Chimei Innolux, LucasFilm, Gucci, Virgin Condom: Intellectual Property

Chimei Innolux Corp., Taiwan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, sued Sony Corp. in the U.S. and China for patent infringements.

Chimei Innolux seeks to halt the sale in the U.S. of Sony products, including Bravia televisions, Cybershot digital cameras and digital photo frames, and is asking for compensatory damages, the Miaoli, Taiwan-based company said in an e-mail yesterday, without specifying an amount. A suit was also filed against Sony in China, it said. Spokesman Eddie Chen confirmed the suits by phone yesterday.

Chimei Innolux, formed in March by the merger of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp., Innolux Display Corp. and TPO Displays Corp., supplies panels and partially assembled screens for use in TVs, computer monitors and electronics products. Sony earlier this year alleged Innolux and Hong Kong-based TPV Technology Ltd. violated its intellectual property rights and asked a U.S. trade agency to block imports of its products.

“We’re confirming the facts and can’t comment any further at this point,” said Tokyo-based Sony spokesman Atsuo Omagari.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington said in April it would consider Sony’s claims that digital TVs and monitors made in China by Innolux and TPV are infringing 10 of the Japanese company’s patents.

The case announced by Chimei Innolux today is “not specifically related” to Sony’s earlier complaint against it, Chen said.

“CMI has invested significant resources to technical innovation, and focused on researching and developing advanced flat-panel display technologies and products,” Peterson Tien, Chimei Innolux’s General Counsel and Vice President said in the statement. “After our recent three-way merger, our intellectual properties portfolio has strengthened substantially and has become more diversified.”

The two cases are filed in federal court in Arkansas and the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court. The three disputed patents are 5,495,265, 5,619,352 and 6,722,773, issued between February 1996 and April 2004.

Chimei is represented in the U.S. case by Nicholas H. Patton of Patton, Tidwell and Schroeder LLP of Texarkana, Texas.

That case is Chimei Innolux Corp., v. Sonly Corp., 5:10-cv- 05122-JLH, U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas (Fayetteville).

For more patent news, click here.


LucasFilm Claims Portable Lasers Infringe LightSaber Copyright

LucasFilm Ltd. has told a Hong Kong maker of portable laser devices that it’s infringing because its product is too much like the lightsabers used in the “Star Wars” films, CNN reported.

Wicked Lasers received a letter from the film company demanding it either stop selling its Pro Arctic laser or modify it so it doesn’t look like the hilt of the “Star Wars” lightsabers, according to CNN.

Steve Liu, Wicked Laser’s chief executive, told CNN his company has been selling its laser devices for years and “would never use” a comparison to the lightsaber to promote the item.

Nicasio, California-based LucasFilm warned Wicked Laser that the lightsabers are protected by copyright, according to CNN.

U.K. Licenses Required for Playing Radio While Cutting Hair

A U.K. hairdresser was ordered to pay 1,500 British pounds ($2,275) in legal costs for playing the radio while cutting hair, the Lancashire Evening Post reported.

Phonographic Performance Ltd., a royalties collector, complained that the House of Hair and Beauty in Friargate, Preston, filed to obtain the necessary license to let the radio or a CD player “perform” music, according to the newspaper.

The shop manager had taken a license from the Performing Rights Society, which covered only royalties to songwriters and music publishers, according to the Post.

The case began after an inspector heard music by the Black Eyed Peas on a radio at the shop in June 2009, the post reported.

For more copyright news, click here.


Gucci Can Go After Credit Card Services Companies, Judge Says

Gucci Group’s Gucci American unit persuaded a federal judge that companies that provide credit card services to sellers of fake goods can be pursued for trademark infringement.

The luxury goods maker sued Frontline Processing Corp. of Bozeman, Montana; Woodforest National Bank of The Woodlands Texas; and Durango Merchant Services LLC of Durango, Colorado, in federal court in Manhattan in August 2009. Gucci claimed they contributed to trademark infringement by facilitating payment to merchants that specialized in fakes.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. agreed with Gucci, and in a 24-page order said allegations in the complaint are “sufficient to infer” that Durango intentionally induced trademark infringement, and that Woodforest and Frontline “knowingly provided” services to a counterfeiter.

He notes that Durango’s own website described itself as a company “specializing in services for ‘High Risk Merchant Accounts,’ including those who sell ‘Replica Products.’”

In a separate order on July 2, Judge Baer ordered Durango to pay the cost for reconstructing its computer hard drives on which file-scrubbing software had been run the day before a company official was to have been deposed in the case. He said Durango could not run any further software of this type or delete or destroy documents “that could be relevant to this litigation.”

