What Bloggers Need to Know About Trademark Law

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There are three major types of intellectual property law: Copyright, Patent and Trademark.

The distinction between the three can often be confusing and gray, but in general copyright protects artistic expressions (literature, movies, photos, music, etc.), patents protect ideas and inventions and trademark protects any “mark” associated with a business.

However, trademark is very different from other areas of intellectual property. You don’t run afoul of the law simply by copying the mark itself but, as a tradeoff, trademarks can protect a much wider variety of things that would not fall under any other area of protection.

Yet, at the same time, trademark often overlaps with copyright, especially when dealing with some logos, and there is a great deal of confusion between copyright and trademark in discussions online.

All in all, trademark is a thorny and often misunderstood area of intellectual property law that demands a closer look, especially if you routinely write about companies or use trademarks in your post.

So what do you need to know about trademarks? The basics are below.

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IBM develops “automatic blogging during media viewing” patent

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ibm-auto-blogging-media-patentDigging through patent applications can bring up some interesting designs, such as this idea from IBM, filed last year and just now being talked about on blogs.

Realizing that there is still a degree of separation between mainstream home entertainment (TV) and mainstream blogging/social networking (Twitter/Facebook), IBM has come up with an idea to combine the two so that the everyday user can blog or tweet about something they’re watching on TV via a specially crafted remote control unit.

The geekier among you (me included) will probably roll their eyes and suggest that the separation needn’t matter — I can already tweet or blog from my laptop or iPhone while watching TV and it doesn’t matter to me that the devices are distinct. In fact, having tested out accessing basic web services from remote control units, I’d say it can be a pretty painful experience. [Read more…]