Should Professional Athletes Have Free Speech On the Field?

Jennifer Manns : January 28, 2015 4:00 pm : METAfeed

In contemplation of further research, I pose the question: Should professional athletes be entitled to the same free speech on the field as the fans are entitled to in the stands?

Professional athletes can be fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and even gestures they make on the field. Recently, five Rams players gained media attention by entering the field with their hands up, in a “don’t shoot” pose that has become popular with police violence protesters. The NFL decided not to fine these players. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, however, was fined $20,000 for an explicit gesture he made on the field during the NFC Championship game. Football players in the NFL can also be subject to fines for excessive celebrations after a touchdown. Incidents like these exemplify a central issue in professional sports and have led to public debate over whether sports organizations should be restricting the behavior of their athletes through fines and suspensions. While professional sports teams are private organizations, they often strictly control athletes’ behavior during the season, on and off the field. Should professional athletes be held to such standards?

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Seahawks Want to Trademark “Boom” and the Number “12″

Jennifer Manns : January 22, 2015 2:13 pm : METAfeed

Just in time for Superbowl season, the NFL championship contender, the Seattle Seahawks, are reportedly pursuing new trademark protections. The Seahawks filed for trademark protection for the number “12″, the word “Boom,” and even the phrase “Go Hawks.” The trademark applications were filed in late 2013, but have recently come to light in the wake of new developments surrounding the potential trademarks.

Seahawk 12 exp_0According to the Lanham Act, a trademark may not be registered if it resembles another already registered mark and will likely cause confusion as to the true origin of the goods. In the case of the Seahawks, this restriction may bar its recent applications. The phrase “Go Hawks” has already been blocked due to objections from both the NHL and the NBA on behalf of teams that already have a similar slogan. “Boom” was rejected by federal trademark examiners because of a similar likelihood of confusion concern with already registered names. The number “12″ by itself is likely too broad to be a potential trademark because it would infringe on the trademarks of other players and teams as well as marks containing the number 12 in fields outside of the sports industry. The Seahawks organization is reportedly attempting to reapply for trademark protection for its team signifiers.

An article published in the Seattle Times discussed the trademark applications further.

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Police Presence to Make Winter Driving Safer?

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : January 19, 2015 2:07 pm : BeyondMediaMETAfeed

Trafficstop-winterIt’s that time of year again where the weather gets bad and the driving gets worse. The news in Michigan has been peppered with tragic winter car crashes, and the state is paying attention. The Michigan State Police has vowed to crack down on poor driving in an effort to deter bad driving and thus prevent fatal car accidents. Furthermore, the State Police intends to launch an initiative this upcoming summer that will target people who text while driving by placing officers in unmarked cars to videotape potential violators. The question is, does this go too far? It’s legal, but will this activity create a deeper divide between the police and ordinary citizens? Weigh in with your comments below!

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Explaining IP?

Jewell Briggs : January 9, 2015 12:12 pm : METAfeed

I recently came across the newly launched USPTO children and teen orientated webpage, and I have to admit that I spent more time than I should exploring the website‘s offerings. The site has inventor trading cards with cartoon pictorials and invention descriptions. The site features video summaries of all recent headline inventions, and videos featuring young students and their novel inventions. The site is filled with a variety of at home and in class activities, such as building a rocket using patent claims and comparing copyrightable sound marks. These activities can be completed to earn a scout patch. The site’s offerings are expansive with three overarching sections for children, teens, and educators.

CaptureThe site is an attempt to teach children the importance of the intellectual property and excite them about becoming inventors. However, speaking from my own explorations, you do not have to be a youngster to appreciate what this site has to offer.



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Chick-Fil-A to “eat some crow” as the USPTO approves “Eat More Kale.

Jennifer Manns : December 28, 2014 3:46 pm : METAfeed

The USPTO finally determined that a small Vermont-based T-shirt company’s slogan “Eat More Kale” warrants trademark protection, quashing a several year old legal battle between the T-shirt company and the chicken powerhouse, Chick-Fil-A. The issue arose when Bo Muller-Moore began selling T-Shirts printed with the slogan “Eat More Kale” and Chick-Fil-A claimed that the slogan was too similar to its own “Eat Mor Chikin” advertisements.


Chick-Fil-A believed that Muller-Moore’s shirts employed a slogan that was too close to the Chick-Fil-A trademark and was printed in a similar font. Muller-Moore’s shirts may have evoked the style of the Chick-Fil-A slogan, but when the USPTO granted the “Eat More Kale” name trademark protection, Chick-Fil-A’s claim was dealt a fatal blow. Even if the USPTO did not find “Eat More Kale” to be a valid trademark, it is possible that the slogan would have been permissible under the trademark law fair use exception of comparisons. The kale-supporting slogan obliquely contrasts the chicken-supporting Chick-Fil-A slogan to advertise a healthier and more vegetable rich diet. The USPTO’s finding, however, makes this argument superfluous and opens the door to more merchandise by Muller-Moore.

