The Traklight Blog

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

What's Hindering US Small Businesses from Protecting Their IP?

It’s a common belief that small businesses are the main driver of the US economy. This is because their ability to create new jobs is greater than that of middle and large-sized companies. So what is really keeping them from protecting their intellectual property? While the federal government has implemented a number of measures to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own business, it hasn’t really done much to educate them on the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection or the value of intangible assets. Below are a few IP-related challenges that US small businesses face today.

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Brand Recognition: The Intangible Asset Supporting Your Business

Paramount to the success of any business is its brand, and thus brand recognition. You can have the best product, the brightest employees, and the most upscale offices or stores, but all of that is for naught if no one knows who you are. The most successful companies are able to build their brands to become synonymous with either a service or product so that people know reflexively what they do. But what if a company lost that brand? How readily would we be able to recognize it without the name, logo, or colors we've come to associate with it? Unfortunately for one Romanian football side, they may learn exactly what that experience is like.

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Sony's Copyrighted Material Leaked, Possibly by North Koreans

In today's increasingly interconnected world, data security is as great of a concern as it has ever been. Even since an enterprising Ferris Bueller altered his attendance records to afford himself a day off, hacking has become far less farcical and far more malicious. From personal information to financial data, seemingly nothing is safe from the reaches of digital piracy. And one of Hollywood's largest studios has fallen prey to this scourge.

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A Brief History of Early IP Law

By now, you've certainly heard the terms 'intellectual property' and 'IP' bandied about. We live in a time of creative wonder, where anyone with a great idea and access to technology has the potential to disrupt the market. In such a world intellectual property carries more weight than its tangible counterparts. But does everyone understand how the concept and terms originated? Do you? There is a long and fascinating history behind the copyrighting of human creations. Here are a few things you might not already know about IP law.

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Intellectual Property Rights: The 3D Printing Industry

Intellectual property (IP) affects small businesses in every industry. But especially in developing, emerging industries, outdated laws can turn into significant problems for individual businesses. The 3D printing industry offers an excellent case study in how industry and lawmakers work together to update IP law. 

Recently, Mediabistro held a conference in our nation's capital that addressed intellectual property rights in the industry. At the 3D Printing Politics Conference in Washington, D.C., lawmakers and industry leaders discussed the impact that IP issues can have on the future of 3D printing.

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Specialized Intellectual Property Courts to be Established in China

Facing increasing disapproval from international bodies as well as other countries, China has finally decided to take action to show the world that it is indeed willing to protect intellectual property (IP) rights. China is all set to open a specialized court to deal entirely with IP issues in Beijing within the month. It also plans to open two other similar courts within the year in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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Indian Prime Minister Proposes Intellectual Property Changes

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ended his US tour on October 1st following a packed Madison Square Garden speech and successful visit to the White House. Out of the many things on the agenda, intellectual property (IP) seemed to be a major consideration. He planned to encourage more foreign investment from America with his theme of "declaring India open for business."

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Are Pictures Of Money Copyrighted?

Among the many questions about intellectual property (IP) rights, one of the most interesting I’ve come across is, "Are pictures of money copyrighted?” Sure, we’ve all had fleeting thoughts of printing out our own money and retiring to a beach somewhere to live like royalty, before the realities of things like prison and more prison snap us back to reality. But behind such fanciful thoughts is a more salient question regarding the legality of using images of currency for artistic or creative purposes. So what are the rules as it regards images of money?

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Unzipping the Trade Dress

This is a guest blog by Ian Monat, Owner of Monat Technologies. When the catalytic converter was stolen off his truck he made it his mission to "protect vehicles across the US and UK from catalytic converter theft with the best security solutions on the market": The Catlock.

One of my favorite 80’s comedies is ‘Coming To America’. The entire movie is hilarious but I always loved when Prince Akeem of Zamuda (Eddie Murphy) lands his first American job in Queens, NY at McDowells, a fast food restaurant that is a not-so-subtle rip off of McDonalds, and home to the ‘Big Mic,’ the ‘Golden Arcs.’

