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Unmasking New Opportunities Amidst Crisis

I know we are inundated with news/conversations/dread about coronavirus. However, I wanted to build off Travis’ great blog post and discussion last week on how businesses are adapting to this pandemic.  Over the last week, there has been a monumental shift in the rhetoric of the CDC.  For weeks we have been told that there is no need to wear masks in public and that social distancing would be enough to safely go about our business.  Now, however, a recommendation for wearing cloth masks is prominent on the front page of the CDC website.  As it is now official policy that masks should be worn by all citizens rather than just medical workers, it is interesting to see how the world is reacting.

Established Companies:

Some companies have shifted their production to face equipment.  Bauer, the hockey equipment manufacturer, has started to make medical shields from hockey masks.  Brooks Brother is looking to make 150,00 masks a day. Carhartt is making 50,000 gowns and 2.5 million masks.  MyPillow is focusing 75% of their production efforts to making masks and hopes to make 50,000 masks a day.  For more companies, see link 1.  New Balance is also getting in the mix with what seems to be the most creative route, using laces and other trademark footwear materials to make masks for hospital workers (some cool pictures of the masks in link 2).

Small Businesses:

Established, wealthy brands are not the only ones taking up the production/sale of masks. However, unlike the bigger brands doing it, many small businesses have had to change their course in order to survive as they face smaller demand or are deemed non-essential.  For example, iPromo, a Chicago business that makes and sells SWAG saw their sales dry up with conferences being cancelled.  The CEO used business relationships in China to get suppliers for medical supplies including masks and no sells those supplies for the time being.  A small non-profit here in South Bend (!!) called Sew Loved which “teaches sewing and vocational skills to underseved women and at-risk teens” is “working to produce thousands of washable dace masks through its network of home-based sewers.”  For other really cool stories such as these two, see link 3.


On the CDC’s website they instruct people on how to make a cloth mask at home.  Home production of masks has been a new business for some people.  One person has taken to Etsy to sell her masks, pivoting from just selling fabric to making the mask herself and selling the completed product.  The article that talks about this person also goes on to give steps as to how an entrepreneur can save their business during this crisis, see link 4.  Project Open Source was established the CEO of Inside Weather, a couch company, and this Project is aimed at making available information on DIY masks, see link 5.


While everyone is struggling during this pandemic, it is always important to keep things in perspective.  I thought this article on race relations/mask wearing was a good read.

Finally, for some levity.

I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and sane.


Links referenced in blog:






Supplemental Links:

(I think if you click the picture it should bring you to a NY Times article)



China v. United States: IP and Theft



China v. United States: IP Theft and Protections

What is Being Stolen?

The hacking and stealing of American companies has been incredibly pervasive the Chinese have been accused of stealing everything you could imagine including:  Counter just after a Chinese national was indicted for stealing technical date from Lockheed.

In 2010, Google settled that it had been hacked by the Chinese government.

Price Tag?

A 2017 report by the National Bureau of Asian Research estimated “that the annual cost to the U.S. economy continues to exceed $225 billion in counterfeit goods, pirated software, and theft of trade secrets and could be as high as $600 billion.”

How the Chinese Steal IP

Technology theft and other unfair business practices originating from China are costing the American economy more than $57 billion a year in 2019.

It turns out that one of the biggest factors in China’s ability to steal American technology is the American companies themselves. US Companies are afriad of rocking the boat in China because China is often one of their largest markets.

There is a secretive group working for the Chinese government known as Unit 61398. This Unit was found by out to be breaking into American companies at night and stealing as much data from them as possible. Problems arose when US government officials tried to ask the victim companies to act as plaintiffs. None of them would comply. They all had too much invested in their Chinese markets.

This was all reported by David Hickton, not former US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

In an interesting interview, Paul Goldstein, a professor at the Stanford University Law School explained how China steals IP from US companies.

“Historically, the oldest forms of appropriation of American and other foreign-created intellectual goods were film, record, and software piracy, and counterfeiting of luxury goods and pharmaceuticals.

As is happening today, IP got injected into the trade process, but the waltz was long and slow. The USTR would complain of China’s failure to halt piracy of US-created goods; the two countries would enter into a MOU [memorandum of understanding] in which China would agree to clean up its act; three years later the USTR would identify continuing violations and come back and say, “this time we really mean it;” and the two countries would enter into another, more detailed MOU, and so on.

Eventually what happened was that, as China’s domestic copyright industries found themselves competing with cheap knock-offs of foreign goods, they pressed the Chinese government to fortify the IP enforcement process on its own. (To put this in perspective, this is also what happened a century earlier in the US, which until 1890 failed to protect foreign works, and then waited yet another century before joining the major international copyright treaty.)

