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Category Archives: Patent Attorney

Movie Releases and Image Integrity: Recent Horror Film Interferes with Businesses Nationwide

Posted on: November 22nd, 2017 by Zarley Law

The first trailer for the remake of Stephen King’s 1986 It was released on April 1. The trailer racked up more than 197 million shares and more than 246 million views on Youtube–a record of note. Once starring Tim Curry as Pennywise, a shapeshifting demon clown figure, the modern It follows several children on their quest to take down Pennywise. Now released on September 8, 2017, It has grossed $635 million dollars world-wide as of October 22 and has received positive reviews, including one from the author himself.

While the film industry is praising the film’s success, not every business is thrilled about resurrection of the Pennywise character. Professional clowns are blaming the advertising, trailers, and release of It for a loss of business. Non-horror clowns are reporting damage to their image by the film manifested in losing gigs, schools cancelling clown performances, and police mistakenly associating professional clowns with horror clowns. Pam Moody of the World Clown Association released a statement and “press kit” for professional clowns during the trailer releases of the movie prior to the release date replicated below in part:

“The World Clown Association shares laughs and “comic relief” everywhere for the positive, wholesome, enjoyment of their audiences. It is true that various horror clown portrayals work against our goal. We hope our audience realizes that there are different categories in entertainment. We also recommend that young children not be exposed to horror movies which are intended for mature audiences.”

Moody strongly believes that the educational and friendly versions of clowns is being sidetracked thanks to all the attention and publicity thrown on the “scarier” versions of her profession. The bad press is leading to clowns losing their jobs and Moody is concerned. Some clowns have called for the film to include a disclaimer prior to viewing noting that the film’s main character is not representative of the profession as a whole.

What can the clowns do to save their businesses? The answer is “not much.” Since the 1970s, clowns have developed a bad reputation due to real-life horrors such as serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressing up as Pogo the Clown.

Unfortunately for today’s clowns, 2016 was not kind to the clown image in general. With a swathe of “killer clowns” impersonators popping up in cities around the U.S. and a rejuvenation of violent clowns in pop culture–such as Mr. Twisty in American Horror Story’s portrayal–clowns everywhere are taking a professional hit. Additionally, there is a common phobia of clowns generally within the United States. It is estimated that nearly twelve percent of American adults have coulrophobia, or a fear of clowns. After a group of individuals in South Carolina began dressing as clowns and luring children into wooded areas in August 2016, parents have started arming themselves on Halloween ready to attack clowns, e.g. Brevard County, Florida. Even more extreme, some counties have passed anti-clown ordinances, e.g. Kemper County Mississippi, in order to combat the occurrence of “evil clown” sightings. Many professional clowns, afraid of violence or potential false arrest, have canceled shows and appearances. For example, Moody told The Hollywood Reporter that when a fellow clown arrived early for a birthday party, he looked up to see “four police officers surrounding her because someone in the neighborhood called in a clown sighting.”

While there may not be any legal recourse available to the World Clown Association and its members, there are a few things businesses under similar strain can do. The first is to combat bad press with good old fashions positive press, i.e. Moody’s attempt with her press release and kit for working clowns. Another option is to embrace the temporary trend and modernize performances to incorporate and dispel that trend. A final suggestion is to delineate between what “is” and “is not”–meaning, Pennywise is a demon, not a ‘true’ clown. Parents, schools, and children especially, will need to be educated on a popular, positive image of the business in order for professional clowns to survive.

In the words of Stephen King, via his twitter, “The clowns are p***ed at me. Sorry, most are great. BUT…kids have always been scared of clowns. Don’t kill the messengers for the message.”

USPTO AIR Makes Setting Up an Examiner’s Interview Easier

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by Josh Conley

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced the USPTO Automated Interview Request (AIR) Form or USPTO AIR last week.  The new online form allows applicants to simply fill in a handful of fields to identify themselves and their application, as well as propose a time for the Examiner’s Interview along with how they would like the interview to be conducted. The submitted form authorizes the Examiner to communicate electronically with the applicant to adjust the scheduled time for the interview if needed.  After the date is set any proposed amendments or other documentation can be provided to the Examiner for their review.

Spotlight: Brandon Adams Lands the Cover of Inventors Digest

Posted on: July 9th, 2015 by Zarley Law

We first met with Brandon Adams in 2012, during the preparation and filing of his first patent and trademark applications.  This young man’s exceptional ambition to innovate has continued to grow over the past few years, and has now been recognized on the cover of the July 2015 edition of Inventors Digest.  The magazine tells of his entrepreneurial journey.

Brandon’s first patent-protected invention, the Arctic Stick®, has received national recognition and the backing of a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Brandon’s drive is not limited to inventing for himself, however.  He also strives to help others in their entrepreneurial aspirations.  In 2015, Brandon founded the University of Young Entrepreneurs (UYE), an online resource for those who want to “create something great and become unforgettable!”  The UYE podcast has recently landed in the top 50 most influential new business podcasts.

In Brandon’s most recent podcast, he discusses the story of getting on the cover of Inventors Digest.  We were pleased to hear that on his way to making the cover that Zarley Law played an important role in helping Brandon move his ideas forward.

Look for Brandon’s cover story and the Inventors Digest publication t0 be available online in the near future.

Patent Rights and Death

Posted on: July 1st, 2015 by Josh Conley

One question that arises for inventors is what will happen to their issued patent rights after their death.  Determining who holds the rights to an issued patent after the inventor’s death depends on the actions taken, or not taken, during the inventor’s life.


Commonly, an inventor will assign their rights in their patented invention at some point during the application process, or shortly thereafter, to either their employer,  a corporation, or another third-party.  In this circumstance, the rights in the patent will be maintained as long as the assignment of rights has been reduced to writing and recorded with the U.S. Patent Office. [1]

Failure to put the assignment in writing will result in the assignment not being recognized. Failure to record the assignment can result in a subsequent purchaser or mortgagee supplanting the existing assignment as long as the new entity was not aware of the original assignment.

Distribution By Will

The rights in a patent can also be transferred by will or trust.  The sufficiency of this form of transfer is governed by the applicable state law. [2]


If an inventor dies without a valid will, legally referred to as intestate, then state laws govern where the patent rights will transfer to.  For instance, in Iowa, Iowa Code Sections 633.211 to 633.226 govern intestacy.

Based on a very basic outline of the Iowa intestacy rules the patent rights would first go to the inventor’s spouse, as long as there are no children from a previous relationship.  If no spouse is present, or there are children from another relationship, the rights may be passed to the children or grandchildren.  In the event that no children or spouses are present, the rights transfer to the parents.  The rules of intestacy continue on to locate potential heirs and if none are found, the transfer ultimately goes to the state through what is known as escheat.  For a more exhaustive explanation and guidance on the lineage of intestacy, consult a licensed attorney in your state.


  1. 35 U.S.C.  § 261.
  2. Akazawa v. Link New Tech. Intern., Inc., 520 F.3d 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

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