Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Trademark vs right of publicity

vegas, 2012

 There is a post Monday Oct. 11 about right of publicity as intellectual property.


But it is instructive to compare it to trademark.  

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Should personal sites have "common word" or commercial-sounding names if they don't actually conduct commerce?

 

my 1997 dadt book cover

OK, recently I reported the scheduled renewal of my “Doaskdotell” domain name, which formally will happen Dec. 2, 2021.

The previous renewal had occurred in 2016 for five years.  There was no change in yearly price. I did change it to private registration.

Given the polarized political climate that has developed since 2016 through the Trump term, I’ve becoming increasingly concerned that even infrastructure companies might become resistant to hosting “gratuitous” sites – those with commercial-sounding names that don’t actually process and sales with consumers or other businesses, but merely express philosophical opinions – because the speaker wants to say them, free of encumbrance from others tied to “they” (without activism through conventional channels of social “solidarity”).

The renewal is for two years and the commercial rationale is screenplay development.  I could not really justify it on book sales alone now (the material is “aged”). 

Back in late 2019 I was invited to go to a pitchfest in Los Angeles held in early 2020.  The pandemic caused me to cancel the trip at some loss, although I got some feedback online, for a sci-fi script “Second Epiphany” that incorporates materials from all three DADT books as backstories. I’ve also been interacting with a Facebook screenwriting group, and plan to craft three scripts based on stories in the books.  Having some volume of actual scripts as well as treatments will help improve the chance of real commercial interest in the film business.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Use of Google's reCAPTCHA leaves some small websites vulnerable to demands from an apparent patent troll (EFF), seems to break the normal model for proper software licensing

 

chess game

Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an article by Joe Mullin (Aug. 6, 2021), reports what sounds like horrifying abuse and trolling of the patent system with respect to the Captcha device used by many websites to prevent spam sign on.  It is indeed "stupid patent of the month". 

Many websites use Google’s reCAPTCHA system for user login, in order to prevent spam bots from signin in. According to EFF, owners of some websites (which in at least one case was an individual person) have gotten demand letters from a startup called Defenders of the American Dream LLC, claiming essentially (as far as I can tell) that Google illegally offered its CAPTCHA system for free by taking technology from startups that had preceded DAD and that somehow DAD has bought.

Normally when a website uses an application from a major corporate vendor, it simply licenses the use from that vendor.  When these products come from very large companies like Microsoft and Google, the licensing fees are often nominal or free (which sort of nixes an anti-competitive argument, maybe, affecting consumers). But software licenses are a copyright consideration, not patent, so maybe the patent part of it falls through the cracks. 

Suddenly, judging from the demand letter, users are legally responsible for indirect patent abuse by the company they originally licensed the product from?  This makes no sense.

I don’t require users to logon right now and don’t use the product, but I may very well need to use it starting in 2022 after my own restructuring (previous post), particularly on the “commercial” site.

This could be a problem for writers setting up Substack or Locals, maybe?

Friday, August 06, 2021

More details on my domain names or channel or blog names

 

Me, masked

As I look toward simplification and restructuring my web presence this winter (at age 78), there are two major questions.

One is, will I keep the “do ask do tell” domain name?  The renewal date is December 2, 2021.  Other sides have used to leading phrase and different tld’s for other purposes, such as AIDS or HIV infection prevention.   And the three books in my series don’t sell particularly well these days – which is common with non-fiction.  The most recent in from February 2014. 

The general idea is that to continue, the domain should have commercial activity or purpose. “Commercial” can be non-profit, but there should be goods, services, or memberships “purchased” by consumers or other entities.   Recently, since the fourth quarter of 2019 (just before the pandemic erupted), there has been more interest in the idea that motion picture material could be derived from the three books.  This has led to a change of focus on my part:  polishing a rather complicated screenplay, which I registered in May, 2021 as “Do Ask, Do Tell: Second Epiphany”.  It is perfectly reasonable, however, to title the script simply “Second Epiphany”.

More to the point, it is possible to extract three separate feature films without the complicated layering of “Second Epiphany” that would more likely follow the conventions of screenwriting (story circle, character arcs).  It has been brought to my attention that typically interest in the motion picture establishment is improved by having several completed (and registered) scripts, not just treatments or outlines based on parts of books.  In my view, work toward completing the scripts would justify keeping (renewing) the domain past Dec. 2 because there is commercial interest. 

Right now, the text of the books is available on the doaskdtell site in raw html and pdf formats.  The intention is to encourage reading from those who do not want to pay for the books (although the Kindles are just $3.99 each).   There are also supplementary footnote pages on that site.

It’s also worthy of note that one of my four Wordpress blogs is called “doaskdotellnotes” which I added at the end of 2013, which continues more footnote materials, as well as other business materials or issue-oriented materials closely connected to materials in the books.  I have also described disclosures of my financial arrangements since I manage an inherited trust (the TWIMC posts).  With the simplification this winter, it is likely that the re-registration for this domain could end (on Dec. 26, 2021).  But no final decision has been made.

