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.
I love board games and have been playing a lot of Settlers of Catan online during the pandemic. I use a site called colonist.io, which is an offshoot, unaffiliated version of the Settlers of Catan game. During my Intellectual Property (IP) class with Professor Ho earlier this year, I wondered how IP rights extend to board games. When we tend to think of IP, we might think of cool technological inventions for patents or Disney’s Mickey Mouse for copyright. IP generally relates to protecting human created products, names, and expressions, and can give its owner rights to protect these.
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.
Intellectual Property (“IP”) is everywhere. IP laws cover things we interact with daily, like media, technology and even health care through patents, trademarks and copyrights. One of the reasons IP is so interesting is that despite its big impact it tends to be behind the scenes enough that many probably don’t even realize its influence. This post highlights some of these interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits of copyright law.
I started telling people I was going to law school just about one year ago. One of the first questions everybody asked was whether I was going into IP law. I had been working in software development for several years, so the assumption made sense given my technology background. I had other plans though.
I spent six years working in broadcast journalism and nearly two years in digital marketing before coming to law school. Titles switched, duties expanded and employers changed, but intellectual property (“IP”), especially copyright, was always at the core. I existed in a constant state of media creation and consumption. Come along for the ride, and I’ll explain how. Continue reading “The Road To Loyola”
When I first looked into Intellectual Property Law shortly after taking the LSAT, I thought that I was automatically ineligible without a science background. But, I was happy to learn that my initial assumption was wrong. It turns out you don’t have to have a science or STEM background to work in Intellectual Property. Those things are only required for those interested in the patent bar, which is only required to practice on behalf of inventors before the USPTO. In reality, IP is more than just patents, and a diverse background might be more helpful than you think.