The Traklight Blog

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

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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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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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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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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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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Walmart Files Opposition to Kanye West's Trademark Application

Perhaps the best kind of IP story reads like a Mad Libs, with disparate entities who may have otherwise never interacted now thrown together to fight over a trademark or copyright filing or alleged infringement. Take something as mundane as, say, tires: a hypothetical story about Goodyear and Yokohama in some sort of scuffle might be interesting if you choose to dive into it, but there’s a far greater chance it’s written off as tire companies fighting over tire things like types of rubber or whatever they fight over. 

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Ocean Spray Gets Cease & Desist For Using Its Own Trademarks

There is a future in which the text of the law fails to mean much of anything to those who wish to avail themselves of it, and instead it becomes merely a tool for stopping the things one simply doesn’t like. The latter pairs well with a mindset that the law is meant to protect you, and thus bind those who find themselves in opposition to you. In the space of intellectual property, it would mean going after any brand that used a logo or branding deemed too close to your own, without much time to sift through the relative merits of your case before potentially embarrassing yourself.

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Shoe's On The Other Foot: Nike Sued For Trademark Infringement

It’s certainly not unusual to see businesses, particularly large businesses involved with a lot of different products, to be on both sides of trademark or copyright issues, but typically there’s something of an interval between their times as the offender and the offended. Credit, then, to Nike for responding to the needs of our fast-paced world and cutting down that intervening period to something like mere hours. 

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Ice Cube Expresses Himself With Trademark Suit Aimed At Robinhood

It’s a generally good rule to be cautious of what images you use for your business on the grounds of copyright infringement — no company wants to be on the receiving end of a C&D or even a lawsuit, if things take that turn. It should be an ironclad one to steer absolutely clear when dealing with images of brands or athletes or celebrities or generally anyone who has the resources to take you on and the willingness - eagerness, even - to do so. 

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Zoom Takes Up Trademark Case Against Long-Time Partner

In business as in life, friends and partners can grow apart over time as one or both parties change. And in both instances, success can play no small part in shifting the nature of those relationships, particularly if one party experiences far more of it than the other. 

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Peleton Challenges Trademarks on Spin and Spinning

Trademarks are meant to protect a business’ particular brand, its unique identity and creativity that it has carved out for itself in the landscape. The best trademarks are the ones immediately evocative of a particular product or pitch, rendered in the space in your brain previously reserved for childhood memories or something else not pervaded by capitalism. Whatever you may think of branding, there is something to be said for it when done correctly and cleverly, and even the most sceptical wouldn’t begrudge it the legal protection it has earned. 

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Lil Nas X's Controversial Shoes Draw Trademark Suit From Nike

If you’re not up on shoe culture, stories about old and new kicks going for occasionally eye-watering prices can boggle the mind. Regardless of how you feel about it, though, there is a lot of money in the buying and selling of collectible shoes, and notably, a lot of that money is made on secondary markets. Given that shoe companies are doing alright as it is, they’re probably ok (for now) getting only a portion of that market as opposed to the whole thing. But someone striking out on their own and using their trademarks? That’s clearly going to be a big no-no.

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Colleges Shutting Down Virtual Tours on Trademark Grounds

For those fortunate enough to go to college (or unfortunate, depending on your reaction to that first student loan bill) picking the institution to attend is a big and thrilling step in your journey into adulthood. For many it’s the first time they’ll be living independently of their parents, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home. And a big part of choosing a school is the campus tour: your opportunity to get a feel for the feel, the environs of your potential home for the next four(ish) years. 

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The NCAA Owns "March Madness". Why Can't The Women's Tournament Use It?

Any remaining pretense the NCAA may have tried to maintain about their supposedly fair and equitable treatment when it comes to men’s and women’s athletics went out the window in the early days of this year’s tournament, when it was revealed that the men’s teams were granted a full array of workout equipment and the women’s teams...well, there are better setups in hotel gyms. The NCAA at least had the decency to not simply lie to everyone’s faces after the inevitable backlash, admitting that the women’s accommodations were lesser and eventually rectifying the situation at the risk of further public embarrassment at the hands of private companies that offered to provide the missing equipment. 

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Monster Energy Goes After Another Small Business Over Trademarks

It’s probably too much to hope that those companies that have adopted trademark bullying as a course of action to change their stripes and take a more measured approach, but it is nevertheless disappointing and disheartening to see every new instance wherein they take aim at an invariably small business over some imaginary offense. For the bullying company that case is but one mark on a ledger or one chapter in an ongoing story, but for those small businesses these lawsuits can be hugely damaging, if not an existential threat.

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NCAA Goes After Urologists In Trademark Case

If this March seems a little different than those in years past, well, that’s mostly the pandemic we’re hopefully nearing the end of. But it’s also different in that this year’s edition of the NCAA’s college basketball tournament is to be experienced largely alone, shorn of the communal experience that has made it the institution that it is. The tournament is both big business for the NCAA and something of a drain on business for others, costing companies billions in lost productivity over the course of the month. And on the former point, the NCAA is vigilant in protecting that business against even the notion that someone else might make a buck without their say-so. 

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Colorado Roofers Run Into Trouble With Vodka Makers

A common refrain in this space is that intellectual property law is meant to protect, both in deterring would-be violators from messing with your IP and in instances where defending means taking an offensive approach against infringers. It’s a measure of power, and for small businesses, it can be the most considerable power afforded in those earliest days before there’s a customer or client to speak of. 

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Rose Bowl Trademark Battle Promises Better Contest Than Actual Game

If you’re any sort of fan of college football, or at least aware of the product, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the proliferation of bowl games and associated sponsorship and branding around it. It’s that association with such august businesses as TaxSlayer, AutoZone and Cheez-It that give lie to the NCAA’s purported notion that the endeavor of college football itself is about shaping young men or the spirit of competition or whatever they put forth, and is not in fact a nakedly capitalistic enterprise meant to bring in millions to each respective university and billions in aggregate. Which is fine, by the way — colleges should just be honest about the pursuit, and pay the players like the income earners they are. 

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Taylor Swift in Trademark Dispute With Evermore Park

The nature of celebrity would seem to make someone a target for intellectual property lawsuits, as noted in this space over the years, but that reading is a bit reductive, and elides the responsibility that the celebrity in question might bear. Sure, there may be cases where individuals or entities are looking for an easy payday, but the intoxicating mix of fame and power that accompany celebrity might make those people more prone to stepping on the rights of those of us living and working in the world they long ago left behind. 

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