Einstein and Elvis have something in common. Both are revered, yea worshiped, by millions. And lawyers from both the Einstein estate and the Elvis estate carefully guard – and sell – the rights to their respective images.
Tony Rothman, physicist and author, tells in the article "Who Owns Einstein?" of his ominous encounter with the lawyers from Hebrew University, which owns many of Albert Einstein’s papers, and the Richman Agency, the university’s designated gorgon-watchdog. "Two hundred years from now," Rothman writes, "do we really want the Richman agency controlling images, quotations, and plays about Einstein, especially when Mozart and Pushkin are already on chocolates? Watch out Einstein Alley."
So what about "Einstein Alley?" The name "Einstein Alley" cropped up as a potential brand name for the technology-rich geographic region loosely defined as – take your pick – Greater Princeton, Central New Jersey, the Princeton Rutgers Research Corridor, or all of New Jersey.
"We want to generate a vitality here in Central New Jersey that will make this innovative hotbed the talk of the nation, so that businesses based on research and development will want to locate here and will flourish here," says Congressman Rush Holt, who held the first Einstein’s Alley conference two years ago. In addition to the committee meetings sponsored by Holt, the Einstein’s Alley name is also being used for a series of Princeton Chamber-sponsored morning of the marionette, because a photograph exists of the great man playing with his Pinocchio-styled likeness. But the society has not been able to obtain official rights to the use of that photograph. There’s that trademark problem again.
The U.S. trademark base (www.uspto.gov) has 223 records of applications containing the Einstein word, ranging from Einstein Arcade (which Hebrew University wants) to "Albeart Einstein," astuffed toy. And a lot of Einstein trademarks have been out there for a long time. Take the Albert Einstein Medical Center and Einstein Bagels.
"If you understand the zen of trademark business you don’t find yourself surprised by much," says Woodbridge. "Trademarks are one of the oldest forms of commercial law around, and they go back at leastto the Roman guilds. "They really grew out of people’s actual experience of trying to avoid confusion. In the Roman guild, potters could use a certain mark that showed the piece had been made by a qualified individual."
"Unlike the tax code, which is purely man made," he says, "trademark law has evolved over several thousand years as a way of avoiding confusion and treat people properly by using marks that were correct."It is legitimate to use the same name for different goods and services as long as you travel in different lines of commerce, says Woodbridge.
Most people who ask for a particular trademark name will be disappointed, he says, because the name will be taken. The then vice president of Sarnoff, championed this cause. Woodbridge did a study that showed high tech businesses centered on the Route 1 Research Corridor. Michael Porter of Harvard University, in a study commissioned by Prosperity New Jersey, compared and contrasted the corridor with Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, Route 128, and other high tech centers.
But until people from outside the state recognize there is a serious high tech cluster in New Jersey, says Woodbridge, high tech companies here will suffer from lack of attention. "The state does a pretty good job encouraging high tech in the Camdens and the Newarks of the world, but it doesn’t encourage places where high tech already is." Are the different groups using the Einstein Alley moniker getting in each other’s way? Woodbridge doesn’t think so.
"I am delighted to see parallel groups crop up," Woodbridge says. "That helps us get the state to focus on us and gives more respect for the idea that there is a critical mass right here. The more the merrier as long as they are not operating cross purposes."
Albert Einstein Memorial Lectures, featuring Nobel Prize winners, have been held by the Princeton Chamber since the early 1990s. On Thursday, October 27, MIT physicist (and former Princeton professor) Frank Wilczek will speak.
Congressman Rush Holt was the first to use the phrase "Einstein Alley" and convened the first big Einstein Alley conference in December, 2003. Various meetings have been held since then, pointing toward a conference within the next four months.
Organized by the Public Forum Institute, the 2003 conference was "part of a larger initiative to create jobs, stimulate innovation, and define a common vision for economic development in central New Jersey." The nearly 300 delegates articulated priorities: a skilled workforce, efficient transportation, and effective coordination/cooperation.
Holt strongly opposes limiting the geography of the Einstein’s Alley name. "This is a vision for many counties across New Jersey. It is not just one region, just one business, just one interest group," says Holt. "We are talking about the economic vitality and livability and intellectual activity of an entire region. It involves not just businesses but educational organizations, institutions, and municipal governments, as well as chambers of commerce."
