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iStock-949494094-hashtag-trademark-300x188In today’s world, most businesses use hashtags to boost their brand awareness and products and services on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”—posting a great photo of a product with the right #hashtag, and the attention received can go from “scant” to “deluged” in moments. Such posts can promote higher customer engagement, attract more likes and new followers, and in short provide fantastic and efficient publicity for businesses.

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On January 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released new guidance for how patent examiners should evaluate patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In “Evaluating the Evaluation: Breaking Down New USPTO Guidance for Patent-Eligible Subject Matter,” colleagues Jack S. Barufka, Ngai Zhang, Matthew W. Hindman and Tiffany C. Kuo examine the new guidance—and what it means for patent eligibility going forward.

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cryptocurrencyWith bitcoin prices rising from the dead over the last few weeks (up nearly 25% from a December 14 low), there’s a degree of renewed excitement regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency. But as general public interest rises and falls, the steady process of creating useful applications and systems for distributed ledger technology continues. The issuing of new patents is one observable part of this process, and as such, it’s worth noting that trading platform tZERO, a portfolio company of the e-commerce giant Overstock, was recently awarded a patent outlining how it may merge legacy trading systems with cryptocurrencies and digital asset technology.

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Thieves loot some Ethereum; chat apps and the IoT attract unwanted attention; AI detects viruses … and password sharing; and more …

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ai-money-launderingIn the popular Netflix series Ozark, money launderer Marty Byrde expends a lot of time and energy mitigating the risks that relate to his work, including his drug cartel client, a pair of farmers, the local pastor, and his own employee and her relatives—but financial regulators never appear to be a blip on his radar. Would the series turn out differently if Marty’s bank had used artificial intelligence to examine his deposits?

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twitterIn a time when information is increasingly shared through social media, companies—particularly publicly traded ones—must recognize and consider the potential legal ramifications that could arise from statements made by executives, board members, and/or other employees about the company on social media. Though the actions of a certain well-known technology entrepreneur have provided perhaps the most prominent example of these ramifications, there are plenty of other cautionary tales reminding us that a powerful marketing tool that allows company CEOs to connect directly with consumers carries a host of possible legal consequences. Among the most potentially damaging—time-consuming and costly securities-related litigation, both with complaints involving the SEC and private shareholder litigation.

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iStock-178101320-twibel-300x201Earlier this month, we discussed the ways in which companies should navigate negative critiques and reputation management in the Age of Social Media. One option includes the pursuit of litigation, often demonstrated through claims for defamation. This course of action can typically be found in the context of a negative review: a company provides a service, customer is unhappy with the service, customer posts negative review about company online. In California, a company that wishes to claim said review has crossed a line must then prove (1) the customer made a false, defamatory statement concerning the company, (2) the customer made an unprivileged publication to a third party, (3) the publisher of the false statements acted at least negligently in its publication, and (4) the statement had a natural tendency to injure or cause special damage.

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Algorithms behave pretty much as they are programmed to (for good and ill); augmented reality continues to seep into the auto industry; humans strive for immortality; and more …

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iStock-533914314-online-trolls-300x257Managing reputation is tough when every person with a social media account is a potential critic with global reach. Organizations must contend with the concern that one negative social media posting could destroy hard-earned goodwill built up through years of thoughtful investments and interactions. While social media platforms allow for organizations to efficiently engage with their target audience, they also allow users to easily become the targets of reputational attacks, such as unfounded complaints or smear campaigns. The potential for posts to go viral, the ability for posts to remain with seeming permanence on the internet and the capacity for social media users to mask their identities make it difficult for organizations to mitigate the consequences of an online reputational attack. The good news is that victims of such an attack are not without recourse. Generally, there are four options for responding to a negative social media post:

  • Do Not Respond to the Post
  • Respond Directly to the Author
  • Contact the Social Media Platform
  • Litigation

If, when and how to respond are decisions that must be made by each organization individually after considering several factors, including those discussed below.

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“AI will most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.” –Sam Altman

 

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a controversial topic. It is easy to imagine a near future where AI solves some of our greatest problems and a relatively more distant future where AI becomes our greatest problem. For now, AI has yet to rebel against us and is proving to be a valuable tool in our everyday lives. AI is being deployed to help companies improve productivity, reduce costs, streamline processes, and unlock analytics and insights that weren’t previously available. Like past disruptive technologies, AI presents new issues under familiar areas of concern. Every company needs to know how their data is being used. AI technology adds a new layer of complexity to that all-too-familiar issue.

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