Whose Name Is It Anyway?

By: Darius L. Lamonte *| Guest Writer

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People register trademarks in order to acquire exclusive rights over the use of something in commerce. These exclusive rights are acquired to prevent the unfair use of the trademarked item and sometimes to preserve a reputation from being tarnished by others. While trademark rights can also be acquired over signature items, they are most often acquired over logos, brand names (i.e. McDonalds), and even personal names. It is fascinating that something bestowed upon you for free could one day be used to generate millions of dollars. This is the case for personal names. Having trademark rights over your own name almost seems like it should be a birthright. However, there are even more stringent regulations over trademarking personal names. The use of personal names to identify and market goods and services has brought fortune to many, including some of our favorite celebrities. Because of the fortune that could come from the trademark rights of a personal name, there is often much dispute over the ownership of these rights.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan’s positive reputation around the world has made his name a heavily-sought after commodity. As a result, Jordan has given permission to several brands to use his name to market their products. Jordan obtains royalties just from his name being attached to shoes, shirts, and several other products. “Nothing is more important than protecting your own name,” Michael Jordan stated, after winning a dispute overseas regarding his trademarked name.  A Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports, was selling and marketing shoes and other clothing items under the name “Qiaodan,” which translates to “Jordan” in Mandarin. The historically visitor-unfriendly court in China declared that Jordan did indeed own the Mandarin transliteration of his name.

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A Dispute over Master Tapes Ends in the Beatles’ Favor

By: Niti Parthasarathy*| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/beatles-famous-people-band-1295244/

On July 26, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC, which represented Sid Bernstein, a late businessman and promoter. Bernstein promoted the Beatles’ 1965 show at Shea Stadium and produced the original 1966 film that used footage from the concert. Apple Corps Ltd., the band’s company, and Subafilms, acquired the rights to the footage through a contractual agreement with Bernstein. Though Sid Bernstein Presents noted the deal when filing the lawsuit, the company claimed that the rights to the master tapes remained with Bernstein and also claimed sole ownership over the footage. The sole ownership claim arose from Bernstein’s role as producer of the original film, and plaintiffs claimed that Apple Corps Ltd. infringed on Bernstein’s copyright when the footage was used in the 2016 documentary “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”

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Will “Tech Phobia” be the Answer to the Retail Crisis?

By: Yusuf A. Brown*| Guest Writer

By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anthony92931 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In order to adapt to changing consumer trends, many traditional retail brands are spending less money on operating “brick and mortar” stores and, instead, investing in a greater online presence. Online retail giant, Amazon, has seen its sales increase from $16 billion to $80 billion since 2010. The success of Amazon and other online retailers has decreased the demand for brick and mortar stores; this trend is commonly referred to as the “retail crisis”. However, one “tech-phobic” brick and mortar company is “bucking” the trend with 33 straight quarters of sales growth.

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Amazon Poised to Alter Grocery Landscape with Monumental Acquisition of Whole Foods

By: Abigail Jacobs*| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/shop-business-shopping-dollar-2107919/

From its origin, Amazon has reinvented the way modern Americans conceptualize shopping. Products are not only cheaper than in stores, but consumers are able to receive shipments in a quick, efficient, and painless manner. Through its sales in books, electronics, groceries, and clothing, Amazon has become the modern form of retail. By allowing third-party sellers to market a variety of products online, Amazon has slowly encroached on the consistent business of brick-and-mortar retailers. In a radical business maneuver in June, Amazon announced its intention to purchase Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in cash. Amidst Amazon’s growth of services such as AmazonFresh and AmazonPantry, many wonder how the purchase will affect investors, third-party sellers, and competitors such as Blue Apron and Publix.

