The Traklight Blog

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

Gmail to Use Trademarked Logos For Email Authentication

It’s easy to start thinking of trademarks as instruments to profit off of, or to be used in legal battles as either shield or cudgel, but it’s occasionally worth remembering their more basic functions and how those serve businesses in very real and tangible ways. For example, you create a logo to identify your business to identify your company and products to consumers, and in time that logo comes to mean something more than just an image. You build equity in a brand, and in time trust from consumers, and in trademarking that logo you’re protecting not only yourself and your business, you’re also protecting consumers from potential knockoffs that look like what you sell but aren’t to the quality they’ve come to expect. 

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Apple Wins Trademark Case Over 'Memoji' Feature

It’s hard enough for any small or midsize business to take on corporations in any sort of intellectual property case in the best of circumstances, with evidence and the law ostensibly on their side. The court systems are overworked and the process is by design deliberative, which is another way of saying slow, and both of those facts work to the benefit of the bigger business that can afford to let things play out without any significant diversion of energy or resources. Occasionally, with enough perseverance and perhaps a bit of fortune, individuals and small businesses come out on top, but that requires them to get everything right. 

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The Newest Olympic Event: Copyright Hammer Toss

Depending on your level of engagement, the Olympics can be an all-consuming event for the two or so weeks it’s on every two years. It’s typically everywhere on TV across a family of networks, unless you’re NBC and more interested in making viewers jump across websites and channels and platforms called Peacock to find their event of choice as though that hunt was an Olympic event in and of itself. And in recent iterations, it’s all over social media, as viewers share the best or at least most interesting moments of the day’s events. 

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Nintendo Wins Judgment in Infringement Case, Gets Nothing

It’s not uncommon to see corporations go after fans who are engaged in infringement of that company’s intellectual property, and it’s easy to understand why even if you don’t always agree: every business wants full control over their IP and how it’s used and sold, and these fans are taking money out of the pockets of said business or using the IP in a way that the company doesn’t agree with, or often both. And it’s usually the case that these corporations prevail; after all, they have both the legal rights to that IP as well as a legal team to see out these cases, whereas individuals are probably put in some degree of financial distress just to afford a single lawyer for their case. Which raises an interesting question: what exactly are these corporations getting out of the lawsuits they pursue against individuals?

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Disney's Loki Trademarks Draw Criticism From Fans

Hard as it may be to believe now, the conglomeration known as Disney has its origins as an animation studio trying to make its way in the early days of Hollywood. Harder still to believe, given that Disney now seems to own much of the existing popular intellectual property that exists, was that the nascent studio owes no small amount of its success and survival to IP that it didn’t own. Sure, Mickey Mouse was a Walt Disney original, but Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the film that stands as the company’s first crowning achievement, comes from a German fairy tale that the Brothers Grimm put to paper. Cinderella similarly has its origins as a folk story long before Disney decided to make it an animated film. 

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Oatly Pursues Trademark Case Against Family Farm

The past few years has seen an explosion of products that are new variations on old staples. Take milk, for instance. For most of my life milk was synonymous with cow’s milk, and really that was the only milk you could get. Goat’s milk garnered the occasional mention, but only as something that you drank on a farm or out in the country where options were limited. 

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College QB Files First Trademark Under New NCAA Guidelines

One of the bedrock principles of our capitalist arrangement is that people have the ability to use what ability they have to make a buck for themselves, however that may be. We can debate about how that plays out in reality across multiple levels of society, but for the purposes of this article, let’s accept that as more or less true. 

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Supreme Court Ruling Curbs Patent Appeal Board Judges' Power

A lot of attention in any intellectual property case is paid to either the plaintiff or the defendant, or both, and rightfully so: theirs is the dispute at the heart of the case. Far less attention is given to the judges in any of those cases, which again seems as it should be; like a referee or umpire at a sporting event, the job is to adjudicate the action between the two main parties and apply the rules as written, and if you’re becoming a principal actor in the story the chances are you’re doing something wrong. But what if you’re not supposed to be refereeing the game in the first place?

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EU Sides With YouTube in Copyright Infringement Challenge

It’s nothing new, but the role and responsibility of social media platforms when it comes to the behavior of its users is something that will probably be contested until such time as the internet ceases to be a thing, which at this point seems concurrent with the end of humans as a species. Platforms profess to be little more than middlemen and -women, understandable not wanting to be responsible for the behavior of tens or even hundreds of millions of users, most of whom are shorn of the inhibitions that otherwise constrain them in real life. Arrayed on the other side are governments and rightsholders and anyone else troubled by the notion of a digital world largely free of the laws that govern civil society. 

