Apple, Michaels, Kiewit, Ohio State, K&L Gates: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. is challenging a jury verdict in which the computer maker was ordered to pay as much as $625.5 million to Mirror Worlds LLC for infringing patents related to how documents are displayed digitally.

Apple asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for an emergency stay of the Oct. 1 verdict, saying there are outstanding issues on two of the three patents. Apple said patent owner Mirror Worlds would also be “triple dipping” if it were able to collect $208.5 million on each of the patents.

Closely held Mirror Worlds, founded by Yale University computer-science Professor David Gelernter, sued in 2008, claiming Apple’s iPod music device, iPhone and Mac computers infringed its patents for a way documents are displayed on a computer screen. Apple challenged the validity of the patents and whether they were infringed, according to court records. Some claims were thrown out before the case went to the jury.

The trial focused on the Spotlight, Time Machine and Cover Flow features in Apple’s Mac operating systems. Cover Flow lets users scroll through album cover art when browsing for music in their iTunes library. The feature also works for documents, pictures and other material stored in a computer.

Spotlight searches the computer’s hard drive, while Time Machine automatically saves copies of files.

The $625.5 million award is the second-biggest jury verdict in 2010, and the fourth-biggest patent verdict in U.S. history. The largest jury verdict this year, for $677 million against nursing home company Skilled Healthcare Group Inc., later settled for $50 million.

An Apple lawyer, Jeffrey Randall of Los Angeles-based Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP, told jurors in closing arguments that the Mirror Worlds patents had been sold, first for $210,000 and then $5 million, and weren’t worth any more than that, according to a transcript in the court record.

The judge in the case has asked the Apple and Mirror Worlds lawyers to submit legal arguments on the damages awarded by the federal jury in Tyler, Texas, according to the Oct. 3 Apple filing.

The arguments are needed “in light of counsel for Mirror Worlds’ erroneous and objectionable suggestion that, among other things, damages should be cumulative while at the same time suggesting that Mirror Worlds was not ‘triple-dipping,’” Apple said.

Apple had $45.8 billion in cash and securities as of June 26. Officials at Apple didn’t return messages seeking additional information on the filing.

The judge also is considering Apple’s request, filed before the verdict, to rule that the company doesn’t infringe two of the patents. The judge said that if he granted that request, he’d strike the amount of damages attributed to those two patents.

Gelernter wrote “Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox” and “Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber,” about his recovery from a bomb sent by Theodore Kaczynski in 1993 that damaged his right hand and eye.

Mirror Worlds LLC, the legal entity that filed the complaint, is incorporated in Tyler, Texas, according to the complaint. Lawyers for the company declined to comment yesterday day or Oct. 1 when asked about the verdict and the amount of damages.

The case is Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple Inc., 08cv88, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For more patent news, click here.


Michaels Sued by Jewelry Artist Over Sales of Ceramic Pendants

Michaels Stores Inc., the Texas-based chain of craft stores, was sued for copyright infringement by a Pennsylvania jewelry designer.

Joan C. Miller of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, said Michaels is selling ceramic charms that are knockoffs of her copyrighted designs. The charms are bought by customers who incorporate them into jewelry they make, according to the complaint filed Oct. 1 in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio.

She said her designs aren’t sold for mass production or commercial use other than as components in handmade jewelry sold by artisans. The allegedly infringing products are in more than 1,000 retail Michaels stores and on the company website, according to court papers.

Miller said she heard from customers that her designs were being sold at Michaels under the “Meadow Grove” brand and that the packaging listed Michaels Stores as the manufacturer.

She says she’s harmed by the sale of the alleged knockoffs, causing her irreparable harm and loss of “substantial revenue.” She asked the court to order Michaels to quit selling the allegedly infringing product, and to abandon any applications to register the copyrights on these products. She also seeks recall of any infringing products and ads, and their destruction.

Miller also asked for money damages and Michaels’ profits attributable to the sale of what she says are the infringing products. She also asked for extra damages to punish the craft- store chain for its actions, and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

She is represented by Tammy L. Browning-Smith of the Law Offices of Browning-Smith PC of Amherst, Ohio.

The case is Miller V. Michaels Stores Inc., 1:10-cv-0225- SO, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland).

Copyright-Enforcement Law Firm Hit With Web Attack, Bomb Threat

Dunlap Grubb & Weaver PLLC, a Leesburg, Virginia-based law firm that filed multiple copyright infringement suits against alleged BitTorrent downloaders, received a bomb threat Sept. 30, according to the TorrentFreak website.

The bomb threat, e-mailed to the firm, came after the firm’s website was taken down Sept. 29 following a denial-of- service attack called for by an anonymous group of Internet users, TorrentFreak reported.

The firm’s office was evacuated and searched by law enforcement officials accompanied by dogs trained to detect explosives, according to TorrentFreak.

The police haven’t found a direct link between the firm’s anti-piracy activities and the bomb threat, TorrentFreak reported.

For more copyright news, click here.


Kiewit Sues Florida Business Broker for Trademark Infringement

Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc., the Omaha, Nebraska-based construction company, sued a Florida-based business broker for trademark infringement.

