Spotify’s Response is Spot On

Garrett Busch : November 11, 2014 6:14 pm : Arts & EntertainmentIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

Recently Taylor Swift’s music was pulled from Spotify because, as the President of Big Machine Label Group (the label Swift is signed to) stated, “we never want to embarrass a fan.” Apparently the shame of actually purchasing a record, or paying for the download from iTunes is so great for some superfans that Swift and her label had to do something to protect these fans from the evil of free music services. While I applaud the effort to protect the fans and to protect the royalties an artist ultimately deserves, it appears that Swift’s retaliatory actions were completely misguided. While Spotify does offer a free service that is supported by ads, it also licenses all of its music and pays royalties. It also has an increasingly popular paid service that generates even more cash for artists. However, the same cannot be said for services like SoundCloud, YouTube, and download sites like The Pirate Bay.Swift

Spotify made all this quite clear in a response tailored specifically for Swift. Spotify notes in its response that in the last year alone, the company has paid over $1 billion in royalties to the actual creators of music while illegal downloads and free services continue to provide artists’ music with no concern for royalties whatsoever. The seemingly genuine response from Spotify that illustrates its intent to help artists claim the royalties that are rightfully theirs ultimately makes Swift look like just another famous musician trying to take every dime possible out of the pockets of fans. Given Swift’s popularity and mass appeal, however, I’m sure this is only a small blow to her image, and she will no doubt be able to “shake it off.”


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Hacking Humans

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : November 11, 2014 1:47 pm : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

hacker2Computer hackers are getting a significant amount of attention in today’s world. Hardly a week goes by without the media reporting some hacking calamity involving either government files or scandalous celebrity photographs (links are to news stories). When most folks think of hacking, it probably calls to mind images of computer code and sophisticated equipment breaking down encrypted data. But it’s not always that complicated. recently published an article about a convicted hacker who simply called companies and managed to acquire proprietary information by basically “faking it til he made it.” That is to say, the hacker would speak to employees, string them along to make the employees believe he was someone authorized to have the information that he wanted, and the employees would hand it over–no questions asked. What does this mean for lawyers? If you want to avoid a malpractice suit, make sure that you and your staff perform your due diligence before handing over any information.

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The Curious Incident of the Detective in the Public Domain

Josh Beurer : November 4, 2014 3:43 am : METAfeed

In February, we posted about a Seventh Circuit ruling that created a duality within Sir sherlock-453427-1Arthur Conan Doyle’s copyright portfolio – Despite the fact that his most recent Sherlock Holmes novels still enjoy valid U.S. copyright protection, most of his characters and other stories are firmly in the public domain, allowing for the multitude of derivative uses that have recently found favor in pop culture. The Supreme Court has just denied cert on the appeal, resolving the question once and for all and leaving Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate no other option to enforce such wide copyright protection in the United States. This is great news for Sherlock fans. Now the only thing standing in between us and more episodes is waiting for Moffat to write them! Read more about it here.

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Thicke vs. Gaye: Copyright Suit over “Blurred Lines” Proceeding to Trial

Matthew Peterson : November 3, 2014 9:18 am : Arts & EntertainmentBeyondIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeed

Back in 2013, Beyond Clause 8 ran a short post on the copyright battle involving Robin Thicke’s mega-hit “Blurred Lines” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” Now it appears that the case is finally gaining traction in favor of Gaye’s family after a federal judge denied Thicke’s motion for summary judgment. The judge noted that the songs were substantially similar based on phrases, hooks, baselines, and harmonic structure. Trial is now set for February 1o, 2015. You can read more about the case here or here.

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Why Didn’t Jonas Salk Patent the Polio Vaccine?

Jennifer Manns : November 1, 2014 8:59 pm : METAfeed

jonas-salk            Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine 60 years ago. At the time, he said that the vaccine was not under patent, famously claiming, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” For years, the public assumption was that Salk’s statement implied that he had no desire to patent the polio vaccine. The common (mis)conception is that Salk stated that he didn’t want to patent the vaccine in favor of making it freely replicable for the greater good. While Salk likely had good intentions, (he did create a hugely important vaccine, after all), his statement had a much plainer meaning than the one that was read into it.

The polio vaccine, according to Robert-Dean Cook of Duke University, may not have been patentable in the first place. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis sought a patent for the polio vaccine on behalf of Salk, but determined that it was not patentable. The polio vaccine was apparently not a patentable innovation due to the presence of prior art that made Salk’s logical leap of invention not novel. Without the element of novelty, the polio vaccine would not have been eligible for a patent at all.

Salk no doubt helped save thousands of children from the grip of polio, but popular memes like the one below may not accurately depict his intentions.


More information available at: The Real Reason Jonas Salk Didn’t Patent the Polio Vaccine


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Paying for Ebola(.com)

Nickolas Galendez : October 29, 2014 7:38 pm : METAfeed


With all the fear mongering going on in the media regarding the Ebola virus (quick, everybody panic!), why not profit from it?

Businessman Jon Schultz wants to do just that.  He bought the domain name for $13,500 in 2008 and now wants to sell it for $150,000. By speculating what the new potential-epidemic-of-the-month will be, Schultz’s goal is to turn his earlier purchase into cash money. (Schultz also owns the domain names and, for example.)

