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The comedy of IP overkill

Some of my favorites from this article . . .

“IN 1982, Motion Picture Association of America head Jack Valenti told Congress that “the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone.”

AMONG THE 16,000 people thus far sued for sharing music files was a 65-year-old woman who, though she didn’t own downloading software, was accused of sharing 2,000 songs, including Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug.” She was sued for up to $150,000 per song.

NEARLY 20% of the 23,688 known human genes are patented in the United States. Private companies hold 63% of those patents.

IN THE LATEST ROUND of a 13-year battle over the title “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach, Calif., filed for a trademark last year. A state senator from Santa Cruz retorted, “You can’t trademark a state of mind” and proposed a Senate resolution declaring his city to be the real Surf City.

“SENSORY TRADEMARKS” include a duck quacking (AFLAC), a lion roaring (MGM), yodelling (Yahoo!), giggling (Pillsbury), and a “pre-programmed rotating sequence of a plurality of high intensity columns of light projected into the sky to locate a source at the base thereof” (Ballantyne of Omaha).

FOR INCLUDING a 60-second piece of silence on their album, the Planets were threatened with a lawsuit by the estate of composer John Cage, which said they’d ripped off his silent work 4’33”. The Planets countered that the estate failed to specify which 60 of the 273 seconds in Cage’s piece had been pilfered.

THE PUBLISHER of Super Hero Happy Hour removed “Super” from the comic book title after Marvel and DC Comics stated they own the phrase “super heroes and variations thereof.”

RENTAMARK.COM makes money by claiming ownership of 10,000 phrases, including “chutzpah,” “casual Fridays,” “.com,” “fraud investigation,” and “big breasts.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’s estate charges academic authors $50 for each sentence of the “I Have a Dream” speech that they reprint.”

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