Avago, Kodak, Apple, Mattress Professional, Hershey: Intellectual Property

Avago Technologies Ltd. won a patent- infringement case against Emcore Corp. and can now seek an order to block imports of Emcore optoelectronic devices used to connect computers in a local area network, a U.S. trade agency said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said yesterday it will let stand Judge Theodore Essex’s finding that Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Emcore’s products infringe an Avago patent, according to a notice on the agency’s website. The six-member commission ordered both sides to submit arguments on whether an import ban should be imposed.

Avago, based in Singapore, filed the complaint a year ago, seeking to block fiber-optic components such as transmitters, receivers and transceivers made by Emcore in Thailand. The patent found to be infringed, issued in 1994, is related to features of optical communications systems that transit digital information using light waves.

Another patent, which Essex said wasn’t infringed by Emcore, was issued in 1998 and relates to controlling the intensity of the light beam used to transmit the data.

Both patents were issued to employees of Hewlett-Packard Co. Avago was created in 2005 as a spinoff from scientific- analysis equipment-maker Agilent Technologies Inc., which was spun off in 1999 from Hewlett-Packard. KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners bought Avago and took it public.

Apple’s Claims Against Kodak to Be Considered by Trade Agency

Apple Inc.’s patent-infringement claims against Eastman Kodak Co. will be investigated by a U.S. trade agency that could block imports of Kodak cameras.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington will consider Apple’s claims that Kodak is violating its patent rights. Kodak has a pending case against Apple at the agency. Notice was posted on the ITC’s website.

Apple Seeks Patent on Touchable Glasses-Free 3D Display System

Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, applied for a patent on a three-dimensional display system that won’t require the viewer to wear special glasses or remain in one fixed position.

According to application 20100118118, published yesterday in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the three-dimensional effect is created by projecting an image onto a screen that will deflect separate images -- in the form of light beams into the viewer’s right and left eyes. The observer’s movement will be tracked so “so that the 3D images continue to be directed correctly and directly to the observer’s left and right eyes as the observer moves and changes position,” according to the application.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, filed the application in January with assistance from San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP.


Sleepy’s Sues Macy’s Over‘ Mattress Professionals’ Trademarks

Sleepy’s LLC, the Hicksville, New York-based mattress retailer, sued Macy’s Inc., the second-biggest U.S. department- store chain, over the trademark for “the mattress professionals.”

Sleepy’s, saying it’s the largest U.S. mattress retailer, filed its complaint yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The company, which is the licensee of the trademark, claims Cincinnati-based Macy’s is infringing the mark with its rival marks, “Ask Our Mattress Pros” and “Factory-Trained Mattress Professional.”

The suit seeks a court order barring Macy’s from infringing the trademark and engaging in unfair competition, as well as unspecified damages. Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy’s, declined to comment.

The case is Sleepy’s v. Macy’s, 10-cv-3982, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Williams-Sonoma Sued by Hershey’s Over Brownie Pan Design

Williams-Sonoma Inc., a San Francisco based retail chain, was sued for trademark infringement by Hershey Co.

Hershey objects to a baking pan sold by the retailer, which specializes in high-end kitchenware. The pan allows users to bake brownies in the shape of Hershey’s iconic chocolate bars, according to the complaint filed May 11 in federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The pan, which retails for $29.95, can be used to bake brownie batter so the finished product can be broken into 12 individual-sized brownies. Hershey claims the pan even uses a typeface virtually similar to the one employed for its chocolate bar.

Customers are likely to be confused and mistakenly assume the pan is authorized by Hershey, according to court papers. The Pennsylvania-based candy maker sent a cease-and-desist letter to Williams-Sonoma in December complaining that the pan violated its IP rights.

In response, Williams-Sonoma sent one letter in December saying it would investigate the allegations, and a second letter in January in which it rejected the Hershey claims and said it would continue to sell the pan, according to the complaint.

