Is the Cancellation of Redskins Trademark a Step towards Change?

untitledOn Wednesday, June 18, a United States Patent and Trademark Office tribunal cancelled the Washington Redskin’s trademarks. Because Native Americans groups are in the extreme minority in the United States, the removal of company and sports team trademarks that are disparaging to Native Americans has been a slow-moving process. This particular decision came after decades of outcry from Native American groups nationwide that argued maintaining the Redskins name and trademarks allowed the NFL to unfairly profit off of the denigration of Native American peoples.

Native American groups lobbied the USPTO for decades, arguing that the trademarked name “Redskins” and the Redskins’ Indian mascot are offensive racial slurs that also imply a false connection to Native Americans. See Kimberly A. Pace, The Washington Redskins Case and the Doctrine of Disparagement: How Politically Correct Must a Trademark Be?, 22 Pepp. L. Rev. 7, 13. The Washington Redskins is cited as one of most offensive professional sport team names because the trademark, unlike the marks of teams such as the Cleveland Indians or the Atlanta Braves, speaks more to a racial derogation of skin tone than a general reference to Native Americans. Continue reading

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Attack of the Clones

Dolly“The Sixth Day,” “Jurassic Park,” “Multiplicity,” and “The Island” are all popular movies that illustrate the real potential for cloning uses in our society. These movies were all released within the last twenty years and, at the time,  they were laughed at by many as being preposterous. After the recent scientific breakthroughs in the last few years, I assure you that less people are laughing now. Just as in “Jurassic Park,” where dinosaurs were brought back from extinction through reproductive cloning, in the not-too-distant future the main attraction at the zoo could be the once extinct wooly mammoth. In the future, a person in need of a liver, kidney, heart, or any other organ transplant could have spare body parts waiting for them, as in “The Island.” Maybe you just need six more of yourself to do the simple jobs in life like in “Multiplicity.” The potential for cloning is endless and scientists have only just begun to crack the surface. The possibilities stemming from cloning are limitless, but a giant roadblock may have recently been put in place when the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in  In re Roslin Institute genetic clones, such as Dolly, are ineligible for patent protection. 2014 WL 1814014 (Fed. Cir. 2014). The holding was based on the finding that the “claimed clones are exact genetic copies of patent ineligible subject matter.” Id.

The date was July 5, 1996 when Keith Henry Stockman Campbell and Ian Wilmut successfully developed the first ever cloned mammal, later known publicly as Dolly the Sheep. U.S. Patent No. 7,514,258 (the ’258 patent) for the somatic method of cloning mammals was granted to the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh in Scotland, but U.S. Patent Application No. 09/225,233 (the ’233 application), which claimed the products of the ‘258 patent, was rejected by the Patent Office under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for lack of patentable subject matter. The claims stated:

155. A live-born clone of a pre-existing, non- embryonic, donor mammal, wherein the mammal is selected from cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats.

164. The clone of any of claims 155-159, wherein the donor mammal is non-foetal.

Roslin appealed this decision to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board who affirmed the patent denial on Feb 7, 2013, but the decision was again appealed to the Federal Circuit. Roslin made a number of compelling arguments as this case was litigated. First, Roslin argued that the ‘233 application should be issued under Diamond v. Chakrabarty, where a patent for a genetically engineered bacterium was granted because it was not naturally occurring, was created under the sun, and was made by man. 100 S.Ct. 2204 (1980). Similarly, Dolly was not naturally occurring, instead being genetically created through the use of science and newly developed technology. The prevailing counterargument was that cloning a mammal constituted a natural phenomenon that did not possess markedly different characteristics from  the original organism it cloned. Therefore, the Court held that even if something can be said to be created by man, it is still not patentable the product is an exact copy of something that is naturally occurring. Roslin did not attempt to rebut this argument that the cloned products were not identical to the original organisms. Nothing is stated in the claims or specification that suggests the cloned products are distinct in anyway and the Court held that the ‘233 application failed under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because the claims were not patentable subject matter.

Although this landmark case was decided against allowing for the patents of cloned mammals, the overall purpose of a patent to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” should not be hindered. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8. By still granting of patents on cloning methods, there will be many more breakthroughs in this ever-growing field and these discoveries will still be protected.

 

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Copyright Cowboy – The Scott Wickberg Story [Part 5]

SWickberg

Scott Wickberg

Editor’s Note: This is part five of a five-part interview with Scott Wickberg, the first individual to be targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing MP3s online. Scott’s story started with an early interest in music, which unfortunately progressed into the events that Scott discusses with Beyond Clause 8 in this interview. Today, Scott operates the vinyl tracking website SlyVinyl and digital marketing firm Wick Creative.

