Posts in Intellectual Property
America’s always had black inventors – even when the patent system explicitly excluded them

America has long been the land of innovation. More than 13,000 years ago, the Clovis people created what many call the “first American invention.” This spirit of American creativity has persisted through the millennia, through the first American patent granted in 1641 and on to today. One group of prolific innovators, however, has been largely ignored by history: black inventors born or forced into American slavery. This article highlights several of these inventors and other current black inventors following in their footsteps.

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#PopCultureClass: Beyonce's September 2018 Vogue Shoot Led to Artistic Inspiration - and Perhaps Copyright Infringement

One of the most popular magazine covers this year is the Vogue September 2018 edition featuring Beyoncé' on the cover. This edition is also history-making because a black photographer, Tyler Mitchell, shot the cover for the first time in Vogue's 126 year history. The inspiring shoot has led to some instances of copying, but is this kind of copying illegal? I think so, and I explain why here.

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Digital Legacy Planning Tips for Parents, Courtesy of Beyoncé and JAY-Z

Unless you've been living under a rock or in one of the thirteen countries without internet access, you probably know that the Knowles/Carter family has been making headlines for all kinds of reasons lately. 2017 has been good to them, especially when it comes to building a legacy for their kids. What can parents learn from the Carters about protecting the digital assets of their children? As it turns out, a lot.  

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"Bitch, It's Saturday" as a Trademark

Just a few weeks ago, the Women's March descended on nearly 700 locations around the globe with almost 5 million participants. It is estimated to be the biggest protest demonstration in American history. Many marveled that, though conditions were tight, cold, and uncomfortable, people were mostly nice and polite to each other. The response of a protester to one not-so- nice person has led to an interesting trademark application. 

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The #CashMeOusside Child May Be Sued for Trademark Infringement

So...the "cash me ousside how bow dah" girl may actually be sued for trademark infringement by Hanesbrands, Inc. - owner of Champion sportswear. And I'm so confused about how we got here. If you're active on social media, you've probably seen people using "cash me ousside - how bow dahas some strange inside joke. This article outlines the basis of what is going on in our crazy world, with a very brief explanation of trademark law and parody. 

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#RunMeMyCheck: Nicki Minaj on the Art of Knowing Your Value

Nicki Minaj has built a nine-figure brand since stepping on the scene in 2004. In addition to music, she's sold everything from nails and perfume to moscato and wigs. Minaj's stamp of approval is valuable, and she's knows it. Companies who use her name must compensate her for that privilege. On Friday, Minaj took to Twitter to call out one ultra-high end shoe company who is using her name without paying her . . . Giuseppe Zanotti. Here's why I believe she's right to do so - I hope he runs her that check ASAP. 

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AKA's "Skee Wee" Sound is Now a Registered Trademark

Scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, I learned that the "skee wee" sound, a high pitched squeal used by members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA) to promote its organization and as a greeting among its members, became a registered trademark this week. The sorority has been using the "skee wee" sound since 1941, and the registration covers its "association services, namely promoting the interest of the sorority and its members. How did AKA do this, and how can you?

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Branding 101: What You Can Learn From RUN DMC's $50 million dollar lawsuit against Walmart & Amazon.com

Run-DMC made headlines at the end of 2016 because their company, RUN-DMC BRAND LLC filed a $50 million dollar trademark infringement lawsuit against Walmart, Amazon.com, and a number of other companies. The lawsuit alleges that these companies (the defendants) are wrongfully and illegally using the RUN-DMC brand and trademark by selling unauthorized products. In reading through all of this, it seems that RUN-DMC, unlike a lot of artists, have taken many of the appropriate steps to protect their brand. I thought it would be useful to share some of the best takeways in this blog post.

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#PopCultureClass: Insecure on HBO: Season 1, Episode 1 (Insecure as F**k)

A few days before Christmas, though, I found myself with one day that did not include meetings, ivory tower stuff, conference calls, or family things. I bought a bottle of wine, ate bad (Snickers for breakfast, anyone?), and watched the full first season of Insecure in my PJs. I also decided to #latelivetweet my experience, which turned out to be a ton of fun because Insecure offers some really great lessons for life and business. The show also gave me the great idea to tweet about the #PopCultureLessons I see in my day-to-day life, and this blog post is the first in my new series.

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