LogMeIn, ICAP Ocean Tomo, Dyson: Intellectual Property

LogMeIn Inc. (LOGM), a provider of services enabling remote connections to computers, won a court ruling that it didn’t infringe a patent owned by 01 Communique Laboratory Inc.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia, issued the ruling after a hearing April 1. The judge said he would issue an opinion later and removed the case from the May 2 calendar for trials, LogMeIn said in a statement.

01 Communique filed the lawsuit in September, claiming Woburn, Massachusetts-based LogMeIn and Dell Inc. (DELL) were infringing its patent 6,928,479, related to a method of providing a private communication portal. Dell was dropped from the case in December, according to the docket. Mississauga, Ontario-based 01 Communique runs the “I’m in Touch” remote access service.

01 Communique said in a statement it “remains confident in the merits of its case” and plans to appeal the ruling.

The case is 01 Communique Laboratory Inc. (ONE) v. LogMeIn Inc., 10cv1007, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

Covenant Not to Sue Sells for $38.5 Million at IP Auction

A company founded by a former litigator from Kirkland & Ellis IP sold a novel product for $38.5 million at ICAP Ocean Tomo’s auction of IP assets in New York March 31.

What was sold was a covenant not to sue. It was one of four offered by Round Rock Research LLC of Mount Kisco, New York. Round Rock was started by John Demarais in June 2010, after he left the Chicago-based firm where he’d spent more than 15 years representing patent owners in big-ticket litigation.

In December 2009, Demarais bought a portfolio of more than 4,000 patents from Micron Technology Inc. (MU), the biggest U.S. maker of computer-memory chips.

According to an ICAP Ocean Tomo statement issued in advance of the auction, the covenants not to sue were related to the Micron patents. Companies that had already taken license to the portfolio included Apple Inc. (AAPL), Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) and Micron.

Demarais said in that statement that he was already litigating the patents and “pursuing other infringers of the portfolio.” The covenant not to sue was “an excellent opportunity for interested parties to easily acquire a covenant and avoid future litigation.”

The identity of the purchasers of the covenant wasn’t disclosed. Alexander Poltorak, chief executive officer of General Patent Corp., attended the auction and said speculation was that the buyer was either a handset manufacturer or “a patent aggregator who represented a consortium of several buyers.”

Poltorak, whose Suffern, New York-based company does patent-enforcement work for inventors, said a patent owner who is hoping to make money selling the covenant not to sue “would need to prove the resolve to enforce the patents through litigation before anyone is going to consider shelling out serious money for a covenant not to sue.”

Whoever bought the covenant was using simple math, Poltorak said. “Pay $35 million now or pay much more later in damages, defense costs, time and aggravation,” he said.

In December, Round Rock sued Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corp. (2498) in federal court in Delaware, claiming five of its patents were infringed. In February, HTC responded, saying in its filing that Round Rock hadn’t made a claim that was supportable by law.

The case is Round Rock Research LLC v. HTC Corp., 1:10-cv- 00840-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

International Water-Guard, Bombardier Settle Patent Dispute

International Water-Guard Industries Inc. (IWG) of Burnaby, British Columbia, which sued Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) for patent infringement in June 2006, said in a statement April 1 that the dispute is settled.

The suit, filed in Canadian federal court in June 2006, related to a patent for a water-treatment system for aircraft. When it filed the suit, International Water-Guard said the dispute began in 2002.

Montreal-based Bombardier, a maker of products related to aerospace, was accused of using a water-treatment system virtually identical to the one developed by the British Columbia company and covered by its patent.

No terms of the settlement were disclosed. The infringement case and Bombardier’s counter claim have both been dismissed, according to the statement.

For more patent news, click here.


BFA Says it Will Register ‘Zebras’ Mark for National Team

The Botswana Football Association has decided to seek registration for the Zebra national soccer team, that nation’s Mmegi newspaper reported.

The association said the difficulty the South Africa Football Association had obtaining the commercial rights to its Bafana Bafana trademark prompted the move, according to Mmegi.

The team previously used “Botswana Eleven” as its name, the newspaper reported.

David Fani, president of the association, told Mmegi that it’s looking to see if the name is available because “at the moment, we are not sure whether the name belongs to someone else or not.”

NCSU, Loyola New Orleans in Discussions Over ‘Wolfpack’ Mark

North Carolina State University has told Loyola University New Orleans that it objects to the Louisiana school’s use of “Wolfpack” for its athletic teams, the Associated Press reported.

Although Loyola has used the name of its teams since 1932, it didn’t have any sports teams between 1972 and 1991, according to AP.

NCSU, which first registered the term in 1983, brought in almost $800,000 in fees from licensing the mark in its most recent fiscal year, AP reported.

The North Carolina school previously reached an accord with the University of Nevada over its Wolf Pack logo, according to AP.

Car-Freshner Sues for Infringement of Its Tree-Shape Trademarks

Car-Freshner Corp., the company that makes tree-shaped air fresheners for automobiles, sued a maker of promotional products for trademark infringement.

The suit, filed March 31 in federal court in Rochester, New York, is one of at least 20 such disputes in which the company has been involved in the past decade.

Car-Freshner claims Stanislawski Marketing Ventures LLC, which does business as Beck & Call, infringes trademarks associated with the tree-shaped device. In particular, Car- Freshner accused Stanislawski of making a tree-shaped promotional item for El Segundo, California’s DirecTV (DTV) Inc. that bore the message “Cable Stinks. Get the freshest TV with the most HD channels.”

