The Traklight Blog

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

Air New Zealand Faces Potential Maori Boycott for Trademark Filing

Trademarks are a vital part of any business, and on most occasions, people don't or wouldn't begrudge a trademark filing from a company, save when it crosses a somewhat ill-defined line. Ohio State University trying to trademark "The" generated a certain amount of opprobrium, and people were upset that LeBron James attempted to trademark Taco Tuesday, and delighted when he was denied in his attempt. Those represent one strain of filings that offend our sensibilities in their ambition to capitalize on our common language, trying to turn a public good into private profit.

Read More

LeBron James Files Taco Tuesday Trademark

In watching LeBron James display his generational talents on a basketball court (last season notwithstanding), I occasionally give thought to a few passing similarities between us. In many (zero) ways, we could be mirrors of one another: both from Ohio (that much is at least accurate), somewhat close in age (sadly, I'm a year closer to forty than he is), both tall (a reach) and gifted at basketball (I can make a few free throws in a row, maybe). Yet our paths diverged, and he has gone on to fame and glory, a mastery of the sports universe that few could ever hope to achieve and a personal brand that now extends into realms beyond the basketball court. But he doesn't have this nifty blog to chronicle his and others' IP exploits, so I've got that going for me.

Read More

Ohio State University Leans Into Reputation, Files for "The" Trademark

There are few things that can make us take leave of our senses more readily than sports, and when combined with parochialism and a provincial mindset, a certain mania is loosed within the minds of otherwise sane people. In fans, it leads to tattoos, to drunken parking lot fistfights with opposing fans, to shelling out obscene amounts of money on tickets and merchandise and every bit of ephemera that our favorite teams can churn out to make a dollar off of our insanity. In teams and institutions, it produces a hubris that can lead to a host of decisions ranging from questionable to outright objectionable, and that is being kind in the latter.

Read More

McDonald's Trademark Battle in Ireland

There are few hings more totemically American, at least in origin, as McDonald's. The arches. The colors. The menu items. The subsequent guilt and shame that come with each meal. It's a brand that's been built over decades, and one that serves as the foundation of what we know as fast food today. What we see in the logo and understand with the name is that we are going to get food of a particular quality at an understood price and in short order. That understanding and assumption is the essence of any brand, and it's why McDonald's and others go to such great lengths to protect their brand against what they perceive as a taint or diminution.

Read More

What's in a Name? Apparently $12 Million

Names ultimately matter. That's more or less the basis of trademarks as a concept: the right and the necessity to protect the name we've built for something that's ours. something we've created. Our lives are ordered in some part by names, both the ones we've coined in the recent history of modern innovation and those whose origins are lost to time. We drive to work on a series of named roads, to an office building or complex that likely has a name, to work for a company granted a name by its founder years, if not decades ago. Anything less than that would be chaos, and even the occasional re-brand has us shaken for months.

Read More

Kimono Trademark Kerfuffle Draws the Attention of Japan

For those closely following the news, one reality show star continues to dominate headlines. The star's behavior invokes questions of ego and avarice, and decisions made demonstrate a lack of sensitivity, both cultural and interpersonal. Despite these personal failings, the star counts nearly as many ardent fans as avowed detractors, with a family that casts itself as American royalty, despite a discernible lack of skills or scruples.

Read More

Cardi B Loses Bid to Trademark Catchphrase

We have previously celebrated the new-ish advent of personal branding as it relates to celebrities big and small. Who are any of us to judge those who want to create a bigger identity for themselves, complete with signifiers? After all, celebrities are businesses unto themselves, and every business needs their own branding if they hope to grow and expand. We might not necessarily understand what these artists and entertainers have in mind with their choice in branding, but if we truly understood what goes into being a megastar, we'd probably be one ourselves, or at least close enough to one to bask in some reflected glory.

