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

© 2018 Tonya M. Evans

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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”

Professor Evans travels to Bangkok to discuss IP implications of Blockchain

blockchain-image

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.

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!

Prof. Evans to moderate NBA IP Law Review CLE webinar Wed 6/8

I invite you to register for Wednesday’s webinar, hosted by the NBA IP Law Section. Registration is free for all IP Section members, and $30 for non-members.

IP Law Review – A Survey of Recent Developments in Patent, Trademark, and Trade Secret Law.

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Time: 1:00pm to 2:30pm EDT

Follow live tweet at #NBAIPLaw

Presenters:

  • Tonya Evans (Widener University Commonwealth Law School) – Moderator
  • Darrell Mottley (Banner Witcoff)
  • Shontavia Johnson (Drake University Law School)
  • Kevin Jordan (JP Morgan Chase)

Summary – Our panelists will discuss a variety of hot topics and recent developments in patent, trademark, and trade secret law, including:

  • The internet of things as an emerging technology/industry, and related IP and regulatory issues
  • Intersection between the First Amendment and Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act regarding registration of immoral, scandalous, or disparaging trademarks, including the impact of trademark cases
  • Overview of trade secret law and its viability as an alternative means of IP protection

CLE Info: The NBA IP Law Section is looking into obtaining CLE accreditation in the following jurisdictions: CA, GA, IL, NY, TX, and VA. For questions regarding CLE accreditation, please contact Bill Barrow (wbarrow[at]mayerbrown.com).

Cost: This webinar is free for NBA IP Law Section members and costs $30 (plus processing fees) for non-members.

Register at:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nba-ip-law-section-intellectual-property-law-review-registration-25483682380

Prof. Evans to present paper at #WIPIP2016 Colloquium on impact of copyright transfer terminations on loan-outs & other gratuitous transfers

On February 18-19, 2016 the University of Washington Law School and Center for Advanced Study & Research on Innovation Policy (CASRIP) will host the annual Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property (WIPIP) Colloquium.

intellectual_property_transferThe organizers selected Professor Evans to present her work-in-progress, Reclaiming Copyright in the Age of Celebrity Loan-Outs & Gratuitous Transfers, at this esteemed IP law conference.

Many scholars, practitioners, and copyright transferees in the entertainment business surmised the likely impact of the first reclamation trigger date of January 1, 2013 under §203 of the 1976 Copyright Act on post-1977 transfer terminations. Some also expressed concern with the apparent distinction between, and treatment of, transfers by will and nonprobate transfers.

In this Article, Professor Evans focuses on what has actually transpired since that trigger date. In addition, she considers how to reconcile the probate and nonprobate dispositions of copyright termination interests in a way that best honors an author’s testamentary intent given what we can now glean in fact from the post-1977 termination cases just starting to make their way through the court system.

WIPIP is one of the largest academic conferences for U.S. IP academics fostering robust and productive discussion of intellectual property law and policy scholarship. The Colloquium provides intellectual property scholars with a forum to present their academic works-in-progress and receive early feedback from their colleagues.

That same weekend, CASRIP will also host The Forum will be held on February 18, 2016 at the Hotel Deca. The IV Asia Pacific IP Forum hosted by CASRIP will bring together founding members from UW, UC Berkeley, Waseda University, Hokkaido University, Seoul National University, Renmin University and National Taiwan University, as well as leading Pacific Rim scholars, practitioners, judges and policymakers, to discuss comparative transnational IP law in practice.

More information about Professor Tonya M. Evans

More details about WIPIP 2016

 

Evans joins world class panelists at Ent, Arts & Sports Symposium in DC 9/18-19

On September 18-19, 2015 Howard University School of Law is hosting a national conference focusing on entertainment, arts, and sports law. It will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. The conference agenda is below. Online registration is available here:  http://newglobaleas.com.

The gala dinner and awards ceremony honoring Professor Spencer Boyer is on Friday night. The tickets for that event are available here: http://www.law.howard.edu/1952.

Conference Agenda  Continue reading “Evans joins world class panelists at Ent, Arts & Sports Symposium in DC 9/18-19”

Iconic high-end leisure wear co. Vineyard Vines sues Rehoboth tshirt shop to protect whale Logo

Source of this excerpt: DelawareOnline.com (Maureen Milford)

vineyardvines-trademark-Whales-4x3_delonline
[The News Journal]
The Connecticut brothers who built a successful clothing company that embodies the prepster lifestyle of Martha’s Vineyard have stirred up a nor’easter for a Rehoboth Beach T-shirt shop.

Vineyard Vines LLC, a company started by Ian and Shep Murray in 1998, has sued Rehoboth Lifestyle Clothing Co. for selling tops and sweatshirts that say “rehoboth” and are embroidered with big smiling whales. The jaunty-tailed whales bear a striking resemblance to the iconic trademark seen on the Murrays’ high-end ties, shirts, jackets, dresses and other products, the lawsuit alleges.

The way the Stamford, Connecticut, company sees it, Rehoboth Lifestyle is infringing on its registered trademark and diluting its “famous trademark,” according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. Vineyard Vines clothing, which has been spotted on movie stars and several presidents, is pricey, with a cotton dress shirt selling for $128 on the company’s website. […]

I doubt a court would find that the Vineyard Vines whale, even as popular, well-known and iconic as it may be, is indeed a “famous mark” as that term is defined under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. Bigger ‘fish’ have tried and failed. The short list includes: XEROX, KODAK, COCA-COLA, and REEBOK.  Read more about trademark dilution and famous mark cases. But it seems that Vineyard Vines has a strong case in establishing the “likelihood” of confusion. Actual confusion of consumers is not required.

I was quoted in the article to explain why it is important for trademark owners to police and to protect their marks. The consequences of not doing so could be extremely costly to their brand and business. And the failure to police may also lead to “genericide”, causing the owners to lose their exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the sale of its goods and services. Common examples of well-known companies whose marks became generic

In the article, I also explained the general purposes of trademark law. Read the full article:

Whale war: Vineyard Vines, Rehoboth shop clash over logo

So what do you think? Are consumers likely to be confused, even if initially, by the local t-shirt company’s mirror-image, stylized pink whale? More specifically, is it more likely than not that some consumer might be confused? If so, what’s the harm?

~Prof TE~ Follow me on Twitter @IPProfEvans