OurPet’s, Apple, Palin, NFL: Intellectual Property

OurPet’s Co., a maker of pet products, sued Golden, Colorado-based Kong Co. for patent infringement over a dog toy.

The suit, filed Feb. 1 in federal court in Cleveland, relates to a patent for a pet toy that was issued the same day.

Kong’s “Tugga Wubba” toy is accused of infringing OurPet’s patent 7,878,151. The patent covers a “fetch and retrieve tossing toy,” according to the patent.

OurPet’s, based in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, said it’s harmed by Kong’s sale of the Tugga Wubba, and that the infringement is “deliberate, willful, with full knowledge.” The company also induces others to infringe the patent by selling its product wholesale to dealers who will then sell the toys to end users, according to court papers.

In addition to a court order barring Kong from infringing the patent, OurPet’s seeks money damages, and an award of all profits Kong derived from its alleged infringement.

OurPet’s also asked for an order forcing Kong to reveal the location of equipment used to make the allegedly infringing product and for the destruction of that equipment and recall and destruction of all existing Tugga Wubbas. The Ohio company also requested all sales records for the product and an award of litigation costs.

The company is represented by C. Vincent Choken and David A. Welling of Choken & Welling LLP of Akron, Ohio, and John D. Gugliotta of the Patent Copyright & Trademark Law Group LLC of Richfield, Ohio.

The case is OurPet’s Co. v. Kong Co., 1:11-cv-00222-CAB, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland).

Apple Seeks Patent for Stand for Electronic Devices

Apple Inc., the maker of the iPad and iPhone, has applied for a patent for a device that could be used to support an iPad in a variety of configurations.

Application 20110025176, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Feb. 3, is for a “multiple position stand.”

The Cupertino, California-based company said in its application that consumers are seeking electronic devices “for which they can have improved display orientations that meet their needs.”

Consumers who are “discriminating and savvy” may be drawn to distinguish a computer or other electronic device by “unique and sleek support mechanisms befitting the underlying technology of the product itself,” Apple said.

The device covered by the patent could support the product in as many as four different orientations and could use a ball and socket mechanism, according to the application.

Apple filed the application in July 2009 with the assistance of Washington’s Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox PLLC. Unlike many other patent applications relating to the design of Apple products, this application doesn’t list Founder and Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs as an inventor. Jobs is presently on medical leave.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Sarah, Bristol Palin Seek to Register Names as U.S. Trademarks

Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president in the 2008 election, applied to register her name as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Her daughter, Bristol Palin, a former contestant on the “Dancing With the Stars” reality television program, has also filed an application to register her name.

Both applications have temporarily been refused on the grounds that neither woman’s consent to register the mark is on the record. Applicants who seek to register their own names must themselves sign the application, according to patent office documents. Both applicants have until May 29 to respond to the refusal.

The former candidate said in her application she plans to use her mark for information about political elections, providing a website featuring information about political issues, educational and entertainment services, including “providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.” That application was filed in November.

Her daughter says she will use her mark for educational and entertainment services, namely, “providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.” She filed her application in September.

Both applications were filed on their behalf by Thomas V. Van Flein of Anchorage, Alaska’s Clapp Peterson Tiemessen Thorsness Johnson LLC. His biography on the firm’s website doesn’t indicate that he practices intellectual-property law.

An application to register “The era of Sarah” as a trademark to be used to promote Palin’s presidential campaign was filed in November 2009 by a resident of Pueblo, Colorado. That application was abandoned in September.

James D. Weeks of Anchorage filed an application to register “Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue Rouge” in June. According to his application, he plans to use the mark for printed novelty wine labels. “Going Rogue” is the title of Palin’s autobiography, published in November 2009.

According to the AlaskaDispatch.com news website, Weeks is a former ARCO executive who now is a managing member of UltraStar Exploration, a company exploring oil on Alaska’s North Slope.

His application was temporarily refused on Sept. 29 and he has until April 29 to respond. The patent office said the mark would “falsely suggest a connection with Sarah Palin.”

Fake Holograms Used on Fake NFL Team Gear, Customs Says

Counterfeiters who were trying to sell fake merchandise related to yesterday’s National Football League Super Bowl game had begun using tags with faux holograms, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s John McNair said and CNN reported.

