Category: Intellectual Property

David’s Divorce Dictionary: Money
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David’s Divorce Dictionary: Money | David Kellem

David’s Divorce Dictionary: M is for Money

Definition: In divorce, the word money means “something of which there is not enough.” Based on my observations, the typical middle class family of four in eastern Massachusetts spends around $135,000 per year, after taxes, on a basic family budget:
  • Mortgage or Rent is about $30,000 per year;
  • Utilities and Heat are about $5,100 per year;

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You Can Sue, but You Can’t Hide
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You Can Sue, but You Can’t Hide | Mark S. Kaufman

The United States Court of International Trade was recently the setting for an action brought by a company that wished to remain anonymous.

The plaintiff, referred to as XYZ Corporation, had been importing DURACELL batteries into the United States for 27 years. When goods that are genuine products of a trademark owner like DURACELL–but are manufactured outside the United States before being imported–they are called gray goods.

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Whatever Happened to Cindy-Lou Who?
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Whatever Happened to Cindy-Lou Who? | Mark Kaufman

Earlier this year I wrote about a copyright dispute between playwright Matthew Lombardo and the estate of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The issue was whether Lombardo had infringed on the Seuss copyright with his derivative play Who’s Holiday — or whether the play constituted fair use. As I wrote back in March: Who’s Holiday is a profane, one-woman show that documents the life of Cindy-Lou Who after the denouement of Grinch. It finds Cindy living in a trailer park, after having married the Grinch, whom Cindy had murdered (allegedly in self-defense), before the curtain lifts.

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Intent to Use—Reserving Your Trademark Rights
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Intent to Use—Reserving Your Trademark Rights | Pat Werschulz

One of the questions I am most frequently asked by clients thinking about starting their own companies and businesses: When can I apply for my trademark? In the U.S. Federal trademark system, you can file two different types of applications. One is the Actual Use Application, also known as the 1(a) application, which is where you have already been using your trademark and you have had a bona fide business transaction. This means you just have to fill out the application and go through the process, which takes about eight months. Part of the application process is to submit the specimen that has actually been used. In most of the state systems that have trademark registries, this is the only time that you can apply for a trademark registration, when you are actually using it to conduct business.

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Small Business 101: Deciding Your Trademark
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 Small Business 101: Deciding Your Trademark | Pat Werschulz

One of the most critical decisions you must make in the early stages of your business is picking a trademark that will be effective and work well to promote your brand. How do you decide what your trademark is going to be? The first step is to pick your brand name. You may have a logo, you may have a tagline, but you need to decide on the name of your product or service. You should consider that your trademark is distinctive, both from a legal point of view, and from a marketing point of view. You do not want your product or service to be confused with any others.

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Selfie-Awareness
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Selfie-Awareness | Mark Kaufman

Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made news when it granted appellate review of what rights a monkey has to his intellectual property. The case — Naruto, a crested macaque, by and through his next friends, People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], Inc. v. David John Slater, et al. — settled before the appeal was briefed or argued. According to the settlement, the copyright will remain in the name of the human photographer whose camera was used by the animal — but 25% of future profits will go to charity to benefit wildlife preserves that protect macaques. First, some background. In 2008, a nature photographer named David Slater began following a group of crested macaques in Indonesia. On his second day trying to infiltrate a group of the macaques, he set up his camera on a tripod and left it out in the open. One macaque approached the camera and took dozens of pictures, including three “selfies.” Slater began to enjoy some commercial success with the photos when, in 2015, PETA sued him. The group sought a copyright for the monkey and to administer the resulting proceeds of the photo.

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How Can I Protect My Trademark?
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How Can I Protect My Trademark? | Pat Werschulz

People always ask me how they can protect their trademark. You protect your trademark by using your trademark. Now, assuming you’re entitled to use your trademark or brand name, because nobody else is using it for your type of goods or services, the way you develop rights and ownership is by using your trademark by selling goods or providing services. There are three levels of protection that, once you start to use your trademark, you develop your rights in.

