All Star Game: Converse Set to Take Imitators to Court

October 16th, 2014

Shoemaker Converse is suing 31 companies, arguing they are copying the design of its trademark shoe.

The company filed lawsuits against mega retailers such as Wal-Mart and Ralph Lauren for allegedly selling imitations of its famous Chuck Taylor sneaker, which is notable for its canvas construction and trademark white-toed design.

Converse chief executive Jim Calhoun told reporters that “we do not believe companies have a right to copy the Chuck’s trademarked look.”

The lawsuits, which was filed in New York, include companies based in Canada, Australia, Italy, China, and Japan.

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This story has a familiar feel, as just two years ago, French-based Christian Louboutin won the exclusive right to the color red to coat the bottom of its high-heels. But even that victory for Louboutin came with some caveats, most notably that other company’s soles of a shoe can be red if the shoe itself is red. That provision is a microcosm of how difficult it can be to completely protect the look and feel of a product in the fashon industry.

Converse certainly has an uphill battle. According to their representation, they have sent 180 cease and desist letters to retailers in the past six years, and Converse will have to prove that consumers are confused by the similar-looking shoes. That won’t be an easy case to make, but it is certainly one Converse feels it has no other choice than to pursue. The financial ramifications of a win could be huge for Converse, as eliminating imitators that undercut Converse’s reasonable price could result in a new sales boom, so this one is worth keeping a watchful eye on.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Trademarks , , , ,

Protect and Preserve Your IP with IP Payments

October 15th, 2014

Year after year, up to a half million inaccurate patent and trademark records are filed. According to Thomson Reuters data, that accounts for two percent of the world’s share of intellectual property. The cost of these mistakes are resounding. Multinationals around the globe need to be able to rest easy knowing that their time and resources invested in their IP efforts aren’t being done in vain. That’s why we recommend Thomson Reuters IP Payments.

Our IP Payments solution provides customers with the highest level of support to make informed decisions with expert advice, while affording the opportunity to access their patent annuities and trademark renewals anywhere, anytime over our secure web-based payment platform.

Some of the solutions key features are:

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For more information on IP Payments, click here

To view the IP Payments infographic, see below:

infographic 10-15

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Thomson Reuters , , , ,

Nobel Physics Prize Highlights Link Between Scientific Research and Real-World Business Development

October 7th, 2014

Shuji Nakamura is one of the recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.  Not only is this exciting news for the Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate program, which predicted Nakamura’s win back in 2002, the selection also offers a clear road map from developing highly cited scientific research to spurning an explosion of business growth.

Patent research using Thomson Reuter’s Derwent World Patent Index reveals that Nakamura is named as the inventor on 484 patented inventions in the field of Electro-(in)organic materials published since 1991.  The most highly-cited of these inventions is US6153010A, which was published in 2000. This invention created a “method of growing nitride semiconductors, nitride semiconductor substrate and nitride semiconductor device” and has been cited by 427 subsequent published patents.

This analysis of both patents and scientific literature citations shows us that the extensive field work done by Nakamura has been the impetus for hundreds of inventions that have helped the semiconductor industry to an unparalleled growth and innovation over the past decade and a half. Nakamura’s case connects the dots between the research and business work, and as a result, portrays a lasting impact on both sides of the coin.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , , ,

Browns Quarterback Files Another Trademark

September 18th, 2014

Football season may have just kicked off, but Johnny Manziel’s trademarking game is already in full swing. According to ESPN.com, Manziel and his company, JMan2, have filed a trademark for the name ‘Johnny Cleveland.’

This is the 10th trademark application that Manziel and his company have filed. Others include: ‘JFF,’ ‘ManzIIiel,’ and ‘The House That Johnny Built.’

Manziel isn’t the only one trying to trademark his name either. Apparently fans have been applying for Johnny Football trademarks, too. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has denied several fans who have tried to trademark phrases like ‘Johnny Browns‘ and ‘Money Manziel.’

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: In an age where counterfeit and unlicensed merchandise is produced on a seemingly endless basis and sold on e-commerce sites around the world, Manziel is smart to try to protect himself. Only a few companies – such as Nike, New Era, and Brand 47 – are equipped with NFL licenses to produce authentic player merchandise, and anything that slips through the cracks is money out of both the players’ and teams’ pockets. Manziel is a polarizing figure in the sports word, but he’s also a hot commodity. Simply put: everyone wants a piece of the Johnny Football brand, and it’s obvious Manziel is not going to let that brand go unprotected.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Trademarks , , , ,

Twitpic Shuts Down in the Shadow of Trademark Showdown with Twitter

September 12th, 2014

The company that helped bring photos to Twitter is shutting down, and it’s pointing the finger at the social-media giant.

Image-sharing service Twitpic announced last week that it will close down on Sept. 25 after facing a challenge to its trademark application from Twitter. Twitpic was founded in 2008 as the first company to allow Twitter users an easy way to add photos and videos to their tweets. Twitter eventually added an in-house function in 2011.

“Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe wholeheartedly is rightfully ours,” Twitpic founder Noah Everett wrote in a blog post.

Twitter responded through a spokesperson:  “We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand.”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This is a tough one. On the surface, it seems as though Twitpic has a fair case: Why not be able to protect a name you’ve been using for more than half a decade? However, Twitter is a multi-billion dollar brand, one that has to be careful about how companies that utilize its platform but are not associated with the company, are perceived. The use of “Twit” in the name is a more-than-obvious connection to the Twitter brand, and it would be hard to imagine a situation where there would be no consumer confusion. Either way, it’s understandable why Twitpic isn’t willing to fight: the threat of litigation is simply too much, and the stakes of losing too high. Rather than risk a costly judgment, Twitpic will simply cease to be.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Trademarks , , ,

The Great Ear Debate: Disney Sues Deadmau5

September 5th, 2014

One mouse is set to take on another.