John McNair of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement told CNN that the holograms on the fakes were “nothing more than a shiny sticker,” while the holograms on authorized merchandise reveal distinct pictures.

Customs agents were finding other indications of fakery including, in some cases, some jerseys with names stitched on upside down, mismatched lettering and shoddy workmanship, according to CNN.

“Operation Interception,” an enforcement effort aimed at fake sports memorabilia, has brought in more than $3.5 million worth of fake goods this year, the news network reported.

Green Bay Packers Merchandise Seeks Bids on EBay After Big Win

The morning after the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the National Football League championship Super Bowl game, EBay Inc.’s online auction site had 59,776 Green Bay Packers items offered for sale. The highest-price item was Willie Wood’s Hall of Fame ring listed at $2.75 million.

Other offerings included the packerssuck.com Internet domain name, for sale for $14,000, and a diamond-studded 1996 Packers player’s wife’s Super Bowl ring offered for a starting bid of $22,000. A Packers Super Bowl championship ring from the same season is offered for $13,000, and a 1966 Super Bowl football with certified signatures from 50 Packer team members including Coach Vince Lombardi is listed at $12,000.

For those who aren’t such big spenders, football cards featuring individual Packers team members are listed on the EBay auction site with a starting price of 1 cent.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Mattel Suing MGA ‘to Death’ Over Bratz Dolls, Suit Claims

Mattel Inc. was accused in a lawsuit of antitrust violations by trying to sue MGA Entertainment Inc. “to death” in the continuing court battle over the origins of MGA’s Bratz dolls.

“Mattel Chief Executive Officer Robert Eckert embraced the ‘litigate MGA to death’ strategy, a whatever-it-takes process Mattel successfully employed to destroy the approximate $1 billion net worth of MGA,” the closely held company said in a complaint filed Feb. 3 in federal court in Los Angeles.

MGA, based in Van Nuys, California, said it seeks $1 billion in damages and asks that the amount be tripled for the alleged antitrust violations.

The companies are in the middle of a second trial over Mattel’s claims that MGA’s Bratz dolls were initially created by a designer who worked for Mattel at the time and secretly brought the idea to MGA in 2000. A previous $100 million verdict in favor of El Segundo, California-based Mattel was thrown out on appeal.

Mattel has spent more than $270 million in attorneys’ fees as part of a “scorched earth” litigation strategy, MGA said in its complaint. The company said it has been unable to successfully re-launch its Bratz line after the appeals court overturned a judge’s order following the 2008 trial that granted Mattel rights to most of MGA’s Bratz products.

“These same arguments have been repeatedly rejected by the court,” Mike Zeller, a lawyer for Mattel, said last week in an e-mailed statement. “This is nothing more than an end run against these prior decisions.”

The new jury trial that started on Jan. 18 in Santa Ana, California, may last as long as four months, U.S. District Judge David Carter has said. Mattel is seeking damages for copyright infringement and trade-secret theft from MGA, which in turn will ask the jury to hold Mattel liable for unfair competition and stealing its trade secrets.

In the 2008 trial, a federal jury in Riverside, California, agreed with Mattel that designer Carter Bryant made most of the initial sketches for the Bratz dolls while he worked for Mattel.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco found that the trial judge, Stephen Larson, had wrongly ruled that Mattel automatically owned Bryant’s design under the terms of an invention agreement and that the judge incorrectly gave Mattel ownership of later Bratz dolls that MGA developed. Carter, who got the case after Larson left the bench, said last year that all of Mattel’s claims needed to be retried.

Mattel first sued Bryant in 2004, alleging he secretly worked for a competitor while still employed at Mattel. Two years later, Mattel filed its copyright-infringement and trade- secret theft claims against MGA. Bryant settled with Mattel before the start of the 2008 trial.

The new case is MGA Entertainment v. Mattel, 11-01063, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The case in trial is Carter Bryant v. Mattel Inc., 04- 09049, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Squire Sanders Expands Silicon Valley IP Group in Jones Day Hire

Squires Sanders & Dempsey LLP hired Rahul Pathak for its Silicon Valley IP practice, the Cleveland-based firm said in a statement.

Pathak, who joined from Washington’s Jones Day, does patent-acquisition and portfolio management work for life- science companies, academy institutions and investment firms in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, genomics/biologic, renewable biofuels and small molecule drug industries.

He has an undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, a doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology and a law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

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

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