IP Protecting IP: When IP Gets Meta

Sometimes modern society gets a bit too self-referential for its own good.  If you’ve spent any amount of time on Twitter, you often see tweets about tweets (“Thanks for the retweet!”). The intellectual property field is full of very tech-savvy, forward-thinking individuals who are so attuned to the world of IP that they think about everything through an IP lens, and intellectual property concepts are included in their patent, trademark, and copyright applications.  I first noticed this trend when I was looking at the homepage for the USPTO 2012 National Trademark Expo, and I saw the T.Markey logo waving back at me. T.Markey is an anthropomorphized registered trademark symbol, complete with googly eyes, gloves, and a pair of tennis shoes.

T.Markey (image from USPTO website).

I thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if this personified trademark was also a registered trademark?”  I checked TESS, and sadly I couldn’t locate “T.Markey” as a registered trademark.  This experience planted a seed of interest, though, so I began searching for examples of meta IP.

After the jump, read about patent applications, trademarks, and copyright records that begin to loop back in on themselves!

The Meta-Patent

Has someone ever tried to patent a patent?  It doesn’t seem that anyone has tried to patent the actual patent process (yet), but Annie Lowrey of Slate.com identifies US 2010/0332285 as a meta-patent, since it is “a patent about patents—specifically, how to use, defend, file, and manage them.”  US 2010/0332285 is a patent application originally assigned to IBM that’s titled “Intellectual Property Component Business Model for Client Services.”  The abstract describes:

An embodiment of the invention provides a computerized system for providing an IP framework, including a storage component, a user interface, and a reporting module. The storage component includes a collection of database tables having a capability field and keyword field. The database tables include data from a strategic planning computer module, an invent computer module, an IP creation computer module, an IP administration computer module, a defend computer module, an influence computer module, and a capitalize computer module. The user interface receives as input, an invention disclosure and/or a configuration file for an IP capability. The reporting module processes the input in the storage component and produces the IP framework.

Eventually we’ll probably see a patent application for a system that manages patent applications about systems for managing patents. (In all seriousness, there is nothing wrong with this type of patent application—I find the reflexive nature of the concept to be humorous.)

The Trademark Trademark

I was disappointed not to find T.Markey in the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), but TESS did yield a consolation prize: a number of live trademark applications for the word “Trademark.”  A search in TESS for “(Trademark)[MN] and (live)[LD]” yielded 170 records, such as:

  • Serial Number:  85655883
    • Word Mark: “Trademark”
    • Goods and Services: IC 004. US 001 006 015. G & S: candles
    • Owner: 21st Century Survival LLC
    • Filing Date: June 19, 2012

21st Century Survival LLC is the applicant listed for a number of other live records in the search results containing the word mark “Trademark.”  This company knows how to appeal to the intellectual property crowd!

Trademark record for the word “Trademark.”

Copyright for Copyright

There’s probably an entire library of books and other multimedia on the topic of copyright law, so I decided to look for works simply entitled “copyright.”  I visited the online US Copyright Catalog and conducted a quick search for any copyright record containing the word “Copyright” in the title.  On the first page of 25 results, 14 of the results were simply entitled “Copyright”, including media types ranging from visual material and sound recordings to serial print material.  There were even a few records listed as “Dramatic Work and Music; or Choreography” entitled “Copyright,” so you can take your pick of reading, watching, or listening to a copyrighted Copyright.

The musical form of Copyright.


When you decide to entitle your work “Copyright” and then get that copyrighted, try to get a trademark for the word “trademark”, or apply for a patent about managing patents, your IP is starting to get a bit meta.  Although it’s a natural extension of intellectual property, the concept of intellectual property about intellectual property is kind of strange, one must admit. Although not as strange as when you try to patent godly powers!

What is the most self-referential IP that you’ve heard about?  Let us know in the comments!

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This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


2 Responses

  1. In reference to IBM’s published US patent applications:- 2010/0332285 as a meta-patent,… IBM has a nice collection of patents around PatentTracker (This is the name on the upper left hand corner of the patent drawings).

    IBM 2010/0332285: Issue date: Feb 21, 2012) http://www.ptodirect.com/Publications/20100332285

    US2011/0010309 (Issue date 09/25/2012) IBM US8275646B2
    http://www.google.com/patents/US8275646 (Patent Tracker)

    US 2011/0196713 A1 (Issued date Jul 17, 2012) IBM US8224866 http://www.google.com/patents/US8224866 (Patent Tracker)

    IBM 2009/0313207 A1: (Issue date Oct 18, 2011) IBM US8041696
    http://images2.freshpatents.com/pdf/US20090313207A1.pdf (Patent Tracker)

    Sherri Voebel
    Patentskill LLC

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