The other hot issue is domains based on my name.  My legal name is John William Boushka, or John W Boushka.  Social media companies (particularly Facebook) have insisted on legal names for accounts in the past (I don’t think they allowed pen names at first, so I called myself John on FB, and “JBoushka” on Twitter,  Instagram, my small YouTube channel, and now also Minds (and possibly Odysee).  On LinkedIn, I used my Legal Name, JohnWBoushka.com.’ that was primarily for use in conventional job hunting in the past.   My nickname “Bill” given to me by my parents at birth in 1943 is how I have been “known” so I used that name as the penname for my three books. That becomes significant.

There is an old resume site called “JohnWBoushka” intended for the days of conventional job searches, particularly in the mid 2000’s (up through maybe 2010).  Perspective employers did not necessarily know this was equivalent to “Bill”. However there is an “experimental” site called “BillBoushka.com” set up in 2006, after the support for an earlier site by that name using javastarter, which failed.  So I set it up as a simple backup capability, with a small Wordpress blog which covered tech subjects only, and also a place to play with MySQL. 

At this point, it’s well to remember that back in the late 1990s, when all this started, it was common for people to have “double lives”.  The nature of public posting on the Internet, available to search engines, followed by modern social media, practically eliminated the idea of double lives (as so ironically shown by the end of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military in 2011 – again an irony of my own domain name).  

There is a “BillBoushka.me” domain name equated to one of by Blogger blogs (“Billboushka.blogspot.com”).  Because there is Adsense on the domain, the use could be called commercial and potentially trademark-able.  No one has complained about the duplication.  It may be fortuitous that my last name is not very common.   But as time passes, as I get older, I do agree that this setup is unsustainable forever, so I intend to get rid of the duplication this winter about the time two of the “doaskdotell”-related names also expire.   There are also three domains on a WP host with names starting with “Bill’s”, but with no advertising now, so they are no longer “commercial”.

Generally, authors do use pen names as domain names; so I have contemplated getting rid of johnwboushka this fall and using only “BillBoushka” to house all my commentary.

However, “BillBoushka” as a pen name, really is like a business name (although it would not create confusion with any existing entity if it were to be trademarked).  It might be more appropriate to use the original “John W” and then name a directory as “BillBoushka” and make the equivalence apparent on the landing page.

Further complicating things is literature online that says “alias” domain names are not OK and are likely to violate a registrar’s TOS, but a penname is OK.  Here are two links  (Writers' Relief on Medium;  Domain on alias names).  

At this point, I’m not sure how it will go.

I’ve embedded a video from April 2018 about a trend that I still think may happen.  It’s on the “doaskdotell” home page now.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Multiple domain names, trademarks, and pseudo-commercial sites

Amtrak, Philadelphia, 2021-7


Recently I’ve noticed on Twitter some questions among writers about having multiple domain names and whether they need to pay attention to trademark law in the way they use domains names.

I’m not a lawyer, but I can remind everyone that this was noted as a controversy in the late 1990s as sometimes legacy businesses which had not gone online yet sued domain name holders for diluting their brands.

A couple of related questions:  Can a non-profit register a trademark?  Well, yes (Nolo).  But it should be conducting business-like activities, like collecting dues (or contributions if registered as such) or selling content (books, internet articles). 

What about an individual like me who offers a lot of free content?  In theory, if he gets paid for some of it occasionally, then a trademark registration may be reasonable.  If it is a common phrase with a political meaning like “doaskdotell” any registration would probably be looked at very critically.  I have never tried to register it, as other groups have used it with different tld’s, for HIV prevention or for psychotherapy, among other uses.

In general, writers who want to be known for their ability to “connect the dots” like I do, or for expressing strong political or social views about something, are probably going to face more scrutiny in the future as to whether they have legitimate businesses and are commercially viable (a phrase that has caught attention for YouTube channels since late 2019 TOS changes, and a channel name is, in practice in the eyes of the public, rather like a domain name.

The same could be said about self-published books that don’t sell.

This gets back to the old problem, that individuals with means and savings can influence opinion without working with others, and can literally compete with non-profits, when the individuals may dislike the forced socialization and the idea of bragging about being oppressed or being losers.  But that whole process can make legitimate non-profits weaker and encourage radicalization. 

So we may eventually see pressures on individuals, if they want to use names other than their own and compete with businesses, they really need to have something to sell.

]This could raise interesting questions for writers trying to get started making a living with locals or substack (and competing with established journalism – again a sore spot).

As for using your own name, you might be allowed only one.  I’ve been required to use my legal name on Facebook, so I’ve started my user-ids on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Minds with “j” for “john” (my legal name is John William Boushka).  I have an old resume site, johnwboushka.com.   But I plan to let it expire (I think that happens in October) and use only my given nickname, BillBoushka, which I used for my doaskdotell books as author name. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

15 Universities form a "technology licensing consortium"; does this amount to a troll to protect weaker patents?

Harvard, 2015/8


Joe Mullin of Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that 15 major universities have formed a subsidiary company that looks like a “patent troll”, story

It’s a consortium called the “University Technology Licensing Program”.  I’ve worked for a consortium before, and no longer it is a polite latinized word.

The patents that this company would go after would tend to be the weaker ones, like software patents.

A lot of public money went into these projects.


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Should patent protection for vaccines be waived?

 

Batmobile? 

The IPFMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers) has, predictably, criticized the Biden’s administration’sproposal to waive patents for vaccines.  But the actual powers may reside with the WHO, which may be disinclined to follow those wishes. 

Too much money at stake.  Hardly a "stupid patent of the month"/