Trade mark licence ends war

Apple Inc. is becoming the registered proprietor, and licensor back to The Beatles, of the Granny Smith record company logo, so far for sure in Canada.

This trade mark licence ends a trail of three decades of litigation cases over money between Apple, Inc and The Beatles. Lightbulb overviewed that story in 2011.

As a personal guess, Apple Inc. spent between $500 million and $1 billion over 30 years, to defend itself against The Beatles, for use of the Apple name and logo. 

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Legally strong trade marks save money

Trade mark registration can be expensive. In 30 years of evidence I have found the most expensive and wasteful results come from adopting legally weak trade marks to register.

Legally weak trade marks waste money long after registration.

Here's 17 articles with our firm's tips on how to select legally strong marks. They cover trade marks, brands and business, company, product and domain names.

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Tertiary education's alternative futures

Mark Cuban's blog post on the cost of tertiary education and the level of student debt in the United States has relevance which extends beyond his country and topic. It grapples with major issues about the future of tertiary education. It's a huge topic.

Cuban's title is overblown: "The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won't Get Better Any Time Soon". While he is often a scrappy writer he's also easy to read, explores new ideas, and debates opinions, often in opposition to popular views

On student debt the alarming debt figures he quotes speak for themselves. He states that the "37 million holders of student loans have more debt than the 175 million or so credit card owners" in the United States. He says this is more than the debt on cars in the United States.

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Employee loyalty, what's measured gets done

People create intellectual property. This requires reciprocal loyalty by employees, independent contractors and those who engage them.

Loyalty can be eroded by mismanagement. It is also being eroded it seems by the way people today find jobs, change jobs, and work. From CEO down, employees are shifting jobs at a faster rate than ever.

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Digital content user interface inspiration

Digital content developers appreciate that today differences betweens screens affect user experience with content.

User experience differs in numerous ways for content between tablets, smartphones, ereaders, laptops and desktops.

Content jumps off the screen when it suits the target format or device. Today content follows format, a reversal of the 20th century design principle that form follows content.

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Look for exponential growth

What triggered Jeff Bezos, founder of, to put all his eggs in 1994 into his online business and its commercialisation?

Was it love of books? Was it confidence in his programming capability, which first developed in high school? Being a graduate of Princeton where he designed a computer system to calculate DNA sequences? Securing angel investors? Or was it securing venture capital from a blue chip Silicon Valley firm?

It was all of that. And none of that.

Richard L. Brandt, author of One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of, assures us page after page that the trigger was Bezos noted in 1994 the exponential growth in the numbers of users of the internet.

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Start-up growth: how to sustain it

My approach to law draws a great deal of inspiration from thinking by economists. What works in economics thinking for countries often also does for start-up, established or institutional business. The latest inspiration for this is The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World. This 2011 book is by Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize recipient in Economic Science in 2001.

After serving as a dean at Stanford and Harvard, for the World Bank Commission on Growth and Development, from 2006 to 2010 Spence reluctantly took on the mission to research what made growth tick for developing countries.

What Spence's field research uncovered is to my mind as applicable for business growth as it is for growth by developing countries.

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Online video monetisation: TED Talks

Will your business fly with proper use of online video? Then consider TED a useful case study. A TEDx event takes place every day somewhere in the world. Locally there's TEDxSydney and TEDxMelbourne.

TED Talks have had more than 500 million views online and earn millions from event tickets, advertising, and event licensing fees. TED has presence in branded events, online videos, and mobile apps.

TED's impressive story begins in 1984.

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Value for money lawyers - how to find them

"What are best practices when dealing with expensive lawyers to reduce time and cost?" This was a question I answered today on Quora, a Q&A website. He's my answer.

The short answer is don't give work to "expensive" lawyers. Find ones who deliver value for money.

Is your preferred restaurant, car, perfume, or computer expensive? You're a poor consumer if you don't focus on value for money.

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7 mobile app legal tasks

If you're developing a mobile device app I'm sure you've been reading a lot, having conversations with prospective partners, and seeking other collaborators.

Use the list below to check legal needs are covered.

It's advice I've provided for developers. It's just as relevant for clients commissioning development of mobile apps.

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IP protects design

Many elements of package design can be protected with intellectual property law. Do-it-yourself designs need not apply.

Together with do-it-yourself logos, they rarely qualify as great IP or easily stand up to legal attack in our experience.

So if IP law thinks they are rubbish why invest in them?

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Pure Blonde's branding makeover

Carlton United's new branding for Pure Blonde is likely to help it in any future trade mark protection or related legal action.

The new bottle and label design makes three changes. It has an embossed Pure Blonde crest in the glass, giving it a separate status as a brand. It has a central label which emphasises the word "Pure", having taken the crest out. It has a longer neck label that connotes premium and emphasises the word "Premium".

Through rebranding Carlton not only keeps its product's identity fresh and contemporary, it also strengthens its legal rights to protect its intellectual property.

When we last wrote about Pure Blonde in "Trade mark law strategy kept simple for blondes". On the right is the bottle with its original labels. The emphasis there too was on clever tactics with intellectual property, specifically, use of scope creep in the trade mark strategy for Pure Blonde.

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10 conversations about business models

In 2007 we extended an invitation to readers to call for a conversation on 10 possible topics. Happily some took up the offer.

The nature of the questions kept them relevant. So for 2012 we repeat them and our invitation.

If you want to discuss the 10 topics below call us whether you are a client, collaborator or a stranger. We're proposing an open conversation to exchange thoughts, play cards and see where that might lead.

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The employment vs contractor agreement distinction

Under law in Australia and most countries whether A is B’s employee or, alternatively an independent contractor, is critical for ownership and protection of intellectual property. And that's just the beginning.

In Australia, if A is an employee numerous legal consequences follow. Superannuation must be paid, income tax must be taken out, and workers compensation insurance put in place.

To answer the question of whether A is an employee involves considering layers of law, facts and circumstances. There are variations for employees working in the private or public sector, under awards or enterprise agreements, or Common Law contracts and so forth.

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Is your brand an IP risk or IP asset?

Investment to create wealth through ownership of a brand is wasted if there is ignorance of intellectual property law ("IP"), IP search procedure, and IP protection tasks.

This is illustrated by probably the most common of all IP risks - legal issues arising from poorly selected brands and poor product identification.

Consider this scenario - Company A names a product and releases it . Assume the product name has IP rights. Some time later Company B launches a product with a similar name and for the same market.

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