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John B.
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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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How to Get that Twitter Handle That Got Away

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

There’s a Twitter username you really want, but someone else got it first. Perhaps it’s a username that matches your business or product name, or your individual name, without extra stuff such as numbers. What can you do? For the uninitiated, in a Twitter account there are both a profile name and a username. The Read the full article…


What’s the Future in the Courts for College Sports, Inc.?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

By now, you’ve probably heard of the recent ruling in the class action lawsuit against the NCAA headlined by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. You may have read about what money college athletes will and won’t be getting. But another part of that decision will lead to years of additional litigation over paying college Read the full article…


It Would be Prudent to Not Use Popular Songs in Your YouTube Videos

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

By now, you’ve probably heard of the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling about the mom who posted a video of her toddler grooving to Prince’s hit “Let’s Go Crazy.” It’s the famous “dancing baby” YouTube video. Search for “let’s go crazy #1” on YouTube. It was posted by mom Stephanie Lenz. Just in Read the full article…


Twitter Joke Thieves Brought to Justice, and Everyday Tweeters Should Be Careful

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

You have a better chance of stopping a serial killer than a serial thief in comedy. OK, ironically, I stole that from comedian David Brenner. Thanks to Twitter and copyright law, perhaps those odds have changed. A freelance comedy writer recently sued comedian Conan O’Brien for copyright infringement, claiming O’Brien stole jokes the freelancer posted Read the full article…


What Would the Redskins Lose if the Team’s Trademark Registrations Are Cancelled?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

As you probably know, a federal trial court recently upheld the decision to revoke the trademark registrations for the REDSKINS team name. The team will appeal. The opinion has weaknesses. The case could make it to the Supreme Court. But let’s assume the Redskins’ registrations ultimately are revoked. What then for the team’s name? Examining Read the full article…


Explaining the REDSKINS Decision

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Some key things to know about the recent decision to cancel federal registrations for the trademark REDSKINS, which was made by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria division. This is a federal trial court. • The decision does not force the Redskins to change Read the full article…


Redskins May Benefit from Flowering of First Amendment Rights in IP Realm

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

The First Amendment right to free speech is coming on strong in the world of intellectual property. It could save the REDSKINS federal trademark registrations from cancellation. Recall the federal Trademark Office found the REDSKINS trademarks disparage American Indians and ordered cancellation of the registrations. The Redskins appealed to a federal trial court in Northern Read the full article…


VCU Finally Files HAVOC Federal Mark Registration Applications

Monday, June 8th, 2015

VCU finally filed some federal mark registration applications for its HAVOC mark. On May 5, VCU filed two applications: Mark: HAVOC LIVES HERE For these services: Entertainment services, namely, providing college basketball events; entertainment services, namely, providing college basketball games and events rendered live and via a global computer network, via wireless and mobile devices, Read the full article…


For Businesses, .Sucks Sucks

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Should your business buy the “.sucks” domain name version of its company or key product name to keep it away from gripers? If you do, expect to pay almost $2500 a year. The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, has called this pricing “legalized extortion.” Even so, companies such as Goodyear, Read the full article…


Will the Trademark HAVOC still live at VCU?

Monday, April 27th, 2015

By now, you probably heard of the potential dispute between VCU and the University of Texas over the HAVOC trademark. How will it get resolved? My guess is Texas will agree to not use the trademarks HORNS HAVOC and HOUSE OF HAVOC. On April 20, I spoke to Pamela D. Lepley, who is vice president Read the full article…