Now, of course, I’m not aware that “Ebola” is, or can be, a registered Trademark, which would make  Schultz’s actions subject to the 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) (the Cyberpiracy prevention provision created by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act). However, the issue is whether, as a legal or policy matter, Schultz (and others) should be allowed to make money this way? Are there any problems with hoarding disease-domain names to profit from?

Read more about Schultz and here


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Hitting Patent Trolls Where it Hurts $$$$$

Jewell Briggs : October 28, 2014 3:10 pm : METAfeed

This past Spring Attorneys from Intellectual Property firm Harness Dickey ( were successful in obtaining a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc.,134 S. Ct. 1749 (U.S.2014). In Octane, the Court expanded the ability of the district courts to award attorneys. The Court rejected the application of a rigid rule, and thereafter, allowed for a case-by-case fact specific determination of what constitutes an exceptional case so to induce the rightful awarding attorney fees. Hence, district courts now have more flexibility in determining whether a patent troll claim, which is most often a weaker patent claim, is worthwhile. Or in the alternative, whether to mandate the repayment of attorney fees reducing the payout that those who bring the patent troll type cases desire.

Read more at:

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Apple Pay Has Finally Arrived! And It Has Competition?

Garrett Busch : October 28, 2014 1:19 pm : METAfeedTech & Internet

Maybe Apple Pay is what the American credit card companies have been waiting for all this time. Over a year ago, before I’d even contemplated a trip to Europe to experience it first hand, my dad showed me an article about how out-of-date the magnetic strip technology is that is used by Visa, Mastercard, and the rest of the card companies here in the U.S. This may not be the exact article my dad suggested I read, but an article I found saying “the United States has one of the worst payment systems in the entire world, inviting fraud and increasing hassles for anyone who wants to exchange money,” pretty much summed it up. Read more about the inadequacy of our traditional payment system here.


But the dawn of a new payment day might finally be upon us. Introducing…. Apple Pay. Apple Pay was first introduced into use last Monday to many consumer’s delight as they could finally stop worrying about carrying methods of payment. However, only one week into use, Rite Aid and CVS Pharmacies have ceased accepting Apple Pay as a method of payment. Luckily for the consumer, as of now at least, the reason is not security. Instead it appears that there is competition on the horizon for Apple. In the not-too-distant future, many merchants themselves will look to enter the mobile pay market, but unlike Apple Pay, they do not have anonymity at their core. Ultimately, it appears there are still some kinks to be worked out and likely a battle among giants to be waged, but one thing that appears certain is that the United States’ payment system is finally getting some much needed renovation. Read more about the technology and impending competition here.

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Should Fashion Be Copyrightable or Patentable?

Jennifer Manns : October 27, 2014 9:07 pm : METAfeed

spike-and-eyeball-dressThe current state of fashion in the realm of intellectual property is tenuous. A fashion house is free to trademark the logo or name of its fashion line, but cannot so easily protect the clothing it produces.

Patent law protects useful and functional innovations, while Copyright protects creative works of expression that exist in a fixed medium. Unfortunately, most judges have found that fashion exists somewhere between patent and copyright and as a result, the design of a piece of clothing cannot be protected in the way that the trademark on the clothing’s tag can be. The typical argument against patenting fashion is that patenting the designs would inhibit the productive and innovations in clothing. The typical argument against copyrighting fashion is that fashion is clothing which, at its essence, is functional and utilitarian, and thus not a form of expression but a functional garment meant to keep humans covered and warm.

The problem here is that the courts seem to be viewing fashion through the lens of an anthropologist studying early man. Clothing no longer exists solely for the purpose of keeping us warm. It has evolved into one of the most common forms of self-expression and is at the heart of a person’s individuality. Copyright law is the vehicle by which creative expressions are protected. The arena of fashion also now includes avant-garde pieces (as seen in the photograph above), which can hardly be considered wearable pieces and definitely do not fulfill any utilitarian purpose. The creators of fashion are artists, who express themselves by creating works of art that just happen to be displayed on a person’s body. The creative nature of fashion outweighs any incidental utility of the garment. Fashion creators should be rewarded for their efforts with the security of a copyright.

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Apple Wins Lawsuit Against Patent Troll

Jennifer Manns : October 25, 2014 4:38 pm : METAfeed

Apple is the latest company to fall victim to patent trolls. Patent trolls are companies that buy patents for the sole purpose of collecting license fees from possible patent infringers, but do not actually manufacture patentable goods. GPNE, a patent holding company, claimed that Apple infringed on two patents that originated in the era of pagers and were continuations of patents that were originally filed in 1994. This week, a jury determined that Apple did not infringe on either of these patents.

Untitled This case is important in several ways. First, during the trial, Apple was barred from referring to GPNE as a “patent troll.” The restriction forced Apple to explain to the jury, without colorful language like “pirate” or “troll,” what it means for a company to only hold patents, rather than create patentable innovations. Second, the verdict is among the first in major patent troll cases and will provide precedent for future cases. The United States legislature has yet to address the issue of patent trolls in a concrete way, so cases like this that both define a patent holding company and end in a concrete verdict are important baselines for future laws regarding patent trolling.


More information on this story available at: Apple Slaps Down Patent Troll’s $94M demand

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