Although piracy and counterfeiting remain issues in China, the two newer forms of siphoning off foreign IP value are theft—often cyber theft—of extraordinarily valuable trade secrets and know-how, and the technology transfers required of American and other foreign companies as a condition to doing business on Chinese soil. Traditions of territoriality and sovereignty, as well as the willingness of foreign companies to trade IP for access to the Chinese market, give the latter a degree of legitimacy that outright industrial espionage lacks.” (https://law.stanford.edu/2018/04/10/intellectual-property-china-china-stealing-american-ip/)

Future Theft/Solution?

While the threat of hacking of both the private and public sectors will remain a concern of national security for the United States in the foreseeable future, the issue of the theft of intellectual property laws in China may resolve part of itself on its own. As China has been taking foreign IP it is quickly catching up to the rest of the world. This means that innovation in China is less and less of catching up and more of innovation on par with other first world nations, particularly the United States. This means that in order to preserve indigenous innovation, China will have to increase protections and penalties within its borders for IP violations of all kinds.

History of previously developing economies shows that they have taken the same tactic towards IP. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were each consistent IP violators until they reached a per capita GDP of about $20,000-$25,000. The United States was a major IP violator in its younger years as well. The Copyright Act of 1790, stated, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to extend to prohibit the importation or vending, reprinting or publishing within the United States, of any map, chart, book or books written, printed or published by any person not a citizen of the United States.” The United States did not extend IP protections to foreigners until 1891 with the Chase Act.

That is if COVID-19 doesn’t get us first….





  1. Is it possible for the US to use any sort of unilateral action to contain Chinese IP theft?
  2. If not, are there truly any international organizations that have the power to curb it?
  3. Might it be that China’s IP theft will naturally decline as it becomes a competitor at the edge of emerging technologies?





Businesses and the Coronavirus: Adapting to a Health Crisis

Background Information

COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus, has drastically reshaped the world we live in. In the United States alone, there are over 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Businesses throughout the country have utilized strategies of working from home and, relevantly, universities have made the transition to online instruction. Some businesses and entrepreneurs have had to reshape their business models to fit the current needs of the community. With much of the country having stay-at-home orders, and the fear of leaving your home being very real, businesses have transitioned their services to adapt to these concerns. The technology industry has underwent changes, but so too has every day services like fitness and grocery shopping.


Gyms throughout the country have closed its doors following statewide stay at home orders. However, the gym and fitness sector are bringing workouts to your home. For example, Planet Fitness, one of the largest chain gyms in the country, began streaming online workout classes on March 16. Monday through Friday, Planet Fitness offers a free, daily virtual fitness class on the Planet Fitness Facebook page for people to access. The videos can also be found on YouTube to be streamed. Smaller gyms and workout programs also offer online fitness classes, including AR30 which is a  virtual fitness program that offers virtual gym sessions via, our favorite, Zoom.

Furthermore, a Facebook spokeswoman stated, “By March 18, the number of home workout posts on Instagram from the United States had increased by more than five times compared with just a few days earlier.” Another spokeswoman for YouTube provided, “On YouTube, average global daily uploads of videos with “workout at home” in the title increased more than 57% from March 10 through March 15.”

Pick-up and Delivery Services

Restaurant and grocery delivery services have also seen a huge increase. Many restaurant dining rooms are closed, but restaurants still are able to offer carryout and delivery. Instacart, a company that offers home deliveries of groceries and other goods that are ordered through an app, announced that it plans to “bring on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers across North America over the next 3 months to meet the increasing customer demand for online grocery delivery and pickup in the U.S. and Canada.” Furthermore, Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt hit a record for daily downloads of their apps. Instacart has seen an increase of 218%, Walmart Grocery increased 160%, and Shipt saw an increase of 124%.

Other Examples of Businesses and the Coronavirus

  1. Zoom stock is up 20% in the last month.
  2. Promobot released a robot in New York City that asks people questions to determine whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus. (See link 7 for a video).
  3. There has been an increase in companies attempting to integrate thermal imaging capabilities in their products. This essentially allows someone to have their temperature taken from a distance.
  4. High-tech disinfectant devices have seen an increase in popularity. For example, Emist offers an electrostatic disinfectant to combat the coronavirus. (See link 9 for a photo and more information on this contraption).

As we can see, communities and businesses are coming together and adapting to the health crisis we are currently in. With some reworking, businesses are attempting to stay afloat when no one is leaving their homes by adapting to what consumers need.