This makes for good humor on the silver screen, but when a McDowells sets up shop next to your McDonalds in real life, there’s nothing funny about it––especially when it means lost customers, decreased revenue, and time and money spent on litigation. Have you ever had a McDowells open next to your McDonalds? I have…

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5 Reasons Every Business Should Have Trademarks

We can't stress the importance of trademarks enough. If you are not familiar with trademarks, check out "What's the Big Deal About Trademark Registration," an article by guest blogger Shane Olafson of Lewis Roca Rothgerber. Taking the time to federally register your intellectual property (IP) is a necessity for effective branding and can help eliminate commercial misunderstanding, assisting consumers in distinguishing your brand from others. If you don't have trademarks yet, here are five reasons why you should:

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5 Things Your Company Can Do To Protect IP In 2014

CEI Gateway hosted the first 2014 meeting of the Law and Technology Committee for the AZ Tech Council this past Thursday, February 13th; the discussion focused on the need to be proactive in your intellectual property strategy by providing five tips to help you protect your company’s intangible assets and remain competitive. Katharina (Katie) Martinka, an attorney with 20 years of litigation and transactional experience in Intellectual Property and Business law, provided real life examples along with her five tips to prove how a little pre-planning can provide the basis for a stronger business plan.

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Men Are From Mars, Women Might Be Too…Or At Least Me

I had the honor of sitting on the “Women in Entrepreneurship” panel in late December at an Arizona Technology Council Startup Connect AZ event with some very impressive entrepreneurs and professionals. This panel was very different from one that I moderated a month earlier in November. My panelists were for the most part younger than the women on the recent panel. And although that November group was also all female, we discussed mistakes we had made and startup lessons we’d learned without addressing the differences between men and women. 

While it was interesting to discuss some of the themes and questions around the differences between men and women, I found the interaction with other panelists most valuable. At one point, I shared my technology missteps and when I  them as more than one error a fellow panelist told me that making the same mistake twice was negligent on my part.  Ouch!

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AZBIA and Traklight Join to Provide Invaluable Business Resources

Last night, the New Year New Business open house event hosted at CEI by Traklight and AZBIA was a smashing success. Arizona has a wealth of incredibly rich resources that can help you get your idea off the ground.  The event proved to be a great educational evening for not just the entrepreneurs and small business owners who attended (or watched the livestream), but for myself as well! That being said, I wanted to recap a couple of key points I found helpful (and hope you do too!)…


  1. Russ Yelton (President and CEO of NACET) & Joann McMaster (President of AZBIA), discussed some wonderful AZBIA resources that are definitely worth looking into whether you’re just starting out, or want to stay up to date in the ever-changing world of entrepreneurs.
  2. Mary Juetten (Founder and CEO of Traklight) emphasized making sure you have a strategy is a key to protecting you IP; any my favorite, regarding infringing on anothers’ IP, “If there’s a bike without a lock, it doesn’t mean you can take off with it!”
  3. Juliet Peters (Founding Parter of Becker Peters, PLLC) discussed, with great enthusiasm, a wide range of topics from working with co-founders, to outsourcing/in-house developments, to advisory boards, even providing a few online resources at the end of her presentation (so check out the slides!)
  4. Ron Kisicki (registered Patent Attorney and Partner with Woods Oviatt Gilman, LLP) briefly reviewed the provisional patent process, emphasizing that “the goal is to get the stake in the ground to be the first to file” and that “the date you publically disclose in the U.S. is the starting point for the filing grace period (1 year).
  5. Ruth Carter (Owner and Attorney of Carter Law Firm, PLLC) clarified the difference between something that is trademarked, and something that is registered. In layman’s terms, a trademark means the company hasn’t registered the trademark, they’re just notifying you they want it. And registered means they have exclusive rights. According to Ruth, it means “don’t even think about using it or I will lay the smack down on you!”
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How Can You Protect Your Trade Secrets? Providing Protection for Your Business's Livelihood

Trade secrets for a business can truly make or break their success if those secrets are not protected. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office points out that, by law, the U.S. is required to protect trade secrets that could pose a danger to the well-being of an important company. This is usually done through individual state laws that all differ. Regardless, compensation to a business is more than possible if a court finds out that a trade secret was misappropriated. In the latter case, that simply means someone leaking a trade secret and causing damage to the business in the process.
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