Sony Reader, Avon Fabrics, Scholastic, Harrods, BP: Intellectual Property

Sony Corp., which said May 27 it’s planning to begin selling its Reader electronic book device in Asia and Australia, is seeking a patent for a solar-powered electronic book that also contains a keyboard.

Application 20100129782, which was published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is for an electronic book that can be opened like a paper book, and turned 90 degrees so that one half of the book serves as a screen and the other as a virtual keyboard.

The device covered by the application would contain an accelerometer to let the computer’s processor know the orientation in which the book is used.

Sony applied for the patent in November 2008, with the assistance of Rogitz & Associates of San Diego.

Sony’s Reader to be offered in Asia and Australia is already available in North America and much of Europe.

Cameron Announces Fast-Track System to Cut Patents Backlog

Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. will introduce a “fast track” system for international patents.

“Today we announce a new fast-track system for international patents to reduce the global backlog which stifles growth and enterprise and costs the global economy 7.6 billion pounds for every year patents are delayed,” Cameron said in a speech in Shipley, northern England.

Copyright

Syracuse Resident Gets Prison Sentence for Copyright Piracy

A resident of Syracuse, New York, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling more than $250,000 worth of pirated software, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a May 28 statement.

Robert Cimino, 60, also will have to pay $272,655 in restitution to copyright owners and will have three years supervised release after he leaves prison.

He pleaded guilty in February to criminal copyright infringement for making and selling unauthorized copies of software titles by Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc., Intuit Inc. and Quark Inc.

Cimino operated under the business name “SoftwareSuite” and promoted his products through Internet-based advertising forums, www.buysellcommunity.com, www.adpost.com and www.sell.com, according to the statement.

The government said Cimino received at least $270,000 in gross proceeds from his sale of pirated software between February 2006 and September 2009.

Scholastic’s ‘Wonky Donkey’ Not Plagiarized, Author Insists

The author of a children’s book published in New Zealand said he didn’t commit plagiarism because there’s no copyright on a joke, the New Zealand Herald reported May 29.

Craig Smith, who won the New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Award for his “The Wonky Donkey” was accused of plagiarism by a school teacher who said she found online versions of the joke on which the book is based, according to the Herald.

Scholastic Corp., whose Scholastic New Zealand unit published the book, told the Herald that jokes are in the public domain and can’t be copyright protected because it’s impossible to find the copyright holder.

Smith’s book is based on a children’s song he heard in 2005, based, in turn, on a joke he heard from friends, the Herald reported.

Avon Fabrics Accuses Competitor of Infringing Textile Designs

Avon Fabrics Inc., a manufacturer and importer of silk fabrics for home décor, sued a competitor for copyright infringement.

India’s Heritage Inc. of Secaucus, New Jersey, is accused of selling clothing made from fabrics that are copied from Avon’s designs.

Avon, based in Middlesex, New Jersey, said its designs are registered in the U.S. with the Register of Copyrights, and that it’s injured by India’s Heritage’s copying the designs. The designs are “wholly original,” according to the complaint filed May 27 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

The company asked the court to order seizure and destruction of all infringing products, promotional and advertising materials, and print rollers and screens used in the manufacture of the allegedly infringing fabric.

Additionally Avon requested a court order barring future infringement of its designs, and an award of money damages and profits of India’s Heritage stemming from the alleged infringement. The company also asked for an award of litigation costs.

Avon is represented by Patrick Papalia of Hackensack, New Jersey’s Herten, Burstein, Sheridan Cevasco Bottinelli Litt & Harz LLC.

The case is Avon Fabrics Inc., v. India’s Heritage Inc., 2:10-cv-02704-SRC-MAS, U.S. District Court District of New Jersey (Newark).

Trademark

RNC Demands GOP Name Be Struck on Website Documenting Oil Spill

The Republican National Committee is demanding a Tampa, Florida, couple remove “GOP” from the domain name of a website on which they’re displaying photos of the environmental devastation caused by the oil flowing from BP Plc’s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay Online reported.

Don and Joyce Weaver bought the domain name GOP2012Tampa.com after learning Tampa will host the 2012 Republican national convention and are using it to show photos of the fire and oil spill, and display the text “End Offshore Drilling Now,” according to the newspaper.

The committee’s letter warned the Weavers they were infringing a trademark, according to the newspaper.

Harrods Tells Hollands Café Lounge to Change ‘Too Similar’ Logo

Harrods Ltd., the London department store sold to Qatar Holdings LLC for 1.5 billion British pounds ($2.2 billion) in May, has accused a roadside café of trademark infringement, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.

