SAP, Yum, Scoopon, Renault: Intellectual Property

Intellectual Ventures, a firm that claims to own more than 30,000 patents and to have earned almost $2 billion in licensing fees, said it reached a licensing accord with software maker SAP AG.

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, took a license to Intellectual Venture’s patent portfolio for defensive uses, the firm said in an e-mailed statement. At the end of December, SAP was ordered to pay Oracle Corp. interest on the $1.3 billion copyright-infringement jury verdict a jury handed down in November.

Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue, Washington-based company founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, filed three patent-infringement suits in December against more than 10 technology companies.

SAP Wins New Trial on $139 Million Damage Award to Versata

SAP AG won a new trial over the $138.6 million it was ordered to pay Versata Software Inc. in a 2009 patent trial over business software.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham in Marshall, Texas, said the testimony during the 2009 trial on damages was incorrect in light of recent unrelated appeals court rulings that limited what can be presented to juries on the question of reasonable royalties.

The case is Versata Software Inc. v. SAP America Inc., 2:07-cv-00153-CE, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Yum!’s Pizza Hut Sues Ex-Louisiana Franchisee for Infringement

Yum! Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut unit sued its former Louisiana franchisee for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Dallas on Jan. 3, stems from a dispute between the Louisville, Kentucky-based chain and Larry Lundy.

According to a 2008 story in Franchise Times magazine, Lundy was recruited by Pizza Hut in the 1980s and became its vice president of development. The company then asked him to open a franchise in New Orleans. His Lundy Enterprises LLC was the company’s largest minority-owned franchisee, operating 44 Pizza Hut restaurants in southern Louisiana.

Lundy and Lundy Enterprises failed to meet the terms of their financial agreement, according to the complaint As a result, he was no longer entitled to use the Pizza Hut marks, the company said.

Although the dispute between Lundy and Pizza Hut had been in arbitration, the assets of his franchise were insufficient to meet all the claims against them, Pizza Hut said in its pleadings. The chain said it gave Lundy a termination notice Jan. 2 and after that date he wasn’t entitled to use any of its trademarks, logos, signage or trade dress.

New Orleans’s Times-Picayune reported Jan. 5 that all 44 of the Lundy-owned Pizza Huts closed this week. On the same day, Pizza Hut said in a statement that it would invest $10 million in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and would work with the National Urban League to find a new franchisee.

The Pizza Hut restaurants opened by Lundy won’t reopen, the company said in the statement. Pizza Hut said Lundy agreed to help with the transition and would contract with the company for five years.

In the complaint, Pizza Hut asked the court to bar Lundy’s further use of the marks, and for an award of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Telephone calls to Lundy Enterprises’ office in Baton Rouge weren’t answered.

Pizza Hut is represented by Thomas E. O’Brien and Victor Vital of Houston-based Baker Botts LLP and Robert J. Harris of Harris Winick LLP of Chicago.

The case is Pizza Hunt Inc., v. Lundy Enterprises LLC, 3:11-cv-00011-N, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

Scoopon Responds to Groupon’s Trademark-Infringement Suit

Scoopon, the Australian company sued for trademark infringement by Chicago-based Groupon Inc., said in an e-mailed statement it has offered daily deals since “well before Groupon came into existence.”

Groupon, owner of the daily coupon website with 40 million subscribers, said in a posting on its Groublogpon website that it was disputing the Australian competitor’s registration of “groupon.com.au” as a domain name. It claimed Scoopon initially accepted, then rejected, Groupon’s offer of $286,000 for the domain name.

Scoopon said it is “confident” of its position and “refuses to bow to the U.S. giant’s attempt at trying to bully it out of the Australian market.”

Samsin, Qmadix to use ‘Ecoustic’ Mark on Biodegradable Cables

Samsin U.S.A. LLC, holder of the “Ecoustic” trademark for electrical cables, has partnered with Qmadix of Panorama City, California, to use the mark on a line of biodegradable products.

The mark will be used on electrical cables that are biodegradable, Qmadix said in a statement. According to the statement, the cables retain the structural integrity of traditional cables without adding to environmental pollution.

Samsin, based in Mason, Ohio, registered the mark in February 2010, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Koons Claims Bookends Infringe ‘Balloon Dog’ Copyright

Jeff Koons, the artist known for his use of pop imagery, sent cease-and-desist notices to a San Francisco gallery and a Toronto maker of gift items, the Bay Citizen website reported.

The artist complained that bookends sold by the Park Life gallery and made by imm Living infringe the copyright for his “Balloon Dog” sculpture, according to Bay Citizen.

Gallery owner Jamie Alexander removed the bookends for sale while disagreeing with Koons’s contention, the Bay Citizen reported. Imm Living, which sells its products in more than 700 stores in the U.S., told Bay Citizen that it opposes Koons’s claims.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Renault Is Examining All Legal Options After Suspensions

Renault SA that it’s examining all legal options and that legal action is inevitable after it suspended three executives following an ethics probe.

Christian Husson, Renault’s legal director, commented in an audio podcast received by e-mail.

The French automaker suspended a senior executive for long- term product development and two others suspected of leaking electric-car secrets, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

IP Moves

Hollywood Hires Verizon Executive for Technology Policy Post

The U.S. movie industry hired a former Verizon Communications Inc. executive to be its first technology policy officer as Hollywood studios seek ways to distribute video while protecting the content from piracy.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the lobbyist for the six largest U.S. movie studios, said Paul Brigner will start Jan. 10. Brigner, 40, spent the past 10 years at Verizon, including as executive director of Internet and technology policy, the Washington-based MPAA said in a statement yesterday.

The MPAA represents Disney, Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp., News Corp., NBC Universal Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., the association’s website shows.

Brigner has an undergraduate degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a law degree from Georgetown University. According to the MPAA statement, he is finishing a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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