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Another Aspect of Design: Trade Dress
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Another Aspect of Design: Trade Dress | Joshua Graubart

{4:30 minutes to read} In my last post, I discussed the design patent, a form of protection available under the Patent Act to protect designs that are “primarily ornamental” rather than those which – like most inventions one normally thinks of in connection with the Patent Act – are “primarily functional.” Design patent protection can coexist simultaneously with copyright protection for the design as a graphic or sculptural work. In addition to patent and copyright law, non-functional designs can also be protected under the federal Trademark Act (also known as the Lanham Act), and under state trademark and unfair competition law. As discussed previously on this blog (see “What is Intellectual Property?”), trademark law serves to protect non-functional features of a product which identify to consumers the product’s source, and distinguish the product from similar products supplied by competitors. Marks are frequently words (e.g., “Nike”) or logos (e.g., the Nike “swoosh”); in certain circumstances, even colors and scents have been registered as marks by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.[1] (More on these sorts of outré marks in a future post.)

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Want a Trademark? Make Sure It Doesn’t Already Exist
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Want a Trademark? Make Sure It Doesn’t Already Exist | Pat Werschulz

{Read in 4:40 minutes} So often I am asked, “How do I get a trademark?” There’s a very simple answer. First, you pick what you want as your trademark, and second, use it. Wait a minute. That sounds way too simple. Well, getting rights in a trademark is actually pretty simple. The tough part is actually picking what your trademark is going to be. Whether it’s a name, or what we call a word mark, or design, picking that is very critical. You need to be sure that you can actually use it and that you will not be using somebody else’s trademark.

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff | Mark Kaufman

In this post, names and circumstances have been changed to obscure the guilty. Let’s say that my client makes plain sweatshirts, and on the back of some of these blank sweatshirts, someone else had printed Alamo-related text and imagery and was selling them. They were doing this on behalf of a local community baseball team that incorporated the word “Alamo” in its design. And let’s say that a plaintiff named Pat files and owns a registration for the trademark in “Remember the Alamo.” Somewhere along the way, Pat catches sight of these sweatshirts and thinks, “Ah, I’ve got them now. They’re a great big sweatshirt company, and I’ll sue them for trademark infringement as well as copyright infringement, because I have a distinctive way that I present the word ‘Alamo’!” (Interesting note: Pat, who represented himself, only provided extremely low-quality pictures of his design in his complaint. I still don’t think anyone knows what his design looks like.)

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Disney v. VidAngel Part 2: The Revenge of the Ninth Circuit
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Disney v. VidAngel Part 2: The Revenge of the Ninth Circuit | Mark Kaufman

In late August, the 9th Circuit in California delivered a blow to a legal argument that was questionable to begin with, and was doomed by the defendant’s eagerness to share it. In Disney v. VidAngel, the culture war served as the background of a battle between content goliaths — Disney, LucasFilm, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Brothers — and “David,” a streaming service called VidAngel. VidAngel is no ordinary streaming service; its main selling point is that it removes “objectionable” material from Hollywood feature films in order to make them more suitable for younger viewers, as well as those adults who wish to spare their eyes and ears from certain aspects of the human experience. It should be noted that none of the edits to the movies were made with the permission of the movie studios.

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Trademarks 101: It’s All About the Brand
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Trademarks 101: It’s All About the Brand | Pat Werschulz

Trademarks are so much a part of our culture that we really don’t think about them too much. They’re ubiquitous. If I say a trademark is a brand, everybody knows immediately what I’m talking about, because it’s all about the brand, what the brand stands for, and the message that each brand is trying to convey to the consumer. Technically, a trademark identifies the source of goods or services to the consumer. A trademark can be some words. It could be some sounds. It can be:

  • Words;
  • Sounds;

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Cybersquatter Gets Swatted Down
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Cybersquatter Gets Swatted Down | Mark Kaufman

They said it couldn’t be done, but Kaufman & Kahn recently not only won summary judgment against a prolific cyber-squatter, but also won an award of statutory damages and attorney’s fees. Gregory Ricks, a renowned cyber-squatter, had registered the domain name justbulbs.com, and he’d done that because, frankly, my client named JUST BULBS had failed to renew it. So arbitration was commenced.

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Need Help with a Trademark? Consult a Law Student!
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Need Help with a Trademark? Consult a Law Student! | Pat Werschulz

In the past, we’ve talked about the patent pro Bono program. This program offers assistance to individuals who have inventions that may be patentable, but can’t afford an attorney. It’s sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and administered locally. Generally, you must have a low income.  You can learn more about that program on the USPTO’s website here. There are several other programs that the USPTO is involved in that are available to those looking for help with intellectual property, but I want to talk about something a little different. You may not be able to afford an attorney, but qualify for pro bono assistance. And that’s where the USPTO’s Law School Clinical Certification Program comes in.

