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A clash of beer and intellectual property rights

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A recent legal step taken by Anheuser-Busch proves that someone in its legal department has a great sense of humor.

Normally, when a small business copies a name from a large corporation, it can expect to be slapped with a nasty cease and desist -- "stop, or else!" -- letter from a corporate lawyer. When a small brewery in Minnesota released a new craft beer, the "Dilly Dilly" Mosaic Double IPA, on December 1, it got a response from Anheuser-Busch that had a lot of people laughing.

Protecting your business with non-disclosure agreements

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Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are taking a hit in the media with the Harvey Weinstein harassment scandal. The movie executive is accused of using NDAs to keep his staff quiet about his personal behavior, which allegedly includes sexual assault and retaliation against women who refused his advances.

However, non-disclosure agreements are essential for businesses, especially high-tech companies and start-ups that need to protect their intellectual property.

Is your start-up safe from cybersecurity breaches?

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Do you intend to start a new business venture in 2018? Are you developing a fantastic product with some business associates that you are keeping secret for the time being? What steps are you taking to get your start-up business off on the right foot?

If you handle your finances, share documents and store files electronically, you are in danger of getting hacked. Every business -- including your start-up -- is a potential target. In fact, sending emails and storing information on the Cloud has already exposed you to the dangers of cyber-attacks.

Copyright issues, like nightmares, can keep you up at night

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Did you watch your favorite horror movie this Halloween? "It: Chapter One" is the most recently released horror film. Based on a Stephen King novel, It (as it is commonly known) hit the big screens last month to wide success. Some claim it is one of the scariest movies in recent history. Before It came along, another nightmare began brewing.

Conjuring up a serious lawsuit

Doubling down in the fast food world

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There is a trademark battle sizzling between two hamburger restaurants. On one side is In-N-Out, a long-standing and popular burger joint based in Irvine, California. On the other is the up-and-coming Smashburger company based in Denver, Colorado.

The hamburger lawsuit

HBO series brings patent trolls into the limelight

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For those who thought trolls only exist in children's books, think again. In the intellectual property world, patent trolls are a reality.

In the HBO series, Silicon Valley, the viewing audience (and the show's characters) are introduced to Stuart "Stu" Burke, a man who makes his money working as a patent troll. Unfortunately for main character Richard Hendricks, Stu reveals how patent laws can be twisted and abused by threatening Richard with patent infringement.

Monkey's selfie case is a lesson in copyright law

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The story sounds a bit like the beginning of a joke: A photographer goes into the jungle. A monkey grabs his camera and takes a selfie. Who owns the rights to the photo?

The funny -- not funny -- thing is that this is no joke. In 2011, freelance photographer David Slater traveled to Indonesia to photograph macaque monkeys. After coaxing some of the monkeys into taking photos of themselves, Slater copyrighted his favorite photo and published it in a book.

OH COSTCO, INFRINGEMENT AGAIN?

On August 14, 2017, District Judge Laura Swain, Southern District of New York, issued her Memorandum Opinion and Order ("Order") in the case of Tiffany and Company v. Costco Wholesale Corporation. In her Order, Judge Swain found that Tiffany is "entitled to recover trebled profits of $11.1 million" and "punitive damages of $8.25 million" against Defendant Costco. Judge Swain's Order follows her granting of summary judgment in favor of Tiffany "holding Costco liable for trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting . . . with respect to engagement rings sold under [Costco] signage the referenced the mark "Tiffany" as a standalone term" in the absence of modifiers such as "setting," "set," or style." The latter modifiers being standard in the industry and for which Tiffany did not initiate claims against Costco if such modifiers were present.

Small time café sues Starbucks for trademark infringement

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This is not a story about unicorns and rainbows, at least not the kind your children want. This is much more sinister than that.

Did you try a limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks in April? If you did, you took a sip of an allegedly illegal drink.

Can you copyright a joke?

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Are jokes intellectual property? Can you protect them from being used without your permission? 

This is a topic of intense interest to joke writers and stand-up comedians -- as well as authors of other types of entertainment fodder. The issue is making its way to the forefront because of a lawsuit regarding late-night monologues that is heading into court later this summer.