Gucci is represented by Kimberly Michelle Lindsay, Jennifer Colgan Halter, Howard Sean Hogan, Anne Maureen Coyle, and Robert L. Weigel of Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is Gucci America Inc., v. Frontline Processing Corp., 1:09-cv-06925-HB, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Virgin Group Mounts Successful Challenge to Condom Trademark

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group prevailed in a trademark dispute with an Australian importer of condoms, the Smart Company news website reported.

Australia’s Virgin International Pty Ltd. sought to register a trademark featuring the silhouette of a woman whose wide spread legs formed the “V” in the word “virgin,” according to Smart Company.

The Australian company is owned by an olive oil seller who previously was successful in a trademark action brought by Branson’s London-based company over a brand for the oil, Smart Company reported.

Virgin Group argued that the condom trademark application be rejected because the importer neglected to register them with an Australian regulatory agency with jurisdiction over medical devices, according to Smart Company.

Gail Zappa Fails to Bar Use of Family Name by Festival

The widow of musician Frank Zappa can’t bar a German music festival from using a version of his name, the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf, Germany, has ruled and the Register information-technology news website reported.

Gail Zappa had objected to the name of the Zappanale festival, which features the late musician’s music, according to the Register.

The court said she hadn’t made enough use of the Zappa name in commerce for it to be considered a protected trademark, the website reported.

She had sought 150,000 Euros ($190,000) in damages, according to the Register.

Mott’s Sues Labor Union Over In-Store Label Alterations

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s Mott’s unit sued a labor union for trademark infringement.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is accused of “adulterating and mutilating” labels for Mott’s products. The juice company is presently the target of an in- store labor action by the union that involves printing out labels and affixing them to Mott’s products, according to a union website,

The placement of these unauthorized labels alters Mott’s presentation of its trademark and trade dress, the company said in the complaint filed July 6 in federal court in Dallas.

Mott’s also claims that union members are urged to photograph the altered product and publicize this on social networking sites such as the one operated by Facebook Inc.

According to the union website, the labels complain of a possible wage cut of $1.50 an hour.

One label reads “CEO doubled his pay, now they propose wage cuts of $1.50 hr.” Another states “In 2009, Mott’s parent company made $555,000,000 in profits. Now they propose wage cuts of $1.50 per hour.”

Mott’s said it’s harmed by the placement of these labels and deprived “of its absolute right to determine the manner in which its trademark, trade dress and image is presented to the public.”

It asked the court to find that its trademarks are infringed, and to order the union to stop placing the objectionable labels or encouraging others to do so. It’s also seeking money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Mott’s, based in Plano, Texas, asked that the damages award be tripled to punish the union for its actions.

Mott’s is represented by Bart A. Lazar of Chicago’s Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Chad A. Johnson and Richard A. Illmer of Brown McCarroll LLP of Austin, Texas.

The case is Motts LLP v. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, 3:10-cv-01315-P, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Cache Says Its Fashion Line Isn’t Based on Chico’s Designs

Cache Inc., a New York-based apparel chain, denies all allegations of trade-secret theft made by competitor Chico’s FAS Inc.

In a July 7 statement, Cache says the allegations Chico’s made in a July 30 complaint filed in New York state court are frivolous and baseless.

Chico’s sued Cache after two senior merchant management team members joined the New York company. After the two former employees went to Cache, Chico’s claimed its designs were stolen and presented as Cache’s own.

Many of the styles that were allegedly copied “look nothing like” the designs Cache produced, the company said in a statement July 7. Other styles that were allegedly copied had actually previously been created by Cache, and were simply “re- colored and repeated” in its spring and summer 2010 collections, the company said.

Cache claims the suit was filed to “impair its reputation” and that the litigation is “a waste of shareholder money and consumer tax dollars.”

The case is White House/Black Market v. Cache Inc., 650774- 2010, New York Supreme Court, New York County.

IP Moves

Donovan & Yee Expands Practice With Two Trademark Specialists

Donovan & Yee LLP, an IP boutique, hired two new partners, the New York-based firm said in a statement.

The two new hired, Nancy J. Mertzel and Heather L. Heft, are both trademark specialists.

Mertzel, who previously practiced at New York’s Thelen LLP, has done litigation, trademark registration and licensing.

She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and a law degree from American University.

Heft, who joined from New York’s Stroock & Stroock and Lavan LLP, has done trademark, work for financial-industry clients.

She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Columbia University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

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