Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When do you need professional trademark services (beyond using the Patent and Trademark Office online database)?

If you wonder, when selecting a domain name, whether you might have infringed on an existing trademark accidentally, you can, of course, go to “uspto.gov” and do a basic free-from trademark search.
Is this adequate?  My own experience in looking at the database is that it is pretty complete and reasonably up to date.
However, there are companies that do various searches (“Combined”, including state, expanded, common law and Internet, and international). 
There is a company called “Government Liaison Services” with a domain name called “trademarkinfo”, link   that offers a variety of searches – charges for the most thorough possible searches can run up into the hundreds of dollars.  Curiously, it’s in an older office building in Arlington VA, not too far from me.  I found out about it by accident.  I saw a spare copy of the magazine “Washington Lawyer” ( website url site)  on a park bench near GWU when walking back to the Metro yesterday. And the company had a print ad in the magazine, p. 9.  The ad also mentions copyright services.  
The magazine (April 2013 issue) had an interesting article about concussions in football.  The subject is interesting.  In the culture in which I grew up in the 50s, men were supposed to take risks of getting hurt to prove that they could defend and provide for women and children.  How the culture has changed.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Supreme Court hears oral arguments on patenting DNA

Can a private company own a patent on the DNA in a human gene, a chemical sequence that appears in every human being?
Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City thinks so, and has filed for patents for genes related to breast cancer. The rationale is that the chemical sequence is needed as a template to make artificial genes to be used in tests for susceptibility to breast cancer.  However, a counter argument is that everyone would have to go to one company for the test, and could not easily get second opinions before surgery or any radical treatment.
The Los Angeles Times story by Karen Kaplan is here
Bloomberg Law has posted the ACLU’s arguments against the idea of patenting naturally occurring biological codes.
The Supreme Court has posted the arguments held today in the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, link here.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Can Internet content be "branded"?

The latest wrinkle in “branding” is the practice of companies to sponsor entire articles in major news websites (including Huffington and the Washington Post) and not just Internet ads. The print article in Business Day Monday on the New York Times is “Sponsoring Articles, not just ads; ‘Branded content’ on the web mingles with regular coverage”, link here
I get contacted by companies to review their movie-DVD’s and books (mostly small films and self-published or small press books), and I do notify users (as required by the FTC) when I received a review copy.  I wouldn’t say my content is “branded’, but I can see that I can’t favor any one source too much over the others.
Where “branded content” may help a customer is if it is technical, for example, tips on how to do some things on the Mac that seem easier in Windows, or vice versa.