General Motors received a patent last month for an exterior airbag. The invention is aimed at providing protection to pedestrians. The airbag is mounted to the “fender region” and before the side door “to provide protection to a pedestrian from impacting the frontal area of a vehicle structure.” In particular, when an impact is detected, the airbag expels from the fender flap to cushion the windshield wipers and “other sharp pieces” on the front of the vehicle. While the most recent, GM is not the first to introduce pedestrian protection airbags. In 2012, Volvo showcased its V40 five-door hatchback featuring a pedestrian airbag spanning the windshield in a similar fashion. This past August, Mercedes-Benz received a patent for a similar A-pillar airbag. The development of this technology is unsurprising in light of the fact that pedestrian deaths account for roughly one-in-seven U.S. traffic deaths.
As Americans are expected to spend nearly $6 billion on Christmas decorations this year, inventors flock to the patent office to carve out market exclusivity for their own renditions of the same. Indeed, the first patented artificial Christmas tree was issued in 1911 claiming a trunk upon which twisted wires are attached and arranged to simulate natural tree branches. In 1927, another tree patent was issued that depicts an artificial tree resembling those sold today. There also exists a number of patents relating to live trees. One entitled “Trunk Mounted Christmas Tree Water Level Measuring and Alarm Device” indicates to users when the tree is in need of water and includes an alarm that sounds when the water falls below the “low water” level. A recent patent issued in 2016 for a Christmas tree stand capable of accepting a range of sizes and shapes, which holds water and also stabilizes the tree. Moreover, one inventor patented a tinsel gun in 1970 claiming “devices for dispensing tinsel and the like adaptable for decorating Christmas trees.” While not many mistletoe-related patents have been filed, there is one for a “mistletoe supporting headband” which consists of a strip of material fastened to the head of the wearer and includes a “fork member” that allows the mistletoe to attach. Lastly, for atop the Christmas tree, a light-up star was patented in 1936 on an ornament comprising “a plurality of substantially conical sections joined together at their lower extremities to form a unitary body” and which also contains an electric light bulb within its body. #omnilegalgroup #patents #Christmas
In a two year-long battle with Disney, Marvel, and Lucas Film, Characters for Hire recently filed a motion for summary judgment asking the district court to find in its favor. The internet based entertainment-for-hire company was sued by Disney back in 2016 for allegedly infringing its iconic character trademarks. More specifically, Disney claims Characters for Hire is a “knock-off business…built upon the infringement of Disney’s highly valuable intellectual property rights.” The party entertainment company uses characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Iron Man, Captain America, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca in its appearances at themed events. Characters for Hire particularly disclaims any authorization by Disney of its promotion and sale of its characters. Rather, the company claims a reference to characters such as Frozen’s Elsa is “merely descriptive” of the services the consumer receives, that is, an actor hired to dress and behave like a famous animated character. Interestingly, back in 2003, Disney utilized a similar argument when it was sued by Caterpillar for using its distinct logo on construction equipment in “George of the Jungle 2.” Indeed, Disney contended its use was not intended to create a likelihood of confusion that the construction equipment company either endorsed or sponsored the film. Trademark tarnishment occurs when an infringing mark portrays the protected trademark in a negative way or is placed upon low quality goods. Disney argues Characters for Hire is thereby tricking the public into believing its characters are authorized by Disney and will be Disney-quality. Thus, tarnishment of a trademark threatens to diminish the commercial value of the mark as consumers associate the inferior quality of the infringer’s products with the trademark owner’s unrelated goods. #omnilegalgroup #trademark #Disney #Marvel #LucasFilm
After being sworn in to the California Bar earlier this week, Ms. Petersen will join the firm full-time as an Associate Attorney. Ms. Petersen earned her Juris Doctorate from Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law, where she served as a Student Ambassador, Associate Editor of the Nexus Journal of Law and Policy, and two-term President of the Intellectual Property Law Society. While at Chapman, she was awarded a full-tuition merit scholarship and the CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in Patent Law & Practice, Pre-Trial Intellectual Property Litigation, Information Privacy Law, Legal Analysis Workshop, Torts, and Selected Topics in American Law. She received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Health Science in Physiology from The University of Arizona. In her spare time, Ms. Petersen enjoys staying active, going to the movies, and riding her beach cruiser along Venice Beach.
A company called NKOR is currently in the process of raising capital and developing a new application of blockchain technology and intellectual property. Blockchain technology allows registration of information in a secure, transparent, and efficient environment. Participants can transact data directly between one another without the need for intermediaries. The system first authenticates the uploaded data, which is then linked to a particular transaction and timestamped. The system also tracks any sharing of the data by other entities, providing a system for artists and inventors alike to share their works and immediately detect any infringing use. Copyright infringement is prominent as China has the highest online piracy rate of 91%, followed by Columbia with 90% and Russia with 80%. Moreover, 67% of digital piracy sites are hosted in North America and Western Europe and more than 75% of computers have at least one illegally downloaded application. This technology would decrease incidents of copyright infringement because artists and inventors can directly monitor the sharing of their works. Blockchain technology is being applied to many different industries as a means of effectively and safely conducting business. Indeed, the Blockchain Sharing Alliance is aimed at creating a blockchain patent sharing pool, which would both provide a system of licensing and trading certain patented blockchain technologies and also allowing the blockchain community to build and innovate with the IP assets.