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intellectual property Tag

Stolen on Kickstarter

Many inventors turn to funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to get backing for their patent-pending products. While hundreds of thousands of innovative products have come to life with the support of crowdfunding sites, making it such an attractive option for cash-strapped inventors, there are those who have become victims of fast-acting counterfeit and knockoff artists. Steve Suddell, inventor of the "Neck Hammock," raised just over $200k on Kickstarter. He was on cloud nine - for about a minute. A week later, he began receiving angry emails from backers stating that his product was being sold...

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Inventors beware: invention promoters may not be out to “help” you

Unless you are a caveman, you have most likely seen InventHelp's commercials featuring celebrities such as George Foreman encouraging amateur inventors to call his friends at InventHelp. You know the pitch: "Do you have an idea for a new product or invention? How do I get my idea in front of companies? How do I get a patent?" For answers to these questions, you should call an intellectual property lawyer - not some paid celebrity's "friends" at an invention promotion company. Though not all are bad actors, many invention promotion companies (and consultants) have been...

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What a bunch of turkeys!

Impulse-buying millennials spent approximately $482 million on counterfeit products last year on Black Friday. This year, the trend is set to continue as it is predicted that one-in-four will purchase counterfeit items due to the buyer's inability to spot counterfeiters and the marketplace's laissez-faire attitude toward counterfeit sellers online. Considering that this year's online holiday spending is predicted to exceed $124 billion from November - December (with over $23 billion from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday alone!), it is imperative that buyers beware, and that product marketers actively police their online listings; lest their sales and reputations get gobbled up by...

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How U.S. subsidies aid Chinese counterfeiters

The Universal Postal Union treaty (UPU) is a United Nations agreement that was established in 1874 and sets shipping rates between 192 member countries. In 1969, in an effort to boost economic growth, the UPU set lower shipping rates for small parcels (4.4lbs and under) mailed from developing countries. While this move by the UPU was clearly well-intentioned, it has not been reassessed in several decades. As a result, despite being the world's second largest economy, China is still listed as a "developing country" and thus benefits from unreasonably low shipping rates - to the detriment of...

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U.S., EU File IP Complaints Against China With the WTO

On March 23, the United States – through the World Trade Organization (WTO) – filed a “Request for Consultations” with the government of China concerning its technology and trade practices that are harming the IP rights of U.S. companies and innovators who enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies. The U.S. claimed that the Chinese measures are inconsistent with multiple articles of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). The TRIPS Agreement, of which China is a member, sets out the minimum standards of intellectual property protection to be provided by each member. In its Request for...

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Feeling Frosty?

For much of the country, the new year brought in winter storm warnings and bitter cold temperatures.  However, the arctic blast has nothing on the seemingly chilly relationship between a couple of cereal giants; bestowing one last holiday surprise upon consumers. After speculation that it may be a ruse, on December 29th, General Mills officially announced the launch of its latest cereal, Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes.  Sugary cereal lovers everywhere rejoiced on social media as the news spread and the cereal began appearing on supermarket shelves.  Two classic childhood cereals combined...

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Patent Assignments to Native American Tribes: Brilliant or Bad Business?

The recent trend of companies transferring patents to Native American tribes has raised some concerns about anticompetitive business practices.  Lawsuits brought by patent-holding tribes as a result of these assignments have been popping up a lot lately, and major companies are fit to be tied. Essentially, companies are assigning their patents to tribes in order to take advantage of the tribes’ sovereign immunity, thus shielding them from the patent review process and potential patent invalidation.  The most recent targets of these lawsuits in the tech industry have been Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. The method works something like this.  A company files for...

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Jury Awards 9.4 Million to Quincy Jones in Michael Jackson Royalty Suit

Remember the time when Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones were a power duo, churning out music that rocked our world? Jones produced Michael's Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad albums. Jones and the rest of musical world were devastated by the King of Pop's untimely death in June 2009. Luckily for fans, Michael's death spurred the release of new material from and inspired by MJ; material that Jones claimed he was owed royalties based on contracts dating back to 1978 and 1985. As producer of Michael's albums, Jones was granted rights and royalties to the music he...

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Update: The USPTO’s Slanted Viewpoint on Trademark Applications is Unconstitutional

In January, we told you about how the Asian-American rock band, The Slants, had been making noise in the courts for years fighting for the right to register the band's trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO had denied registration of the band's name, citing Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which allowed the USPTO to refuse registration of marks that it deemed to be immoral, scandalous, or disparaging. However, the band is likely singing the Supreme Court's praises because just this week the Court ruled in an 8-0 onion that this...

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