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John B.
Farmer

 

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Twitter, Free Speech, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump – Oh, My!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

I’m sure you’ve heard Elon Musk is working on buying Twitter. He has tweeted it is the “de facto public town square” and fails to “adhere to free-speech principles.” Because the First Amendment applies only to government activity, Twitter is not bound by its free-speech protections. But, as a thought exercise, if Musk purchases Twitter Read the full article…


Dealing with Blockchain Domain Names – It’s the 1990s Again

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

Mark Twain supposedly once quipped, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” With the new blockchain domain names, businesses get to revisit the birth of the cybersquatting hassle of the 1990s, but it’s different this time. These are domain names such as .crypto, .eth (which stands for Ethereum, a blockchain), .nft, and .bitcoin. They Read the full article…


Intellectual Property is a Casualty in the New War

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Sadly, we now have a ground war in Europe and a new Cold War with Russia. Less publicized is the war Russia has effectively declared on Western intellectual property in response to Western sanctions and supplying of arms to Ukraine. Attacking the intellectual property rights of your enemy isn’t new to warfare. The United States Read the full article…


Are Social Media Influencers Liable for Trademark Infringement for the Products They Endorse?

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Being a social media influencer sounds like the path to easy riches. Build a large following, often on Instagram, and then advertisers flock to you with free products and money. A recent federal court case in California sounded a warning: Influencers may be liable for trademark infringement arising from the names of the products and Read the full article…


Learn Lessons from Notre Dame’s PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY Trademark Mess

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

If you’ve ever watched a Notre Dame football game on television, you’ve probably seen where the Notre Dame football players tap the iconic sign that says “Play Like a Champion Today” before taking the field. It turns out Notre Dame’s relationship with this signature slogan is complicated. It also presents a messy trademark situation that Read the full article…


Behold Your Everyday NFT Future

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Are you interested in NFTs? You will have to use them eventually. What does your future hold? NFT stands for “non-fungible token.” It’s a record on a blockchain of the ownership and transfer history of an asset. Blockchain technology is attractive because it creates an unalterable computer record of information. Cryptocurrencies are used to buy Read the full article…


Supreme Court Paves the Way for Paying Big-Time College Athletes

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

The handwriting of the Supreme Court is on the wall. If left to the courts, they will rule that NCAA college amateurism rules violate antitrust law. I expect major-college athletes, at least football and men’s basketball players, will be paid employees easily within a decade, perhaps much sooner. You probably have heard about the Supreme Read the full article…


The NFT Craze Raises a Big Question: What are Smart Contracts?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Have you heard about “smart contracts”? Are they contracts like the kind you sign? What can you do with them right now? Will they replace lawyers? They come up in discussion of the latest investment craze, NFT’s. Popular NFT’s include NBA Top Shot, digital art, and items that can be used in online games, like Read the full article…


How did some Central Virginia Trademark Fights Turn Out? Did We Learn Anything?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

In recent years, I’ve written about trademark fights of interest to central Virginia. I checked back to see how they came out. Perhaps we can learn lessons from them. VCU Men’s Basketball and HAVOCThen. In 2015, Shaka Smart left being head coach of VCU men’s basketball to take the same job at the University of Read the full article…


Digital Collectibles, NBA Top Shot, What You Really Get, and How Risky is It?

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Perhaps you missed out on becoming instantly crazy rich by not buying Gamestop stock when the Reddit crowd was sending it to the Moon. Would you now like to try your luck on digital non-fungible tokens such as, perhaps, a hot Moment in NBA Top Shot? If so, what are you really buying? Is the Read the full article…