of the legal system and the world as a whole.

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The Future is Deepfakes. Can Copyright Save Us? (Probably Not.)

The idea of the future as equal parts wonder and nightmare is an old one. It's all over our science-fiction, in particular the notion that the same advances that push us forward could serve as the seeds of our own destruction. Robots built to serve humanity ultimately enslave us, and technology binds us and restricts us in the name of transparency and security, civic-minded ideas masking an authoritarian agenda at its heart. Grim stuff, I know, but not so grim as to prevent us from propelling ourselves ever onward toward a version of that same future close enough to be functionally indistinguishable from what we've seen on page or screen.

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What's in a Name? Apparently $12 Million

Names ultimately matter. That's more or less the basis of trademarks as a concept: the right and the necessity to protect the name we've built for something that's ours. something we've created. Our lives are ordered in some part by names, both the ones we've coined in the recent history of modern innovation and those whose origins are lost to time. We drive to work on a series of named roads, to an office building or complex that likely has a name, to work for a company granted a name by its founder years, if not decades ago. Anything less than that would be chaos, and even the occasional re-brand has us shaken for months.

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The Battle Over CRISPR Patents

Modern-day science seems to dance along the fine line between awe-inspiring breakthrough and terrifying overreach. In the parlance of fiction, we seem to exist in the inflection point in the story wherein the scientist is making a decision that will ultimately lead them to go too far with their innovative work, dare too greatly and ultimately pays a personal cost — take your pick from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Octavius. Those are dramatic examples, certainly, and fictitious ones at that, but fiction does serve to highlight the human condition; science can be messy and contentious and at times terrifying, and yesterday's scorned scientist is tomorrow's supervillain.

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Liverpool F.C. Tries to Trademark...Liverpool?

You'll never know until you try. That's what "they" say, "they" usually being your parents or others who want to encourage you to stretch beyond your comfort zone to make an effort beyond what we think we can do. It;s a phrase that we associate with timidity, but in a certain context it applies to the more brazen among us, those who might dare something so bold that they think they might get away with it, if only for the fact that no one ever considered that someone might try to.

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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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