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March 2018
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Where's Ad Tech Headed in 2018? Five Things Marketers Need to Know

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  This is not another ad tech prediction article declaring the year of mobile (every year is the year of mobile now) or the year that the entire industry transacts on viewable impressions (2014-2017). This is also not the year the block chain fixes the fraud problems in digital marketing (sorry). But like every other […]The post Where’s Ad Tech Headed in 2018? Five Things Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Frank Sivero's Publicity Rights Suit Against 'The Simpsons'

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You may recall that in 2014, bit-actor Frank Sivero of Goodfellas semi-fame sued Fox over a recurring character that appeared on The Simpsons. Sivero says several writers for the show were living next door to him just before Goodfellas began filming, at a time he says he was creating the character of Frankie Carbone. He then claims that the writers for The Simpsons were aware of this work and pilfered it to create the character Louie, who is one of Fat Tony's henchmen. Because of this, he claimed that the show had appropriated his likeness, the character he was creating, and decided he was owed $250 million from Fox for all of this. For its part, folks from The Simpsons claimed that Louie is an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters and a clear parody of those characters.In response, Fox asked a Los Angeles Superior Court to strike the complaint on anti-SLAPP grounds. In 2015, the court agreed, the ruling resulting from such memorable exchanges as:

"If I was a teenage girl and I had a crush on your client, would I be satisfied with a pin-up of the character Louie?" [Judge Rita Miller] asked."Probably," replied Sivero's attorney Alex Herrera. He argued the character's similarity to Sivero constituted a factual question fit for a jury. Judge Miller found her own evaluation of the character's similarity to Sivero relevant to whether the claims could withstand the SLAPP motion. She decided they could not.
Sivero and his legal team apparently didn't get the hint and appealed. This past week saw the California appeals court affirm the original ruling and rejecting the lawsuit on the same anti-SLAPP grounds. This ruling too includes memorable statements, such as the court specifically stating that being "Simponized" is transformative.
Sivero acknowledges his likeness has been 'Simpsonized,'. To be 'Simpsonized' is to be transformed by the creative and artistic expressions distinctive to The Simpsons. This is precisely what the California Supreme Court meant in Comedy III when it said: 'an artist depicting a celebrity must contribute something more than a merely trivial variation, [but must create] something recognizably his own, in order to qualify for legal protection.' Contrary to Sivero’s argument, the fact other cartoon characters in The Simpsons share some of the same physical characteristics does not detract from the point these physical characteristics are transformative. Indeed, Sivero’s observation highlights the very point that the creative elements predominate in the work.
Between the transformative nature of the depiction, the clear differences between the character and Sivero, and the parody nature of the character in general, this was a case that was always doomed for failure. It should also serve as a welcome relief for the entertainment industry that has spent the past few years looking down the barrel of the publicity rights gun. For these kinds of depictions to violate anyone's publicity rights would serve as a detriment to the creative industries, particularly those that rely on humor and parody.Thankfully, several courts have now seen through this clear attempt at a money-grab.

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Stupid Patent Of The Month: Buying A Bundle Of Diamonds

