Friday, November 09, 2018

Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts over trademark infringement when BSA wants to remove "Boys" from its name

Tim Pool has a funny video on Timcast reporting that the Girl Scouts of America have sued the Boy Scouts for trademark infringement in Manhattan federal court.   The suit opposes the BSA from taking "Boys" out of its wordmark, which is ironic. 

This case runs in delicious circles.  Pool gets around to reducing this to miscast idea of feminism, and the radical Left wants its way all the time.

“The power of the single gender environment”???

Remember the case in 2000 where SCOTUS allowed the NSA to exclude gays if they didn’t use public funds (as a private group). Libertarians supported that decision.

My own mother had belonged to “Camp Fire Girls”.

Pool says “we can’t base equity off of identity.”

Friday, November 02, 2018

A patent troll's portfolio on bankruptcy: $1; more on monetizing common phrases

Daniel Nazer’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” series for Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses a troll whose portfolio of 34+ patents was worth $1 when the troll went down, story. The company was called “Shipping and Transit” or Arrivalstar.

I’ve gotten a little snow flurry of robocalls from companies claiming they can republish my books in my “Do Ask Do Tell” series.  I can’t find the companies online.  I wonder if somebody wants to monetize the phrase and I’m in the way of “making money”.
Actually, as we’re find out, the money behind political and even issue speech, even if earned somewhere else, is becoming an issue, and as in the previous post that could conceivably invade the trademark world.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Could activists pressure ICANN, domain registrars and monitors over abusive owners?

Given the vitriolic political climate and the emerging trend, especially from the political Left, to pressure private companies to deplatform “offensive” speakers (especially since Charlottesville in Aug. 2017), I thought it would be good to review ICANN’s own policy documents, here.

There’s nothing there to suggest any specific pressure on them, and the company says it complies with local law enforcement as necessary (about the only TOS issue mentioned specifically is drugs) yet it’s obvious that the blatant misuse of “rogue” or “amateur” domains by dictators in some countries to feed social media must be of concern even at the registration level.

It is significant that there are some restrictions on how some TLD’s may be used. “.com” had been intended for transactional businesses at first, but soon everyone used it and the commercial context got buried.  This might be of some increasing concern today (as respect to political campaign interference with misleading labeling). There were some similar expectations in the early days for “.org” and “.net”.

Some TLD’s have explicit restrictions, like “.name” is only for individuals.  This would raise the question, is any given individual limited to one instance? 

But it also seems that the “.name” TLD could create a way to name a domain to prevent any future trademark dispute.  

I can recall some bizarre disputes in the Web 1.0 pre-2000 period, where domains were sued by companies with similar names when the companies hadn’t even set up websites yet. One of the targets was a stage theater in Portland, OR.
Various TLD’s are managed by separate companies that themselves could come under activist pressure. For example, .com, .tv, and .name are managed by Verisign.  Could individuals be limited to the number of domains (such as maybe only ".name" and only one instance), or have to show transactional business use some day, out of political motives from activist much more concerned about hidden propaganda than anyone imagined even two years ago?  I wonder.  Such a development could seriously hinder the capability of individuals to rebrand themselves if their legacy careers became obsolete and difficult to keep promoting.  People would have to network and cooperate a lot more, and possibly pay heed to the solidarity demands of activists. 

Update: Oct. 28

I misspoke about ".name".  DailyStormer (not an individual) was allowed to have a ".name" domain which works (I tried it on my phone, not on a computer;  it has plausible-looking stories.)  CNN pointed this out Sunday morning.  Will activists pounce on this? 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Virtual reality patents

Daniel Nazer’s latest entry into the “Stupid Patent of the Month” thread at Electronic Frontier Foundation is, well, virtual reality.  Or maybe a couple of minor tweaks to it.  Here is his link

Mid 1999 sounds like the good old days to me, when I was living and working in Minneapolis.  Actually, a difficult time when my mother had heart surgery.  I don’t recall virtual reality being around much then, as is said here.

My own immersion into it came probably at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC, where many ancient history exhibits include tours with virtual reality goggles. Of perhaps with some New York Times underwater short films to be watched on the phone with goggles (produced with Annapurna Pictures). 
YouTube shows many other virtual reality patents, like a recent one from Walmart for virtual reality shopping.  Will EFF label these as stupid?
Trump just said "patent: very important" in a speech about his trade deal with Canada and Mexico Monday morning Oct. 1, 2018.  I heard him say this with my own ears (and brain). 

Monday, September 17, 2018

The "Waffle maker" problem

Here’s a hypothetical trademark question proposed by Tim Lee  (Ars Technica) on Twitter.  If a restaurant (or motel for free breakfast) buys a “licensed” waffle maker with an image of Mickey Mouse, does it need a license from Disney?  Is this trademark or copyright? 

One answer suggests that it could be trademark issue if the public thought Disney had endorsed it, or had a business relationship with the restaurant or motel chain.

Others thought it was copyright.

Think of this as a law school course final exam question. 

Not part of EU’s “copyright directive”.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Laundromats, wifi cafes still targeted by patent trolls; shell company industry still lobbies Congress to overturn "Alice"

Joe Mullin has an instructive “stupid patent of the month” column July 31 that continues to discuss the problem of “abstract patents”.

The latest case involves Upaid, a company in the British Virgin Islands, attacking laundromats for using prepaid cards or accounts. These accounts are associated with “Card Concepts” and “Laundry Card”. Quite mundane and proletarian indeed. 

I can remember that the prepaid card distribution industry was touted as a possible business opportunity for otherwise unemployed people in the post 9/11 job market recession.

EFF also discusses another case involving simply offering WiFi to customers in a hotel lobby or café.
And patent shell companies are trying to lobby Congress to roll back the Alice decision that limits “do it on a computer” patents.  So that’s another reason why small business and individual speech matters, to counter the bureaucracy of the lobbying industry – and partisanship.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Crowdfunding platforms saved from patent trolls by Alice decision precedent

Electronic Frontier Foundation reminds us today of the importance of Alice v. CLS Bank (2014, Supreme Court) in patent law:  implementing an abstract idea on a computer doesn’t make it patenable.  I would think Brett Kavanagh wouldn't have a problem with this decision. 
Today, EFF reports on the success of David Rose of startup-helper Gust, in suing Alpha Corp,. and thereby saving most of the crowdfunding platforms online (like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, probably even GoFundMe) which are especially important in the indie film business, from paying a tariff to a troll. Note that the litigation would have gone on in the Eastern District of Texas.
I’m not a fan of doing crowdfunding for causes (as Facebook constantly tries to push me to do), but the day could come when I need it, for my own movie.  But if stupid patents were really to be allowed, I could claim a patent on my screenplay analysis tables on my own blogs.