Additional Blogs of Interest

Ohio State University Fails to Own trademark “THE”

Posted by Whitcomb, Selinsky, PC on Dec 13, 2019 11:00:00 AM

The Ohio State University (OSU) did something that may come as a surprise to many. It applied to trademark a word found in all blogs, articles, and novels. The trademark application indicates the trademark was to be used for clothing items OSU sells. The Ohio State University applied to trademark the word “THE” in August, 2019.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

Back Country Backlash from Trademark Bullying

Posted by Chloe Vickers on Nov 21, 2019 11:00:00 AM

Earlier this month, Backcountry.com (Backcountry), a prominent Utah-based online retailer of outdoor equipment, came under swift backlash for filing numerous trademark infringement claims against smaller businesses due to their use of the term “backcountry” in either their business names or marketing materials.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

Four Common Legal Opinions On Patents

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on May 1, 2017 1:12:00 AM

When it comes to obtaining patent protection for a new and non-obvious invention, there is a lot to consider. Obtaining intellectual property rights in the form of a patent often requires a huge investment of time and financial resources. However, the benefits of obtaining patent protection can far outweigh the upfront costs.

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Tags: International Law, Intellectual Property

Two Common Types of Patent Infringement

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Apr 29, 2017 9:07:00 AM

If a competitor is making, using, selling or importing a product that you have patented, you cannot standby and allow the infringement of your intellectual property rights. Unauthorized use or selling of the product by your competitor is a violation of your right to exclude others from making, using or selling your patented invention. In order to put a stop the infringement, you should first send a cease and desist letter that is prepared by a patent lawyer to the alleged infringer. If a letter does not put a stop to the infringing conduct, then a patent infringement lawsuit is the next step for enforcing your patent rights.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

What You Need to Know About Bundled Patent Rights

Posted by Joe Whitcomb on Apr 16, 2017 11:07:00 AM

Patent rights are one of the most valuable forms of intellectual property because a patent is not just a single right - a patent actually consists of a bundle of rights. The bundle of rights can be broken down or segmented into individual rights or smaller groups of rights, which can be licensed, assigned, sold, or otherwise exploited for financial gains. Savvy patent holders often work closely with experienced patent lawyers to figure out ways to commercialize their patent rights and other intellectual property.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

Copyrights, Intellectual Property, and Work Done for Hire

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on May 12, 2015 11:52:00 AM

Many people wonder if work created for an employer is eligible for copyrights? When you create a work that is normally protected by U.S. copyrights law, you normally assume that protection yourself, as the creator. But this is not always true. In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author and owns all of the rights that comes with the copyrights unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a signed document.

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Tags: Government Contracts, Intellectual Property

Disney Hit With A Copyright Infringement Suit For “Frozen”

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Jan 6, 2015 7:21:00 AM

How similar is "similar" in a copyright infringement suit?  Frozen very quickly captured the hearts of young children and adults all over the world.  It seems that every child, girl or boy knows the words to every song, and because of this, most parents have most likely seen the video at least once.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

Understanding Copyright Infringement & YouTube Advertising

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Jan 5, 2015 7:09:00 AM

Can advertising on Youtube lead to copyright infringement? YouTube, the ubiquitous video-sharing website now owned by Google, has become a launching ground for individuals and businesses seeking to increase their recognition.  Many international businesses have used the site as an inexpensive means of international marketing.  An effective YouTube channel or video can reach potential customers across the globe at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.  Red Bull’s YouTube channel is a great example of an effective use of YouTube.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

How Trade Laws Can Protect Businesses from Chinese Hackers

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Nov 1, 2014 9:24:00 PM


Recent news headlines have highlighted the hackers that are breaking into our systems and stealing our information.  Target got hacked a few months ago, and just recently, Home Depot had a security breach where thousands of people had their credit card and debit card numbers stolen.

What can be done about these types of situations?

It is frightening to think about how many people internationally, from China to Russia to Ukraine to Africa and domestically, are trying to find their way into personal and business computers to gain access to valuable information.  However, just recently, SolarWorld Americas came up with a simple yet ingenious solution that might stop Chinese hackers: trade sanctions.

SolarWorld’s Sanctions Request

SolarWorld Americas, a major U.S. producer of solar panels, has asked the Department of Commerce to impose trade sanctions against China as retaliation for cyber-attacks that they have suffered at the hand of Chinese government officials.

