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TV show Suits does patent law….badly

suit-1971670_960_720Season 6 of the US TV show Suits came to a close over the weekend. If it taught us one thing it’s that you should never use the firm Pearson Specter Litt to prosecute your patent applications.

OK, seeing as Pearson Specter Litt is a fictional law firm there’s not much chance of you engaging the services of Louis Litt as your patent attorney but the show did show a blatant disregard for the basics of the patent system which is why this post is subjecting Suits to the full IP Hit or Miss? Treatment. Is the show’s IP depiction accurate or does it fall short? (You can probably guess which way this one is going to turn out). (more…)

You Ain’t Nothing but a Hamdog: IP Hit or Miss?

hamdog2

If only there was a way to eat both together…

Joining the ranks of hybrid food combos such as the Cronut, Duffin and Cruffin this week was the Hamdog (click for image), an unholy alliance/mashup of genius (delete as appropriate) of a hamburger and a hotdog1. What got IPcopy’s interest however wasn’t the culinary flair on display but the fact that seemingly every mainstream news outlet was reporting that the inventor (if that’s not too strong a word) of the Hamdog had “patented” his creation (see this BBC article by way of example).

The article in The Mercury goes further with the story and notes that the “inventor” Mark Murray was successful in “securing a US patent for the “combination hamburger hot dog bread bun” in 2009.” Mr Murray himself is quoted as saying “Everyone told me it wasn’t possible, because you’d need a patent lawyer and it would cost millions of dollars“.

Now this IPcopywriter may just be demonstrating the pedantic leanings of the average patent attorney but we couldn’t let this story pass by without comment, for Mr Murray has not “patented” his gastro-creation (in the sense that we’d normally use the word patent in the UK and Europe). Instead, as we’ll explain below, this “news” item is just another example of a particular type of terminology confusion that arises when reporting IP in the media2. (more…)

Spiderman, Spiderman, Does whatever a spider can (IP – Hit or Miss?)

spidermanThe Supreme Court of the United States has handed down its decision in Kimble v Marvel Entertainment LLC on the issue of whether to overrule an earlier decision that held that patentees cannot receive royalties for sales made after the patent expires.

The short summary to this decision was that in SCOTUS’ view the court should adhere to the decision of Brulotte in which a post-patent royalty provision was regarded as “unlawful per se”. So, a victory for Marvel since they won’t have to continue making royalty payments to Stephen Kimble who came up with the idea behind the invention at the centre of the case.

What makes this decision a little more interesting however is that the case involved a Spider-man toy (in particular a “web-slinger” glove that allows its wearer to shot foam webs from their hands, the Web Blaster Spider-Man toy) and the judge (Justice Kagan) was clearly (i) a bit of a superhero nerd and (ii) having some fun in the decision. (more…)

General Election 2015: What do the parties say about IP? (IP – Hit or miss?)

SONY DSCStill on the fence about the general election? Well, fear not as IPcopy is here to give you a run down on the most important policy area of them all. Yes, it’s time to look at what the parties have got to say about Intellectual Property.

Rather than subject ourselves to having to read the manifestos of the various parties (we’re not masochists you know), IPcopy has located PDF copies of the manifestos for the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the SNP and has performed a word search for any of the following terms: patent, trade mark (or trademark), design (IP related design references only), copyright, intellectual property.

So, here we go…. (more…)

World IP Day: Movies – a global passion

WIPO-WorldIPDayOn 26th April each year the World Intellectual Property Organisation celebrates World IP Day. The subject this year is the world of film: “Movies – a global passion“.

WIPO has a dedicated page on its website and also a World IP Day Facebook page to help promote discussion of IP at the movies. Of particular interest is an overview of the IP rights that can be found from script to screen.

As regular readers will know IPcopy has posted a number of articles that take a light-hearted look at IP as it appears in the media (films, TV, news reports etc) as an excuse to talk about different IP topics. So here, to celebrate World IP Day, are the film related posts from our IP – Hit or miss? series.

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IP Hit or Miss? The Lego Movie

2 Supes

70s Lego Superman | Present Day Lego Superman

The Lego movie. Is. Awesome. And certainly much more fun than revising for the EQE pre-exam, which is what I probably should have been doing with my Saturday afternoon (here’s hoping the claim analysis section is all about co-operable building blocks). There are thrills; there are spills; there’s some beautifully poignant humour. It’s the Matrix meets Toy Story 3.

Enough advertising: the reason I get to write about the Lego Movie here is that there’s a delightful little patent sub-sub-sub-plot involving Lego Batman. Which gives me the perfect excuse to assess the IP reference for our IP Hit or Miss series, in the interests of IP education, you understand. The potential ‘spoilers’ are so minor as to be barely worthy of the word, but if you don’t want to see a few paraphrased words from the movie, you may wish to look away now.

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IP Hit or Miss? Code Monkey Save World

Cover art: Code Monkey Save the World. Reproduced with permission from Greg Pak (Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa; Colorist: Jessica Kholinne. www.codemonkeycomix.com)

Cover art: Code Monkey Save World Issue 2. Reproduced with permission from Greg Pak (Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa; Colourist: Jessica Kholinne. http://www.codemonkeycomix.com)

Warning: minor spoilers to follow

The Kickstarter-funded graphic novel series, Code Monkey Save World by Greg Pak, tells the story of the eponymous coding monkey, Charles, as he teams up with a lovelorn super-villain (somewhat reminiscent of Dr Horrible in Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), following the enslavement of Charles’s human co-workers (including his office crush) by Robo-Queen Laura.

The second instalment of the series published earlier this month and features the origin story of the super-villain, Skullcrusher. As they wait for the computer systems in Skullcrusher’s lair to reboot, Skullcrusher explains to Charles that he found his “true talents really revolve around patent law”.

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BBC’s Panorama & the Patent Box (IP – Hit or Miss?)

panorama logoIn the last couple of weeks, in the context of the UK’s patent box tax regime, this ipcopywriter has twice heard mention of a Panorama programme that discussed the patent box. In both cases the opinion expressed of Auntie Beeb’s current affairs show was as low as a World Champion limbo dancer.

So what was wrong with the programme? IPcopy decided to investigate.

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New Zealand has NOT banned “software patents”

New ZealandSeemingly from New Zealand to London and from New York to Kalamazoo, the Internet has been awash with news articles announcing that New Zealand has banned software patents*. There’s only one small problem: the “NZ bans software patents” title is bobbins because, simply put, New Zealand has not banned “software patents”! So what’s this hullabaloo about and why are all the popular articles such an omnishambles? (more…)

IP – Hit or Miss? Patenting the socks off of your copyright (TM)

Not another newspaper article about IP! (Image from flickr – Brandon Grasley – source link below)

OK, before we begin, please note that this could turn into a mild rant. There, you’ve been warned.

One of the recurring topics on this blog is the series of articles called “IP – Hit or Miss?” which we use to analyse the representation of intellectual property (IP) in films, TV and the media. We’ve generally focussed on film and TV references but recently I’ve noticed a number of articles in the press where the terms “patent”, “trade mark” and “copyright” have been used seemingly interchangeably. Now come on guys, it’s not that hard to get it right? Is it?

Well, maybe it is. So it’s time to name and shame and then educate. In the words of Popeye “That’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more”.

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