Trade Marks in the World of Tomorrow

Registered trade marks for colours and sounds are increasingly common as the world races towards more and more use of multimedia and digital technology. This post reviews recent colour and sound trade mark law cases in Australia involving Cadbury, BP, and Nokia.

Most people think of trade marks as simply words and/or logos. Whilst this may be the practical reality for many organisations and businesses, the scope of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) in Australia extends beyond this into other dimensions.

These dimensions are the future and the future is here. We continue to move towards greater use of multimedia and digital technology where sounds and colour are of ever-increasing importance in marketing goods and services.

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Data visualisation and legal knowledge management

Hitwise, an Australian Web traffic monitoring enterprise backed by Australian and United States venture capital, was sold in April 2007 for A$286 million. This post looks at some of the reasons why Hitwise become so valuable to its customers and buyer.

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E-commerce Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

 Like all markets, the internet has attracted a range of characters including businesses, auction houses like eBay, rougues, pirates and thieves. This post reviews various court cases involving these characters, ending with the extradition to America of an Australian for breach of copyright law.

I have great respect for gypsies, even tramps and on the rare occasion thieves. I expect this sentiment is shared by many Australians with a convict heritage. It may also be shared by the daughter of a refugee father, Cher (nee Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere) who had a number 1 hit in 1971 with "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ".

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Business, business models and law of music

Music is at the forefront of change for content and intellectual property business models involving the internet.

This article begins with the personal tale of Jonathan Coulton, a computer programmer who quit his job to became a full-time singer and songwriter through the magic of blogging, online music distribution and networking.

The article ends with a list of our writing on the business, business models and law of music.

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Personal insights from Jobs and Gates

Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Jobs conducted a joint interview in May 2007 and checked their coordinates for the past, present and future.

We've been on an extraordinary journey for decades with Microsoft and Apple and their leaders, Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Jobs.

They arrived together for an interview on 30 May 2007 at the D: All Things Digital conference at Carlsbad, California. On stage they checked their coordinates for the past, present and future.

Interviewing them were Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, writers with The Wall Street Journal which runs the D gig and news website.

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Designer Chinese and IP in China are not contradictions

Is this a contradiction? The People's Republic of China is a Communist state. China is also a centre of cutting edge design.

Try this one, is it too a contradiction? China is infamous as a place for intellectual property piracy of international brands and copyright. China is also increasingly engaged in genuine intellectual property law reform at an international level.

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Fair dealing for satire, but Tintin's not laughing

In Australian copyright law, a new fair dealing exception for the purposes of parody or satire was recently introduced into the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Perhaps unhelpfully “parody” and “satire” are given no definition in the Act.

More helpfully, thanks to an imaginative cartoonist and a miffed copyright holder, the law may soon be tested. But first let's look at the law.

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DVRs and video on demand in Australia

At a time when hot words or concepts include IPTV, Internet Television, Web TV, digital broadcasting and video-on-demand, this post sets out statistics and observations on the growing Australian digital video recorder (DVR) market.

In today's issue of The Australian Financial Review, Neil Shoebridge's excellent article, Seven and TiVo in distribution link, sets out statistics and observations on the growing Australian digital video recorder (DVR) market.

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Industry clusters build competitive advantage

In economics and management literature the business or industry cluster theory gained prominence over recent decades. It was expounded most famously in 1990 in The Competitive Advantage of Nations, an 896 page book by Michael Porter, the American economics and management academic.

Porter and his  research team applied the cluster theory to manufacturing industries, eg for Italian shoes and Japanese cars. The theory has remained in vogue including with governments in Australia.

The cluster theory seems to be displaced in academic literature more and more by discussions on network economics. A common feature of both is their recognition of the rising importance of collaboration in contemporary economics.

The graphic accompanying this article applies the cluster theory to "The California Wine Cluster". It illustrates that competitive advantage is gained when a cluster of industry participants work together to achieve vastly more together than they could working in competition individually.

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Billions made with Internet business exit strategies

This month the future arrived. There were many internet mergers and acquisitions (M&As). There were also internet venture IPOs and old media company reconstructions repositioning to take advantage from new media.

This article is a radar reading of internet deal making developments in this remarkable month, May 2007. Seismic shifts in advertising trigger a great deal of the change.

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Use design briefs to shape your projects

Many projects begin life in a brief. A brief defines project needs and sets the path towards a solution. A design brief helps in the document-intensive job of project definition and execution.

The American design industry veteran, Peter L. Phillips, writes in a recent book that people use various terms as synonyms for "design brief". They include "creative brief", "marketing brief", "project brief" or "job ticket". In Europe, he says a common term is "innovation brief".

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours

A recent New South Wales court decision provides a useful reminder on the benefit of having a clear date of contract and a good deal making and contracting process.

The cast of entertainment industry characters either directly involved or mentioned in the case include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, John Farnham, Leading Edge Events (a concert and event promotion company), and their respective agents, managers and directors.

The case provides valuable lessons on the need to use proper deal making language and process whatever industry your deals are in. Combined with good documents the process protects legal positions for negotiations, deals and contracts.

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Mozilla: An Intellectual Property Monster Story

It was Jamie Zawinski's idea.

In the early 1990s he had been a student at the University of Illinois. It was his good fortune there to be in the team that developed the Mosaic browser. Mosaic was a leap forward compared to then existing browsers, but you had to know your way around it, it was not so user-friendly. 

Mosaic leapt from the World Wide Web platform invented a few years earlier. The Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had created a text-based browser. Mosaic added graphics functionality. 

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Fashion retailers on the web

The year 2006 marks a turning point in e-commerce in the United States. In 2006 more apparel was sold online in the US than computers in terms of value.

This is reported in the 14 May 2007 issue of the Washington Post (Online Sales Shift: Apparel Outpaced Computers in '06). It states: "Consumers spent $18.3 billion on clothes, accessories and shoes in 2006, up 61% from the previous year. Computer hardware and software sales totalled US$17.2 billion, up 20% from the previous year. Total online retail spending, excluding travel, grew 25% to US$146.5 billion." The source of this data is said to be Forester Research which surveyed 174 online retailers.

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Formats and genres answer copyright questions

How much can you copy? Filmmakers repeatedly ask this question when they are inspired by the plot, characterisation or other elements of a prior film. Being inspired is one thing, infringement is another.

The copyright law limits to copying involve many considerations. For example, the limits are narrower than the ethical concept of plagarisation. They are also harder to apply even though the Australian Copyright Act lists them in sections on "fair dealing". The US "fair use" concept is comparable, but wider than "fair dealing".

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