Baseball Quick, Ansel Adams, Zynga, Pillow Poem: Intellectual Property

A unit of Major League Baseball was sued for infringement by a New York patent holder.

Baseball Quick LLC of Massena, New York, holds a patent on a method of editing pre-recorded baseball games by removing non- essential plays. Patent 7,628,716 was issued in December 2009 and was assigned to the company in 2010, according to the complaint filed Aug. 23 in federal court in San Diego.

One of the inventors named on the patent contacted Major League Baseball in August 2000 about using the invention and was told to come back after a patent was issued, Baseball Quick said in its court papers.

Beginning in 2002, Major League Baseball’s MLB Advanced Media unit began displaying condensed games on its website, www.mlb.com, according to the complaint. Baseball Quick said it contacted MLB in February 2010 about taking a license to the patent and was told that the company didn’t think the patent applied.

Baseball Quick asked the court to order MLB to stop infringing the patent, and for awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages. Alleging the infringement is intentional, Baseball Quick requested that the damages be tripled to punish MLB for its actions.

The New York company is represented by Gregg I. Anderson, Matthew D. Murphey and Kimberly D. Howatt of San Francisco’s Gordon & Rees LLP.

The case is Baseball Quick LLC v. MLB Advanced Media LP, 3:10-cv-01758-DMS-WVG, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Axis-Shield Applies for Patent for New Vitamin D Test Method

Axis-Shield Plc, a company that develops in vitro diagnostic tests, filed a patent application for a method of testing for vitamin D.

More than 50 percent of the world’s population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency, the Dundee, Scotland-based company said in a statement. According to an article in the International Journal of Endocrinology, vitamin D deficiencies are associated with breast, prostate and colon cancer.

The invention covered by the patent application is for a simpler, more efficient method of testing for vitamin D, and is applicable to “a wide range of instruments” currently used in clinical labs. Existing tests require “complex separation technology and denaturing solvents,” making them difficult to use on common testing instruments.

According to a New York Times story from January 2009, existing tests for vitamin D deficiencies may cost as much as $200 and can yield inconsistent results.

The company settled a U.S. patent-infringement case Aug. 6 that was brought in May 2008 by Inova Diagnostics Inc. of San Diego. In that case Axis-Shield was accused of infringing a patent related to a test for rheumatoid arthritis. At issue in that case was patent 7,335,724.

That case was INOVA Diagnostics v. Euro-Diagnostica AB, 3:08-cv-00845-H-JMA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Ansel Adams Trust Sues Holder of ‘Garage Sale’ Negatives

The holders of the rights to the late Ansel Adams’s photographs sued a Fresno, California, resident for trademark infringement.

Rick Norsigian bought a box of glass negatives at a garage sale in 2000. Suspecting they might be negatives of the famed nature photographer’s work, he researched Adams’s photography and development techniques and became convinced they had been shot by Adams, according to Norsigian’s website.

He was selling prints and posters made from the negatives, according to the complaint filed Aug. 23 in federal court in San Francisco. The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust sued Norsigian and Los Angeles-based PRS Media Partners LLC for infringing the Adams trademarks by making use of his name and likeness to sell the photos.

Even if the negatives had been shot by Adams, the images Norsigian and PRS Media Partners are selling weren’t printed by the late photographer, so they are “not an Ansel Adams performance,” the trust said in its complaint.

The trust accused Norsigian and PRS Media Partners of “improperly and unlawfully trading on the famous Ansel Adams trademark and the public’s knowledge of and goodwill associated with Mr. Adams.”

The complaint also mentions that “numerous photography experts” have “voiced serious doubts” that the Norsigian negatives were created by Adams.

The trust asked the court to bar the defendants’ use of Adams’s name, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees, litigation costs, and the defendants’ profits from their allegedly infringing activities.

When accessed yesterday, Norsigian’s website provided a link for those wishing to buy the images. When the link was clicked on, a “page not found” notice came up.

The trust is represented by Bob Steinberg, Daryl Stuart Bartow and Michael Woodrow De Vries of Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins LLP.

