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. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Could patent trolls affect the development of artificial intelligence?

Jeremy Gillula and Daniel Nazer of Electronic Frontier Foundation have a major speculative “stupidest patent of the month” story on how patent trolling could affect artificial intelligence development, even by someone like Elon Musk.

The article notes patent applications by both Google and Microsoft that could be broad enough to stymy artificial intelligence.

It’s hard to get how a concept for automating something can become a patent without the very specific workable machinery to make it happen.

I could claim that “passive marketing” of my books and blogs through search engines without spending ad money is itself patentable, worth hiring a troll attorney, using my “Do Ask Do Tell” books.  (Combine that with Reid Ewing’s little film in 2012, “It’s Free”.) Sorry, I am a supporter of EFF. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Even email confirmation of orders attracts patent trolls

This “stupid patent of the month” that went after “Fairytale Brownies” harassed a company founded in 1992, suddenly and recently.  The EFF story is by Vera Rainier.  

The patent claimed to have invented a shipment notification email that includes PII. 

Trolls claim to have invented conceptual functionality, or what a workplace friend used to call “functionable”.

I’m reminded of the “brownies and elves” dichotomy in my own kindergarten in 1949.
I also wonder if Blogtyrant’s ideas on email lists could somehow stumble on a troll.  Maybe not in Australia. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Now inter-app permissions gets claimed by a patent troll

Electronic Frontier Foundation points out another “stupid patent of the month” this time, apparently from JP Morgan, about a mobile app merely asking permission to hook up with another app.
Electronic Frontier Foundation has a story by Daniel Nazer, Aug. 31, here

Since I am in the middle of a probable home sale and condo purchase, all cash, I’m attracting mail offering bridge loans.  One piece came from JP Morgan.   

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Podcasting saved from the patent trolls

Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that it has won a case against a company, Personal Audio, that had threatened podcasters with patent lawsuits. The ruling came from a 3-judge panel for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

EFF had raised money for “save our podcasters” litigation and showed that speakers had podcasted for years before the company applied for the patent.

That such a threat could have been made against ordinary podcasting is indeed shocking. 

Will it have to raise money to save Section 230 from the Backpage mess?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

People are filing trademark applications for slurs with no commercial intent

Abbey White of Vox Media reports that people are filing trademark applications for symbols and “bad words” normally associated with racism or hate speech, after a US Supreme Court ruling in June regarding “The Slants”, story here June 20, new Vox story here.

The article says that it is not required that an approved mark go into immediate commercial use.  I had thought that this was required.  It would be a disturbing situation indeed if the ability to make money from a brand affected its approval in a contested case.  There is also a good question as to whether common words with political meaning (like my book series or something like Anderson Coopers “Keeping Them Honest”) ought to be recognized as a legitimate wordmark for trade, limiting who can use it to first-come or to the most economically powerful.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

KU law professor examines patent litigation according to "patent value"

I earned my M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Kansas in Lawrence in early 1968 (before entering the Army). 

Here’s a curious article by a patent law professor at KU seeming to counsel were patent holders can litigate, according to the value of their patents.  East Texas is most favorable to “high value” patents. I hope this isn’t an encouragement for deliberate patent trolling. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Boy in Texas seeks patent for device warning police child is in a hot car

An 11-year-old buy, Bishop, in McKinney, TC (north of Dallas on US 175 – Experian is located there now) has invented a device to sense when a child or pet is left in a hot car and that will call police.
NBC News has the story here  and it was on nightly news tonight.

This certainly sounds like a good and valid use of patent, and a patent will be applied for.
The article also explains the psychology of forgetting a child in a car – competing parts of the brain.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Supreme Court rules that the "commercial" First Amendment protects "disparaging" trademarks in "Slants" case (also would apply to Redskins football)

The Supreme Court ruled, 8-0 (Gorsuch was not yet seated) that the USPTO cannot refuse to register trademarks just because a minority group (or suspect class) finds it disparaging.

Robert Barnes has a detailed analysis in the Washington Post today here.
The case is about an Asian-American rock group called the “Slants” that tried to trademark its name, bringing back stereotyped slurs from the days of the Vietnam war. The case is named Matal v. Tan.

Some sources criticize the opinion as saying that the “Bill of Rights is about making money”.  Maybe trademark law really is. That idea could put domain names for efforts not sufficiently commercial at risk, if challenged by others who think that the same wordmarks could make money, employ people, and even pay for health insurance (the Trump effect).

This would mean that the Washington Redskins will be able to trademark their team name (again) and probably won’t do a name change.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Patent claims on notification of customers of delivery

Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on a case “” against “Shipping & Transit LLC” in a news story here.

The plaintiff claims a patent relating to the reporting of the status of delivery vehicles.  This would seem to jeopardize the normal online access to information on packages you have ordered, at least to a home (maybe not to a UPS store).
It’s hard to see how this could be a real patent unless it is a specific smartphone or web application.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SCOTUS: First sale doctrine applies to patents, too. It's about time!

