The Traklight Blog

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

Mrigank Mishra

Mrigank is Traklight's Blogging Alchemist. He is a law graduate from India and is currently pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Arizona. Mrigank has worked with startups, handling social media and legal compliance. In his spare time, Mrigank enjoys stealing candy from babies—which is a lot harder than you might think.
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Recent Posts

IP Best Practices: Well-Drafted Agreements, Step 6

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step five to managing your IP: limiting access to sensitive information. Please check back every Monday for the next step in this series.

For all those who have absolute faith in humanity, being cautious is not the same as being cynical. Swearing on one’s honor and spit handshaking is all well and good but backing it up with signed documentation is even better. Always make sure you have your employees and clients sign iron clad contractual agreements protecting the interests of the company, especially your intellectual property (IP). I cannot stress this enough. This provides clear and irrefutable proof in case someone infringes your IP (here's a great example of why intellectual property agreements are so important).

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IP Best Practices: Limit Access to Sensitive Information, Step 5

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step four to managing your IP: code of conduct. Please check back every Monday for the next step in this series.

Some information is best kept limited to certain key employees. The more employees that have access to intellectual property (IP), the higher the probability that such information may be disclosed. This not only reduces the likelihood of leaks but also factors in favor of protecting IP for purposes of trade secrets. We understand that some confidential information has to be shared in order for the business to run, especially in the context of startups where most team members wear multiple hats. But as much discretion can be employed, should. For example, it is unnecessary to discuss the specifics of the venture capital funding your business is receiving to a contractor hired to build your website.

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Copyrights in Technology: SoundCloud Equity Deal to License Music

SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform founded in 2007 by two Swedish artists, and has since gained over 250 million users. This German company initially started as a means for new artists to share their music, receive feedback, and communicate with their fans, but is expanding to include popular mainstream artists as well. It wants to become the YouTube of music, but unlike YouTube which can play music by major recording labels due to multiple licensing deals, SoundCloud has to take down such content. Although SoundCloud has a copyright do’s and don’ts list on its website and removes infringing content after providing Takedown Notices for copyright infringement, they do not want to have to provide such notices as they grow.

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IP Best Practices: Code of Conduct as a Means of IP Protection, Step 4

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step three to managing your IP: Manage. Please check back every Monday for the next step in this series.

A company is made up of its employees. They are the people that carry out the day-to-day affairs. While interacting with third parties with your intellectual property, it is important that all your employees know how much disclosure is safe, and when to get a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Prepare a code of conduct for all employees to follow so they do not inadvertently disclose or infringe IP.

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Trademarks in Business: Black Is Not the New Green

When we think of trademarks in business, we think of slogans, phrases, logos, and symbols. But both the WIPO and the Lanham Act define this segment of intellectual property (IP) broadly as anything used in commerce and distinguishes a brand from others in the market. That includes shapes, sounds, fragrances, and even colors–although it is a lot harder to trademark a color, it is not unheard of. The party seeking such a trademark must establish that consumers in the specific market associate the color with their products. Back in 1995, the US Supreme Court in Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products Co., Inc. held that a color could be trademarked if the owner could show that the color acquired "substantial distinctiveness" and "secondary meaning in the market."

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IP Best Practices: Managing Intellectual Property, Step 3

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step two to maximizing your IP: Protect. Please check back every Monday for the next step in this series.

People tend to forget about intellectual property (IP) after registering it once–a mistake that can cost dearly. As we discussed in our previous blog about protecting IP, the goals of startups or entrepreneurs can change over time, and as such the utility to be leveraged from your IP can change. Even if your goals do not change, some IP may require renewals or routine registrations and filings. Trademark infringement, for example, has to be policed by the owner; no government agency does it for you. Failing to do so may lead to loss of the trademark.

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Don't Get Sued for Copyright Infringement Despite Fair Use

A scandal that rocked the world half a decade ago is finally drawing to a close. UK Prime Minister’s former Director of Communications, Andy Coulson, was found guilty of conspiring to hack phones from 2000 to 2006 while he was the editor of News of the World, a subsidiary of News Corp. But News Corp is in the news for more than a criminal offense. News Corp Australia owns 142 newspapers and recently started a feud with new kid on the block, Daily Mail Australia. The acrimony started in early June when News Corp threatened to sue Daily Mail if they did not cease plagiarizing their work and called Daily Mail’s journalists “copy snatchers and parasites.” Daily Mail countered back by stating that News Corp has lifted 10 of their stories from their website without citing proper credit or linking back to the original story. Amongst the stories lifted, Daily Mail claimed News Corp had used an exclusive video of One Direction smoking cannabis without providing them with proper credit.