Hollands Café Lounge in Rivenhall Essex, received a cease- and-desist letter from Harrods, demanding the café change its name because it was too similar to its own, according to the Daily Mail.

Both stores’ names are written in a cursive script, and the café proprietor Nigel Holland told the newspaper its logo was based on the way his wife wrote her name.

A Harrods official told the Daily Mail the café sign is similar enough to the department store to “wrongly suggest some association between our organizations.”

Water Pik Seeks Declaration It Doesn’t Infringe SinuCleanse Mark Water Pik Inc., a maker of dental irrigation tools and shower heads, asked a federal court to declare it’s not infringing trademarks held by Med-Systems Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin.

Water Pik plans to begin selling products for sinus irrigation under the brand SinuSense in July 2010, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based company said in the complaint it filed May 26 in Denver.

The company filed an application to register “SinuSense” as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May 2009, Water Pik said in its complaint.

Med-Systems produces a line of products under the SinuCleanse label and also produces private-label products for Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp., according to court papers.

Water Pik said Med-Systems “apparently also permits retailers such as Walgreens to make explicit references on product packaging that customers compare the Walgreens sinus rinse product” to its SinuCleanse product.

The Colorado company filed suit because Med-Systems filed papers with the patent office opposing registration of “SinuSense” and also sued Water Pik for trademark infringement in federal court in Wisconsin.

Although that case was later dismissed on Med-Systems’ initiative, the circumstances of its dismissal permit its refilling, according to court papers.

Water Pik claims the assertions of infringement are meritless and that it should be able to register its SinuSense mark.

In addition to seeking a court declaration it’s not infringing the Med-Systems mark and is entitled to register and use “SinuSense,” the company asked for an award of litigation costs and attorney fees.

Water Pik is represented by Lee Frederick Johnson of Minneapolis-based Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

The case is Water Pik Inc., v. Med-Systems Inc., 1:10-cv- 01221-PAB, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado (Denver).

The earlier case is Med-Systems Inc., v. Water Pik Inc., 3:10-cv-00116-slc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

BP Trademarks Showing Up in Print-on-Demand Protest Items

BP Plc, which may have more on its mind these days than policing its trademarks, is the subject of 306 user-submitted designs to the CafePress print-on-demand website.

A May 28 search for “BP” and “Oil” yielded 9,050 hits for designs, many of which incorporated versions of the oil company’s green sunburst logo.

Many of the designs, which can be printed on t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, clocks, aprons and greeting cards, show the sunburst logo partially obscured by black blobs of oil. The sunburst also shows up in a design with the “BP Sux” text. A third design shows the green sunburst above the text “We’re bringing oil to American shores.”

In another design, the sunburst logo appears in the shape of a fish with the text “BP Committed to Screwing Your Environment ... with Lube!” A bumper sticker design incorporates elements of the present vampire craze, with the oil-stained sunburst logo following the phrase “Take a bite out of.” An additional text says “The Vampire Diaries Fans Support Gulf Aid.”

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is the subject of another design, which shows her wearing oversized earrings in the shape of the BP sunburst.

Meanwhile, Morgan City, Louisiana’s 75th annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival is still set for September 2-6.

The festival, whose logo features the image of a shrimp in a hard hat climbing an offshore oil rig, celebrates “the unique way in which these two seemingly different industries work hand- in-hand culturally and environmentally in our area,” according to the festival website.

Although the poster design for the 2010 festival has not yet been released, posters from past festivals are available through the festival website, with many of them featuring the same shrimp and oil-rig motif.

IP Moves

IP Academic, Practitioner Named to Utah Supreme Court Seat

Professor Thomas R. Lee was appointed to the Utah Supreme Court, Governor Gary R. Herbert said in a statement May 28.

Lee, who teaches IP law at Brigham Young University, is also of counsel to the Salt Lake City IP specialty firm Howard Phillips & Anderson, where he practices trademark, copyright and trade-secret law.

Although he has never served as a judge, Lee was a judicial clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court, and has worked as a deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department.

He is a son of the late U.S. Solicitor General Rex Lee and a brother of Utah Republican senatorial candidate Michael s. Lee, a partner at Washington’s Howrey LLP.

He is a direct descendent of John Doyle Lee, who was executed in 1877 for his role in the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre of a wagon train of emigrants from Arkansas.

Thomas Lee has an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from the University of Chicago.

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

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