Intellectual Property Controversies

This weekend, I gave a non-traditional trademark lecture here at Michigan Tech, at the Rozsa Center for Performing Arts.

The lecture was part of the “Intellectual Property Controversies” lecture series. The event was moderated by Prof. Michael Bennett from Vassar, and included Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Molly Kleinman from the U. of Michigan Library and Prof. Kembrew McCloud from the U. of Iowa.

The event really highlighted the fact that intellectual property is controversial. For example, Kembrew gave a sneak preview of his film “Copyright Criminals”. The film is a about the hip hop artists who “borrowed” from prior artists when they sampled many songs with newly available sampling machines.

It brought to my mind the very funny MTV clip of Vanilla Ice arguing how his bass line for “Ice Ice Baby, was different from David Bowie’s  “Under Pressure”.

I’ll write more on what each of the speakers presented at this controversial event. This includes my lecture on non-traditional trademarks, namely how the Chippendale’s dancers are trying to get a trademark on their bow tie and cuffs.

For the bare facts on that unique trademark application, visit the TTAB Blog story.

If you know any intellectual property controversies, please share them. I’d like to discuss them with the community.

2 thoughts on “Intellectual Property Controversies

  1. Hi, Prof. Orozco,
    I attended the Intellectual Property Controversies series, and found each speaker to be thought-provoking and entertaining! Congratulations to you and your colleagues for bringing a lively discussion of this important topic to Michigan Tech. I hope the university makes this series an annual event.

  2. Hi M.,

    Thanks for your post. I agree, Michigan Tech should make this event a yearly lecture series. I already have lots of great topics to add for a future trademark discussion, at Tech or anywhere else if people want to organize something. One topic I want to discuss more at length are the bounds of trademark and free speech. When can a brand owner limit someone’s conversations about a brand, even if it is offensive to the brand owner? The example that popped up often during this last lecture was the case involving an artist running a barbie doll through a grinder, and getting sued by Mattell. Eventually the artist won the laswuit., with help from the ACLU:

    For more info. on this story, visit:

    http://www.aclu-sc.org/releases/view/100068

    Thanks again!

    Prof. Orozco

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