The Traklight Blog

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

Family of Jimi Hendrix Battles Over Trademark Rights

There is perhaps nothing sadder and more telling of the innate flaws of human nature than the inevitable fight that often takes place upon the death of a popular and prolific artist. We’ve all seen stories of the genre: family is pit against record label over the rights to the now-deceased artist’s work, or worse still, family is given over to internecine fighting over those same rights. We’d like to think our own families would do better, but then again none of us can imagine either the talent involved in creating such work or the money and privilege now accessible to those in the artist’s orbit. We’re all good until such a point as we’re bad, in short.  

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Apple Loses Appeal to Set Aside Patent Infringement Verdict

It’s hard to generate much sympathy for megacorporations, particularly at a time when they are bigger and more powerful than they’ve ever been, but there are instances where even they can garner something like sympathy among the broader public (or at least the public that follows intellectual property news.)  These massive companies aren’t necessarily popular, to be sure, but less popular still are the patent trolls that are seeking to make their living through frivolous, baseless lawsuits. 

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MLS Loses Appeal Over "Inter" Name

A bedrock tenant in intellectual property law is being first to the post when it comes to filing for trademarks; otherwise, you and your business or project are simply out of luck, regardless of the primacy of your creation. That said, there is something to having a history and building brand recognition separate and apart from any IP considerations, and when it comes to the world of sport, few deal in history more than soccer and its composite clubs and federations. 

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Minaj, Chapman Settle Copyright Case

In writing about legal cases, whether they be in the sphere of intellectual property or falling anywhere else outside of it, it’s quite easy to spend your attention on the initial battle, ignoring the ongoing fight or the eventual resolution. Largely that’s a function of the legal system itself and the astonishing amount of time it can take a particular case to matriculate through the courts; beginning and end in many instances are separated by years, and repercussion and adjudication matter far less than the fact that the initial filing that’s been largely forgotten as well. 

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LeBron James Adds Trademark Blocking to Repertoire

One of the benefits, one might suppose, of being among the most famous people on the planet is that relatively few people are unaware of important facts about you. It's fair to say that LeBron James ranks among those people, as his mega-stardom has made him known and recognizable the world over, even in places not enraptured with the game of basketball, and among those who don't know the sport at all and would struggle to name another player. His brand is ubiquitous, to use marketing parlance, to the point that it's hard to imagine anyone might be unaware of it.

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Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts Locked In Trademark Conflict

Few things sever any lingering connections to your childhood like the disillusionment with those things you once held in great esteem at that age. It's perhaps the root of much cynicism that people and organizations that ostensibly exist to support and nurture young people are eventually discovered to be flawed in ways great and small, and perhaps no organization embodies this more than the Boy Scouts of America. Once though of as a body that could instill positive values in young people, BSA has fallen far from that perch in the light of recent scandals, with the most damning being tens of thousands of claims of sexual abuse that came to light in recent bankruptcy filings.

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Star Trek/Dr. Seuss Mashup Found To Be Not Protected By Copyright Law

To the extent that the internet is a net positive to the world at large (and after the last few years I am open to arguments to the contrary) one of its great gifts is the weird and funny mashups gifted to us by creative folks all over the world. Like peanut butter and chocolate, they take two great things and demonstrate they work well together, or at the very least are odd enough in their juxtaposition to provide the requisite humor. And many creators, for their part, either appreciate the love and creativity that goes into the mashups, or at least recognizes that the work is likely transformative enough to not be subject to a copyright infringement case.

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French Environmental Groups Seek To Gain Use of Planet Trademark

One of the more salient points undergirding pitches for collective action on things like climate change is that we share this place we call Earth, not only with our contemporaries but with future generations. Both states and individuals can claim ownership of some portion of land or sea or sky, but true ownership ultimately eludes any such as us who are transitory figures on a body that has existed long before we arrive and will continue to exist after we've departed as a species.

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Discarded Brands Might Return, But Should They?

Amidst the ongoing reckoning over America's largely shameful treatment of people of color, branding probably ranks as a secondary or tertiary concern, but it is a concern nonetheless. Changes in that arena aren't going to be as meaningful or substantive as changes to broader social policy, but there is a case to be made that we can't move forward, or even hope to move forward, until we make changes to the signifiers and reminders we see everyday without thought or consideration. Just last month, Cleveland's baseball team announced they'll be dropping the name "Indians" after over a century of use, after Washington's NFL franchise announced their own name change earlier in the year.

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Happy Belated Public Domain Day!

If you're a fan of the arts, a tradition on parallel with the dropping of the ball in Times Square which was admittedly eerie this year) is the ushering in of the unofficial holiday of Public Domain Day on January 1st.