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IP Best Practices: Protecting Intellectual Property, Step 2

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step one to maximizing your IP: Identify. Please check back every Monday for the next part in this series.

Once you are done identifying your intellectual property, the hard part begins. As much as we would all love a magical wand that, with a flick of the wrist, automatically protects all your IP against the world at large, none exists. Trust me, I have checked. But fear not, you can conquer this overwhelming task with some help and a deeper understanding of what you want from your IP.

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Cloud DVR Provider Aereo Found Guilty of Copyright Infringement

Update: Aereo recently filed for bankruptcy protection to protect the value of its assets as it tries to find buyers for its intellectual property. The technology involved is revolutionary but the litigation around the product deterred a number of prospective buyers. This case illustrates the importance of intellectual property in today’s market. A company that was set to disrupt the cable industry, flying high with more than 90 million in funding, completely collapsed when its business model was found to be infringing intellectual property.

On April 30th, before the Supreme Court decided if Aereo was guilty of copyright infringement, Michael Witham shared a blog about this story with our readers.

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IP Best Practices: Identifying Intellectual Property, Step 1

Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced 10 steps to maximizing your IP. Today's blog is the second in this series, and the first to begin discussing each of those steps in sequence. Please check back every Monday for the next part in this series. Enjoy!

The big question that anyone running a business asks, or at least should be asking, is, “Do I have IP?” The first step (identifying intellectual property) may seem like the most obvious but not enough entrepreneurs and startups understand the importance and urgency of it. Before you can get legal protection for your IP, you have to find out what type of IP you posses.

Although easy to identify popularly understood intellectual property such as copyrightable materials, your company may possess a plethora of IP that you didn't even know qualified as such. Take trade secrets for example: Many companies do not understand how much discretion to employ when conducting their affairs and what methods to use to protect a competitive method from being used by their competitor. All that to say, understanding your intellectual property is a prerequisite to identifying what type of IP you have created.

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Intellectual Property Best Practices: 10 Steps to Maximize Your IP

Intellectual property (IP) is the untapped potential of a business that, if left unharnessed, is completely wasted, but when properly managed can be a goldmine. Yet time and again startups and entrepreneurs, despite having a basic understanding of IP, tend to avoid creating an effective IP strategy. An average startup with financial constraints will not prioritize IP protection in the belief that its resources are better spent elsewhere on more concrete and tangible goals such as sales, product development, and expansion. But just because a lot of IP is intangible does not mean its value is any less important. If anything, the present economy values it more. A good IP strategy for startups goes a long way towards longevity and success in the marketplace.

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Samsung enters 10 year patent pacts with Cisco Systems and Google

Sue me once, shame on you; sue me twice, shame on me. After having been found guilty of patent infringement on more than one occasion in the recent past, Samsung has finally realized it needs a change in strategy. After shelling out a billion dollars to Apple and now being sued by Rockstar, an industry consortium, for infringing Nortel patents, Samsung has started to take preemptive measures. In the race for tech domination, it is very easy to step on other people’s toes as a lot of today’s technology is overlapping. Next thing you know, you’re slapped with a patent infringement suit and there goes a cool billion down the drain.

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The Pirate Bay no longer banned in the Netherlands

One of the most used piracy sites is the aptly named “The Pirate Bay”. It was founded in 2003 in Sweden and in 2009 after much legal controversy, the founders were found guilty for facilitating illegal file sharing of copyrighted material. They received a one year jail sentence and had to pay a 46 million SEK fine. But the sites popularity continued to soar, frustrating copyright advocacy groups around the world. But following a number of court cases and government proactive action, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censured sites on the internet. It is banned in the U.K., Italy, China and a number of other countries.

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Where does patent law draw the line?

I love intellectual property. I study law so reading about the changing legal landscape over generations is of some interest to me. Studying the evolution of rights, from being afforded only to tangible objects, to their extension to include intangible assets, has been inspiring. But every once in a while you hear about the misuse of the system that just makes your blood boil. I was following such an episode. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending but it having to be a story at all bothers me.

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