Click here to return to parts one, two, three, or four.

To listen to the audio for this part of the interview, click here.  

Beyond Clause 8: So, the big question in my mind: did you ever get your stuff back?

Scott Wickberg: (laughs) I got . . . some of it.  Obviously none of my computer [equipment], because the Oklahoma State [University] IT Department had a great time with that.  I guess, if I would have come to work with them I could have maybe used it again.  But, no, that pretty much was all gone.  I did end up getting the textbooks back. Great, thank you, it’s not like I haven’t already bought other ones, four months later.  That was really useful to me, to get those textbooks back, after the semester was ending.  I did get the guitar tuner back.  They had left it on so the batteries were out.  Which, of course, somebody had to turn it on to make sure there were no MP3’s inside of it.

BC8: Of course. (laughs)

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Copyright Cowboy – The Scott Wickberg Story [Part 4]

SWickberg

Scott Wickberg

Editor’s Note: This is part four of a five-part interview with Scott Wickberg, the first individual to be targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing MP3s online. Scott’s story started with an early interest in music, which unfortunately progressed into the events that Scott discusses with Beyond Clause 8 in this interview. Today, Scott operates the vinyl tracking website SlyVinyl and digital marketing firm Wick Creative.

Click here to return to parts one, two, or three.

To listen to the audio for this part of the interview, click here.  

Beyond Clause 8: So you’ve got the local police kicking down your door, you’ve got the [district attorney] calling you up and threatening you, you’ve got the hot chick on MTV calling your name, you’ve got your IT guy giving you jobs, what was your overall feeling? You said you were bitter and scared you might be going to jail for a long time, but were you angry that this had happened? Of course it all dawned on you and you figured out what they were accusing you of after a while, but were you angry, were you scared? What was going through your mind?

Scott Wickberg: I was mainly angry and I got really frustrated. It was exhausting. There was not one moment that I was free from it. There was no going down and getting something from the cafeteria. was no going to class; there was no going to parties. I was never free from it. Everyone always thought I was really cool, but to me, it wasn’t really cool. I wanted to go to school. I wanted to do what I came there to do. Not only did I feel like I was going to be let down, kill all my parent’s money, and go to jail for something that I had no idea I could even go to jail for, but that feeling was compounded by the fact that it never let me go. Continue reading

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The Hobbit: A Tale Of Terrible Torts

In a hole in the ground, there once lived a hobbit…who was the victim of some terrible torts. Sure, everyone is familiar with the epic tale of Mr. Bilbo Baggins and a company of dwarves who reclaimed the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the Dragon—but that is merely one side of the story. The other side is the part that Bilbo never got to tell because the wretched dwarves fled the jurisdiction of the Shire before he could file a lawsuit and provide them with service. This is Bilbo’s story: A Tale of Terrible Torts. Continue reading

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Copyright Cowboy – The Scott Wickberg Story [Part 3]

SWickberg

Scott Wickberg

Editor’s Note: This is part three of a five-part interview with Scott Wickberg, the first individual to be targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing MP3s online. Scott’s story started with an early interest in music, which unfortunately progressed into the events that Scott discusses with Beyond Clause 8 in this interview. Today, Scott operates the vinyl tracking website SlyVinyl and digital marketing firm Wick Creative.

Click here to return to parts one or two.

To listen to the audio for this part of the interview, click here.  

Beyond Clause 8: After [your server] was operating a couple of months, walk me through what started to happen. I guess, give me little by little the blow-by-blow of what happened, whether it be by the RIAA or whoever ended up knocking on your door in your dorm room.

Scott Wickberg: It was me and my buddy Jason Thompson, and we were oddly and ironically enough sitting in my dorm room. We’re sitting in there recording music. We were actually writing and singing and playing music. The RIAA contacted the local police, the local police got a search warrant and just came and knocked on my door. I was actually right next to the RA, he was on the other side, so I thought he was like, “shut up, your music sucks,” which would have been a fair complaint.

BC8: (laughs).

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“Epic” TV Show Investigates Copyright Authorship

Everyone’s favorite teenage private eye is back! Fans have been aching for another hit of Veronica Mars ever since the CW cancelled the primetime Untitledprocedural in 2007. The television franchise has now graduated to the silver screen, and it looks like these fans have finally found some relief with the movie’s highly-anticipated release.