Hershey claims it will be caused “damage and irreparable harm” by the sale of the allegedly infringing pan.

The chocolate maker asked the court to order Williams- Sonoma to quit selling the pan and to award money damages, including extra damages to punish Williams-Sonoma for what Hershey said are “willful and knowing, unfair, deceptive and unethical business practices, and intentional trademark infringement.”

Additionally, Hershey asked for attorney fees and litigation costs and an order deactivating Web pages promoting the pan.

Hershey is represented by Harvey Freedenberg of Harrisburg’s McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, and Paul C. Llewellyn and Patricia A. Larson of New York’s Kaye Scholer LLP.

The case is The Hershey Co., v. Williams-Sonoma Inc., 1:10- cv-01011-WWC, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg).

Doctors Associates Want ‘Footlong’ Reserved for Subway Chain

Doctors Associates Inc., the Milford, Connecticut-based operator of the closely held Subway restaurant chain, sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Florida restaurant that sells hot dogs, warning against the use of the term “footlong.”

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Doctors Associates has two pending applications to register “footlong” as a trademark. One application was filed in November 2007 and the second in June 2009, according to the database.

The chain is presently advertising made-to-order “$5 footlong sandwiches,” according to its Web site.

The May 5 letter to Brooksvegas, Florida’s Coney Island Drive Inn demands the removal of all references to “footlong” in association with sandwiches, and gave the restaurant two weeks to comply. Doctors Associates “desires to resolve the matter amicably as soon as possible,” according to the letter.

The franchise operator may have trouble proving the term “footlong” acquired a distinctive meaning for the chain under trademark law.

A search for the term “footlong hot dog” conducted with Google Inc.’s search engine yesterday yielded 308,000 results. A search for “footlong” and “sandwich” without the term “Subway” brought up 119,000 results.

New Aussie Trademark Already Owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Company

After spending A$4 million ($3.6 million) to have M&C Saatchi develop a new trademark for Australian tourism, government officials learned the mark -- “Australia Unlimited” -- belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd., publisher of the Herald Sun, that newspaper reported today.

News Ltd. which registered the mark to use it for conferences, agreed to allow the government to use the mark for free, according to the newspaper.

Another A$16 million will be spent to promote the mark, according to the Herald Sun, which reported the mark will be used at the Shanghai Expo and at next month’s FIFA World Cup competition in South Africa.

It will replace Tourism Australia’s controversial “Where in the bloody hell are you?” campaign, which also was developed by Saatchi, the newspaper reported.

Hikone to Charge for Use of Trademarked ‘Hikonyan’ Character

Hikone, a city on the shore of Japan’s Lake Biwa, will begin to charge for the use of its trademarked character “Hikonyan,” the Mainichi Daily News reported.

It will cost users 3 percent of the retail price of any product featuring Hikonyan, a cartoon character wearing a samurai helmet, according to the newspaper.

Previously the city allowed free use of the character for promoting local events, including the “Ii Naosuke --Gateway to the future” festival that ran from 2008 through March 2010, Mainichi reported.

Municipal authorities estimate annual revenue from Hikonyan trademark fees will reach as much as 30 million yen ($324,000), according to the newspaper.

Trade Secrets

Hormel Says New Hampshire Company Didn’t Return Trade Secrets

Hormel Foods Corp., maker of the Spam canned-meat product, is involved in a trade secrets dispute over a hog-stunning system, the Rochester, Minnesota Post-Bulletin newspaper reported yesterday.

Hormel, based in Austin, Minnesota, contracted with Ferrite Co. of Nashua, New Hampshire, to develop the system -- used to stun hogs before they are slaughtered -- paid a deposit and provided the company with proprietary information, the newspaper reported.

Ferrite, which Hormel claims didn’t do the work and refused to send back the trade secrets and refund the meatpacker’s deposit, didn’t respond to a request for comment, according to the newspaper.

The New Hampshire company is known for designing and making microwave heating systems and components, the Post-Bulletin reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

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