`Twilight,' Toyota, Garmin, General Mills, Vogue: Intellectual Property

Garmin Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. were among seven companies that defeated patent-infringement claims filed by Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. over digital maps.

Two patents owned by the research publisher are invalid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said June 18. The decision upholds a lower-court ruling that the patents covered ideas that were publicly known more than a year before the date of the Encyclopaedia Britannica inventions.

Encyclopaedia Britannica claimed its inventions, related to interactive mapping, were used without permission in global- positioning systems and demanded royalties.

The court decision also is a victory for TomTom NV, Europe’s largest maker of car-navigation equipment; GPS-maker Magellan Navigation Inc.; stereo maker Alpine Electronics Inc.; Denso Corp., Japan’s biggest auto-parts maker; and Honda Motor Co.’s American Honda Motor Co.

Garmin, based in the Cayman Islands, is the largest maker of navigation devices in the U.S., and Toyota is the world’s largest automaker.

Encyclopaedia Britannica is the oldest continuously published reference work in the English language and is now primarily a digital publisher. It is a unit of closely held Encyclopaedia Britannica Holding SA, based in Luxembourg and controlled by Jacob E. Safra.

The case is Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. v. Alpine Electronics of America Inc., 2009-1544 and 2009-1545, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court cases are Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. v. Alpine Electronics of America, 06cv578; and Encyclopaedia Britannica v. Magellan Navigation Inc., 07cv787, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

General Mills Gets Patent on Method of Trans Fat Reduction

General Mills Co., the Minneapolis-based maker of Betty Crocker, Jolly Green Giant and Yoplait food products, received a U.S. patent on a technique of creating a baking ingredient low in a form of fat associated with coronary heart disease.

Patent 7,736,684, which was issued June 15, is for a substance that contains less than 40 percent trans fat, and about 25 percent of compounds known as cyclodexctrins. These are made of sugar molecules chemically bound to the fat.

High levels of trans fats are associated with high blood cholesterol levels that can lead to heart disease. One potential solution to the high cholesterol problem is “the treatment of the foodstuffs themselves with cyclodextrins rather than treatment of the consumer,” according to the patent

Such substances can be more viscous and harder than fats not bound to the sugar compound. Food items made with this substance will have textures and “mouth feel” previously provided by higher levels of the trans fats.

The food products company applied for the patent in June 2005, with the assistance of Dale A. Bjorkman of Kagan Binder PLLC of Stillwater, Minnesota and in-house patent counsel John A. O’Toole.

General Mills is part of the Healthy Weight Foundation that told first lady Michelle Obama May 17 that its members would collectively cut 1 trillion calories from their products by in 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories from them by the end of 2015.

Michelle Obama, is campaigning to cut childhood obesity.

Campbell Soup Co., Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., and PepsiCo Inc. are also members of the foundation.

They said they would do this by providing lower-calorie options, changing recipes or reducing portion sizes, according to a statement from the group, which includes 80 of the largest U.S. food and beverage manufacturers.

For more patent news, click here.


Scripps Sues miBook for Infringing TV Program Copyrights

Scripps Networks LLC sued the former head of a licensee company for copyright infringement.

The suit relates to programming Scripps licensed to Photoco Inc. to be used on an electronic reading device known as miBook.

According to the complaint filed June 18 in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, the licensed content would be used to make interactive home and cooking books. Scripps was to receive royalties on all sales of interactive titles displaying its marks and using their content, the company said in its pleadings.

Scripps, of Knoxville, Tennessee, delivered more than 1,000 full length episodes to Photoco with licensing terms barring assignment to any other entity without written permission, according to the complaint.

The content included programs for do-it-yourself home repair, such as “Weekend Handyman,” “Sweat Equity,” “Build a Deck,” and “Cool Tools.” Other programs had either a food or a home-décor orientation, such as “30 Minute Meals,” “Cooking Thin,” “Design on a Dime,” and Decorating Cents.”

Scripps says the copyrights were infringed by Bruce Teicher of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the former head of Photoco. Solon, Ohio- based miBook LLC is a co-defendant.

Photoco quit paying royalties in the second quarter of 2008, and Scripps said it hasn’t received further communication from the company since then.

MiBook operates a website that displays the Scripps marks and indicates it’s a media partner, according to court papers. The company is selling Scripps content for miBook through its website and through such retailers as Best Buy Co. without authorization, Scripps says.

Scripps asked the court to order the defendants to quit using any of its content or marks, and that all copies of infringing products or promotional materials be surrendered for destruction. The company also asked for recall of all miBook products bearing its marks or containing its content.

Additionally, Scripps requested damages of $2 million for each counterfeited mark, together with all profits defendants realized from their alleged infringement. The company asked for attorney fees, litigation costs, and money damages, with the damages to be tripled.

Scripps is represented by Brian J. Downey, Nicolette R. Hudson and Samantha M. Quimby of Frost Brown Todd LLC of Cincinnati.

The case is Scripps Networks LLC v. miBook LLC, 2:10-cv- 00568-JLG-TPK, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

Summit Sues Jacket Sellers Who Claim ‘Twilight’ Film Affiliation

Summit Entertainment LLC, maker of the “Twilight” series of vampire movies, sued a clothing manufacturer and two retailers for copyright infringement.

