In the cutthroat arena of business, where ideas spark revolutions, the protection of intellectual property (IP) is not just a legal formality—it’s a survival strategy. Imagine a world where your groundbreaking ideas, painstakingly nurtured, are snatched and claimed by others. This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario; it’s a real threat that underscores the power of IP protection.
Yesterday, the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a joint study on IP issues related to NFTs. This follows a Congressional request by senators Leahy and Tillis that the Offices explore these issues. Today, the Offices will publish a Notice of Inquiry (unpublished version can be found here), with a notice-and-comment period to follow, seeking stakeholder/private industry feedback on the following topics:
We’ve written extensively on the still somewhat recent arrival of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as both a potential revenue stream, caveat-filled investment destination and pop culture marker of the moment. Back in 2018, we wrote about the Los Angeles Dodgers giving away digital bobbleheads to fans, who could redeem a private hidden key to send the bobblehead to a personal cryptocurrency wallet or sell the unique serialized bobblehead to another fan. Later, we wrote about NFTs in the art world, from a burned Banksy to the record-setting sale of Beeple’s Everydays – The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69.3 million (including fees). Increasingly, the practical uses of NFTs are being examined in places beyond entertainment and IP portfolios, including the real estate market. Recently, Spanish airline Air Europa even sold the first NFT plane ticket, called a “NFTicket,” for just over $1 million.
In today’s News of Note, we explore ransomware-as-a-service profits, the continued untangling of IP issues with NFTs, the prospect of scented virtual reality experiences, the development of a humanoid robot, and much more.
For years, website owners have leveraged the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA) as a tool to combat unauthorized scraping of data and other content from their websites. Due to a circuit court split on the interpretation of the CFAA’s “exceeds authorized access” provision, there has long been a legal gray area around the widespread practice of web scraping and whether scraping data from publicly accessible websites can give rise to liability under the CFAA. A set of closely watched, high-level court cases, however, may soon offer some long-awaited clarification on the reach of the CFAA to web scraping.
Joel Simon: Our discussion today is part of a series on non-fungible tokens, known as NFTs. We will take a look at some specific issues that are somewhat unique to NFTs, and try to give you, our listeners, some interesting things to watch out for as you wade into this relatively new space. Carolyn, with the large sums of money involved in many NFT transactions, due diligence and proper transaction execution must be critical factors, yet I’ve heard about buyers getting tripped up on things that, once you hear about them, seem obvious. Can you shed some light on this for us?
On November 24, 2020, Dave Chappelle posted his “Unforgiven” stand-up set to Instagram and publicly called out Viacom and Comedy Central over the streaming rights and revenues from his early-2000s hit, Chappelle’s Show. As we previously explained, rather than litigating what seemed to be Viacom-friendly contract language, Chappelle was taking the issue to “his real boss”—his fans—by calling for a boycott of the show on two major streaming platforms: Netflix and HBO Max. By the end of 2020, both platforms had taken the show down. Chappelle hoped to use the boycott as leverage to renegotiate a better deal.
Just before Thanksgiving, Dave Chappelle posted to his Instagram account an 18-minute stand-up set titled “Unforgiven.” As expected, Chappelle’s fans ate it up, and the original video has been viewed more than six million times in the two weeks since its posting. Chappelle opens the set sharing stories and lessons learned from his start in comedy at the age of 14 before turning to a very public airing of grievances with Viacom over the streaming rights to the early-2000s Comedy Central hit Chappelle’s Show, which Viacom owns and had recently started streaming on both HBO Max and Netflix.
Many companies are increasingly looking to the federal government during COVID-19 for liquidity or other financial assistance. Colleague Drew Schulte recently spoke with host Joel Simon on Pillsbury’s Industry Insights podcast and highlighted a variety of strategies available to companies with intellectual property assets (and particularly patents or patentable assets) to reduce costs and to generate revenue by monetizing their IP assets.
Please join us Thursday, May 21, 2020, at 1:00 pm CT / 11:00 am PT for an Industry Insights webinar series designed to help clients spot issues, mitigate risk and navigate challenges specific to their industry. During this 30-minute video webinar David Tsai, Chris Kao and Josh Tucker will discuss what the COVID-19 crisis means for technology companies and their IP.
Major topics will include the current patent litigation climate, considerations for buying and selling IP portfolios, and a look ahead at the opportunities and implications of emerging tech.