Earlier this week,  Disney filed a 171-page suit attempting to block musician and DJ deadmau5 from registering a trademark for his logo, called the “mau5head,” in the U.S.  According to deadmau5’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, the Canadian house music maker has been using his logo without issue for over 10 years, and deadmau5 has registered the mark without issue in 30 countries.

Disney argues that their three-circle, black-silhouette mouse head has been registered since 1928 and issuing a mark for deadmau5 will cause brand confusion.

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: Even though deadmau5 has been using this logo for years, Disney is well within their rights to try to block it here in the United States – and potentially elsewhere too. The Walt Disney Company has decades of equity tied up in the Mickey-inspired logo, and any chance of confusion in the marketplace is a risk Disney is simply not willing to take. How close are the logos? Check them out below and judge for yourself:

disney deadmau5

johnroderick Trademarks , , , , ,

The Next Space Race: Reusable Rockets

September 4th, 2014

Man has already reached the new frontier, but can it now be done on a budget? The lynchpin to making space travel efficient is the ability to produce reusable rockets.

As a result, the race is on to build the new technology that would “chop tens of millions of dollars off the cost of launch,” and it has two major players. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the leader in building this type of technology, getting as far as the testing phases, however they’re being held up in their pursuit, according to Quartz.

“[…]Someone else has the patent on this kind of technology: Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. While the company hasn’t developed its technology as far as SpaceX, which already is launching satellites for commercial and government clients, it has been proceeding with a contract from NASA to develop a rocket-and-spacecraft combination. But before it launched a single rocket, it obtained a business method patent for a reusable launch vehicle […]”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: It’s easy to understand Elon Musk’s frustration, but Bezos and his Blue Origin company were wise to file a patent on the technology. Their contract with NASA has given the Amazon chief and his company fantastic positioning, and it’s because they were first to file. Even though SpaceX is closer, Blue Origin’s protection may put them in the driver’s seat in this race to space.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , , ,

Facebook Buys 100 Patents To Spur Virtual Reality, Video, Speech

September 2nd, 2014

Facebook has evolved by leaps and bounds over its ten years of existence.  From humble beginnings of late-night coding binges, the college student addiction of choice has become a mainstay on every laptop, smartphone, and tablet in the world.

So what’s next? According to Forbes, the sky is the limit:

A recent analysis found that new possibilities for Facebook could range from ‘digital printing services to interactive wearable devices.’”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: Peaking into a company’s patent portfolio is always a valuable tool when predicting their future. We know that Facebook has lofty goals, and it seems as though they’re ready to diversify in order to stay relevant. It’s just another great example of a company using innovation to cement their place at the top. It will be interesting to see which of these patents materialize and which direction Facebook chooses to move towards.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,

The Most Magical Drones on Earth? Disney Files Patents for Theme Park Drones

August 28th, 2014

Theme park innovation, anti-terrorism measure, or all of the above? That’s the question on the mind of Disney enthusiasts upon hearing of the news that drones could soon be flying above the Magic Kingdom.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has filed three patents for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for entertainment purposes. The report says that Disney’s “Imagineers” have dreamed up new ways to bring The Disney Company’s properties to life with these aircraft usually reserved for military purposes.

“One of the applications is for a multi-drone system that would hold aloft a projection screen for a nighttime display. Such a display would utilize what Disney calls ‘flixels,’ which is an Imagineer word creation for ‘floating pixels,’ according to the background information Disney submitted.

In the second patent application, Disney said ‘the UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space,’ according to the patent application abstract. ‘These multiple flexible projection screens, Disney says, would have little wind resistance and offer a surface for reflecting light.’

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This is an interesting development in the House of the Mouse. Earlier this year, Walt Disney World rolled out a program called MyMagic+ that takes advantage of RFID technology for everything from their Fast Pass system to room keys to credit card purchases. Now, the use of drones sounds like it will initially be focused on in-park product, but one cannot wonder what other applications they could eventually have, from security monitoring to data collection on guests utilizing the RFID technology. There are endless possibilities to Disney’s use of these UAVs, and it will be interesting to see what manifests out of the pixie dust.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,

Confirmed: Patent Trolls Inhibit Innovation

August 27th, 2014

Non-practicing entities (NPEs), or “patent trolls,” have always been accused of stifling innovation, but a no one has been able to put a monetary amount on this claim. Until now.

According to Vox: “A new study by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll.”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This study comes on the heels of a big settlement between Adam Carolla and a non-practicing entity, a case that nearly turned the entire broadcasting industry on its head. Now, with some concrete stats behind the claim that NPEs have an adverse impact on R&D and innovation, those leading the fight for U.S. patent reform have more ammunition to make their case against NPEs.  This is an issue we’ve seen debated for years.  As far back as 2010, we hosted a panel session entitled “Non-Practicing Entities: Patent Pirates or Stewards of Innovation,” in which a group of NPEs debated their role in the patent landscape with a group of major manufacturers.  The conversation then was very similar to the conversation we’re hearing today: some NPEs are perfectly legitimate operations that operate similar to private equity firms or venture capitalists using patents as collateral to harness the growth of new technologies.  Others are more predatory in their practices.  As this debate continues to generate global media attention, we expect to see more proposed legislation and no shortage of hand-wringing over individual cases.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,