The suit stems from Summit’s use of a blue cargo jacket worn by the character “Bella” in the “Twilight” films, which are based on a series of novels by Stephanie Meyer. “Eclipse,” the most recent film in the series, is set to open June 30.

In the complaint filed June 11 in federal court in Los Angeles, Summit said it discovered in May 2009 that Metropark USA Inc., of Los Angles and Pittsburgh-based Modcloth Inc. were selling jackets under the “Twilight” trademark without authorization. They were also using images of the character Bella on their websites without permission, Summit said in court papers.

The film company sent the two retailers cease-and-desist letters to no avail, according to court papers. Instead, the two retailers continued to sell the “Bella jacket” and Metropark even attached a hangtag bearing the “Twilight” trademark and an image of Bella to the jacket, according to court papers.

Summit said it then discovered that B.B. Dakota of Costa Mesa, California, was distributing the jackets and selling them through its website, using the Twilight trademarks without authorization. After it sent B.B. Dakota a cease-and-desist letter in May 2010, Summit says it received a response from counsel for the company saying the matter was being investigated and a response would be forthcoming.

After receiving no additional response, Summit filed suit. The company said it has licensed “Twilight” marks to third parties to sell on clothing and other products. Nordstrom Inc.’s website features three pages of licensed “Twilight” products, mainly t-shirts and makeup. Some licensed “Twilight” items are available from CafePress Inc., a print-on-demand company based in San Mateo, California.

Summit said it’s damaged by the actions of the three companies it’s suing. Its marks are harmed by their unauthorized use, and their use of the “Bella” image infringes its copyrights, according to court papers.

The film company asked the court to bar further infringement, and for attorney fees and litigation costs. It also seeks destruction of all Bella jackets and promotional materials, together with an award of money damages, together with the profits the defendants received from their allegedly infringing activities.

Summit asked that the damages be tripled and that it be awarded extra damages to punish the three clothing companies for their actions.

The film company is represented by Jill M. Pietrini and Paul A. Bost of Los Angeles-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.

The case is Summit Entertainment LLC v. B.B. Dakota Inc., 2:10-cv-04328-GAF-RZ, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Documentary Filmmakers Seek DMCA Anti-Circumvention Exemption

The International Documentary Association, a trade group of documentary filmmakers, has asked the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, The Hill Washington news reported.

They want to be able to copy content from commercial DVDs to make legal use of the content for the films they make, according to The Hill.

The filmmakers say that if they can’t copy content from DVDs they’ll have to download it from the Internet or record video from television, and that the quality of content obtained that way may not meet broadcast standards, The Hill reported.

The group applied for an exception in October 2009, and some of its members are delaying release of their documentaries until the status of their application is clarified, according to The Hill.

Chinese Content Owners Want Fees from Internet Cafe Viewers

The Chinese Movie Copyright Association is seeking to charge Internet cafes whose customers view online movies, Information Week reported.

Many of the customers of Internet cafes, who pay an hourly rate, use computers to play games and watch movies and television programs that are often pirated, according to Information Week.

China’s Internet cafe industry, which generates $12 billion in annual sales, contends it’s unfair to punish the cafes for customers’ actions, Information Week reported.

Microsoft Corp. has sued some of China’s Internet cafes over their use of pirated software, according to Information week.

For more copyright news, click here.


Conde Nast’s Vogue Objects to ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ Charity Show

Conde Nast’s Vogue Magazine has threatened to sue a Victoria, British Columbia, charity fashion show for trademark infringement, the Vancouver Sun newspaper reported.

The magazine objects to the name of the event, “Victoria Fashion’s Night Out,” according to the Sun.

Vogue puts on “Fashion’s Night Out” in New York City, and plans to expand the event to other cities, the newspaper reported.

Organizers, who got the letter the day before the event, were trying to change the name of the show to “Victoria’s Fashion Night,” according to the Sun.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

South Dakota High Court to Hear Bear Country Trade Secrets Claim

The South Dakota Supreme Court has said it will review a lower-court’s decision to keep an animal-park tourist attraction’s financial data from the public, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Media groups seek to open court records that a circuit court judge closed after lawyers for parties in a dispute over Bear Country U.S.A. claimed financial business information was a trade secret, the newspaper reported.

The news organizations argued that Bear Country in the South Dakota Black Hills is sufficiently different from other tourist attractions in the area that financial disclosures in the course of the trial were unlikely to give others a competitive advantage, according to the Rapid City Journal.

That media groups said in a filing that courtrooms “were neither design for private trials nor intended to promote secrecy,” according to the newspaper.

IP Moves

K&L Gates Hires IP Litigator Shane Brun from San Francisco Firm

K&L Gates LLP hired Shane Brun for its IP practice, the Pittsburgh-based firm said in a statement.

Brun, a litigator, previously was a partner at San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP.

He has represented clients whose technologies have included plasma display, optical alignment, inspection systems, microlithography, consumer electronics, chips and semiconductor equipment.

He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas, and a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of Law.

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

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