Learn from the experts how to #RegisterRight at #SxSW


Today is the day!

Hope you’ll join Professors Shontavia Johnson (Clemson) and Keith Robinson (Dedman Law) and me this morning at the Fairmont Iris Room for our session RegisterRight!: The ABCs of Protecting Your IP. We’ll be live streaming via Twitter @IPProfEvans and posting helpful tips after the session. Check for the live tweet using #RegisterRight


Carpe diem!


Blockchain, Crypto & Smart Contracts: What they are & what they mean for IP

© 2018 Tonya M. Evans


Recently, I delivered two presentations in Bangkok, Thailand about the intellectual property implications of blockchain technology. The first was an internal preso for the prominent Southeast Asian law firm of Tilleke & Gibbins, and the second was for the Licensing Executives Society-Thailand Conference.

In each preso, I engaged attendees (live and via video conference) in a macro-level exploration of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts to clarify what this relatively new disruptive, empowering ecosystem is, what it means for our collective future as attorneys, corporate leaders, startup founders and entrepreneurs, and its implications in intellectual property law.

Recently, Darts-IP.com published an article I wrote titled IP + Blockchain: A Primer based on some of the information I shared in Bangkok.

I could spend all day every day falling down the proverbial rabbit hole of information about blockchain. There is literally breaking blockchain and cryptocurrency news every minute, if Coindesk’s website and twitter feed are any indication. Each bit and byte of information leads to more information (and misinformation), FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), FOMO (fear of missing out), and speculation about all of the potential pitfalls and opportunities in this new technology frontier. So it’s difficult for most people to figure out where to begin. If this describes you, you’re not alone and you’ve come to the right place! Read on.

You probably have questions (or you wouldn’t be reading this post). Lots of them. The first may very well be where to begin to get a handle on the power and promise of blockchain. Everyone should have some baseline understanding. But lawyers, in particular, must achieve basic technological competence in this space to be well positioned to help clients solve problems. Given my background and expertise, I am particularly interested in the intellectual property issues triggered by blockchain’s rise in mainstream adoption as research & development use cases transition into full implementation and refinement.

In future posts, I will share trends and current events in the blockchain ecosystem that raise copyright, patent, and trademark issues. Follow me on Twitter @IPProfEvans for breaking IP-related blockchain and crypto news. Below are some blockchain basics that I cover more substantively in IP + Blockchain: A Primer and some additional resources about blockchain, crypto, and smart contracts.

So … what is Blockchain? [Updated excerpt from IP + Blockchain: A Primer Continue reading “Blockchain, Crypto & Smart Contracts: What they are & what they mean for IP”

The countdown is on to RegisterRight!: The ABCs of Protecting Your IP @ #SxSW


Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:30 AM-11:30 AM (Central)

Fairmont Hotel Iris Room, 101 Red River, Austin TX 78701

RSVP or catch the Twitter Live Stream @ #RegisterRight


Creating a song, script, app, invention or business is just the beginning of any creative’s journey. Too often that can also be the end of the road. Because when creatives focus solely on the creative process without adequately protecting their intellectual property, they leave their copyright, trademark, and patent rights at risk or forever lost altogether. The rules are complex and confusing. This workshop demystifies “the big three” types intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent) and lays out the specific steps every creative needs to take to protect their IP rights.

Specifically, this workshop:

  • Offers straightforward, clear, and concise definitions and explanations about IP rights
  • Provides a detailed roadmap through the critical first steps of identifying and registering IP rights
  • Details concrete steps creatives and inventors can take to register a copyright, trademark, and patent
  • Explains how startups can avoid intellectual property disputes and the benefits of timely registration
  • Explains how to create a trademark portfolio that doesn’t break the bank
  • Outlines best practices when enforcing copyright, trademark, and patent rights against infringers
  • Covers copyright transfer termination and how to reclaim your copyright after an assignment or license

Join us for the Twitter Live Stream at #RegisterRight & @IPProfEvans

[SxSW-RegisterRight summary deck]

Have a question? Post it in the comments section!

