Intellectual Property

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U.S. Patent App. No. 20140159444: Airline Passenger Torture Device

The application calls it "Seating Device Comprising a Forward-Foldable Backrest," but I like my name better. The inventor describes the alleged motivation thusly (my annotations below): [T]o increase the number of cabin seats [and thus profit], the space allotted to…


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After Bar Fight, Cubs Are Fed Up with Unofficial Mascot

The Sun-Times reports today that the Chicago Cubs are suing five people who have allegedly been posing as a Cubs mascot near Wrigley Field, engaging in "mascot-like activities" and trying to charge people for photos. They take turns doing this—I didn't…


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Pi Trademarked (Sort Of)

Looks like it's safe to go back to using the symbol for pi on t-shirts, at least for now. Someone whose initials are P.I. managed to get the symbol (followed by a period) registered as a trademark, and where there's…



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PTO Rules “Redskins” Trademark Is Derogatory

When used in connection with the sale of pork rinds. Why, is that term used in some other very public way in association with a good or service of which you were thinking? Surely not. The Washington Post reports that the U.S….


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Ninth Circuit: The Shape of a Hookah Can’t Be Copyrighted

O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge:     We must decide whether the shape of a hookah water container is entitled to copyright protection. That is (minus the footnote explaining what a "hookah" is) the first paragraph of today's decision by the U.S….


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Coders, Know Your Rights

That's the title of a seminar being offered at MIT on Jan. 22, according to this announcement I saw on Twitter. It sounds really interesting, but I also wanted to mention it here because of the awesome graphic (by Libby…


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U.S. Patent No. 8,359,664: How to Cover Yourself in Plants

Having trouble hiding from something you'd like to kill? Maybe you've considered covering yourself in plant life. Good idea, assuming you're outdoors. But depending on how you're doing that, you may be infringing. Improbable Research notes that Patent No. 8,359,664,…


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An Important Solar Update

Toby McCasker of Vice.com somehow got an interview with Angeles Duran, who as I'm sure you remember is la mujer española que es la propietaria del sol. See "The Woman Who Owns the Sun Is Using Her Powers for Good," Vice.com (October 2013); see also "Sunshine No…


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U.S. Pat. No. 35,600: The Plow Cannon

This might be where the term "Yankee ingenuity" came from, although if it was, somebody was being sarcastic: Two New Yorkers invented this and had it patented in 1862. At the time, the battles of First Bull Run and Shiloh…