  1. How do you anticipate legal services to adapt overall?
  2. How do you believe the pandemic will bolster or hinder entrepreneurship and innovation going further?
  3. A few weeks ago we had a presentation on work from home options (“WFH”). How will businesses converting to WFH during the pandemic impact WFH options going forward?


  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2020/03/29/how-these-female-entrepreneurs-are-using-technology-to-thrive-amidst-covid-19/#2e29f135276e
  2. https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
  3. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/16/planet-fitness-offers-free-home-workout-classes-online/5062122002/
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/03/27/people-welcome-online-workouts-fill-gap-left-by-shuttered-gyms-studios/
  5. https://news.instacart.com/expanding-our-community-of-household-heroes-a-thank-you-from-apoorva-mehta-instacart-ceo-3e596b5d05a9
  6. https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/16/grocery-delivery-apps-see-record-downloads-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn_fBlyn7YI
  8. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/3/11/21174720/coronavirus-amazon-robots-air-purifiers
  9. https://www.emist.com/
  10. https://www.consulting.us/news/3945/ey-five-strategies-for-businesses-to-lessen-coronavirus-impact (Header photo).

Michael Jordan’s Slam Dunk in Trademark?–Michael Jordan vs. Qiaodan Sports Company

My Zoom Presentation Link Attached below:


Introduction video:


Please note: the video is dated August, 2015 and therefore it does not address China’s Supreme Court’s final judgment dated December, 2016 on this case.

Slides Presentation:

Michael Jordan Trademark Case Slides

(This is the slide I made for my presentation and I will try to upload my video record tomorrow. I decided to videotape my presentation and send Professor a Google drive link.)

English Resources:

Chinese Resources:




The Name, Image and Likeness Debate…

By Alexandra Ursino

Background Information

Name, image, and likeness (NIL) are typically seen as the right of publicity, which is a right that provides people with a cause of action against anyone who makes a commercial use of their name, image, likeness, or other indicia of identity.”

In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play act into Law the legislation went against NCAA guidelines and allows college athletes in the state to profit from their name, image, and likeness beginning in January 2023. Several other states bean to draft or propose similar legislation in 2019.

At the end of October, the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow student-athletes to be paid for the use of their NIL once rules are decided on the opportunities. The Board asked each division to create rules between now and January 2021.

According to Sports Illustrated, two companies are at the forefront of this new industry and have already developed business models based on potential NIL benefits.



Studentplayer.com is a crowdfunding platform that is similar to gofundme.com and allows anyone to donate funds to a specific collegiate athletic program or player position. The people who can donate include college sports fans, alumni, and large companies. The point is that if teams and athletes accept the money when the NIL rules permit it, players will make a video or social media post in exchange for endorsing an advertiser, company, or studentpplayer.com itself.

The founder of the company, Zachary Segal, says that “the website will “democratize” the college sports economy “and compared the process to making political campaign contributions. “All donations, listed by institution and sports team will be made public on the website.

The website has already taken off. A $10,000 donation has already been made by Tocowarranty.com, which is an auto repair insurance company. The company has donated to 10 Division I football teams for each of their starting quarterback positions, including LSU, Clemson, and Oklahoma. Minnesota State University at Mankato requested its institution be taken off the website due to concerns about how prospective donations could impact the eligibility of players under current NCAA rules for NIL benefits. The founder believes that the university is  “mistaken” because the funds will be held in escrow until regulations and laws are in place that permit college athletes to be paid. A member of Oklahoma’s athletics department stated: “I’ve never seen anything like this” “They aren’t using any of our students’ name, image, and likeness at this time, and why someone would contribute to this is beyond me.” Contributions so far have totaled over $103,000.


Nameimagelikeness.com provides legal representation to athletes. It was started by an Illinois family practice lawyer and former Division 1 men’s basketball player for Saint Louis University. The company is designed to help athletes navigate sponsorship deals and provide other opportunities to profit from their NIL, such as fan autograph exchanges and social media advertising.

The website states that its clients will be given full access to newly available opportunities to monetize their publicity and elevate their status as the admired, elite athletes that they are.

Questions to consider:

  • Companies aren’t yet sure about what the state and federal law swill look like, as well as what NCAA guidelines will be. Without this guidance, is it smart to create a business model without any regulatory guidance?
    • Can you bet on potential profits that way?
  • Would you start a business without knowing the regulatory guidelines or issues?
  • What would be the biggest assumptions you make about this new industry?
    • Are there any major assumptions these two companies are making?
  • How would you compare the two businesses?