Read More

Adidas Loses Trademark Case in EU Court

There are few symbols so powerful as the logos of major sports apparel companies in the minds of consumers. In the right hands, they've come to be associated with the greatest in human sporting achievement, a clever bit of branding on the part of the respective marketers who first saw the advantage of having their logos plastered on our best athletes as they appear on TV. For others, particularly those of us who have gone a little soft around the middle, the represent both comfort and potential. The combination of athletic footwear with the requisite shorts or yoga pants suggests, "I could go running today; I won't, but I could." And for many of us, that potential is enough to invest heavily in these brands meant for those gifted with more ability and more determination.

Read More

Kawhi Leonard Files Trademark Lawsuit Against Nike

Intellectual property is the backbone of any business, as we are often preaching, and there are few bigger businesses in the world of sports these days than the athletes themselves. Far from the days when baseball players sold cars in the off-season, athletes are now brands unto themselves, complete with all of the trappings of any other big business. And part of that business is the branding — the names and sayings and logos that athletes can use to sell their merchandise, their social media presence, and themselves, in essence. And athletes are increasingly willing to zealously guard those aspects of their brand from misuse, even on the part of one of the few entities that might remain bigger than the players themselves.

Read More

Iron Maiden Sues Video Game Creators for Infringement

If there is one thing that we have learned in this space, it is that brands don't take as kindly to puns, allusions or any other type of attempted tribute as those offering it might think. Many of us enjoy a clever play on words, but when there is a brand name and potential profits involved, entities tend to have less of a sense of humor than those of us without a stake in the matter.

Read More

Supreme Court Rules in Trademark Licensing Case

While most of the country only looks to the Supreme Court when matters of broad national importance are on the docket, it's worth observing the court on more under-the-radar issues that could still have a significant impact on businesses or individuals around the country. One recent case could have massive repercussions in bankruptcy cases for years to come.

Read More

Campbell's Wins Trademark for "Chunky" Soup

Strong branding is the backbone of any successful company, particularly those looking to appeal and sell to consumers. Businesses want potential customers to know what they can provide and loyal patrons to know what they can expect and count on from the products and services they provide. As such, it behooves any company to take steps to protect their particular intellectual property and brand, and to be vigilant in protecting that brand against potential infringement or degradation at the hands of imitators or competitors. And occasionally, those measures can seem a bit ridiculous to the general public.

Read More

Protecting Your Innovation, Part 1

For entrepreneurs and others involved with small businesses and startups, there is a lot of hard work that goes into trying to make the business a success. You spend long hours and untold effort into building a strong foundation for your company. Along the way, you undoubtedly make personal sacrifices to try and achieve your goals, missing out on time with friends and family to put the extra time in that will hopefully pay off in the long run. For founders and others who care deeply about the fortunes of the company, there is almost nothing within reason you wouldn’t do to make sure that your company’s future is secure.

Read More

Disney's "Hakuna Matata" Trademark Faces New Scrutiny

Few things can become as iconic as a catchphrase in a popular movie, and few things are as certain as movie studios looking to cash in on the popularity of their films in any way possible, especially when that studio is the commercial and cultural behemoth that is Disney. One doesn't need to look far to see how they've established themselves at the forefront of our cultural consciousness and, crucially, quite near our wallets as well. And for the tremendous benefits that the company has accrued itself through its aggressive branding, it has made missteps in its quest towards cultural domination.

Read More

Protect Your IP in 2019

The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start in our personal and professional lives. But many still fail to tackle the intellectual property issues that their business could potentially have to deal with, resolutions or not. While you should be managing your IP from its inception, it's better to start late than never; here are some tips on identifying and protecting your IP for 2019.

Read More

Trademark Lawsuit Sees Scouts at Odds

For those who follow the news, the rise in dissent and argument in public discourse is inexorably linked to the growing split between two bodies, once united in a common goal but now more divided than they've ever been. Heated rhetoric flies back and forth between the two parties and their designated representatives, with lines drawn in the sand and allegiances publicly declared. Neutral onlookers and the nation as a whole are left to wonder if there is any way to save the union and the higher ideals it is meant to represent.

Read More