Category Archives: IP – From Theory to Practice

Nintendo’s IP: That’s No Pokémon, That’s My Pet!

If you were a child sometime in the last three decades, you’ve likely had some sort of a connection to the cultural juggernaut that is the Pokémon franchise. An intellectual property so well known that Microsoft Word has autocorrected my spelling of the word Pokémon three times now. My personal connection to the franchise has persisted throughout my life. As a seven-year-old, I scrounged together change to buy a pack of the trading cards at the local 7-11.  Later in life, I almost got robbed in a park while playing Pokémon Go at 2 AM in 2016 (true story).

Winston (Left) hanging out with Phoebe (right). Photo attributed to Louay Meroueh.

Most recently, I’ve begun to see Instagram ads for products not associated with Nintendo that draw from the vast pool of Pokémon nostalgia to push their products. One service in particular, called Pika Pika by Arianna, caught my eye. It’s a commission-based service that offers to draw your pet and insert them into a Pokémon card. The card looks like it could be used in the actual game. The picture of the pet is drawn in the style of a Pokémon. Typically, on every Pokémon card, there is a picture of the Pokémon and a list of abilities or moves that it can do.  The abilities that are listed on the Pika Pika card are creatively adapted in accordance with your pet’s personality. I have two pets myself, and I’ve thought about using this service on more than one occasion.

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An IP Student’s Guide to Patent Law: What I Wish I Knew Before My First Interview

I came to Loyola with an interest in intellectual property, specifically patents. Patents are granted by a country to protect inventions by granting the inventor certain rights. When it came time to start my job search for my 1L summer, I knew I wanted to try and get experience in the field of IP. In every IP interview I’ve had thus far, the interviewer has always asked what kind of patent law I want to practice. Do I want to “prosecute” patents, meaning writing and obtaining a patent for an inventor? Or, do I want to litigate issues for granted patents? These are the two most common areas of patent law. In my early interviews, I would answer patent litigation. I have previous experience as a litigation consultant prior to law school, and have always romanticized being a trial attorney. However, as I gained interview experience and spoke with more attorneys, I realized there were many different areas of patent law of which I had no idea existed. I realized I had an interest in a lot of them. After learning more about these fields, I was able to better tailor my job search to firms that offered those types of patent law.

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Getting A RISE Out of PepsiCo

Picture by Tabitha Turner on Unsplash

While big companies may have dozens of trademarks, smaller and lesser-known companies can also have valid trademarks, as long as they satisfy the trademark criteria.

Can a large company infringe a smaller company’s mark? Yes! This is sometimes referred to as “reverse confusion,” where the small company is the first user and the large company is the later user. But, there can still be confusion among consumers. The larger company may use its money and resources (like ads) to infiltrate the smaller company’s market with a similar mark on similar goods or services.

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Demystifying the Public Domain: How Expired IP Promotes Creativity

Francis Cugat’s  original 1925 cover of “The Great Gatsby,” now in the public domain

Before coming to law school, I only had a vague understanding of what the public domain was. Mostly, it seemed like a phrase people would throw around when describing music that was insanely old. However, a few of my friends make music in their spare time and seeing how they used music they found within the public domain” helped me understand its importance and how it functions.

Using the internet, my friend would find songs that were in the public domain. He would slice and dice particular sections from them. He would then add the sounds into his own sound mix, often changing the pitch and adding effects as he went along. The final product would sound unrecognizable, and usually really cool. (If you want an example of how musicians do this, this link offers some excellent examples of how to use public domain music. It also has a sound example that shows the unique sound a sample creates).

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Was Harry Houdini’s Most Famous Trick Understanding IP Law?

Intellectual property (IP) law probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of Harry Houdini. One probably envisions dramatic performances involving straightjackets, water barrels, or sleight of hand illusions. However, Houdini’s greatest trick may have been leveraging IP to his personal advantage.

While many know of the magician for his impressive feats of escape, the Hungarian-born immigrant was also an avid inventor. Harry Houdini, born Erik Weitz, came of age during the Industrial Revolution. As a product of his time, Houdini had high esteem for feats of mechanical engineering. This, along with a few other incentives discussed later, led him to patent the machines he created for his magic performances.

He designed created new machines that would dazzle his audiences with exciting performances. Patenting his inventions served a few important functions for Houdini. But before describing those functions, let’s first explain how patents work and what they do.

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Quilting and Copyrighting: Part 2

In my last post I analyzed whether the design of a quilt top meets the statutory requirements for copyright protection and determined that it does. But there are still some unanswered questions. For example, if I wanted to create and sell a pattern with instructions on how to make my original quilt, would that also be protected under copyright law? And, if so, what might infringe?

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Trade Dress: Can A Tampon Applicator Get Trademark Protection?

Before taking an intellectual property (IP) course this past fall, I assumed trademarks only applied to brand slogans. I did not realize that trademarks could apply to physical products, too.

Now that I have taken various IP courses and participated in the IP Moot Court team, I see trademark protection everywhere. This made me wonder: can a commonplace item, like an applicator for a tampon, receive trade dress protection?

Before jumping into that answer, let’s first explain what a trade dress is.

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From Construction to IP Law

How it Started

If you asked me five years ago whether I could picture myself in law school, I probably would have said no. Back then, I was working towards my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at University of Notre Dame. I thought I would later pursue a professional engineering license as that is common for civil/environmental design engineers. After graduating from Notre Dame, I worked as an engineer and project manager for a general contractor in Chicago. As a project manager, I would oversee all aspects of a construction project. After two years there, I started to think that maybe I didn’t want to be a professional engineer. I wasn’t enjoying the work a professional engineer does. The only thing was, I didn’t know what other path to take.

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Trademarks Aren’t for Losers: Banksy Defeated In Legal Battle With UK Greeting Card Company

Banksy, one of the world’s most notorious street artists, has learned a hard lesson about trademarks. Trademarks is a type of intellectual property (“IP”) that protects things such as brand names and logos. The British artist recently lost a court battle in which the trademark for his popular Flower Thrower image was declared invalid. However, Banksy’s contempt for copyright, which protects artistic expressions such as his graffiti art, and other IP is well documented. Why then did he seek to trademark the Flower Thrower image in the first place? And why was the trademark found invalid? It is all tied to Banksy’s desire keep his identity a secret.

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