Lexmark, Sony, Coppola, Obama Poster, Merck, Fairey: Intellectual Property

Lexmark International Inc., the maker of laser and inkjet printers, filed a patent-infringement claim with U.S. trade officials to block what it calls copycat toner cartridges.

Lexmark cited 24 companies that it says make and sell unauthorized replacement cartridges overseas. It filed a complaint on Aug. 20 with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, which has the power to block imports of products found to infringe U.S. patents.

Selling printer supplies is Lexmark’s “profit engine,” the Lexington, Kentucky-based company said in its most recent annual report. Laser and inkjet supplies accounted for $2.75 billion in sales last year, or 71 percent of $3.9 billion in revenue.

The company has said that clones, counterfeits and re- manufactured cartridges can drive down prices, which may hurt its financial results. Lexmark also filed a civil suit in federal court in Cincinnati seeking cash compensation for the infringement of 15 patents.

Among companies included in the ITC complaint is Ninestar Image International Ltd. of China, which also was named in a patent case filed in June by Lexmark’s rival, Canon Inc., and one filed last year by another competitor, Hewett-Packard Co. The Lexmark complaint is In the Matter of Toner Cartridges, Complaint No. 2750, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil suit is Lexmark International Inc. v. Ink Technologies Printer Supplies LLC, 10cv564, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati).

Chimei Sues Sony Over Patent Infringement by Bravia, PlayStation

Chimei Innolux Corp., Taiwan’s largest maker of liquid- crystal displays, said Sony Corp.’s Vaio notebook computers, Bravia flat-panel televisions and PlayStation 3 game systems are infringing its U.S. patents.

Chimei Innolux filed a patent complaint yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. Last month, the company sued Sony in federal court in Arkansas and in Beijing Intermediate People’s Court in China, claiming infringement of other LCD-related patents.

“Sony is engaged in widespread infringement” of Chimei Innolux patents, the Miaoli, Taiwan-based company said in yesterday’s complaint. Chimei Innolux is seeking cash compensation and an order that blocks further use of its inventions.

Global shipments of LCD TVs will climb 29 percent to 188 million units this year and reach 260 million sets by 2014, researcher DisplaySearch said on June 29.

Chimei Innolux has said it plans to triple production at one of its plants by the end of the year and almost double production at another.

Tokyo-based Sony, Japan’s largest maker of LCD panels, has a patent-infringement case against Chimei Innolux at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, seeking to block imports of monitors made by Chimei Innolux and sold as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer and ViewSonic brands.

Officials with Sony didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The case is Chimei Innolux Corp. v. Sony Corp., 10-cv706, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Coppola Sues Over Trademark for Wine Label Named for Daughter

Francis Ford Coppola, the director best known for the “Godfather” series of movies, sued a Spanish winery for trademark infringement.

The suit related to the “Sofia” line of wines Coppola began making in 1999 in honor of his daughter, the actress and director, Sofia Coppola. The senior Coppola owns the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Northern California’s Sonoma County, where he produced wine under a variety of labels, including Sofia.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 20 in federal court in Austin, Texas, Casas Naveran of Barcelona began selling a rose and a white wine in Spain with a label that is “a nearly identical copy” of the Sofia label.

Coppola claims Naveran began selling the wine in the U.S. in 2008, and Coppola learned about the wine in 2009. Coppola said in his complaint he sent Naveran a cease-and-desist letter in July 2009.

In response, Naveran twice sent images of redesigned labels. The new labels “remain confusingly and substantially similar,” according to court papers.

Naveran told Coppola in May 2010 that it would stop trying to redesign the label and would move forward with a design it had shown the California winery in March 2009, according to court papers.

Coppola claims that the public is too easily confused by an alleged similarity between the labels, both of which feature a floral wreath around their perimeters. The similarity enables Naveran to “free-ride all of the goodwill” associated with Coppola’s “Sofia” marks, according to the complaint.

In addition to asking the court to bar infringement of the “Sofia” marks, Coppola seeks money damages, including an award of the profits the defendant derived from the alleged infringement.

Coppola also seeks an award of attorney fees and litigation costs and asks that the damages be tripled to punish the Spanish winery for its alleged infringement.

The director and his winery are represented by Oscar L. De La Rosa of Del la Rosa & Chaumette of Houston, and Marl S. Lee, Susan E. Hollander and Judith M. Schvimmer of Los Angeles-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.

The case is Trustees of the Coppola Family Trust v. Vasas Naveran, 1:10-cv-00623-LY, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

Victoria’s Secret ‘Delicious’ Case to Be Retried in Los Angeles

Limited Brands Inc.’s Victoria’s Secret unit must return to federal court to face a trademark-infringement lawsuit brought by a California shoe company, a federal appeals court ruled.