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Sony Under Fire for Copyright Infringement in “The Interview”

Jennifer Manns : December 28, 2014 3:21 pm : METAfeed


As if Sony hasn’t had enough trouble with its new film, “The Interview,” Sony has come under the new threat of a copyright infringement lawsuit. The film, whose release in theaters was cancelled, but is now widely available for download on iTunes, includes the song “Pay Day” by pop singer Yoon Mi-rae. Yoon Mi-rae’s record label claims that Sony did not pay for the rights to use the song. Sony initially participated in a negotiation with the record label, Feel Ghood Music, for the use of the song, but no agreement was met and Sony did not obtain a license for the song. Feel Ghood Music representatives assumed that Sony no longer intended to use “Pay Day” in the movie. “Pay Day,” however, can be heard in “The Interview” and Feel Ghood Music has taken legal action for Sony’s alleged copyright infringement. This latest stumble by Sony could place the company in more hot water in the wake of last month’s hacker leak of confidential Sony communications and the ensuing discrepancy over the film’s release. Sony’s alleged infringement is also a nasty coincidence as it was reported that Sony’s new film was illegally downloaded over 1.7 million times since its release.

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“They’ve got the Golden Arches, Mine is the Golden Arcs”

Matthew Peterson : December 8, 2014 3:09 pm : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeed

comingtoamerica12McDonald’s has officially gone to war with Irish restaurant Supermac’s as the fast-food chain successfully stopped Supermac’s from registering its trademark in Australia. McDonald’s argues that the public will become confused if Supermac’s is given trademark protection and that Supermac’s name is harmful to McDonald’s trademarks, namely the Big Mac, the McMuffin, and Chicken McNuggets. In response, Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh asserted that his company is  “not infringing on anyone’s name ” and that “I was born with this name, so I hope that common sense will prevail.” Read more about the battle over trademarks between the two companies here and here. Hopefully Supermac’s is a bit more original with its arguments than McDowell’s in “Coming to America.”

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Copyright gets Comical

Matthew Peterson : December 8, 2014 1:16 pm : Arts & EntertainmentBeyondIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

CSPDFrontCoverWhile copyright laws can be confusing and difficult to navigate, Duke University has recently taken a step to make copyright laws easier to interpret.  The University, through its Center for the Study of Public Domain, has made available a comic book titled “Tales from the Public Domain” that discusses fair use, public domain, and copyright infringement. The book serves as a tremendous resource for anyone without a copyright law background or expertise as it makes the law straightforward and easy to understand. While a print copy of the book can be purchased for $6 from the Center’s website, a free PDF of the the comic book can be viewed legally here.

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The Cost of a Tweet

Garrett Busch : December 2, 2014 4:32 pm : Arts & EntertainmentIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

Social media erupted following the recent decision that charges would not be pursued in Ferguson, Missouri in relation to the death of Michael Brown at the hands of officer Darren Wilson. While the Tweet HatFirst Amendment protects free speech, that protection is not without bounds. It appears, however, that many in the United States on both sides of this controversy have failed to realize those boundaries exist. In north Texas, for example, a high school English teacher is in the process of being discharged due to the insensitivity of her recent tweets. She is certainly not alone though, as a new Tumblr titled “Racists getting fired” (Warning: link contains explicit language) has illustrated, numerous other Twitter users are being met with serious repercussions due to tweets they have posted from their own personal accounts. Even though these users are tweeting from personal accounts, employers are finding out and cracking down. It appears that even during a time of national controversy, cooler heads do prevail, and everyone needs to watch what they tweet.

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St. Louis Rams and Free Speech

Nichole Kazimirovicz : December 1, 2014 5:38 pm : First AmendmentMediaMediaMETAfeed

Yesterday, November 30th, St. Louis Rams players walked on to the field with a “don’t shoot” gesture with their hands up.  There have been riots and lots of discussion since the Ferguson grand jury ruling.

The First Amendment of the Constitution states the following: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  

It’s nice to see the Rams exercising their freedom of speech.  But the St. Louis police didn’t appreciate the gesture and demanded the NFL discipline the players.  The NFL allowed the players to continue their activism and free speech without repercussion.  Free speech- 1 : St. Louis Police- 0.

Read More at St. Louis Rams players show solidarity with Ferguson protesters | MSNBC.

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