The Traklight Blog

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

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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Mercedes-Benz Seeks to Invalidate Artists' Copyright Claims for Instagram Ads

There's a pair of arcs that most stories involving intellectual property, big companies and artists fall into: in the first, said individual or business uses a trademark or copyright of a big brand in a way that the brand's parent company can't abide, the corporate behemoth lurches into action and pursues legal remedy against the perceived injury, and the case is more often than not adjudicated in favor of the august multinational conglomerate — a David and Goliath in reverse, minus the slingshot and the beheading. (The beheading always gets left out in the metaphor, understandably.)

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G.E. Aviation Targeted in Trade Secret Theft Plot

We don't often consider the role of intellectual property in international intrigue and espionage, to the extent that we give consideration of the real life existence and application of spycraft, but perhaps we should rethink how we consider the matter. After all, what is spying but the clandestine search for secrets and information, and the biggest corporations have seemingly as many to entice the corporate spy as governments do for their public-sector counterparts. It takes what can be the mundane in intellectual property and adds a dash of Ian Fleming and Graham Greene, albeit without some of the dramatic flourishes.

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YouTube Hits Copyright Troll With Lawsuit

YouTube is not short its problems, not least of which are its handling of copyright claims. Given the size of the platform, administering any element of the site is going to be a unique challenge, and the lure of DIY options has to cry out to staff that feel overwhelmed and overtaxed to keep up with the manifold problems that seem to be introduced every day. Their method, or one of them, for reporting copyright infringement —allowing users to flag offending content— seems perfect, unless you've spent a day or an hour on the actual internet. Not surprisingly, the system is ripe for exploitation by bad-faith actors looking to exploit others. It would be too simple to think that YouTube might simply do away with what is clearly a flawed notion, but they do seem to be taking some action to try and stem the issue, at least in miniature.

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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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