Sunday, March 18, 2018

Trademarked franchise brands get protected aggressively, and this affects decisions of a lot of small business owners

Will businesses that use names similar to those of established franchises (like the same first word or number) face trademark infringement suits?
It’s interesting that so many of the major retail marks are indeed franchises owned by public companies, which have a fiduciary responsibility toward shareholders.  So they must protect their marks even in situations that may sound silly. 
The use of franchise brands has a major impact on decisions that small business owners make.  Often they feel pressured to work with a major brand franchise than work on their own.  It strikes me that immigrants are often very good at managing franchises as they have learned these skills in their home countries through their families.

The brands can even matter in the media, with televisions shows (which are usually "series" and qualify as franchises) and movie sequels. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Blackberry sues Facebook over patents underlying Messenger

BlackBerry, which we haven’t heard as much about (Research in Motion) recently, since Obama gave up his in 2009 (I switched over to Droid in 2010 and eventually iPhone), is suing Facebook for patent infringement over several features in Facebook messenger.  Timothy B. Lee explains the cross litigation in Ars Technica.  Lee describes this as “weaponizing instant messaging patents”.

These patents sound more "valid" than some others that get trolled. but some of them still sound largely conceptual, like the "icons with numeric badges". 
My own iPhone has a button for Messages and for Facebook Messenger, two separate apps.

Friday, February 02, 2018

I propose my own "stupid patent of the month" for EFF

I propose a stupid patent of the month, before Electronic Frontier Foundation finds out.  

I’ve developed a way of keeping track of all the elements of a plot of a novel on a Microsoft Access database.  Then I sort them by presentation (chapter, subchapter) sequence and tie characters to various events, with comments to help tie loose ends.

I then copy them into a simple HTML table for a blog posting.
An example is here

I shared it with a friend, a much younger gay man, also writing a novel yesterday.
It struck me, people try to sell these ideas to patent troll companies.  I “give it away” free.  

Monday, January 01, 2018

Does USPTO's own fee set-up unintentionally encourage patent trolling?

Timothy B. Lee has an important article on Ars Technica, referring to a Brookings study, on how the current fee system at USPTO may unintentionally incentivize the USPTO to keep issuing low quality patents, to “trolls”. Lee mentions EFF’s series “Stupid Patent of the Month”.

The basic idea is to collect an application fee (and renewal fee) but not an issuance fee.


A Twitter response called USPTO’s current system “penny wise and pound foolish”. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Trump's MAGA phrase is trademarked (did he really?)

Apparently Donald Trump trademarked “Make America Great Again” back in 2015, before his presidential run, just as he had tried with “you’re fired”.  (Maybe “He’s fired” like in the NFL protests.)

Heather Long had reported this in October 2015 on CNN, here.   

TESS yields the following result.   "Grate"?  Were we punked?   Fake news? 

I think allowing trademarks on common phrases is dangerous policy for business, especially new startups. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Ajit Pai's thinking on net neutrality could some day force more business owners to turn to franchises for branding

The retreat from network neutrality regulation could have a bearing on trademark and branding issues.

If telecom companies really do make it harder for small companies to be accessed with the same ease and speed as big companies (which the telecom companies “promise” not to do now) over time, you could see more pressure on small businesses to join franchises, which would have the clout to bargain for better service.   This sounds a lot like health care, doesn’t it!

Ownership of franchise units tends to be passed down in families, and there are expos on it.  But it doesn’t appeal to people who didn’t grow up with it.

Many small businesses are proud of their own brands in their local communities.  This would be true of businesses ranging from groceries to bars to independent bookstores.  Many need sites or blogs (and to follow the strategic ideas of “Blogtyrant”) to advertise their businesses to their own customers. 

Whether Ajit Pai’s thinking really is good for all business and especially for Trump’s “MAGA” ideas of doing more manufacturing in the US really remains a good question.  The Republicans ought to look at economic realities and not just ideology and party tribalism.   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The stupid patent that could not survive EFF's own Halloween

Here is EFF’s Halloween patent, the “155 Patent”, indeed one of the “stupidest” on record.
Merely providing a printing service via a communications network claimed to be patentable, back around 1999. Here’s the EFF story by Vera Ranieri.
I can imagine right off how that could relate to print-on-demand book publishing, which I use.

If you stretch this far enough, my own making my older books free on PDF’s and allowing others to print them would seem to fall under it.