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July 2019 Archives

IP strategies for strengthening your new idea

Often the biggest problem for building a business around a new idea or invention is not coming up with the initial concept but developing a strategy that enables it to flourish in the marketplace. Once an inventor has the idea, need to consider the landscape in the project’s category at large, business objectives of licensees, who investors will be and their objectives, as well as wooing potential customers or buyers.

Patent trolls target small business

Patent trolls are patent assertion entities who buy up patents from bankrupt businesses, auctions and inventors for pennies on the dollar. They traditionally would then use these purchases to go after large corporations and sue for infringement. They do not engage in any business other than suing operating companies.

Ban on offensive trademarks ruled unconstitutional

We discussed the issue of the immoral, scandalous or deceptive trademarks back in January when the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case involving the FUCT clothing line’s attempt to trademark its brand and products since 2012. The case (Iancu v. Brunetti) was obviously attention-grabbing with news reports soberly discussing the validity of curse words and explicit imagery, but the case also was a legal clash between the First Amendment right to free speech versus the United State Patent and Trademark Office’s 113-year-old policy and the Lanham Act, which prohibits immoral, explicit or scandalous trademarks.

Infringement claims only work when there is a registered copyright

A significant change in intellectual property law took place when the Supreme Court ruled recently on a copyright infringement case. With contradictory rulings on the books in the Circuit Courts, the highest court unanimously determined that copyright infringement claims are valid only when the copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Disney wins again

Disney has faced lawsuits in the past regarding its movies allegedly stealing plot lines, dialogue, or likenesses. Despite these lawsuits, the company has a strong record of successfully defending itself. It was most recently in court when two writers claimed that Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl used ideas from a script the duo submitted to the company in 2000 for the popular 2003 movie.  The writers identified suspicious similarities in the scripted dialogue, plot lines, and characters. Although the plot was substantially different, the writers claimed that the film used such ideas as:

Busting some patent myths

Anyone who has needed to copyright something has likely considered the option of the so-called “poor man’s copyright.” This is where you mail yourself a copy of the work to get a postal date on the envelope proving when you mailed the material. You keep the envelope sealed and, if there is ever a dispute about when you created the content, you can present the sealed envelope with the material inside as proof.

How does bankruptcy impact trademark rights?

The Supreme Court of the United States settled a complex question regarding trademark rights in bankruptcy. The case, Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, arose out of Tempnology filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. The company said in light of its bankruptcy that it could no longer guarantee quality control of the trademark, and thus it would cancel a current licensing agreement with Mission Product Holding. Mission Product responded by filing suit in bankruptcy court, essentially questioning whether Tempnology’s breach of contract could actually revoke Mission Product’s license.

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