Apparently the “first sale” doctrine does apply in trademark cases, since the Supreme Court has ruled that Lexmark can’t require customers to return print cartridges or prohibit them from disabling a microschip that allows resale.  Jess Bravin writes on the ruling for the Wall Street Journal.

The opinion is here.  The case is Impression Products vs Lexmark International.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Uber, Lyft hit by patent troll

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an interesting “stupid patent of the month” story, this time about litigation against Uber and Lyft.  This matters to me as a consumer, as I do depend on Uber to get around DC Metro’s shrinking of weekend hours.  The story is by Vera Raineri, link.
The patent  in question is an “automated dispatch and payment honoring system: for taxis, and now for ride hailings services, link here from a company named Hailo.  The patent dates back to 1997, when the Internet was just getting going.  EFF says that the dispatching technology existed before.  It is very expensive to litigate questionable patents in court, but it is sometimes possible to get USPTO to review them.

Monday, April 03, 2017

"Storing files in folders" becomes a patent and is trollable

Daniel Nazer of Electronic Frontier Foundation has a brief article on one of the stupidest patent concepts ever for trolling, “storing files in folders” (patent text ).  

I do that every day when I copy pictures from my camera to folders on my computer with the command prompt or with Windows Explorer.
This time the patent is owned by Micoba, having been sold by Louisiana Tech

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Supreme Court could outrun Federal Circuit on patent trolls' forum shopping

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post is reporting on the Supreme Court’s consideration of the practice of forum shopping by patent trolls, as in this story March 27

Many cases wind up a federal court in Marshall, Texas (east of Dallas), or in Delaware, both jurisdictions favorable to plaintiffs, because of Federal Circuit rules that allow filing of suits against plaintiffs that have any business at all in any circuit, which Congress may not have intended.

 Defendants claim that they must be filed in an area where there is a preponderance of business.

I’m not aware that this affects trademark or domain names.  If it did, since any resident of Marshall could access any domain online, it could matter.

I recently saw a woman on the DC Metro carrying a bag that had lettering to the effect of "Federal Circuit Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia" over near Judiciary Square.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

At ICANN, commercial lobbies are getting more aggressive in preventing accidental amateur use of domain names resembling their marks.

Jeremy Malcolm of Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important story on the aggressive behavior of the “commercial lobby”, so-to-speak, about influencing ICANN not to allow registration of domain names remotely resembling established brands, even when based on common words (even “The”), and even when other lines of business.  The article also notes the lack of any way to check for international trademarks online (unlike the case in the U.S., where USPTO seems to be reasonably up to date).

It does seem legitimate to me to want to stop misspellings of company names from being registered, as this is how malware is often propagated. 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Try patenting "out of office email" in a small living space -- like on a space station

On Electronic Frontier Foundation, Daniel Nazer writes about a “stupid patent of the month”: IBM patents out-of-office email (link).

The really does sound abstract.
Imagine the idea being used on a space colony.  If you go out of the office, you can’t physically be very far away.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Patent trolls still can take advantage of forum shopping; Trump in China (is no Nixon)

Patent trolls and patent owners can take undue advantage of forum shopping, according to a story on Electronic Frontier Foundation by Daniel Nazer this morning.    And the federal circuit in Washington DC, which is supposed to have the technical expertise in patent and trademark, has not been allowing defendants to choose their home field for jurisdiction (for “Home field advantage”).   The relevant case is Pabst v. Xiliinx. 

The Hill this morning has a major story by Nikita Vladimirov about the Trump organization’s trademark activity in China, an apparently obvious source of conflict of interest.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

EFF slams patent that matches music with lyrics and comments "automatically"

Electronic Frontier Foundation, in its column “Stupid Patent of the Month”, in an article by Daniel Nazer, discusses a patent from CBS Interactive, “Song Discussions”, that offers a supposedly automated way to match music with lyrics and user comments.  CBS Interactive is part of the familiar CBS broadcasting corporation (e.g., "60 Minutes")  .

I actually have some composed music which could be matched with lyrics (one is a setting of Psalm 133, which I just discussed on Wordpress recently).  I guess I’d better be careful about any automated tools.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SCOTUS hears oral arguments on Slants case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday regarding the trademark application of the Asian American band calling itself the Slants.

  The Los Angeles Times, in a story by David Savage, reports that justices appeared divided on whether denying a trademark because the government did not like the message amounted to discrimination.   The government is still interfering with the speech itself.  But it could interfere with the practical ability to make money from commercial use of the name.  The case could affect the Washington Redskins trademark application.

The case is Lee v. Tam, with SCOTUS transcript here

Friday, January 06, 2017

"The Agency Names of Naming Agencies": Assigning domain names is a competitive sport

The Igor Naming Agency emailed a story and link tonight to a blog where it discusses how companies should choose name for themselves, or for their services or products.  The same ideas would apply to movie or book titles, movie or book series (which can be trademarked) and domain names, which, as we know, can be closely related to trademarks.

The post is called “The Agency Names of Naming Agencies”, here.

It says to look at the names of the competition, and that naming is a competitive sport.

The categories are “Functional”, “Invented”, “Experiential”, “Evocative”.  (Not “functionable”.)