Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Self-Healing Technology and Soft Robotics

When we think of technology, whether devices, machinery, or robots, we often imagine hard surfaces, sharp lines, and noncompliant, breakable material. Indeed, the fragility of our electronics is a source of stress for many consumers, who must assess the value of additional warranties or insurance after already having made a substantial investment in the technology itself. We are all very human, and as much as we may try to convince ourselves that we will never drop our new smartphone, we probably will. Unfortunately, these mishaps force us to go through an inconvenient replacement or repair process, to upgrade earlier than expected, or to live with a cracked screen. 

Smartphone companies have begun addressing this issue through self-healing technologies, which give their devices the ability to self-heal small cracks and scratches. Indeed, Motorola and Samsung have filed patents for self-healing technology for smart phones. Self-healing technology is just one of the ways high tech can be reused and repurposed to reduce waste, and it has the potential to substantially impact and revolutionize several industries, including automobilesprosthetics, and robotics

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

You Better Watch Out: How to Avoid a Fa-la-la-la-Lawsuit this Holiday Season

Everyone knows that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear. But, before preparing your Christmas music repertoire this season, take a minute to think about who owns the rights to the music and how you are performing it. Unless the song is in the public domain, you may need a license in order to play or perform certain songs.

Unlike any other time of year, the holiday season brings into rotation arrangements of public domain works, cover songs of classics, and updated renditions of favorite holiday tunes. In addition, every year dozens of musicians seek to create the next Christmas classic

When it comes to Christmas music, you’d think many timeless classics must be in the public domain. While this is the case for some, such as “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night” (while the composition is in the public domain, recent sound recordings of these songs are still protected by copyright), others—like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas,” and “Little Drummer Boy”—have been around for decades but are still protected.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Power of the Obvious

There are many characteristics that define an entrepreneur. Creativity. Passion. Vision. Determination. But here’s one you may not have thought of—the ability to see the obvious. 

According to Andrew Forman in his article, “Don't Give Up on a Great Idea Just Because It Seems Obvious,” which was recently published on the Harvard Business Review’s website, some of our greatest inventions come from simply acting upon the obvious. In his article, Mr. Forman discusses how he spent eight years failing to act on his great idea. It was an idea he was confident would work, but that he failed to pursue because it was, to him, simply too obvious. He was sure someone else 
would beat him to the punch. As it turns out, no one did.

What was his idea? It was Givz, an easy and fast way to donate to any registered charity in America from a single place online. Mr. Forman co-founded Givz in 2016 while finishing his MBA program at Harvard and after realizing the challenges of raising money from millennials. According to its website, Givz allows a person to donate to any charity in America in less than 15 seconds, through one single portal, on any device, and to have all gift receipts organized in one place. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

#HASHTAG®: Can you file a federal trademark application for a #Hashtag?

Over the last 11 years (since the debut of the #hashtag in 2007), #hashtags have become commonplace in social media sites from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Instagram and everything in between. The primary purpose of a #hashtag is to improve “searchability” in the expansive Internet universe. But #hashtags have also become useful tools for companies to measure their otherwise amorphous social media activity and productivity, and a means for companies to manage their brands online. As described in this article, by using a hashtag, you can tap into a popular conversation that is relevant to your brand and become a key contributor to that conversation’s shape and consequences.

Companies are now cleverly using the success of the #hashtag to their own benefit. According to SproutSocial, tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement as those without them, and 55% more Retweets. On top of that, 75% of people on social media use hashtags. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that #hashtags are no longer being used solely for searchability purposes (such as through generic #hashtags like #shopping or #fitness) but for brand identification (#CalvinKlein and #KateSpade), as well as targeted social media campaigns and online-only contests as well (such as #BlameMucus and #SayItWithPepsi).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

“Cord-Cutters” and “Cord-Nevers” Increase Pressure on the Traditional Television Market

More than 1 million consumers cancelled their cable or satellite subscriptions in the third quarter of 2018, dramatically increasing the pressure on cable and satellite providers to generate new revenue streams. Satellite operators, DirecTV and Dish Network Corp. (“Dish”), lost the most customers with more than 725,000 subscription cancellations between the two giants. The total 2018 subscriber loss for cable and satellite television providers amounts to more than 2.8 million.

I’m sure most of you have heard the term “cord-cutter,” which describes the phenomenon of consumers cancelling traditional pay-TV subscriptions in favor of cheaper streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu. However, as more and more young consumers enter the marketplace (millennials, if you were wondering), the term “cord-nevers,” may be more appropriate.

DirecTV and Dish have responded to traditional subscriber losses by launching their own streaming services, known as “skinny bundles.” Dish launched one of the first skinny bundles, Sling TV, back in 2015, with DirecTV launching its skinny bundle, DirecTV Now, in 2016. Skinny bundles are hybrid digital media packages which provide streaming services, like Netflix, but also pay-TV “multichannel” services, like traditional cable or satellite. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Recent SEC Activity Puts the Cryptocurrency Industry on Notice

For those who have not been following the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) oversight of the cryptocurrency industry/exchanges, the SEC recently settled its first-ever enforcement action against an unregistered cryptocurrency exchange.

Earlier this year, the SEC accused the cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta and its management team of violating federal securities laws by illegally allowing users to trade tokens (a form of cryptocurrency) that the SEC considers securities under federal law, making it an unregistered securities exchange. Without admitting or denying any of the SEC’s allegations, EtherDelta agreed to pay a $75,000 fine and $313,000 in disgorgement and interest. 

This enforcement action comes on the heels of the SEC’s issuance of The DAO Report—a comprehensive investigation by the SEC of The DAO, a now defunct unincorporated organization established with the objective of operating as a for-profit entity that would create and hold assets through the sale of tokens. Among other findings and a lengthy discussion of the fascinating downfall of The DAO, The DAO Report, as well as the SEC’s March 2018 guidance on cryptocurrency, indicated that nonexempt cryptocurrency exchanges must be registered with the SEC and that online platforms that allow the trading of digital cryptocurrency assets could, in fact, be trading securities. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

An American Buyer in Italy

This past week I had the extreme privilege of attending the 120th annual Fieracavalli (translation: Horse Fair) show in Verona, Italy. This is a massive exposition comprised of over 12 buildings, eight arenas, and seemingly endless outdoor exhibitor areas. There are a multitude of events going on simultaneously, from B2B vendor booths to public shopping to educational shows for school children to world class jumping competitions. It’s completely fantastic and overwhelming!

I was graciously invited to attend Fieracavalli by the Italian Trade Agency. They brought in a small group of buyers from the American equestrian industry in the hopes of building business relationships and increasing the Italian brand presence in our U.S. market. They took wonderful care of us, from the comfortable Lufthansa flights to the beautiful Hotel Giberti accommodations. They even surprised us with tickets to the historic 120th anniversary dinner, set in a courtyard and building where Mozart himself was rumored to play music in his youth, and they gave us VIP accommodations to the spectacular “Gala D’Oro,” or Golden Gala, with performances from some of the best equine acts in their country. As one of the few delegates treated to this magnificent display of hospitality, I feel compelled to share my amazing experience.