Thanks, Gordon, and thanks to Christine and Vic as well, for inviting me to sit in with them for a little while.
Gordon mentioned a couple of projects that have taken up a lot of time recently, one being the "Things" paper; the other being my other blogs. (I'm actually part of *three* blogs altogether; the third is a group blog that focuses on happenings in my little suburban corner of Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon, PA.) I've also recently finished a short paper on informal groups, and I wrote earlier articles about places, and about stories. I teach IP, but maybe it's fairer to say that I write about stuff.
Gordon suggested that I post about IP/corporate law overlaps, among other things, and I'll try to do that. First up is a note about blogging itself. My hometown paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, ran this little feature yesterday about how the world of corporate PR is catching the blogging wave:
In the past three months, large traditional firms Ketchum and Burson-Marsteller and small Web development and online marketing agency Ripple Effects Interactive, all with offices in Pittsburgh, have unveiled services to help clients manage and shape their online reputations.
The goal is to sell clients on using PR experts to sort through the confusing world of blogs, search engine marketing and other technologies such as podcasting before the online world turns on them.
That kind of us/them mentality can get a person in trouble, especially when what seem like "ordinary" questions of marketing and reputation get caught up in the tangles of trademark law. As I was reading this, I thought immediately of last week's flap involving Monsanto's heavy-handed effort to silence a critic's use of the phrase "Roundup, ready" (note the comma) as the title of a series of posts about the politics of food. That episode offers a nice illustration of a point that I make frequently in my IP classes: IP law isn't just for IP lawyers. Everyone in the corporate world needs to know some IP basics.
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