Questions tagged [intellectual-property]

For questions concerning the ownership of ideas, designs and creative work. Specific IP tags include copyright, trademark, and patents.

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39
votes
4answers
12k views

Can UPS really trademark the color brown?

So, today as I received an email from UPS, I read the disclaimer at the end and it said: © 2016 United Parcel Service of America, Inc. UPS, the UPS brandmark, and the color brown are trademarks of ...
29
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1answer
4k views

Can a significant change in incentives void an employment contract?

Recently over at The Workplace there was a question regarding an employee withholding valuable information that they developed in their spare time. According to their employment contract all ...
23
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6answers
13k views

How can saying a song's name be a copyright violation?

I received an E-mail newsletter inviting me to watch a chorus perform several songs that were arranged for this occasion. They are also selling tickets, so I don't know if half of the profit is sent ...
20
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6answers
5k views

Prove my work is not a trade secret violation

I have recently developed a medical software application. One of my previous employers X (from 4 years ago) sells a similar application. (You can see where this is going.) X is now alleging that I ...
20
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2answers
4k views

What is the state of intellectual property when the owner goes bankrupt?

A company makes a great game called "AwesomeGame" that costs 20€. They sell thousands of copies of the game, but ultimately go bankrupt. What is the status of the game at that point? Do any ...
20
votes
3answers
988 views

Is there a legal reason why fictional shows use imitation brand names?

Often, when I watch TV shows, I'll see or hear about an imitation of a real brand name. As an example, here is a parody of Walmart from The Simpsons The store in the picture is unambiguously ...
19
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1answer
732 views

Is it legal to program a published game for educational purposes (and put the source code on GitHub)?

I own a card game that I enjoy playing (not a playing card game using a standard 52-card deck). I enjoy it enough that I thought it'd be fun to write a program (complete with AI!) that plays that game....
17
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3answers
23k views

Is downloading YouTube videos legal?

I've always been under the assumption that doing such was illegal. I don't see any difference between downloading music from YouTube and downloading music from The Pirate Bay. Apparently, there is ...
16
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6answers
7k views

What does it mean to “pirate” a game, app, or other digital resource?

I've heard the term "pirate" many times before, but I have never really understood it. How do people do it and why?
16
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2answers
1k views

Can I name a real company after a fictional company found in a book?

Can I name my company after a fictional company (of the same type) found in a book?
15
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2answers
4k views

How is internet archiving legal, when it appears to violate many websites terms of use?

Internet archiving services like the internet wayback machine work by rehosting content from other website. However, many websites in their term explicitly disallow people to frame their website or ...
14
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1answer
3k views

Do people have the right to comment or live blog professional sports in the United States?

Do private persons have the freedom to live blog or comment on games on progress in professional sports? For example, can a web caster watch the game on TV and then give his running commentary and ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Can you be accused of hotlinking/copyright violation if you use an iframe?

Can you be accused of hotlinking or copyright infringement if you use an iframe (web element) of another website? Can you be sued for this if the website doesn't prevent iframe using and doesn't ...
14
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1answer
1k views

What is the value in adding an email confidentiality notice?

The company I work for adds a disclaimer on the bottom of each email. I was wondering if it had any value. I'll list part of it below: CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail message is for the sole ...
14
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1answer
506 views

School tricking/forcing students to create content for school's website

A Computer Engineer school (which shall remain anonymous) has issued an assignment to almost every student, which is to produce a short (3-5min) tutorial of a given student-specific subject. The ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Can you be bound to an unsigned contract even though services are rendered informally?

So you are working on a project to build a SaaS (Software as a Service). You prepare a technical contract and have it reviewed by intellectual property lawyers and it passes their approval. You ...
11
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2answers
469 views

To what extent, if any, do I have ownership over, and rights to, works I create on my own time?

I am a software engineer in California. If I create a piece of software, in my own time, using my own equipment, do I own the copyright on that creation, or does my employer? I see things such as "...
11
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2answers
386 views

Status of a trademarked but public domain work of fiction

There is a series of books published in the early 20th century. Copyright on at least some of them have expired; they are in the public domain, and are being widely republished. However, the ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Can pricing be copyrighted?

Say a service is offered with pricing for 1 hour, 2 hours ... 12 hours. Assume there is some sort of custom calculation used to determine discounts after the first hour (e.g. if the first hour is $100,...
10
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3answers
629 views

Is it illegal to “sell” a pro golfer's swing?

Say I use three cameramen to record a pro golfer's swing at a public event in order to subsequently digitize the path of the swing in 3-space. Say I then program a baton (like a Wii remote or a smart ...
10
votes
2answers
733 views

Who owns the code when my employer wants something similar to my existing open source project?

I have a similar situation to this question. My employer hired me knowing that I work on some open source projects, but for a long time, showed no interest in my open source projects. Now they want ...
9
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5answers
2k views

Are Word-Frequency lists copyrightable?

If someone generates word frequency lists somehow. For example by analysing a web corpus or data from keyboards. Is this form of list of words and their frequencies copyrightable? For example if ...
9
votes
1answer
850 views

Does copyrighted code protect intellectual property rights on novel algorithms it implements?

Imagine you have come up with a novel algorithm to solve a problem, and have implemented it in, e.g., javascript, and have put its src, along with an appropriate copyright, on a publicly available ...
8
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6answers
3k views

What does the copyright in a dissertation protect exactly?

I am a PhD student and I was recently told that unless I publish the content of my dissertation, my university will not be able to freely conduct research in the same research area after I graduate. ...
8
votes
1answer
672 views

Can Google legally host images for its search results without permission?

Google crawls websites, and downloads the images to their servers along with the related metadata. These images are then presented to the user when searching Google for related images. If the owner ...
8
votes
2answers
217 views

What kind of ownership do I have over articles I wrote?

