It's trade mark, not trademark.
June 7, 2010 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Please help me choose a subject in Intellectual Property Law for a short paper!

Emerging issues? Long-standing controversies? Statute analysis? What should I write about for my 5000-10000 word paper? It can be any subject in the field.

I'm not overly excited about Intellectual Property (though I probably will be once I've buried myself in it for a month or two) but I have a passing interest and a wealth of potential resources. Those resources tend to be better versed in patent and trade mark law (NZ, Australia, UK, Canada, in particular), but that's not a dealbreaker.

What interests you? What bothers you? What confuses you? What would you jump at the chance to read? Thanks!
posted by doublehappy to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could look at the recent changes to NZ copyright law, including the '3 strikes'-type proposals to cut off the internet access of alleged downloaders/copyright infringers. Compare and contrast with the similar measures in the UK (Digital Economy Act).

Though maybe that's more interesting from a public policy perspective than a legal perspective.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:50 AM on June 7, 2010

That's actually a great suggestion, thanks. Also considering I know a few people involved in it (on all sides) - there's definitely a legal aspect to it, though I wonder if the fact that it's current would date any conclusions.
posted by doublehappy at 3:17 AM on June 7, 2010

How about grey market goods?
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:34 AM on June 7, 2010

How 'bout strategies/practices to leverage legal wrangling over intellectual property for investment gains and how current law in NZ (or wherever) helps or hinders it. In the US, for example, there are people who attend arguments at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in hopes of sussing out which way the decision will go and then making the appropriate stock play.
posted by carmicha at 5:51 AM on June 7, 2010

the changing nature of IP might be interesting, what with digital works.

it used to be much easier to control copies - they were on paper, but now with digital books and music and video being bits and bytes on a network somewhere.

also, this may sound silly, but i also find this interesting and you could probably find a local example. i live near Hershey, PA, home of the Hershey bar. however, before Milton Hershey, there was a place called Hershey Dairies. so in many stores you can find Hershey's Ice Cream and Hershey's Milk, but it's not Hershey's Foods. there's some convolulted rules regarding the ability to use a mark based on how long you've been using it, territories, etc. sometimes it doesn't work out for someone and they have to ditch a business name or logo they spend years building a business around, but sometimes they get to keep it (like with Hershey Dairies).
posted by sio42 at 5:54 AM on June 7, 2010

i am in the US but i imagine there must similar stuff in the countries you mention, just different rules.
posted by sio42 at 5:55 AM on June 7, 2010

You're not clear what level of depth / background you have, and whether you need to do original research/insights or just some discussion about what's out there. Is your audience students? Lawyers? Law professors? Public policy wonks or tech-heads? Also, I think a problem is you're not clear on how NZ-specific you want to make things. A lot of the stuff you will find on the 'net involves people ranting about US law.

I think your first order of business is to try to narrow down your field of interest. Writing about patents / biotech issues is a lot different than copyright/trademark. You can weave a theme of "freedom to innovate / freedom to express versus limited monopolies encouraging innovation" across all of them, but when you get down to the specifics things are really quite different.

I am a US-based lawyer who used to spend a lot of time on IP issues. I am a card-carrying EFF member. With those biases on the table, here are some ideas.

Patent: The Myriad Genetics litigation (involving the patentability of the BRCA1 gene and claims to methods of interpreting mutatations. (See also this great article from Genomics Law Report

Patent: The US Supreme Court's decision in Bilski will come out soon. Much, much ink will be spilled when that happens; it will likely have significant biotech law implications.

Trademark: A lot of practicioners are involved in chasing down (and enjoining) counterfeit goods. What liability for trademark infringement do/should search engines have? The Rosetta Stone / Google Adwords dispute is an interesting example.

Copyright: The ability of small municipalities to adopt uniform building codes (with variants) and then have companies assert copyright protection over those laws (preventing others from posting the code on their own website) gets lots of people's dander up. There have been several law review articles on this.

Copyright: On the RIAA/MPAA/Bittorrent front, what level of culpability does someone who "makes available" a copyrighted work via a P2P network have? This is a very US-centric issue but the "making available" argument has some interesting nuances. Outside of the purely legal analysis, the business decision of the RIAA to stop suing individual infringers juxtaposed against the decision by a few distributors to go after bittorrenters (on a VERY large scale) with essentially contingent-fee lawyers is a very interesting one, I think.

Copyright: There's probably room for a lot of analysis / comparison about Google Books / Google News and the degree of liability for copyright infringement -- combined with the business decision not to pursue it. The letter of the law versus what makes economic sense in this context is fodder for good law & public policy stuff, I think. (Also, see Lessig's Code and the Law of Cyberspace -- is it an instance of "West Coast Code" emerging victorious?)

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to ponder about this stuff.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 6:02 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Are High Statutory Copyright Damages Unconstitutional? You could also relate this to the recent surge in false patent marking cases.
posted by caddis at 7:39 AM on June 7, 2010

There was a very interesting story on public radio about music sampling that you might enjoy. Here's the link. You can listen and/or read the transcript.
posted by alspeigh at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2010

You can never go wrong with the Elgin Marbles. A long going intellectual property dispute with it all: Crime! Subterfuge! Cultural Appropriation! International Conflict! And academic dishonesty aplenty!

I'm a bit prejudiced because I did research for articles and books on the subject. But still, cool stuff.
posted by bswinburn at 11:53 AM on June 7, 2010

Hey, thanks a lot everyone - really appreciate it. Gonna get into a bunch of these.
posted by doublehappy at 11:53 PM on June 7, 2010

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