The Traklight Blog

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

My Reflections on Collision Conference

I recently attended WebSummit’s US franchise Collision in New Orleans. Note to self: bring along gluten-free snacks for next trip to NOLA! In all seriousness, it was a very slick conference – excellent use of space to pack in 630 startups! 

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#phxfff Inaugural Female Founders' Forum

The most exciting thing to me about last night’s event was the location. While the Pig’s Meow was a wonderful place to be, I was excited by the fact our event was in Phoenix! I was so inspired by the room full of about forty female founders.

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Hitting 10 Common IP Myths Like a Wrecking Ball

The wide world of intellectual property (IP) can seem a little convoluted and hard to navigate. You hear from one source it's not a big deal and you can wait on it (we do not agree!), and then from another that it's one of the most important things to factor in as you start your business. We are going to tear apart 10 common IP myths so you'll never again have to question which way is up for IP and intangibles.

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Why It's Important to Own the IP Rights to Your Work: Marvel vs. Kirby

Comic books have become the source material for most of our summer blockbusters, their inventive worlds consumed by the film industry Galactus to slake its hunger for profitable material. Their expansion to the big screen, along with forays into the worlds of television, video games, and other media, have turned superhero franchises into financial juggernauts. If the proliferation of comic book conventions is any indication, there are countless nerds breathlessly waiting to hand over their money to the Marvels and DCs of the world for a glimpse at Batman v. Superman, the Avengers v. Ultron, or the X-Men v. diminishing returns. And after years of dispute over a copyright lawsuit, an industry legend’s estate may be getting its due.

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Trademark Infringement on the Big Screen?

The world of comic books is a fanciful place, featuring heroes and villains that can seem wholly unrealistic but nevertheless fun. Indeed, if recent box office returns are any indication, our appetite for movies based on those characters have never been higher. Our summers for years to come would appear to be stocked with films that will take us to realms of men of iron, women of wonder, and delightful dancing trees. But one software company tried to claim there’s a bit too much reality in one of our most iconic hero’s films, to no avail.

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Trademarks and Blue Jays v. Bluejays.

In the world of sports, it’s not terribly uncommon for teams to have the same nickname. A quick search of college and professional team names turns up 28 Lions, 39 Tigers, and 26 Bears, to say nothing of derivations thereof, like Bengals or Grizzlies. Teams that don’t adhere to those conventions can end up with names ranging from the unique and inscrutable (I’m still not sure what the Toledo Mud Hens, my hometown minor league baseball team, is named after) to the controversial (notably Washington’s professional football team). For most professional teams, there’s enough differentiation between themselves and their counterparts in both other sports and the amateur ranks to peacefully co-exist. But now one professional team is going after a college sports program that shares its name for perhaps sharing a too-similar logo.

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Trademark Infringement Battle of the Comic-Cons

Every July, thousands of pop culture enthusiasts descent on San Diego to take part in what has become the preeminent event in geek culture: San Diego Comic-Con. Fans come looking for merchandise, panel discussions, and the latest news on all their favorite franchises, and entertainment studios are more than willing to oblige in an effort to build excitement for upcoming projects. The name Comic-Con has become synonymous with big stars, bigger films, and internet-melting news. But alleged misuse of the name on the part of another convention has prompted legal action that might determine the course of similarly named events across the country with a trademark infringement battle.

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Trademarks in Media: Tyler Perry Wins Mark For "What Would Jesus Do"

If you are a fan of the performing arts, it would be hard not to possess at least a tangential knowledge of Tyler Perry. He’s written or had a hand in numerous plays, movies, books, and television series, almost all with his name prominently featured in the title to draw fans in. Unfortunately, his endeavor into realm of  trademarks in media has landed him into a bit of legal drama that he might rather his name not be attached to.

Perry was awarded the trademark to the phrase “What Would Jesus Do” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in his battle with Kimberly Kearney, a former contestant on the VH1 reality series I Want to Work for Diddy. When Perry originally filed for the trademark in May 2008, Kearney had already made a filing on the phrase five months earlier with the intent to create a reality television show. When Kearney’s filing was published for opposition in 2010, Perry and his aptly-named Tyler Perry Studios challenged, claiming no use on the part of Kearney. Kearney and her lawyers argued that she had shared the program and title with Tyler Perry Studios and had solicited funding in the early stages of production and that Perry and his studio subsequently filed their trademark claim after learning of the show.

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Taking the Scary Out of Startup: Why Startups Succeed, Part 9

Previously on our Taking the Scary Out of Startup series, we discussed the importance of company formation.