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Competing with a Robot: How Automation Affects Labor Unions

By: Patrick T. Wilson*| Guest Writer

By Dllu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dllu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Concerns about the spread of automation and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace are growing. Companies like Uber are hard at work developing technology that would allow for pilotless trucks. Ultimately, a switch to self-driving solutions could displace nearly 300,000 truckers per year. Uber purchased the autonomous trucking company, Otto, with that goal in mind. Otto is developing a solution that will reduce or eliminate the need for humans. While they have encountered some technical and legal challenges, as the technology matures, it will pose a threat to trucker’s job security. Since many truckers enjoy the benefit of labor protections, a good question to address is how do labor rights interact with the drive for automation?

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Ford Moves to China

By: Kaylen Loflin*| Guest Writer

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As production costs continue to rise and car sales continue to fall, Ford, the nation’s second largest automaker, plans to move production of the Focus from its Michigan Assembly Plant to China. Demand for small cars continues to drop as consumers are less fuel conscious due to low gas prices and now opt for larger, less fuel efficient SUVs. While car sales accounted for more than 50% of the United States auto sale market in 2012, as of this year cars only account for 37%. Specifically for Ford, the American-made Focus sales have fallen 22% this year, but its full-size F-series pickup truck remains the best-selling U.S. vehicle. Ford is not the first automaker to move production to China, but Ford’s decision highlights the shift in global auto production as building cars in China for the U.S. market becomes more common.

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Federal Cybersecurity: CIA Falls Victim to Hackers

By: Evan Reid*| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/close-up-code-coding-computer-2178341/

The latest in a string of government cyberhackings targeted the CIA. The trove of hacked files, code-named “Vault 7,” details how the CIA can hack into Apple and Android devices to gather text and voice messages before they are encrypted. The files also reveal the CIA’s capabilities to hack into Smart TVs and vehicle control systems, including models from Jeep. The hackers subsequently released the compromised content to WikiLeaks, which published the highly sensitive material on March 7th. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the hacking “a major concern.”

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A Guilty/Not-Guilty Peculiarity: The Split Verdict in the Second Dewey LeBoeuf Trial

By: Mike Garrigan*| Guest Writer

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When Dewey & LeBoeuf declared bankruptcy in 2012, it was the largest “big law” failure in U.S. history. On paper, Dewey & LeBoeuf portrayed itself as a booming, large-scale law firm. In reality, the firm was collapsing under the weight of immense debt and false promises.

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“A Goldmine of Vapidity”: McMansion Wallpaper or Copyright Lawsuit?

By: Corri Hopkins *| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/mansion-house-home-real-estate-875094/

“This image has internet meme potential,” mocked a popular internet blogger. Shortly thereafter, McMansionHell author, Kate Wagner, learned that Zillow.com was not in on the joke.

McMansionHell is a popular blog known for sarcastic commentary on “ugly houses that became ubiquitous before (and after) the bubble burst.” Wagner is a twenty-three year old architecture student at Johns Hopkins University. Her blog superimposes witty commentary onto real estate listing photos “to educate the masses about architectural concepts, urban planning, environmentalism, and history by making examples out of the places we love to hate the most: the suburbs.” Think: Perez Hilton takes on an Architectural Digest tumblr. Many of the photos Wagner uses, however, come from the listing website Zillow.com.

On June 26, 2017, Zillow sent Wagner a cease-and-desist letter, which demanded that she stop using Zillow for any purpose, and that she delete all images from McMansionHell that originated on Zillow. Among other things, Zillow’s letter specifically alleged that, by using and modifying images downloaded from Zillow, Wagner infringed on the rights of the copyright holders of the images under 17 U.S.C. § 107.

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Rock Band Disrupts Intellectual Property Law

By: Andrew Homer *| Guest Writer

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade     This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) cannot deny the registration of a trademark because some may find the mark disparaging or offensive. The case that led to the ruling, Matal v. Tam, upended a 70-year-old tradition of federal trademark law found in 15 U.S.C. §1052 (a) and commonly named the disparagement clause. The Court holding that the disparagement clause is unconstitutional will have broad reaching effects to other aspects of intellectual property law and the nature of the corporation.

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