Fortune Dynamics Inc., of City of Industry, California, sued Victoria’s Secret in Los Angeles in May 2007. The footwear company, which has sold more than 12 million pairs of shoes under the “Delicious” trademark, objected to a Victoria’s Secret promotional item that was given away with a purchase of a cosmetic product, according to the court opinion.

The item was a pink tank top with the word “Delicious” across the chest in silver script. Fortune Dynamics claimed the public would be confused and assume some affiliation between itself and Victoria’s Secret.

The trial court didn’t agree and dismissed the case on Victoria’s Secret’s request. The shoe company then filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

In its Aug. 19 ruling, the appeals court said that enough confusion existed among both stores’ target market of young women that the trial court needed to take another look at the possibilities of infringement.

The appeals court didn’t accede to Fortune’s request to have the case assigned for retrial before someone other than U.S. District Judge Manual Real, who dismissed the earlier case. In the ruling by Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, the court said “there is no indication in the record that the district court will be unable to put out of his mind previously expressed views or that reassignment is necessary to ‘preserve the appearance of justice.’”

The case is Fortune Dynamic Inc. v. Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management Inc., 08-056291, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco). The lower court case is Fortune Dynamic Inc. v. Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management Inc., 2:07-cv-02962-R-JTL, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

India Says HPV Vaccine Test Protocol Details Are Trade Secrets

India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization has rejected applications for information about the protocols under which two vaccines against the genital human papillomavirus that causes cervical cancer are being tested in that country, The Hindu newspaper reported.

The government has responded to requests made under India’s Right to Information Act by saying the information is a trade secret and can’t be disclosed, according to The Hindu.

The two vaccines -- Gardasil and Cervarix -- are from Merck & Co.’s Merck Sharp & Dohme unit, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and were being tested in clinical trials in the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, according to The Hindu.

The requests for information were made by the New Delhi- based advocacy group Sama-Resource Group for Women when the clinical trials were closed down in April after some girls had side effects following the vaccine’s administration, The Hindu reported.

Copyright

Obama-Poster Copyright Case Trial Is Set for March 21

A March 21 trial is set in the copyright case between artist Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press over an election poster of Barack Obama that Fairey made from an AP photo. He will testify, his lawyers said.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan yesterday also set a Dec. 17 deadline for Fairey and AP to file motions for summary judgment, which if granted could make a trial unnecessary.

“Fairey will testify how he did it,” his attorney, Geoffrey Stewart, said at a hearing in Manhattan yesterday.

Fairey sued last year seeking a ruling that his Obama Hope poster didn’t infringe AP’s copyright. The news organization countersued. Fairey’s lawyers will try to prove that the poster was a “fair use” of the photograph and thus didn’t infringe a copyright.

The judge asked the lawyers about a court filing Aug. 20 stating that another party in the case, Mannie Garcia, had dropped his lawsuit. Garcia, the photographer who took the photo of Obama for AP, had sued AP and Fairey for illegal use of the picture.

“We’ve all consented to it,” Dale Cendali, a lawyer for the AP, said in court yesterday. “Mr. Garcia will be removed from the case.”

The case is Fairey v. Associated Press, 09-cv-01123, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Church Sues Scholar for Quoting Document in Ph.D. Dissertation

The Brotherhood of Christ Church, a denomination based in Davis, Iowa, sued a scholar for copyright infringement.

When Constance A. Crowley was pursuing her doctorate in developmental psychology, she wrote her dissertation about the church. According to the complaint filed Aug. 20 in federal court in Iowa, she is accused of using writings and photographs from “The Sealed Portion of the Brother of Jared, Volume 1,” in her dissertation.

The brotherhood has posted the entire document on its website at www.sealedportion.com.

Crowley submitted the dissertation to NorthCentral University Inc., an online university based in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The school is a codefendant with Crowley because it allegedly made and distributed copies of the thesis containing the sect’s copyrighted works.

The church, which is itself an offshoot of an offshoot from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, is located in Davis City, Iowa. According to court papers, church members “live in a community whereby residents use limited machinery and have no electricity and, likewise, no computers in their homes.”

Crowley’s dissertation addresses child-rearing practices within the sect and she said she gleaned much of her information about the Brotherhood through her interviews with disaffected former members. The dissertation is included in the case file.

The Brotherhood asked the court to order Crowley, the school, and an online service that publishes scholarly documents on demand to stop infringing the work. It also seeks awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The church is represented by Glenn Johnson and Wendy K. Marsh of Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O’Brien PC of Des Moines, Iowa.

The case is Brotherhood of Christ Church v. Constance A. Crowley, 4:10-cv-00393-JAJ-TJS, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa.

For more copyright news, click here.

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

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