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Pass Go & Collect: How to Patent Board Games
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Pass Go & Collect: How to Patent Board Games | Pat Werschulz

The Story of Monopoly… A patent is a limited monopoly that the government grants for an invention. The government granted inventor Charles Darrow a patent US2026082A on the board game Monopoly in 1935. There’s some controversy about the 1935 patent: Darrow learned about another game called “The Landlords’ Game” that was patented in 1904 by a woman named Elizabeth Phillips. That game was created as an educational tool about monopolies in the landlord/tenant context. Darrow first played The Landlord’s Game in 1933; he changed the game enough to earn a patent on his version, Monopoly, two years later. Monopoly was one of many board games that became popular in the post-Depression 1930s, when people couldn’t afford to go out much.

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Copyright and Patents
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{3:06 minutes to read} As discussed previously, in the United States, copyright and patent law are explicitly anticipated in Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which accords to Congress the power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” It is worth pointing out that the words “science” and “useful arts” were understood somewhat differently in the 18th Century than they might be today. “Science,” in the parlance of the era, had a meaning closer to “knowledge”[1]; the “useful arts” were what we might now call “technology.”[2] Accordingly, the references to “science” and “writings” underpin the present copyright law; the references to “useful arts” and “discoveries” underpin the present patent law.

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Foreign Filing License & Your Filing Receipt
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Foreign Filing License & Your Filing Receipt | Pat Werschulz

Most people who are filing for a patent in the United States don’t even realize that, at the same time, they’re applying for a foreign filing license. What’s that? Well, it turns out that if some or all of the inventive process takes place in the United States, before you can apply for a patent outside of the United States, you must be granted a foreign filing license.

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Hotel California: A Great Song, a Great Title, But a Great Hotel?
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Hotel California: A Great Song, a Great Title, But a Great Hotel? | Mark Kaufman

Here’s the case of a dark, desert highway with, perhaps, a cool wind in your hair:  The Eagles Ltd v. Hotel California of Baja. It concerns a hotel in Mexico that had been opened in the 1950s under the name Hotel California. The owners decided to stop using that name and retitled the property “The Todos Santos Hotel,” catering to American tourists. Recently it was sold again, and the new purchasers went back to using its old name — and proceeded to market it as the “legendary Hotel California.” Promotional literature contained strong allusions that the hotel was the inspiration for the song.

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Brexit’s Effect on European Patents
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Brexit’s Effect on European Patents | Pat Werschulz

It’s official: the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. While Brexit will have no effect on your U.S. patent (which protects your rights in the United States), as an inventor, you may be curious about how Brexit affects foreign patents, since many U.S. inventors have extended their patents by filing through the European Patent Office (EPO). When you file a patent application with the European Patent Office, that entity examines it against the prior art available and determines what claims are allowed. Up to this point, the process is pretty similar to the patent application process in the United States.

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What’s So Special About Tyler, Texas, Anyway?
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What’s So Special About Tyler, Texas, Anyway? | Pat Werschulz

Most people don’t even know where Tyler, Texas, is, but for patent litigators—that is, attorneys that try patent cases—it has become their home away from home. First, I need to give a little bit of background about the federal court system that a lot of people aren’t aware of. The federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction concerning patent and copyright cases in the United States. What does that mean? If you have a patent or a copyright and somebody infringes, i.e., copies you, you need to go to federal court to get justice. If you file a complaint in state court, it will be dismissed and you’ll be told, “Hey, you knocked on the wrong door. You need to go to federal court.”

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A Friend of a Friend Said… You Should Actually See a Lawyer
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A Friend of a Friend Said… You Should Actually See a Lawyer |  Mark Kaufman

The other day a client sent me two pictures. One was of a someone else’s textile design, and the other was my client’s own rendering of it. The client said “We copied our design from their design. Can you tell us whether it’s infringing?” Rather than respond to the email, I called my client and reminded him about the rules of discovery:  although any communications I have with my clients—including communications in which a client admits to having copied something—are protected by attorney-client privilege, mistakes can happen when even privileged documents are inadvertently produced in discovery in the event of a lawsuit.  Also, if he inadvertently shares those communications with third parties, the attorney-client privilege goes out the window.  So, saying incriminating things in emails (or texts or worst of all social media) can live forever in a way that’s inconvenient if not destructive.