The case is Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust v. PRS Media Partners LLC, 3:10-cv-03740, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Digital Chocolate Sues Zynga, Claims ‘Mafia Wars’ Mark Infringed

Digital Chocolate Inc., a game developer based in San Mateo, California, filed a trademark infringement suit against Zynga Game Network Inc. of San Francisco.

The suit, filed Aug. 24 in federal court in San Jose, California, is over “Mafia Wars,” a Zynga game that’s popular on Facebook Inc.’s social-media website. Digital Chocolate said it began using the Mafia Wars mark in 2004 for its version of the game, which it claims has been downloaded by more than 2 million consumers.

Zynga introduced its Mafia Wars game in 2008, and Digital Chocolate claims the Zynga game is similar to its own product in many ways. Digital Chocolate said that beginning in January 2009, it attempted to engage Zynga “multiple times” to no avail. Digital Chocolate said it received communication from Zynga’s counsel in May 2009 stating that the San Francisco company “does not claim Mafia Wars as a trademark.”

Zynga filed applications to register “Mafia Wars” trademarks in July 2009 and March 2010, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There is also a pending application to register the phrase for use with clothing filed by a Catonsville, Maryland, resident.

Digital Chocolate, which doesn’t have an application to register “Mafia Wars,” claims it is damaged by Zynga’s actions. Digital Chocolate received inquiries from consumers who are confused as to the source of the various “Mafia Wars” games, according to court papers.

The company asked the court to declare void Zynga’s pending trademark applications for “Mafia Wars,” and to order Zynga to quit using “Mafia Wars” for any purpose. It also seeks money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs and requests that the damages be tripled to punish Zynga for its actions.

Additionally, Digital Chocolate asked to be transferred the MafiaWars.com domain name, and wants a court-ordered corrective advertising campaign in an amount double to what Zynga spent promoting its “Mafia Wars” game.

Digital Chocolate is represented by Michael G. Rhodes, Janet L. Cullum, Mark F. Lambert, Susan D. Berney-Key and Gavin L. Charlston of Palo Alto, California’s Cooley LLP.

The case is Digital Chocolate Inc. v. Zynga Game Network Inc., 5:10-cv-03758-PVT, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Indonesia Fares Poorly on IP Rights Enforcement, Study Says

Indonesia is a leading center of IP piracy, a Hong Kong- based consulting firm said and Agence France Presse reported.

The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy said the country had “lost its momentum” for IP rights enforcement, according to AFP.

While the country has adequate laws, it’s not enforcing them effectively, the consultancy said according to AFP.

Among the Asian countries surveyed, the consultancy said Singapore had the best record as far as IP rights protection, followed by Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in that order, according to AFP.

Poet Sues Gift Shops Over Poem on Pillows, in Stitchery Kits

A Texas poet sued gift shops in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Colorado and Tennessee for copyright infringement.

Renee Baker of Chandler, Texas, wrote a poem comparing families to quilts in 1989, and later created a needlework kit incorporating the poem. She registered the poem with the U.S. Register of Copyrights.

The gift shops are accused of selling without authorization framed stitchery and pillows incorporating or based on Baker’s poem. In her complaint filed Aug. 20 in federal court in Tyler, Texas, Baker says her work is further infringed by the gift shops’ catalogues and websites.

Baker seeks a court order barring Your Heart’s Delight by Audrey’s of Lebanon, Pennsylvania; the Rustic Country Barn LLC of New Milford, Connecticut; Quilters’ Gift Shop of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and KDC Country Village of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, from making, buying or selling any products that infringe her copyright.

She also requested an award of profits the gift shops have derived from their alleged infringement, money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

She filed a similar infringement suit in January 2008 against a group of gift shops. That case was settled in June 2009.

Baker is represented by Daniel Vance Thompson of the Law Office of Daniel V. Thompson PC of Dallas.

The new case is Baker v. Audrey’s Crafts and Home Décor Inc., 6:10-cv-00435-MHS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

The earlier case is Baker v. Honey and Me Inc., 6:08-cv- 00015-JDL, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

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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