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Recently in Intellectual Property Category

Trademarks exist in order to allow consumers to differentiate products and services that exist in a marketplace. When a business, other entity, or individual, puts time, money, and effort, into developing a valid trademark, the law provides certain protections for the trademark holder.

For instance, when trademarks look similar, or have the potential to confuse the public or consumers, a trademark infringement action can be brought against the infringing party. If the infringing party has profited off the use of the infringed-upon trademark, or has harmed the goodwill associated with the trademark, the amount of damages claimed can increase drastically. However, not all trademarks that appear to be similar or infringing will be found so under the law. There are several defenses to trademark infringement actions.

As we've said here before, patents can be vital to your small business. Beyond protecting your inventions and ideas, patents can add value to your business for investors or a possible future sale. And yet many entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to file for patents for fear that the process is too complex.

But the United States Patent and Trademark Office is aiming to change that perception and the reality of filing for patent protection. Here's how:

When you're just opening the doors to your small business, you're probably thinking more about dollars and cents rather whether a patent or a trademark makes more sense. But considering your intellectual property may be your business's most valuable asset, protecting those ideas, images, and creations should be at the top of your entrepreneurial to-do list.

So if you're wondering where to get started in securing your intellectual property rights, here is some of our best IP advice for new small business owners, from our archives.

An argument over low-calorie beverage sweeteners might not appear to have an earth-shattering impact on intellectual property law. But when the legal arguments involve getting more patent lawsuits out of the tiny Texas district where almost all suits are brought by patent trolls, that's exactly what a case before the Supreme Court might do.

Last week, the Court heard arguments in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, and a ruling may alter where future patent cases are filed.

Forever 21, the popular clothing retailer, is going on the legal offensive against Adidas, the athletic clothing and shoe goliath, which they have accused of being a trademark bully. Forever 21 recently filed a federal lawsuit, seeking declaratory relief against Adidas, after receiving another letter threatening to sue them over a trademark dispute related to the famous three stripe Adidas pattern.

Last month, Adidas threatened to sue Forever 21 if the chain refused to stop making and selling a few particular garments that had four stripe patterns. Over the past several years, Adidas and Forever 21 have been involved in various disputes over the three stripe pattern, and Forever 21 has yielded to the demands made by Adidas in the past. However, when Forever 21 received that last threat of litigation, rather than acquiesce again, they decided to ask the court to intervene to put a stop to Adidas's pattern and practice of unreasonably attempting to enforce their rather ubiquitous trademark.

Over the last few decades, electronic music has grown at an electrifying rate. Now, all someone needs to qualify as a musician is a computer and some software to mix up songs other people made.

Capitalizing on the changing times, a new startup is hoping to mix up the music world of remixing by bringing order to the current chaos. The company, MetaPop, has created a new platform for not just the fans and creators of remixes, but also for the music labels that spend countless dollars on lawyers trying to enforce their copyrights.

A recent trademark violation lawsuit explains why the burger chain In-N-Out is steamed at a Wichita, Kansas dry cleaner. The dry cleaner, which opened last year, decided to more than just fluff before folding, it decided to go by the name In-N-Out Cleaners, and also used a logo and had signage that was stunningly similar to the famous burger joint.

The dry cleaner, since being notified, has taken down their similar looking signs, both in real life and online, and has also stopped using the name In-N-Out. Nevertheless, the burger chain's lawsuit is persisting, seeking not just compensatory damages, but also punitive damages.

Do Robots Have Patent Rights?

"A creative singularity in which computers overtake human inventors as the primary source of new discoveries is foreseeable," writes Ryan Abbott, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey's School of Law. "Creative computers may require a rethinking of the baseline standard for inventiveness, and potentially the entire patent system."

Our patent system wasn't built for robot inventors, but Abbott is arguing for it to be remade with artificial intelligence in mind. But have AI's IP rights already been carved out of existence by the U.S. Copyright Office?

To be fair, naming a restaurant "The Kitchen" doesn't sound all that original. But that's not Kimbal Musk's argument. Billionaire engineer/entrepreneur Elon Musk's billionaire restaurateur brother is suing Wolfgang Puck over a restaurant concept Musk says he started and shared with Puck in 2012.

So which eatery giant gets to use a generic word for cooking room? Let's take a look at the lawsuit.

Many people have been surprised to hear that the US Patent and Trademark Office has not only been accepting applications to patent various strains of marijuana, but it has actually been granting some patents. With numerous states legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use by adults, speculators are predicting that the big business of marijuana is going to continue getting bigger.

There's nothing new about patenting plants. However, researchers had more to be concerned about before states started legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. Now that a handful of states allow recreational use, it is expected that more marijuana patents will be filed.