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This month's Stupid Patent shows what happens when the patent system strays outside its proper boundaries. US Patent No. 8,706,513 describes a "fungible basket of investment grade gems" for use in "financial instruments." In other words, it's a rating and trading system that attempts to turn diamonds into a tradeable commodity like oil, gold, or corn.Of course, creating new types of investment vehicles isn't really an invention. And patents on newfangled financial techniques like this were generally barred following Bilski v. Kappos, a 2008 Supreme Court case that prevents the patenting of purely financial instruments. Since then, the law has become even less favorable to abstract business method patents like this one. In our view, the '513 patent would not survive a challenge under Bilski or the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank.Despite its clear problems, the '513 patent is being asserted in courtand one of the people best placed to testify against the patent may not be allowed to.The public's right to challenge a patent in court is a critical part of the US patent system, that has always balanced the exclusive power of a patent. It's especially important since patents are often granted by overworked examiners who get an average of 18 hours to review applications. But there are two types of persons that, increasingly, aren't allowed to challenge problematic patents: inventors of patents, and even partial owners of patents. Under a doctrine known as "assignor estoppel," the Federal Circuit has barred inventors from challenging patents that they acquired for a former employer. Assignor estoppel was originally meant to cover a narrow set of circumstancesinventors who engaged in fraud or bad dealing, for instancebut the nation's top patent court now routinely applies it to prevent inventors from challenging patents.Patent scholar Mark Lemley flagged this problem in a 2016 paper, noting assignor estoppel could be used to control the free movement of employees or quash a legitimate competitor. "Inventors as a class are put under burdens that we apply to no other employee," he wrote. "If they start a company, or even go to work for an existing company in the same field, they will not be able to defend a patent suit from their old employer."In this case, the Federal Circuit's expansive view of assignor estoppel may prevent a person who owned just a fraction of a patent from fighting back when that patent gets used in an attempt to quash a competing business.Despite the fact that this gemological trading system should never have been granted a patent, so far, it's being successfully used by its owner to beat up on a competitorand the competitor could be barred from even challenging the patent by assignor estoppel.

Competing Diamond Companies

GemShares was created in 2008 to market "diamond investment products." The original partners were joined in business by a man named Arthur Lipton, who bought 20% of GemShares in 2013. He struck a deal not to compete with GemShares.GemShares says [PDF] Lipton broke that deal in 2014, when he started working on his own project, a "secure diamond smart card," and filed for patents related to it. But in addition to breach of contract, GemShares sued for patent infringement. They said Lipton's new business violated the '513 patent.The litigation also involves breach of contract claims, and allegations of fraud from Lipton's former partner. Without getting into the weeds on all that, the defendant in this case may not even be allowed to argue that the "gem financial product" patent is invalid. Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the case issued an order [PDF] noting that "the Federal Circuit has upheld the doctrine of assignor estoppel, which precludes an inventor-assignor of a patent sued for infringement from arguing the patent's invalidity."The Federal Circuit has made assignor estoppel so powerful, in fact, that Lipton's 20% ownership contract with GemShares may be enough to stop him and his lawyers from mounting an invalidity defense.It's bad policy to stop the public from challenging bad patents, and assignor estoppel should only be used in narrow cases, like outright fraud. As it's been applied by the Federal Circuit, it's destined to be used in exactly the way that Lemley warned it wouldas an anticompetitive cudgel.We agree with the brief signed by Lemley and more than two dozen other law professors [PDF] in EVE-USA, Inc. v. Mentor Graphics Corp., arguing that the Supreme Court should take up this issue and keep assignor estoppel within the narrow limits it originally intended.Reposted from EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month series.

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Sublime Skinz Launches High-Performing Mobile Ad Formats

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  Sublime Skinz, a company devoted to high-impact, non-intrusive digital advertising, has announced it will launch two new interactive mobile ad formats - The Capsule and The Video - at this year's Mobile World Congress. These innovative, premium formats provide a variety of features to enhance the user experience. Created for mobile web campaigns, the […]The post Sublime Skinz Launches High-Performing Mobile Ad Formats appeared first on Adotas.

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IPG Mediabrands and Nielsen Expand Data Relationship to Enhance Buyer-Based Marketplace

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Nielsen has announced a first-of-its-kind data and technology agreement with IPG Mediabrands, the media management and data arm of Interpublic Group, that will greatly enhance the company's audience discovery, activation and measurement abilities. The integration will match millions of IPG Mediabrands' consumer ids, housed within its Audience Management Platform (AMP), with Nielsen's extensive TV viewing […]The post IPG Mediabrands and Nielsen Expand Data Relationship to Enhance Buyer-Based Marketplace appeared first on Adotas.

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