Can I trademark my last name?

Briskin, Cross & Sanford - Business Law Blog

The short answer is, “Generally, no.”  People try it all the time, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office politely rejects the applications and keeps the filing fees.  If you disagree with the Trademark Office’s rejection, or if you think someone else is trying to grab your surname for a trademark and you want to file an opposition to their application (or even seek to cancel their mark if it has already registered), you can take it up with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, or TTAB.  Trademark litigation is a specialized type of practice that runs a bit like a federal court trial, though most of it happens in writing rather than “live and in person.”  A good illustration of this is the recent (January 7, 2013) case that pitted Mitchell Miller d/b/a The Miller Law Group against Michelle Miller d/b/a, you guessed it, The Miller Law Group.

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What Protection Of Traditional Knowledge Means To Indigenous Peoples

The Noah Project

By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch

World Intellectual Property Organization member states in July concluded the biennium work of the committee tasked with finding agreement on international legal tools to prevent misappropriation and misuse of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore.

Indigenous peoples and local communities are holders of a substantial part of this knowledge and are demanding that it be protected against misappropriation but also against its use without their consent.

Intellectual Property Watch conducted two interviews with different indigenous groups attending the 15-24 July WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) (IPW, WIPO, 25 July 2013).

The IGC is working on the protection of genetic resources (GR), traditional knowledge (TK), and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs or folklore) against misappropriation mainly by commercial interestsOther concerns include knowledge that has been claimed for collection purposes, or research…

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In IP, Words Are All We Have.

philogames

Intellectual Property is strictly a creature of law and language- it exists only in word and in law. (Unless it also exists in ethics and metaphysics…)

Why do I keep writing about language on a blog about IP law and videogames? With most things we talk about in our day-to-day lives, there’s a tangible object that correlates to our discussion. If we argue about who owns a piece of land, a TV, a sandwich- there’s a THING that we can point to and say “THAT is what I’m talking about.” But there isn’t a physical object of “right to publish.” Sometimes there’s a contract, but the contract is only words- which brings us right back to language. The only “thing” we have is a linguistic representation of an intangible and [I argue] abstract idea.  For me, this sets IP law apart from every other type of law. And yet, IP…

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Copyright Alert System Begins

Astronomy and Law

The Copyright Alert System officially has begun. The system, also referred to as the “Six Strikes” program, is intended to deter copyright infringement committed through illegal file sharing.

The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) operates the alert system. Members of the coalition include the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., the Recording Industry Association of America, and major ISPs, including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

The system allows content owners to notify Internet service providers (ISPs) when they believe their copyrights are being infringed. The ISP will then notify the subscriber that his/her account may have been misused for potentially illegal file sharing. If the activity continues, the warnings issued to the subscriber will escalate and can ultimately result in “mitigation measures,” which include slowing the subscriber’s Internet connection.

Now that the program is officially underway, content holders can begin sending notices of alleged copyright infringement to…

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The Atlantic: Why Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Speech Is So Hard to Find Online

Murray State Business

Students often assume everything they need is available online. Here’s an example of why that isn’t the case: Why Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Speech Is So Hard to Find Online by Dustin Volz for The Atlantic.

Photo source: Library of Congress

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The Atlantic: Why Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Speech Is So Hard to Find Online

Murray State Business

Students often assume everything they need is available online. Here’s an example of why that isn’t the case: Why Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Speech Is So Hard to Find Online by Dustin Volz for The Atlantic.

Photo source: Library of Congress

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How New Zealand banned software patents without violating international law

The New Zealand Solution

karlspain

By Karl Spain

There are a lot of theories about what’s wrong with our economy and most of them contradict each other, leaving the public with no clear sense of what to do about our sluggish growth rate.

My theory about what is fundamentally wrong with our growth rate is a little obscure so please, please, bear with me. The key to my theory about what will improve the economy goes like this, the economy produces wealth (the sum of all the work done and product produced) as a function of overall productivity, which is a cumulative factor that can be influenced most easily, and quickly, by innovation.

Innovation doesn’t just improve the overall marginal productivity of the people using improved tools, the actual products produced by innovative processes, which lower their costs, have the same net effect. Conversely, when products get more expensive from a productivity point (productivity here…

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Do Trademark Lawyers Matter?

Briskin, Cross & Sanford - Business Law Blog

This is not an existential question, but the title of a new research study by Deborah Gerhardt and Jon McClanahan, soon to be published in the Stanford Technology Law Review, 2013.

It is no secret that non-lawyers can file federal trademark applications, just as individuals can incorporate companies and perform any number of legal tasks for themselves.  The question is, is it really smart for them to do so?  Lawyers are often asked, if the online, self-help sites file all the documents you need for a whole range of legal services, all at what seem like reasonable prices, what do you gain by hiring a lawyer to do these things for you?

Gerhardt and McClanahan provide empirical evidence that may help to make the decision simpler.  On average, they discovered, only 42% of trademark applications filed by pro se (i.e., “do-it-yourself”) applicants were ultimately successful in registering.  When they…

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