Even if you’re not a self-described marshmallow, and you remain completely indifferent to the charms of Veronica’s acerbic wit and sleuthing skills, it’s hard to ignore the impact of this project. Rob Thomas, the creator of the original television show, used Kickstarter, a popular online social fundraising platform, to reach out to fans and secure funding for his film. The Kickstarter campaign succeeded in raising $5.7M, which was double Thomas’ original fundraising goal, and made Veronica Mars one of the first studio films to be (nearly) 100% crowdfunded. Such a novel fundraising model has the potential to make us reevaluate how we view authorship within the context of copyright law and movies. Continue reading

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Copyright Cowboy – The Scott Wickberg Story [Part 2]

SWickberg

Scott Wickberg

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a five-part interview with Scott Wickberg, the first individual to be targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing MP3s online. Scott’s story started with an early interest in music, which unfortunately progressed into the events that Scott discusses with Beyond Clause 8 in this interview. Today, Scott operates the vinyl tracking website SlyVinyl and digital marketing firm Wick Creative.

Click here to return to part one.

To listen to the audio for this part of the interview, click here.  

Beyond Clause 8: So you said your friends started idolizing you as the cool kid and you were all set up with the multiple CD burners and all these computers, did you become the go-to man to be able to share the music that no one else could get? Or was it hard to get everything that you were able to get your hands on through these websites?

Scott Wickberg: Yeah, it definitely evolved into that, and I don’t think it’s stopped since then. Even after things went down, I still have been that guy—like, I would make monthly mixtapes of the best songs, and I’d drop those to my friends via MP3. Now I do that via sly vinyl; I make a monthly playlist every month on our Spotify account, and it just kind of turned that way because I had access to quite a bit of resources very quickly. I loved music, so naturally you get the question of ‘hey I need a new album, what should I listen to?’ and you’re just like, ‘um…this one?’ and people say ‘man, this was great!’ then more people start asking you ‘what should I listen to?’ And in some way, when there’s not a whole lot of people out there who have that kind of access to music and listen to it as nonstop as I do, it wasn’t like there were a whole bunch of other people to ask. Now, everyone in the world has an opinion about music and has access to all of it, but back then that wasn’t really the case. So, I was somewhat in a way a gatekeeper of music. I mean, everyone could still go buy CDs, but what were you going to do, go to Hastings (laughs) and sit at the listening booth for four hours while you ask the guy who wants you to leave to open another CD for you? (Laughs) It did kind of evolve that way and it hasn’t really stopped.

Continue reading

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Copyright Cowboy – The Scott Wickberg Story [Part 1]

SWickberg

Scott Wickberg

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a five-part interview with Scott Wickberg, the first individual to be targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement for sharing MP3s online. Scott’s story started with an early interest in music, which unfortunately progressed into the events that Scott discusses with Beyond Clause 8 in this interview. Today, Scott operates the vinyl tracking website SlyVinyl and digital marketing firm Wick Creative.

To listen to the audio for this part of the interview, click here.  

Beyond Clause 8: Scott, give me a bit of background about yourself. I know specifically that you operate a company called SlyVinyl. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

Scott Wickberg: Yeah. Sly actually came about because me and a buddy used to follow another blog called Vinyl Hounds. It was just some dude posting occasionally some records; there was really no other way to find limited records other than going to every label [web]site and band site. Then, [Vinyl Hounds] decided to become no longer, and I said “You know, there’s an opportunity to jump in and make a site like that.” But the thing that doesn’t make any sense about why I started it—I was saying “nobody has time to go search all these sites and find all these releases,” and so I created a project where that’s exactly what I do. (laughs) I really don’t know what motivated me to go that route. It was just, “There’s a need, let’s go fill it.” I started it, and about six months in it was an overwhelming project. So I asked guys who had been actively commenting on the blog to give me help writing, because I need help making it happen or I was going to give it up. Unanimously, fifteen of the dudes said, “We’re in.” So, it took off from that point to where we have started this group of music lovers across the world. It’s pretty cool.

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@twitter #hostage_situation

TwitterCan you imagine if you bought a website like apple.com or google.com when the internet was just gaining traction? What would it be worth today? Well, soon after Twitter first launched, Naoki Hiroshima was clever enough to register the single-letter Twitter handle @N. Over the last seven years, Hiroshima has been offered as much as $50,000 to purchase the handle, and each time declined.

Due to @N being so sought after, Hiroshima became accustomed to repeated password change verification e-mails from his PayPal and GoDaddy accounts. On January 20, 2014, after receiving an e-mail from GoDaddy notifying him that his username and password had been changed without his permission, he called to question this change. After speaking with a GoDaddy representative, it became clear that a hacker had gained access to his GoDaddy account, which was linked to his personal e-mail address. The hacker was able to pose as a PayPal employee to gain Hiroshima’s credit card information and used this information to access the GoDaddy account. With this information, Hiroshima’s e-mail and Facebook accounts had been compromised. It soon dawned on him that his @N Twitter handle was the target of the attack. He was able to secure his Twitter account for the time being by quickly changing the username and password. Continue reading

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