Wall Street Equity Group Inc. of Pompano Beach, Florida, is accused of using the Kiewit name when making representations to potential clients. According to the complaint filed Sept. 30 in federal court in Omaha, the Florida company implied that Kiewit is an interested buyer of whatever business Wall Street Equity Group’s potential clients are trying to sell.

In April, according to court papers, the Florida company provided a “background on the buyer, Kiewit” to Hladky Construction Co., of Gillette, Wyoming. The accused company then offered to conduct an appraisal for between $25,000 and $35,000, Kiewit said in its court papers.

Kiewit said a different company attempted a similar transaction in 2008 and that Shepherd Friedman -- one of the defendants named in this case -- was the operator of the company in the earlier situation. In that case, Kiewit said, the target company was Waterfront Marine Construction Co.

After Kiewit complained in that case, it received a response letter attesting that any representation of Kiewit as a potential buyer wouldn’t occur again. Kiewit said there could be “tens, hundreds or thousands of other instances” in which Friedman or one of his companies “made misrepresentations and perpetrated a similar scheme predicated upon the false hope that Kiewit is an interested buyer.”

The result of these actions, Kiewit claims, “is that the business owner/seller ends up out of money and disappointed” that Kiewit doesn’t have a bona fide interest in making the business purchase. In return, the disappointed seller “associates Kiewit with the unpleasant business transaction,” according to court papers.

Wall Street Equity Group, according to its website, is a “leading investment bank with extensive expertise in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures for clients.” It didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment. The company website offers a free DVD, “How to sell your business quickly at the highest price possible.”

In addition to seeking a court order barring the defendants from using the Kiewit name to suggest some false association, the construction company asked the court for money damages, including profits from Wall Street Equity Group’s products related to its alleged infringement.

Kiewit asked that the damages be tripled to punish the defendants for their actions, and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The Nebraska construction company is represented by Michael F. Coyle and Rebecca A. Zawisky of Fraser Stryker PC LLP of Omaha.

The case is Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. v. Wall Street Equity Group Inc., 8:10-cv-00365-CRZ, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska (Omaha).

Ohio State Sues Publisher of Football Yearbook for Infringement

Ohio State University sued a Massachusetts magazine publisher for trademark infringement.

The suit is related to Maple Street Press LLC’s publication of “Buckeye Battle Cry,” a publication about football at the school, according to the complaint filed Oct. 1 in federal court in Columbus, Ohio.

The magazine misappropriates the school’s registered trademark for the university fight song, and uses the trademark “Buckeyes” throughout the publication without authorization. Other Ohio State trademarks, trade dress and content are also used without permission, the complaint alleges.

The accused publication is also competitive with Ohio State’s own athletics publications, the school says in its court papers.

According to the Scituate, Massachusetts-based publisher’s website, it also publishes specialty sports guides for the Universities of Connecticut and North Carolina basketball teams; football teams from the Universities of Wisconsin, Tennessee, Nebraska, Alabama, Texas, Michigan and Notre Dame; and a number of National Football League teams.

Ohio State asked the court for an order barring the company from use of the school’s trademarks, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. The school also requested a list of all retailers, distributors and agents to which Maple Street Press supplied copies of the allegedly infringing publication. Ohio State also requested a tripling of the damages to punish the publisher for its actions.

The university is represented by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and Mary R. True and Joseph R. Dreitler of Bricker & Eckler LLP of Columbus.

The case is The Ohio State University v. Maple Street Press LLC, 2:10-cv-00890-ALM-TPK, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

The Gap Sues Gapnote Social Media Site for Infringing Marks

The Gap Inc., the San Francisco-based clothing chain with more than 3,000 stores, sued an Arizona-based website and its operator for trademark infringement.

Greg Murphy of Tempe, Arizona, is accused of infringing the clothing chain’s trademarks by operating the Gapnote website, and a Gapnote listing on Facebook Inc.’s social-media site.

The 41-year-old clothing chain objects both to the name and to the fact that the name is “presented in an identically or substantially similar font” as it commonly uses for its Gap mark. It accused Murphy and his site of attempting to “trade off the significant goodwill” and “strong public recognition” of the Gap marks.

The Gap asked the court to order Murphy and his site to quit infringing the Gap marks, and not to pursue any attempts to register Gapnote as a trademark. It also requested orders for destruction of all infringing materials, and for awards for money damages and Gapnote’s profits that can be attributed to its alleged infringement.

The company also asked for extra damages to punish Murphy for his actions, and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The Gap is represented by Noel M. Cook and Alica Dell Valle of San Francisco’s Owen Wickersham & Erickson PC and Giselle Woo and James D. Weinberger of New York’s Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu PC.

The case is The Gap Inc. v. Murphy, 3:10-cv-04354-EDL, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

K&L Gates Adds Life-Sciences Specialist in Boston Office

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

Kerner joins from Washington-based Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. She does patent acquisition, counseling and transactional work related to life-sciences IP.

Her clients are from the fields of cancer, disorders, early and late-stage disease diagnostics and therapeutics, gastroenterology, neurology, nanotechnologies, ophthalmology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Before she was a lawyer, Kerner was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and held a joint appointment at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.

She has an undergraduate degree in biology from Boston University, a doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Connecticut Medical School and a law degree from Suffolk University.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at

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