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F1 Driver Lewis Hamilton Loses Trademark Appeal in EU Court

You could be forgiven for thinking that the biggest thing going for the surname Hamilton is the Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned musical, a blockbuster of both stage (back when theaters were open) and screen (via a release on Disney+). But that would be a myopic view of both the world and pop culture, one that excludes the larger world of culture and sport. And in the interest in broadening all of our horizons, we're heading across the pond and into the cockpit for today's IP news.

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Streaming Site Liable For Copyright Infringement of Users

Given what we've seen of how people can behave online, it's probably good and almost certainly necessary that some protections exist for platforms and internet service providers. That's not to absolve the likes of, say, Facebook from moderating what's posted on their site, or taking steps to prevent the violation of laws on the part of users to a reasonable degree; it's simply to note that even with the best efforts of these companies (which, to be clear, we almost certainly aren't seeing) there's not much to be done should people decide to do whatever they want, rules be damned.

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New Proposed Law Would Make Copyright Violations a Felony

I wrote just last week about efforts to place some measure of copyright reform, along with other dull or unpalatable legislation, inside the new spending bill that is grinding through Congress at a pace that can be considered less-than-glacial, given the effects of global warming. To recap: the CASE Act is a flawed attempt at improving existing copyright law with what would be a copyright small claims court, likely opening it up to more abuse on the part of bad-faith actors rather than less, and the danger presented in this anodyne, pro-forma bit of bundling is that no one will care enough about something like IP law to hold up overdue COVID-19 relief.

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Frank Sinatra, Come On! AI Bot Song Covers Get Copyright Complaint From YouTube

Copyright concerns probably don't rate as even a second-order issue when it comes to artificial intelligence, but it is an interesting topic if you're inclined to think of such advances esoterically. What does it mean about us, about our creativity, if a machine is able to replicate it in some manner? Is the idea of creation somewhat diminished, even though the existence of AI requires in and of itself creativity? Will there come a time when human creativity is rendered unnecessary by this AI, and all of our content is generated by machines designed to optimize your enjoyment of it?

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Copyright Issues Keep Chrysler Building Out Of Spider-Man Game

We cover video games here from time to time, in part because, well, I enjoy video games, but also because they provide a fascinating window into copyright issues as they approach greater degrees of photorealism. Just as LeBron's tattoos would never have even been a consideration, much less a problem, a decade ago, the depiction of a city and all its component architecture in a game wouldn't have been conceivable not that long ago. And yet here they are, and with copyright issues in tow.

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Copyright Reform Slated To Be Added to Spending Bill

If you're exhausted of politics (and at this point, who isn't) rest easy; this isn't a post on politics, or at least not politics as we've come to think of it in 2020. The issue at hand harkens back to a simpler time, or at least a time more familiar to those of us who chose to watch how the proverbial sausage was made at a time when there was a choice to look away and go about your life.

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St. Louis Gun Couple In Copyright Fight With Photographer

You could be forgiven if you've forgotten the names Mark and Patricia McCloskey — indeed, you could be counted lucky in that regard. But likely you recall the gun-waving couple that caught national headlines earlier this summer during the Black Lives Matter protests in St. Louis, even if the names attached to those figures failed to stick. They seemed likely candidates for a mere fifteen minutes of fame, but alas, it would appear that the pair that took to their front yard armed with guns might be somewhat confrontational! Who might have guessed?

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Oatly Misses Out On Trademark for Obvious Claim

Most people intuit that advertising is some mix of fact and fiction; not lies per se, but perhaps a burnished version of the truth. Rare is the product that actually changes our life (although, fingers crossed) and that knowledge is baked into our reading or viewing of advertisements. We look past the embellishment to try and discern if the product in question will do what we want, at a price we can live with. Everything else is about rising above the noise to grab our attention in the first place.

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Online Anti-Cheating Tool Proctorio Uses DMCA TO Silence Critics

If you'll forgive visiting once more with a frequent topic of this blog, we have to talk yet again about the DMCA. Specifically, about the ability of seemingly any company to use the DMCA for other than what it was ostensibly created, which is to protect copyright on the internet. We've seen the fruits of the maximalist position that most corporations have taken: every video that even makes mention of a product ends up flagged, regardless of the dictates of fair use. It's rote at this point to say that the implementation of the DMCA has been manipulated to the point of near-uselessness, but it's worth saying over and over again, in the hopes something might change.

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Zapier and Zoom In Trademark Scuffle Over Zaps

At the risk of sounding glib, has any company fared better during the pandemic relative to its prospects otherwise than Zoom? Amazon has done well, sure, but Amazon will always do well. Zoom, on the other hand, has gone from useful to vital in a period of months, and probably more accurately in a period of a few weeks in the spring when every meeting became a virtual one. I can't attest to Zoom's outlook pre-COVID, but undoubtedly this period has led to the type of success that spurs thoughts of exponential growth and, inevitably, brings lawsuits.

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