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Washington Football Team Loses Trademark Bid For 'Washington Football Team'

A point often made, and worth repeating ad nauseum, is that it’s crucial to get your intellectual property affairs in order early, and to do so in a thorough, comprehensive manner. Scrambling after the fact to try and get whatever trademarks or copyrights or patents you need isn’t a good process, and rarely leads to good results. It’s all a bit reminiscent of doing an end-of-term paper in the two or three days before it was due and hoping for a generous grading curve from the professor. (Not, uh, that I have any experience with such things.)

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Will Suns Fever Bring Copyright Concerns?

It’s a common thread in IP stories that fans — those passionate, dedicated individuals that make up the core constituency of any successful product, particularly in entertainment — don’t know and often don’t care all that much about trademarks and copyrights when it comes to their fandom. The law surrounding IP isn’t something that most people are all that familiar with in the first place, and in the heat of their passion they’re not about to go digging about on the USCO or USPTO websites to see what they can and can’t do. And passions can run high particularly in sports, where there are wins to celebrate and results to measure, and as wins mount the fervor grows.

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EU's Copyright Filters Fail to Protect Users

In a past life I was a student of governance and politics, and while that pursuit left me with little to show for it beyond a considerable raft of student loan payments, I did learn some important truths about how laws and rules actually work. There is of course the law as it’s proposed and written, the version of the law that is passed, and the law as implemented and interpreted. It’s in the latter stage where things can go a bit sideways, if they haven’t already done so previously, and where no small amount of public frustration with bureaucracy is born. 

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Cleveland's MLB Team Files Trademark Challenges To Potential Names

An important tip frequently made in guides to starting your own business is that it’s smart to land on the right name the first time, because it can be hard to change. There are of course branding questions, and concerns about losing the equity that you may have built, but there is an equally salient point about choosing a name that you can use for intellectual property purposes because, again, it’s hard to make changes. 

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Spurious Copyright Case Against Netflix, 'Outer Banks' Dismissed

I’m not privy to the thoughts of smart, creative people, but if I had to guess there are many ideas and stories bouncing around at all times, and enough creatives in the world to guarantee that there is going to be overlap between ideas, or similar ideas that occur concurrently, without any theft or misappropriation. Who could forget the summer of Dante’s Peak and Volcano, or the very next summer of Armageddon and Deep Impact? The point is that coincidences happen, and that we had a real taste for natural disaster movies in the 90s. 

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Instagram Faces Copyright Suit Over Embed Policy

If you’re of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with the many practices that were necessary to circumvent ownership and copyright in the halcyon days of the 1990s (and earlier). Given that many of us were too young to think about the relative morality of what we were doing, or to even be aware of copyright, taping songs off of the radio onto a cassette, or using the two-VCR method of making copies of the tapes you rented from the local video store was something you did without compunction. The point isn’t about the advance of technology or the relative behavior of kids decades ago, but rather that means of working around copyright protection have always existed, and persist to this day.  

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Banksy Loses Trademark Bid In EUIPO Case

Part of the problem with being an artist that is both world famous and also anonymous (or perhaps more accurately, pseudonymous) is that it presents a real challenge in protecting your work, should you choose to do so. Or at least one assumes; I am not a world famous anything, so I can’t speak definitively on the topic. But it seems to be a problem for Banksy, who has run into some trademark issues in the past that are undoubtedly harder to contest when you’re exerting so much effort to maintain a hidden identity. 

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Are Copyright Filings Spoiler Material?

If you’re someone who prefers to go into a movie or show cold, with no knowledge of what might happen, then you’re living in challenging times. Regardless of how you feel about the concept, we’re in the age of spoilers, inescapably and ineluctably. Avoiding knowing how the hottest show or biggest movie of the moment involves staying off the internet entirely, which is wholly inconvenient; conversely, if you’re the impatient type who just has to know the big twist or shock ending, there are plenty of places to go to get the information you’re looking for — including, improbably, the Copyright Office. 

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Rockstar Games Loses DMCA Bid To Take Down Recreated GTA Source Code

If you’re unacquainted with modern video games, having dropped out of that world as soon as the real world offered something more substantive to cling to (if you ever picked up gaming at all), you might assume that video games, by their nature, would be easy to find and play at any time. They’re entirely the creation of programming, so they would seem a likely candidate to be ported into whatever database to be replicated across platforms until the end of time. They aren’t, though, and while the game industry’s reasons for that decision requiring some explanation, gamers themselves have gone to great measures to circumvent those choices — often drawing action from game publishers and studios.

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Candy Maker Goes After Infringement Case For THC Knockoffs

Anyone who has been in a grocery store is well aware of what are, for lack of a better term, knock-off or generic versions of more widely recognizable products. Indeed, as a kid there was few greater disappointments than asking your parents for a snack or sugary cereal from the store, only to have them return with the lesser version that they picked up because it was cheaper, because your parents had to think about things like budgets and not solely about snacks or the day’s Nickelodeon lineup. Brand names matter, is the point, and they matter a lot when it comes to candy, at least when you’re in the target demographic its makers are appealing to.

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