Plan & focus

Planning and focusing are two words that we try to use every day at Traklight. Not only in the big picture context of starting with the exit as the end goal and working backwards, but with our daily tasks. Each week we make a list of our top three priorities and check with the team to make sure we are aligned.

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Taking the Scary Out of Startup: Why Startups Succeed, Part 8

Company Formation

Previously on our Taking the Scary Out of Startup series, we discussed how ideas are just the start. Once you decide to move forward with that idea, you must start form your company. This should be one of the first stems, and is not just "nice to have." Operating without a business entity can put your personal wealth and assets at risk. When I was in law school (remember I have a law degree but I am not a practicing attorney), our business law professor loved to say that any attorney who recommends a sole proprietorship to run a business sets themself up for malpractice.

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Patent Office Revokes Trademark Protection for Redskins Name

The Washington professional football franchise has come under increasing scrutiny over the past few years for its continued use of the nickname “Redskins,” with critics deriding the use of a pejorative term as the team name and castigating team owner Dan Snyder’s unwillingness to even consider changing it.  A recent ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may force the issue.

The USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board voted 2-1 to rescind six trademarks related to the team name and past logos, stating that the name “Redskins” is “disparaging to Native Americans,” although the team’s current logo is still protected. The case was first brought to the board in 2006 by members of four Native American tribes. In its ruling, the board cited that its mandate was to determine whether the name was offensive to the people that it referenced at the time that they were registered, without consideration for whether the name is offensive to the population at large. The now-cancelled trademarks had been filed between the years of 1967 and 1990.

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World Cup Fans Carded For Trademark Infringement

Every four years, people around the globe gather in front of their televisions to watch the World Cup. National pride swells, and old rivalries are renewed (with the aggression hopefully limited to the pitch). Countries like England, Italy, and Mexico take a pause from being world leaders and become the Three Lions, Gli Azzurri, and El Tri (respectively) for four weeks. Fans relive memories of head-butts and Hand(s) of God, and tell tales of bygone heroes with names like Pele, Eusebio, Beckenbauer, and Cruyff. It wouldn’t come as any surprise to find that fans around the world might be posting pictures of flags or even the World Cup logo to social media in their fervor. But fans doing so may soon find themselves in the crosshairs of soccer’s governing body, and dealing with the repercussions of trademark infringement.

FIFA has asked Twitter to send takedown notices to over 100 users who have used the logo of the 2014 World Cup as their profile’s avatar image. Twitter policy states that in instances when there is a “clear intent to mislead others through the unauthorized use of a trademark,” they will suspend the account and notify the user. However, in instances where Twitter determines that the user account “appears to be confusing users, but is not purposefully passing itself off as the trademarked good or service,” Twitter will allow the user the chance to clear up any potential confusion. While it seems likely these offenders are simply enthusiastic fans, FIFA has proven itself zealous in defending its brand, even in its commercial partnerships.

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Disney's Relaxed Attitude Concerning Intellectual Property Protection

Disney is taking a more relaxed attitude toward intellectual property protection. One of the problems with modern internet technology, such as YouTube, is that it has granted people more power to engage in copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. Filmmakers, for instance, have often found themselves running ragged chasing down instances in which unauthorized clips from films have been used, even as part of a parody or a homage.

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How Successful Entrepreneurs Do It Differently

Dear Arizona,

I have lived in your state now for about 10 months. Before that, I would have scratched my head at industry buzzwords like entrepreneurial spirit, evangelist, gamification, accelerator, scalability, thought leaders, etc. Having been working in the startup world for less than a year, I am still fresh to the ways and thinking of my colleagues and other startups. So it was no shock that after attending SeedSpot’s 3rd Demo Day last night, the positively contagious “entrepreneurial spirit” intrigued me.

It got me to thinking how each of the presenters on the program came to be standing behind that curtain tonight. What qualities do these successful entrepreneurs have that others who have failed, have lacked. I believe I narrowed it down to three qualities:

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Astronaut Space Music Video Caught in Copyright Law

Tech Digest reported a couple weeks ago on how an iconic video created by Commander Chris Hatfield, a Canadian astronaut who recently flew on the International Space Station (ISS), will have to be taken down due to copyright law. Hatfield had created a music video of himself singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while floating in the ISS with images of the Earth and stars behind him through one of the space station’s view ports. The video went viral and was celebrated by millions as a celebration of the wonders of the universe.

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