Going off Grid: A New Idea for Systemizing Intellectual Property Enforcement from TED Conferences

Hunter Vanaria, Associate Counsel, TED Conferences, USA

Last year’s COVID-19 mandated shift to virtual environments forced many companies to start producing new types of content tailored principally to online consumption. This seemingly overnight transition to digital distribution, and necessarily to digital defense, created new challenges for intellectual property enforcement as it automatically became harder for those same companies, and their in-house legal teams, to control where on the internet their content and brand were used by third parties. As a non-profit organization whose product is ideas, and whose mission is to spread them (typically in the form of short, powerful recordings of speakers’ “TED Talks”), TED Conferences, commonly referred to just as “TED,” has lived in the world of digital content creation and distribution since the first TED Talks were posted online in 2006. In fact, it is a hallmark of TED’s business and mission that the “ideas worth spreading” it traffics are made available for free online to as many people as possible. Unsurprisingly then, TED regularly finds its intellectual property used all over the internet without permission, often in ways that are confusing to consumers or may be harmful to TED’s brand or reputation.

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USA Intellectual Property Media February 2021 Vol.14, No. 54, Winter 2021

Hunter Vanaria

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Hunter Vanaria has been working as Associate Counsel at TED Conferences, since May 2019, and represents TED in matters related to TED's intellectual property, including copyright and trademark enforcement. Prior to joining TED, he worked as an Associate in the Copyright, Trademark, Internet and Advertising Litigation practice in Kirkland & Ellis's New York Office. He graduated from Columbia Law School.

TED Conferences

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TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

USA Intellectual Property Media February 2021 Vol.14, No. 54, Winter 2021

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