The tree was “nearly identical or similar in appearance and connation” to Car-Freshner’s own products and caused consumer confusion, the company said in its pleadings.

It asked the court to bar Stanislawski from making similar products, and requested a court order for the recall and destruction of all infringing products and promotional materials.

Additionally, Car-Freshner asked for awards of damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. It also requested extra damages to punish the defendants for their actions.

Beck & Call didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Car-Freshner is represented by Nancy L. Pontius of Mackenzie Hughes LLP of Syracuse, New York.

The case is Car-Freshner Corp. v. Stanlislawski Marketing Ventures LLC, 7:11-cv-00355-GLS-THL, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York (Watertown).

For more trademark news, click here.


Baidu Claims It’s Removed Infringing Literary Works From System

Baidu Inc., the largest Chinese search engine, has removed all unauthorized literary works from its system, People’s Daily reported.

The search engine had been the target of criticism from 50 Chinese authors for uploading their work without authorization and permitting free downloads, the newspaper reported.

An anti-piracy group of authors and publishers told People’s Daily that Baidu hadn’t done enough, and that the search engine continues to permit access to “a great number” of works that aren’t authorized.

Baidu said it plans to use “copyright DNA identification” technology” against literary piracy, beginning April 11, according to People’s Daily.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Dyson Says Chinese Students in U.K. Commit Industrial Espionage

James Dyson, the inventor whose Dyson Ltd. sells bagless vacuum cleaners, said Chinese students in U.K. schools are engaged in industrial espionage, Time magazine reported.

The inventor accused Chinese undergraduates of planting bugs in university computers that send information back to China after they go home, according to Time.

Nicola Dandridge, who heads the university membership group Universities UK, said schools in her country are “very aware this is going on and are taking it very seriously,” Time magazine reported.

U.K. authorities are investigating these allegations, according to the magazine.

Canadian Tentmaker Says Trade Secrets Stolen in Office Break-in

International Tentnology Corp. of Surrey, British Columbia, a maker of custom event and party tents, claims its trade secrets were stolen in a March 1 break-in, the Surrey Now newspaper reported.

Gary Warner, who owns the company, told Surrey Now seven stolen hard drives contain software he uses to map the patterns of his tents.

The company, which has made tents for the Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the Chicago Bears training camp and the royal family of Bahrain, is offering a reward of 50,000 Canadian dollars ($51,845) for the safe return of the software, according to the newspaper.

Electronic Arts Sued by Developer of Madden NFL Game

Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), publisher of the Madden NFL computer games, was sued by a former game developer who claims he’s missed out on millions of dollars in royalties because of fraudulent actions by the Redwood City, California-based company.

Robin Antonick, who said he developed EA’s “first commercially successful football game,” claims a 1986 contract with the company was never terminated, and that, under its terms, he’s owed royalties on all version of the Madden game he developed and any derivative works.

In the complaint he filed March 30 in federal court in San Francisco, Antonick asked the court for “all profits” EA earned from the sale of the Madden video-game franchise, and other video-game franchises he says use his intellectual property.

Antonick claims he brought EA a unique combination of his skills as a programmer, together with “extensive knowledge of real-life football” derived from his career as a college athlete and experiences with “several close relatives” who played with the National Football League.

He said his “highly confidential and highly proprietary methods of simulating actual NFL player behavior” were incorporated into multiple versions of the Madden NFL game. Sections of the complaint in which he describes the technology he created for EA are blacked out, including his explanation of an instant replay feature and the development of an independent camera that could be positioned in 3-D space.

EA gave Antonick assurances it would safeguard his IP, according to the complaint. Instead, he said EA continued to use in it the development of subsequent versions of the game, while telling him the newer versions used “none of his intellectual property.”

The last royalty payment from EA came to Antonick in 1992, he said, and he had no reason to suspect he was owed more until he saw publicity surrounding EA’s 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Madden game. He said he then became aware that the company had continued to create derivative works from his creations.

EA’s use of his IP is “symptomatic of a corporate culture that has long taken a ‘so sue me’ approach to the use of third- party intellectual property,” Antonick alleges.

The game company didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

In addition to the profits related to the sale of the games Antonick also asked for money damages and litigation costs.

He is represented by Stuart M. Paynter of the Paynter Law Firm PLLC of Washington, and Robert B. Carey, Leonard W. Aragon, Shana E. Scarlett and Steve W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP of Seattle.

The case is Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc., 3:11-cv- 01543-CRB, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

IP Moves

Novak Druce Hires Howrey’s Patricia Kammerer for Houston Office

Novak Druce & Quigg LLP hired Patricia A. Kammerer for its Houston practice, the Washington-based IP specialty firm said in a statement.

Kammerer, who does both patent-acquisition work and litigation, joins from now-defunct Washington-based Howrey LLP.

Among the clients she has represented are Monsanto Co., Hoechst-Celanese, Upjohn Co., the University of Texas and Stanford University. Her clients’ technologies include pharmaceuticals, herbicides, genetic engineering processes, antimicrobials, polymers and catalysts.

Before she was a lawyer, Kammerer worked as a research and teaching assistant for the University of Texas and as a pharmacist at Seton Medical Center in Austin.

She has an undergraduate degree in pharmacy, a doctorate in biopharmaceuticals and a law degree from the University of Texas.

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 Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net

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