Every day someone is trying to protect their intellectual property rights. But what happens to these rights when you die? Do they simply cease to exist? Are they passed on? Can you leave your IP rights to a specific person? Well, the answers to these questions depend on two things. First, it depends on what type of intellectual property rights the deceased person had. Second, it depends upon whether the deceased IP owner specifically said who would receive the right. Continue reading
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?
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
I took a few years off after college to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I majored in neuroscience but wasn’t interested in pursuing a career in research or medicine. In the meantime, I was a professional dancer for a NHL team, but knew my time as a dancer was limited. Through lucky breaks and following the signs in front of me, I stumbled upon intellectual property (“IP”) law at Loyola.Continue reading
Thousands of people have taken to the streets, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to demand justice and equal treatment for Black Americans after the murder of George Floyd. Throughout these protests, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” is often used by those condemning the treatment of Black Americans at the hands of police officers around the country. Is this phrase a trademark, and if it is, who owns it? Do trademark principles allow the Black Lives Matter Foundation, an entity associated with the movement, to have a trademark in phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” so that they can prevent other entities from commercially profiting from using it?
Let’s start by discussing some trademark principles.
Kara Smith is an associate attorney at Neal Gerber Eisenberg (NGE) in Chicago Illinois. She graduated from Purdue University in 2013 before attending Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She was first introduced to Intellectual Property (“IP”) Law in her first semester Property course.
While at Loyola she represented the school as a Student Member of the Richard Linn Inn of Court and as a Vis Moot International Commercial Arbitration Fellow. She was a Civil Procedure tutor for Professor Richard Michael and was the Chair of Professional Development for the National Security Law Association.
Kara joined NGE after graduating cum laude from Loyola in 2017. Her practice areas include trademark, copyright, and patent enforcement and litigation. She also works as an adjunct professor at Loyola, teaching Advanced Legal Writing in Intellectual Property and coaches the Vienna Vis Moot team.Continue reading
On September 30, 2019, the California governor changed the playing field of college sports. California passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which permits college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image, or likeness. This essentially gives them the right to publicity. This post will explore the right to publicity and what this Act entails.
It’s a case with a humble beginning, just three Red Line stops south of Loyola’s Corboy Law Center, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. But this case also has the potential to effect major and much needed change in the realm of patent law. The Honorable John Z. Lee heard HP Inc. v. Berkheimer in 2016, and subsequently, the case worked its way through the appellate courts. The Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided if it will hear the case because for the last eleven months the Petition for Writ of Certiorari for Berkheimer was pending a submission of an amicus brief from the Solicitor General. The brief—which recommended that the Court deny the Berkheimer petition unless another case, Athena v. Mayo, is granted certiorari—was filed with the Court last week. This case could be one of the first patent subject matter eligibility cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in over five years—despite over 40 rejected petitions on the same issue. Subject matter eligibility matters to inventors, investors, and other patent stakeholders, because it directly impacts what does and does not receive a patent, and thus who does or doesn’t have the right to exclusively market and sell their invention as a reward for their creativity and ingenuity. However, the current test for patent subject matter eligibility, introduced in 2014, has been very difficult for the lower courts to administer. If the Supreme Court decides to grant certiorari for Berkheimer, it will have an opportunity to clarify the test. By more explicitly defining what can and cannot be patented, the Supreme Court, in theory, might better align the expectations of patent examiners, judges, and inventors, allowing the patent system to function more efficiently.Continue reading
Trolls are bad. They are bad characters in folk tales. There are also bad internet and social media trolls. Patent trolls join this club. But, what exactly are patent trolls and why have they attracted the attention of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and NPR shows such as This American Life, as well All Tech Considered? That’s what I’m here to tell you about – as well as how to possibly stop/limit patent trolls.Continue reading