Einstein Alley breakfast lectures are staged by the Princeton Chamber, and the next one is at Sarnoff on Wednesday, September 28. Speaking for the chamber and the Einstein Alley breakfast series, Woodbridge notes that Congressman Holt is always invited to the meetings. "We try to avoid conflicting with Holt’s group, and we are operating in a parallel fashion."
Einstein’s Alley Entrepreneurial Leaders, an intimate group loosely organized by Steven Georges of Princeton Server Group and John Romanowich of Automated Threat Detection, meets monthly for information and mutual support.
Although we are completely independent and informal, we partner with all the existing and more formal entrepreneurial and professional associations," says Georges. "My goal is to have our community become the all-important and underlying entrepreneurial ecosystem that I believe is a prerequisite for ‘Einstein’s Alley’ to become a major, branded growth engine. We also gather in a bar – which many will say is what put Silicon Valley on the map."
Einstein Alley website, (www.einsteinsalley.com or www.einsteinsalley.org). Wei-hsing Wang of NicheUSA took it upon himself to reserve the URL, put up links to the Holt conference, and start a blog. "It is a holding place if we ever get around to having an official site," he says.
Antiques Show Preview Party, Historical Society of Princeton, Princeton Airport, 609-921-6748. Attendees get the first chance to buy antiques from more than 25 vendors organized by Susie McMillan, Charity Antiques Show. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Miracle Year, the Historical Society will put on display select pieces of Einstein’s furniture (not for sale). The show continues through Sunday. $175. Friday, September 16, 7 p.m.
At this event, a first for the society, two hangars at the airport will be divided into rooms, decorated, and filled with antiques from vendors up and down the east coast. Those who attend the Friday gala will have the first opportunity to look at the antiques, while they munch dinner catered by Main Street. Also on display will be pieces from the Einstein Collection, donated furnishings from the Mercer Street House, including the grandfather clock that has never been on display before.
"Eventually we will have a first rate storage facility at the Updike Farm," says Gail Stern, society director. "When we eventually move our offices to the farm then we will have two floors of exhibition space at Bainbridge House and a number of Einstein pieces will be on permanent display. ‘Where can I see something related to Einstein’ is the first question people ask."
Writers Talking Series, Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-9529. Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, authors of "Einstein on Race and Racism." Sunday, September 18, 2 p.m. Institute for Advanced Study, Wolfensohn Hall, 609-734-8175. The School of Natural Sciences celebrates its 75th Anniversary with two days of lectures on string theory, cosmology, extra solar planets, genomic drug discovery, and the science and politics of managing human identity. Free.
The speakers include Robbert Dijkgraaf, University of Amsterdam, The Quantum Geometry of String Theory; Arnold J. Levine, Institute for Advanced Study, Surfing the Human Genome for Genetic Predispositions to Cancer; Joseph J. Atick, Identix Incorporated, The Science and Politics of Managing Human Identity; and David Spergel of Princeton University on The New Cosmology. Friday, September 23, 1:30 p.m. A lecture on string theory by Columbia University’s Brian Green. Free. Saturday, September 24, 11 a.m.
Princeton Chamber/Einstein Alley, Sarnoff Corporation 609-924-1776. "Innovation Economics: Lessons Learned from the Creation and Growth of Silicon Valley," Edward Zschau, former California congressman and entrepreneur. $25. Wednesday, September 28, 7:30 a.m.
Einstein Books, Princeton University Store, 36 University Place, 609-921-8500. John Stachel reads and signs copies of "Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics," part of a year-long celebration of Einstein’s work. Free. Thursday, September 29, 7 p.m.
Stachel edited the book that brings the five papers together in a translation format appropriate for an English-speaking physicist, mathematician, or astrophysicist. Stachel’s introduction tells about the personal aspects of Einstein’s life that contributed to the development of these papers. Stachel directs the Center for Einstein Studies at Boston University, where he is emeritus professor of physics.
Danian Hu reads and signs "China and Albert Einstein." Free. Thursday, October 13, 7 p.m.
Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor read and sign "Einstein on Race and Racism." Free. Monday, November 21, 7 p.m.