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What Is Trademark Tacking?

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday decided in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank that the issue of "trademark tacking" was a question for a jury, not a judge.

We all know (hopefully) what a trademark is, but what is "trademark tacking"?

Yesterday, news broke that Northern California brewery Lagunitas was suing Sierra Nevada, the other big maker of craft beers in Northern California. The controversy centered on the design and use of the letters "IPA" in the labels for both breweries' India Pale Ales. Lagunitas claimed that Sierra Nevada's design infringed on a trademark for its particular use of "IPA."

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lagunitas' founder announced over Twitter that he was dropping the suit after some harsh public criticism.

What can businesses learn from Lagunitas' mini-controversy?

A pair of young sisters was amazed when their nifty little invention -- a microfiber cleaning cloth that sticks to the back of a smartphone or tablet -- started picking up steam.

Called HypeWipes, the cloths were a hit at trade shows and amongst a growing number of customers. But that luck soon changed for 14-year-old Sophia Forino, her sister Marissa, and the girls' father Rocca Forino: A company which markets a product called Hype-Wipe filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Forinos claiming the girls' invention infringes on the trademark for the Hype-Wipe, reports WVIT-TV.

What can small business owners take away from this somewhat unfortunate intellectual property dust-up?

Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" turned 50 this year, and business owners could learn a thing or two from how Willy Wonka runs his factory.

From a legal standpoint, Wonka's business is one giant lawsuit waiting to happen, and the whole thing is premised on inviting children into direct harm. But on top of being fictional, this business owner had some rather keen ways of keeping his business out of court.

Check out these five tasty legal lessons from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (both the book and the movie versions):

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or device -- such as a brand name or logo -- which identifies your business or product and distinguishes it from other similar businesses or products.

The owner of a trademark can enforce his trademark rights to prevent others from infringing upon it by using a similar name or selling the same goods or services under a different name. But how are those rights established?

Do business owners need to register a trademark in order to protect their trademark rights?

The Salt Lake Comic Con is experiencing its first year, but the convention already generating some potential legal battles with its larger comic con brethren.

In a letter sent last week, attorneys for the San Diego Comic-Con demanded the convention change its name, or face legal action, reports Salt Lake City's KUTV-TV.

What's behind this comical name battle and what lessons can you learn about choosing a name for your business?

YouTube star Michelle Phan has been slapped with a copyright-infringement lawsuit over her use of background music in her makeup tutorials.

The do-it-yourself online makeup sensation is accused of rising to commercial success by illegally using copyrighted music by artists like Deadmau5 and Kaskade in her videos. While Phan insists she didn't infringe on any copyrights, business owners may be wondering: Isn't there a way for entrepreneurs like Phan to use music without being sued?

Learn from Phan's copyright suit with these three business lessons:

It's 2014. Do you know what your business' intellectual property is doing?

If you didn't answer with an emphatic "Yes!" (or worse yet, had to stop and think about what exactly intellectual property is), then you may be a prime candidate for an IP audit.

What exactly is an IP audit, and what can it potentially do for your business? Here's what business owners need to know:

World Cup fever has many Americans in its grip, and your business' social media strategy may be able to capitalize on it.

But can you use the phrase "World Cup" in your ads and social media posts without FIFA, the organization behind the tournament, crying foul?

Here are a few tips on how to market to football (soccer) fans without worrying about legality:

Electric car company Tesla has made the bold (or perhaps foolhardy?) move of giving away all of its patents.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday that Tesla would not engage in patent litigation against anyone who "in good faith, wants to use our technology," reports Wired. The goal of this move is to accelerate the adoption of electric cars.

But will opening up Tesla's patents to the free market be the company's downfall?