Event: IP Meets T/E Feb. 8th @ Northeastern Law’s CLIC


Co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Copyright Society of the United States (CSUSA) and the School of Law’s Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC)


  • Jim Grace
    Executive Director, Arts & Business Council of Boston
  • Tonya Evans
    Professor of Law, University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Franklin Pierce Center for IP
  • Peter Riley 
    Principal, Riley & Associates

[Event Flyer: NUSL-CLIC-2018-SpringEvents]


Thursday, February 8, 2018 | 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Northeastern University School of Law
250 Dockser Hall

Willa Cather famously told her literary trustee to prevent publication of her draft manuscripts and letters. Tennessee Williams forbade his plays from being changed in any manner after his death. And Beastie Boys Adam Yanuch directed in his will that his image or music never be used for advertising purposes.

Are these restrictions enforceable? Should they be? Copyright descends to heirs, who become the owners of the intellectual property with all the rights and responsibilities IP provides. As we have seen in headline lawsuits, such as by the family of Marvin Gaye (about the song “Blurred Lines”), heirs can also be litigious. How can artists and authors provide for their heirs without the burden that caring for the art provides? These are complex and somewhat unsettled issues in intellectual property law. Come hear three experts speak about these issues from a variety of perspectives at IP meets T/E.

Light refreshments will be served.

Professor Evans travels to Bangkok to discuss IP implications of Blockchain


Part of a lawyer’s professional competence includes technological competence. Therefore, every lawyer should have a basic understanding of the business and legal implications of the blockchain and its varied and various use cases.

To that end, I will present an overview of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts at the law offices of Tilleke & Gibbins (Bangkok, Thailand) on January 31, 2018 and at the Annual Meeting of Licensing Executives Society (LES)-Thailand on February 1, 2018.  This presentation is intended to introduce attorneys of all practice areas to the essential information every lawyer should know about this emerging, global technology.

Ready? Set? Disrupt!

Blockchain technology is poised to disrupt law and business on a global scale in ways neither rivaled nor contemplated since the advent of the Internet. This talk will include definitions of key terminology, an explanation of the two most prominent use cases within this ecosystem (cryptocurrency and smart contracts), as well as intellectual property issues, current events, and likely blockchain trends in 2018.

Is the innovation ecosystem wasted on the young? Why startups aren’t just for those starting out in life.

By Professor Tonya M. Evans

Why startups aren’t just for those starting out in life

Innovation isn’t just for the young (READ: Millennials & Gen Zers of the world). Sometimes youth actually impedes success in the latest wild, wild west that is innovation and tech. Experience, knowledge, and wisdom after a few decades of earning and learning are evergreen and invaluable, in my humble (and mature) opinion. I believe that life-long, intellectually curious learners are also (and especially) poised to contribute and, of course, to profit.

Neha Trhiani Bahri wrote about this topic earlier this year in an article published by Quartz Magazine. She explained that although the startup ecosystem seems to “worship the young,” research actually shows that people are most innovative when they’re older. Bahri cites a 2016 study (pdf) by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation “that looked at the demographics of over 900 individuals who have made high-value meaningful, marketable contributions to technology-heavy industries in the US.” The findings are illuminating and very encouraging for those entering or already in the second or third chapters of life:  Continue reading “Is the innovation ecosystem wasted on the young? Why startups aren’t just for those starting out in life.”

VIDEO: 203 Copyright Transfer Terminations: All Hype or Finally Ripe?

On Thursday, March 23rd I presented a Lunch & Learn at the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property.

I covered 203 copyright transfer termination rights mechanics, the post-2013 response of copyright creators and copyright-industries when the first termination “window” opened for post-1977 transfers, and stakeholder and commentator forecasts about whether the anticipated termination tidal wave of destruction is more academic than real.

Copyright transfer termination permits a copyright creator to reclaim control of his or her copyright several decades after transferring the right. This applies to all copyright transfers no matter what a contract may say about a perpetual transfer. Creators cannot waive this right. But they can forfeit it if they are not careful.

In fact, some creators have already forfeited their rights if they transferred copyright in 1978 and failed to serve notice of termination by 2016. 

I offered some preliminary conclusions on the future of copyright-dependent industries in light of the 203 termination right.

Watch, listen and learn!