A new year means new cases to watch and trends to follow in the world of IP law and brand protection. In 2019, we had SuperMac’s trademark battle and TikTok exploded on to the social media scene. Now, what will 2020 hold for the world of brand protection? Here are a few of our favorite IP trends we predict will become even bigger IP news stories in the new year.
A Royal Mess: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been front page news since their marriage in 2017. But earlier this month, the couple made headlines for severing ties with the royal family in order to be finically independent. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry also recently filed a trademark for Sussex Royal, hinting at their desire to start their own charity. What obstacles will they face on their way to building a brand this year? Will they find success in voiceovers or lose it all and move back to Grandma’s estate? Unauthorized EU trademark registrations have already appeared, making some think there could be a plethora of counterfeiters and infringers on the horizon. There are currently unauthorized filings in seven countries around the world. Hang on to your tiara!
Up in Smoke: The widespread legalization of CBD and hemp products and well as marijuana has taken hold of the nation. Is this déjà vu? I’m getting a “craft beer” kind of vibe, if you know what I mean. Just as you might imagine, the USPTO is being flooded with cannabis and hemp related trademarks. However, they can still refuse your mark’s registration if they believe you’re running an illegal business. The guidelines for marijuana-related applications require that the goods in question be limited to products having “less than 0.3% THC,” i.e., the legal limit for CBD and threshold for cannabis. Due diligence and IP investigations will be crucial to brand owners in this space as more and more people are going for this “gold rush” market. This has some people seeing green… in more ways than one.
Artificial Intelligence: More and more disputes and articles are appearing regarding the debate of AI as real inventors. In August of last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a Federal Register Notice entitled, “Request for Comments on Patenting Artificial Intelligence Inventions.” Later on in October, 2019, the PTO issued another inquiry called the “Request for Comments on Intellectual Property Protection for Artificial Intelligence Innovation.” Many fear that AI could be the next IP infringers on the horizon, stealing from humans. So far, AI has remained silent on the matter. Still waters run deep.
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