So, a few months ago I was working for a big blog and then I resigned because I didn't want to write any more articles for them. Some of the articles were original and a few were translations by me ...
8
votes
1answer
446 views

Do faculty own the copyright to course materials they create even if their contract or university IP policy specify otherwise?

An answer on Academia.SE claims that in general, any lectures, slides, textbooks, or scholarly articles you [as faculty] write belong to you and not your school, and this is true regardless of ...
8
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1answer
805 views

Big corporation in the UK, Intellectual Property and a Contract

I've recently been offered a job at a large technology corporation based in the UK. I've yet to sign the contract but I found something in it which concerns me. Intellectual property, ideas and ...
8
votes
2answers
298 views

Can universities require computer science students to develop software for free?

At my university (it is a public Florida university), one of the core computer science courses required for the degree involves a group project, and the class is divided up into a dozen or so teams, ...
8
votes
2answers
213 views

Are pictures that don't have model releases protected under the DMCA?

Let's say a user of my website posted a picture. I know that as long as my website and the picture satisfies the conditions of the DMCA, I have a safe harbor against copyright claims by the individual ...
7
votes
1answer
340 views

Trade restrictions on open source software

Apparently the US has put Huawei on a trade blacklist that prevents US companies to trade with Huawei. With hardware and proprietary software it is straightforward how this can be executed (don't make ...
7
votes
2answers
912 views

Legality of using data obtained by hacking to make a blog post

As a data scientist, based in the UK, I am thinking about downloading the recently leaked Ashley Madison data, producing some interesting statistics (none of them incriminating), and using them to ...
7
votes
4answers
10k views

Why are private game servers illegal?

Over on Arqade we were discussing a question which was asking about private servers for a game called World of Warcraft. The discussion was about if using and/or hosting a private server is illegal ...
7
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3answers
114 views

Opposing trademark registration

Context Three years ago, my small team and I created a product that we've been selling ever since. To clarify that I meant to use the name as a trademark, I added the trademark symbol (™) after the ...
7
votes
3answers
835 views

Bypassing website's paywall by modifying HTTP request headers

Recently I see some debates about bypassing paywalls by modifying browser's HTTP request as stated on ghack. Most paywalled websites allow users to read a certain number of free articles before ...
6
votes
3answers
513 views

Can you keep illegal information?

This answer to the question Can numbers be illegal? makes a good argument, and AFAIK it comports with the law. It follows other answers in observing that any piece of information can be encoded by ...
6
votes
3answers
735 views

What is the legality of implementing an unrevealed killswitch in software?

In this hypothetical, the poster describes the following: during employment with his/her employer, the poster invents and patents a method (in his/her free time) that it turns out, is useful for his/...
6
votes
2answers
518 views

Can you patent a card game?

I have created a card game, the idea is somewhere between poker and slots. I hope to create a website to monetise the game but do not know whether I am able to patent the game in order to stop big ...
6
votes
2answers
429 views

Is it possible to collect damages for free content?

Some content, especially online, is freely available, such as many pictures, Creative Commons content, and video game modifications. If the creator never makes any money from selling said content, is ...
6
votes
1answer
279 views

Usage of a gun's design

I am developing a game, and will be using guns in my game, I just am unsure of a few things. From what I understand, I need written permission to use the name of a gun due to the name being IP, but ...
6
votes
1answer
180 views

Why does the US patent law have a section about inventions in outer space?

I came upon a curiously exorbitant statute, Inventions in outer space (35 USC 105). To summarize my question, what was the story and the rationale behind this law? The section reads, in part: Any ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the status of Microsoft “ribbon” licensing as of 2017?

In 2007, the "fluent UI" or ribbon had IP rights asserted and required a license from Microsoft. That license is now no longer available, the page only stating 'retired'. What is the status of using ...
6
votes
2answers
937 views

Can an author of an app use logos that belong to auto manufacturers?

Consider a mobile app related to automobiles. In order to identify the make of a vehicle within the app (in list views, menus, and buttons, for example), the author might choose to use logos that ...
6
votes
3answers
282 views

Volunteer Created Work: Who Owns the Copyright?

A volunteer creates many works for a nonprofit, without signing anything or giving ownership of the works to the nonprofit. The work is used, but after about a year, the volunteer resigns and, a month ...
6
votes
1answer
127 views

Retraction right in France vs. Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licenses are known to be irrevocable. The documentation even contains a paragraph named "What if I change my mind about using a CC license ?". Recently, I have encountered that ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

Is it illegal for someone in the USA to access Sci-Hub?

Sci-Hub self-describes as "the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers". A Russian researcher posted most of the academic research ...
6
votes
2answers
109 views

Is it legal to write a program using a DB scheme deliberately compatible to an existing software?

Ok, so there is this commercial software X that uses an SQLite DB (or rather multiple SQLite DBs that can be added/removed) for storage, so anyone can look at the scheme by just opening it. We want ...
6
votes
2answers
299 views

Is it illegal to publicly share technical information discovered by tinkering, if information is used to modify the device?

I recently bought a product, let's say a car, with limitations intentionally introduced to the design, for example an electronic speed limiter. Being a bit of a tinkerer, I messed with my model until ...
6
votes
0answers
44 views

“Commercial use” clarification

This is something I've run into several times now. A lot of biological samples are shared for research with a caveat in the MTA that they are "not for commercial use". What exactly does this cover? ...
6
votes
2answers
214 views

Hacking devices to unlock features: Legal or not?

There are 2 models of multimeter, A and B. Physically they are absolutely identical, yet model B has some functions unlocked, that are locked in model A. B costs about $400 more than A. If one tampers ...

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