If small businesses don't have their intellectual property in order and legally protected, they could be in big trouble. That's why we normally take patents, trademarks, and copyrights so seriously around here.
But every now and then we run across an IP story so weird we have to share it. So here are seven of the strangest stories involving patent and trademark law:
Velcro's patent expired decades ago, and the trademark rights to their iconic name may rest in your hands.
Contrary to its name, Mister Softee takes a hard line approach when it comes to protecting its brand, and a knockoff fleet of trucks in NYC paid the price.
Sometimes, you can glean a lot from a company's patent filing. Other times the picture is, well, hazy. So what is Apple planning to do with its vaporizer patent?
You could accuse the USPTO of being a little uptight, saying that the Comfyballs name was too "vulgar" to warrant a trademark. They did provide quite the endorsement of the company, however, writing: "Comfyballs means only one thing - that a man's testicles, or 'balls,' will be comfortable in the applicant's undergarments."
There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but there's only one way to build the ultimate snowman. And you may need to license that method from one Ignacio Marc Asperas of Melville, New York.
Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze would be hip thrusting in their graves if they found out.
Who owns the rights to the name "Original Butt Sketch," the teacher, or the student?