John B.


Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.


Ian D. Titley

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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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Will the Redskins be Able to Keep Their Name?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Posted on October 23, 2013. The name of the Washington Redskins was born out of trademark concerns in 1933. Eighty years later, the team is still wresting with trademark problems. The Washington Redskins were the Boston Braves in their inaugural year, 1932. They played in Fenway Park in Boston, which also was home to two Read the full article…

The Biggest Developments in Trademark Law Over the Past Year

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Posted on September 16, 2013. Each year, I teach a seminar to other lawyers covering the most important developments in trademark law that occurred during the past year. I thought you might be interested in the key takeaways from this year’s presentation. Generally speaking, a trademark is a distinctive name for a business, product or Read the full article…

I Am the Trademark Police. Here are Some Common Naming Mistakes I See.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Posted August 8, 2013. I am the trademark police. I’m here to tell you about some common misunderstandings and mistakes I encounter when dealing with trademark-infringement targets. First, some background: Usually, the name of a business is a trademark, and the names of product and services usually are too. When I contact a target, its Read the full article…

Lists of Newly Issued Patents: What Do They Signify?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Posted July 24, 2013. You’ve probably noticed lists of recently issued patents in some business publications. This newspaper runs one regularly. Here’s what these lists do and don’t signify: 1. Most patents are owned by companies who hire employees to invent, not by independent, individual inventors. Names of individual inventors are usually listed, but the Read the full article…

Patent Trolls Aren’t the Primary Patents Problem

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Recently, President Obama called for cracking down on “patent trolls.” Who are these people? Is there a real problem here? He was referring to some companies that sue for infringement of patents they own when they don’t make anything using their patented technology. “Patent troll” is a pejorative term. It implies the plaintiff − the Read the full article…

Revised Version: Will Athletes’ Right-of-Publicity Claims Transform College Sports?

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

After I originally published this column, the Third Circuit reversed a district court decision throwing QB Sam Hart’s case against EA Sports out on First Amendment grounds. I rewrote the affected part of the column. Here it is: If you want to ignite a flame war on a sports message board, start a discussion about Read the full article…

Will Athletes’ Right-of-Publicity Claims Transform College Sports?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

If you want to ignite a flame war on a sports message board, start a discussion about whether college athletes deserve to get paid. The courts are about to make big decisions in this area. While it’s unlikely, the results could transform college sports. The headline lawsuit is a class action filed by former UCLA Read the full article…

Recent Developments with the Coming New Domain Names

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Here’s an update on recent developments with the new generic top-level domain names: What’s this About? Within the next year or so, perhaps over 1000 new generic top-level domains are supposed to launch. In Netspeak, a generic top-level domain is a “gTLD.” A gTLD is the part after the last dot, like .com or .net. Read the full article…

FTC Sets Rules on Twitter Advertising

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Do you use Twitter to promote your business or its products or services? If so, let’s take a test on whether a promotional tweet complies with the law. Suppose you make swim fins and you hire Olympian Ryan Lochte to tweet good things about your product. Would it be OK if he sent this tweet Read the full article…

I Could Have Typosquatted ICANN in a Bad Way

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

If I was willing to be a typo squatter, I could typosquat ICANN at a pretty sensitive place. Earlier today I blogged about the coming opening of the Trademark Clearinghouse. Here is an earlier post in case you need some background. The domain name and website for the Trademark Clearinghouse is I noted in Read the full article…