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“UL” is Not in the Public Domain. Don’t Mess with Certification Marks!
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“UL” is Not in the Public Domain. Don’t Mess with Certification Marks! | Mark Kaufman

What two words are worth $500,000 each? In the case of HOVERBOARD (R) re-seller The Space Chariot, those two word are “UL Certified.” (Yes, HOVERBOARD is a federally registered trademark; while it appears to be on the road to becoming generic, that’s a topic for another day.) Why they are called HOVERBOARDs is beyond me. They clearly have wheels that touch the ground, but if kids (or those “young at heart” who prefer not to use their own horsepower) want to use their imagination, far be it for me to intervene. Most people have seen these devices on the street and have figured out that operating them relies on tilting them with your body weight, much like a Segway scooter. But unlike the Segway, these inventions have a history of bursting into flames at the most inconvenient of locations, which is why so many airlines have banned them from flights.

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A Personal Story: My Path to Becoming a Patent Attorney (Part 2)
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A Personal Story: My Path to Becoming a Patent Attorney (Part 2) | Pat Werschulz

Last time, I explained the circumstances that led me to start law school after I “retired” from chemistry. Now the rest of the story. It’s very different to start law school when you’re…I’ll be kind to myself and use the word…”mature.” I was the second oldest student in my class, and I was the oldest woman. There literally were classmates who had been classmates of my sons. They would come up to me and ask if we were related, and I’d answer, “Yes, okay, I’m his mother.” So, I was thrown into competing with the younger generation.

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A Personal Story: My Path to Becoming a Patent Attorney (Part 1)
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A Personal Story: My Path to Becoming a Patent Attorney (Part 1) | Pat Werschulz

When I meet new clients, they don’t realize at first that being a patent lawyer is actually a second career for me. Since a lot of people find how I got to where I am today an interesting story, I’ve decided to share it with you, my readers. When I was in high school, I was captain of the debate team, and I seriously considered going into law. But back in the sixties, there weren’t many women who were going into law, and the ones who did were exceptional, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Take the Gig, But Lose the Content?
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Take the Gig, But Lose the Content? | Mark Kaufman

Parties, events, and weddings are the lifeblood of working musicians. It’s money in the hand, as opposed to what might come out of royalties down the road. This incentive is what led a client to reach out to me recently; he had a great gig booked, was looking forward to it…and then the contract came. The event is being hosted by a large and well known corporation, at a third-party venue, and the pay is good enough to warrant calling an attorney. The contract not only requires each performer to waive their rights of publicity/privacy (in their name and likeness, so photos posted on the internet won’t garner a lawsuit), but also provides, in essence, that “you allow us to record your performance, and you grant us an irrevocable worldwide in perpetuity license to use your performance.”

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What Goes Into a Patent Application?
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What Goes Into a Patent Application? | Pat Werschulz

Many people are under the impression that drafting a patent application is just a matter of filling out forms, like any type of government application, and perhaps submitting a picture, as you do when you’re applying for a passport. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, preparing a patent application is a complex legal process. The United States Supreme Court has even said that drafting a patent application is the most complicated legal writing in the profession. A patent application has three main parts: the written specification, the drawings, and the claims. This is true of any type of patent applications, whether it’s for a utility application, a design application, or even (in those rare instances) a plant patent application.

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Breitbart’s Biggest Enemy is the Truth…Including Todd Bigelow’s Copyright
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Breitbart’s Biggest Enemy is the Truth…Including Todd Bigelow’s Copyright | Mark Kaufman

A lawsuit was recently filed in the Southern District of New York that isn’t exactly fascinating for its merits, but it does speak to the perennial issue of intellectual property rights: the erroneous but popular idea, even among commercial users, that “if it’s on the internet, it’s free to use!” In Bigelow v. Breitbart News Network, LLC, photographer Todd Bigelow is suing Breitbart News over its use of one of his photographs without his permission. In addition to garden-variety copyright infringement, Bigelow also sued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, because Breitbart had removed the identification of the artist and its copyright from the image.

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Copyright and Trademark: Titles, Words & Short Phrases
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{4:12 minutes to read} It is a truism among intellectual property lawyers that no matter how often one may encounter discussion of a “copyrighted word” or a “copyrighted phrase”—and this notion appears frequently in media—copyright law generally does not protect titles, words, slogans or phrases.[1]

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Intellectual Property: Are You Set Up For Success?
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Intellectual Property: Are You Set Up For Success? | Bettina Eckerle

One of my mantras when advising clients is to pay particular attention to their intellectual property when thinking about building value in their companies. This requires a comprehensive IP strategy that covers IP creation and protection. It is best started from the get-go, but it is never too late. You’ll need it to build and protect your IP assets to help you to monetize what you have built.

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