In light of yesterday’s jury verdict in Oracle v. Google, I thought it worth revisiting the concept of fair use in copyright, including the factors that go into determining whether or not a use is fair, the issues having such a test presents, and its application to APIs in particular.
When applying to register a mark through the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office, the PTO will want to know what kinds of goods and services you use your mark in conjunction with. That is, what are you selling? The decision here effects two parts of your application: (1) the International Class you choose; and (2) how you describe your goods and services. You can think of the International Class as the broad category your product or service fits into, and the description is the more specific explanation of what, within that class, you’re marketing. [Read more…]
Way back in November, GoldieBlox, Inc. sued the Beastie Boys and a host of others, asking a court to declare that their use of a “parodied” version of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” in their commercial was legal as a protected fair use. After some open letters back and forth, it looked like the case was going away, before the Beastie Boys fired back in December with an Answer and a whole host of counterclaims, essentially accusing GoldieBlox of shameless appropriation in the name of corporate profits (I was interviewed for my thoughts at the time, no big deal). Looked like the parties were entrenched, but now, settlement on the horizon? [Read more…]
As someone who was drawn to the law and particularly the law of copyright through the file-sharing lawsuits of my formative years, I’ve heard some version of this argument a million times: “Artists should be happy when we illegally share their music, because it provides exposure and they make money through that.” Is there ever any real data to back it up? Not really. But lo! A recent viral video has propelled Kanye back into the Billboard Top 100, for a song that’s 8 years old! Does this change everything? Well, not really, but it does mean the music industry is adapting its enforcement and reaping the benefits. [Read more…]
For a lot of small businesses and startups, there’s just not a lot of money to go around. So when that business is looking to make payroll, get a minimum viable product out the door, or just keep the lights on, spending money registering multiple trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office just isn’t an option. In that situation, the question I always get is this: do I register my logo or my company name? The answer is almost always going to be your company name, for a handful of reasons. [Read more…]