Saturday, June 25, 2011

Righthaven trying to copy the "patent trolling" model now, which may be more "lenient" for the plaintiff

The latest twist in the Righthaven copyright troll saga is that Righthaven now wants to metaphorize itself to “patent trolls” as if that were a virtue. Apparently patent law does not require as exclusive a right of ownership as does copyright, the way statutes are written. Steve Green of “Las Vegas Inc” has a story about it here

Green quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation as having written “Yet because patents can be anywhere and everywhere in these technologies, the average user has no way of knowing whether his or her tools are subject to legal threats. Patent owners who claim control over these means of community discourse can threaten anyone who uses them, even for personal noncommercial purposes.”  Does this mean that the content posted by a blogger or website owner could be forced to be taken down if the company hosting it had violated a patent?  I haven’t personally heard of this happening.

EFF has its link for its “patent busting project” here.

The Righthaven situation is covered on the “BillBoushka” blog under the “mass litigation” Blogger label.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Best Buy protects the "Geek" in "Geek Squad" -- even from "Chuck"

Nathan Kopper has a brief article “Geeks become popular in trademark disputes”  (link) and Miguel Bustillo has a more detailed story on the front page of the Monday June 21 Wall Street Journal about legal action taken by Best Buy (of Richfield, MN) against other companies for trademark infringement with the word “Geek”, since Best Buy owns Geek Squad (link). 
Best Buy says that it only acts when the trade dress (the orange and black or formerly black and white emblems and uniforms) or other practices, like calling techies agents, are involved. 
There have been other companies that use the “geek” word, apparently without problems, like Geeks on Call (link).

Best Buy objected when NBC wanted to use the Geek Squad and the Best Buy chain in the comedy spy series “Chuck”, which wound up inventing the “Nerd Herd” and “Buy More” pseudo-trademarks for the show (with different colors).  Publicly traded companies worry that if they are not aggressive in defending trademarks against small infringements, larger battles will ensue. Remember the battle back in 1999 between and a small Minneapolis bookstore?

Commercial films and television series often do use fictitious variations of major corporate names, apparently because of trademark dilution law. 

Anyway, your favorite younger musician (even classical) is now a geek, and your future boss will be a geek. Remember what the Erika character tells a fictitious Mark Zuckerberg at the end of the opening scene of "The Social Network"?  

Picture: no, there's no connection between Best Buy and LDS.  I just wanted to use this old family trip picture. 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

More on "patent trolling": Tech Dirt artcile links Myhrvold to practice

Tech Dirt has a provocative story linking the business operations of Nathan Myhrvold to “patent trolling”: setting up small companies, “selling” them patents, and then using these companies to sue legitimate inventors. The model sounds vaguely like Righthaven and copyright trolling.

The Tech Dirt link is here.

The terms “bait and switch” and “patent shakedown” get used here. It’s pretty easy to imagine the same kind of operation with trademarks against amateur domain name holders, claiming prospective infringement under the 2006 law.