Trade sanctions are trade penalties that are imposed on one nation by another nation.  Examples of different types of trade sanctions range from import tariffs or duties to the imposition of licensing or other administrative regulations on imports or exports. Though this may, at first glance, seem like an incredibly simplistic response to the problem of Chinese hackers, trade sanctions are an extremely messy web of politics, especially between the US and China.

How Trade Sanctions Could Deter Hackers

How would these trade sanctions actually work?  Would they work?  Let’s start with some legal background. International trade law is governed by a variety of treaties created by the World Trade Organization(WTO).

The WTO is an organization that “intends to supervise and liberalize international trade.” The organization deals with the regulation of trade between participating countries by “providing a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments.”  As of right now, the WTO has 160 members. The People’s Republic of China joined the WTO in 2001 and the United States joined in 1995.

SolarWorld America’s idea stems from the idea that when a Chinese government or its affiliates hacks into American companies’ records, these attacks are the equivalent of an unfair trade advantage over U.S. competitors.

By stealing information from the U.S. corporations and then illegally giving it to Chinese businesses, the Chinese government has “distorted the principle of free trade.”  Thus, under the WTO, there could be actionable consequences against the Chinese government, and the Chinese government should be held responsible for these acts of cyber-espionage by being subject to trade sanctions.

Will it Work?

It’s new and unchartered waters, but experts believe it might. The Department of Commerce is continuing to mull it over and has declined to comment on whether it will carry out SolarWorld’s request.  Right now, if a private corporation’s employee in China hacked into a private company in the U.S., there are no expressly related trade laws that are violated and this approach could get around that issue.

However, there are downsides and even some concerns that the imposition of sanctions by the U.S. could itself be a violation of international trade law. This is an important issue to watch as it will impact U.S.-China relations, as well as the price of solar panels.

International Business & Trade Attorneys

If you would like more information regarding the WTO, international trade laws, and how they may impact your international business, contact the attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. today.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

Can Broadcasters Protect Media Rights in their Broadcasts?

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Nov 1, 2014 4:54:00 PM

What media rights are associated with broadcasts?

Fans of football, soccer, tennis, and even enthusiasts of the Olympic Games can all now enjoy listening and sharing in the excitement of these games through advanced broadcast technology.  Advances in the communications technologies such as cable, broadband, direct TV, mobile internet and satellite have transformed the viewing ability of millions across the globe.

It’s more than just fun and game; the issue of sports is such a big business that media organizations and television stations pay large sums to have the “exclusive right” to broadcast sporting events live.  But how are broadcast rights protected in the international intellectual property world?  Do broadcasters have media rights  to these lucrative performances?

The Rome Convention

Under the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations of 1962, also called the Rome Convention, broadcasters have exclusive rights over their works for 20 years.  This includes the right to rebroadcast the initial broadcast.  This allows them to protect their costly investments in televising sports events.

The Beijing Olympics is a great example of the complexity and expense of broadcasting.  The  broadcaster for the worldwide event supplied television signals from every single Olympic venue, and used over 6,000 staff employees, 1,000 cameras, 575 digital video tape recorders, 350 broadcast trailers and 62 outside broadcast vans.

While broadcasters clearly have media rights under the law, they are being threatened by technology  that has helped them grow. “Signal piracy” and illegal retransmission and streaming of sports events has been on the rise.  The Rome Convention creates explicit rules regarding broadcaster rights, although it hasn't been updated since 1961 and does not accommodate for the recent technological advances in communication.  As a result, digital piracy has become a serious threat to the economic monetary value of broadcasting media rights.

In 2010, the FIFA World Cup had over 18,000 illegal broadcasts, and those were only the “identified” illegal broadcasts found by FIFA.  These technological advances call for updated protection of new broadcasting technologies.

Future Direction of the Law

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agrees that broadcasters need updated rights that cover recent technological advances, and its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights has agreed that it’s time to draft a new treaty.  However, they have so far been unable to come to an agreement on how to reach that goal.  The exact nature of the rights to be protected and how many additional rights should be granted are still being debated.

Some major issues include how broadcast signals should be protected,  if they should be protected by encryption and locks, and what additional media rights broadcasters deserve.

Of course, there are still those who oppose the expansion of the law, and those who argue that the expansion allows broadcasters the right to “privatize” material in the public domain.

Other International IP Laws

While this particular international intellectual property issue only impacts a select segment of businesses, there are many other issues that may impact your business. We can help you understand those issues.

The attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. stay up to date on current issues and law changes so they can explain how they impact your international business.

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Tags: Intellectual Property

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