Cisco, Amer Sports, Pernod Ricard: Intellectual Property

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the biggest maker of networking equipment, was told by a federal jury to pay $63.8 million to a Texas company for infringing a patent on wireless-transmission technology.

The April 8 verdict against Cisco was won by closely held Commil USA LLC of The Woodlands, Texas. The jury in Marshall, Texas, rejected Cisco’s arguments that it wasn’t infringing the patent, and set the $63.8 million as a reasonable royalty for use of the Commil technology.

This is the second trial in the case. Cisco had lost at trial in May, and the jury awarded $3.7 million. Magistrate Charles Everingham, who presided over both trials, threw out the verdict, saying Cisco’s lawyers made inappropriate religious comments before the jury.

“We know this new award more truly reflects our client’s significant damages as a result of Cisco’s infringement,” said Commil lawyer Richard Sayles of Dallas-based Sayles Werbner. “This verdict further validates Commil’s valuable patented technology.”

Commil’s patent 6,430,395, issued in 2002, covers a way of maintaining network connections through a series of base stations so a person with a laptop computer, mobile phone or device with a wireless-transmission feature such as Bluetooth doesn’t lose the signal while walking through a building.

“There are nine years left on the patent,” Commil lawyer Mark Werbner said after the verdict was announced. “We expect Cisco to respect this verdict. Failing that, we will ask the court for appropriate relief.”

San Jose, California-based Cisco, which reported $10.4 billion in sales during the fiscal quarter ended Jan. 29, pledged to appeal the verdict.

“We are disappointed by the jury’s verdict, but following the two trials in this matter, Cisco has unusually strong grounds for appeal, and we look forward to pursuing them immediately,” the company said in an e-mail.

The case is Commil USA LLC v. Cisco Systems Inc., 07cv341, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Amer Sports Unit Sued Over Ball-Inflation Patent, Trade Secret

Amer Sports Oyj (AMEAS)’s Wilson Sporting Goods unit was sued for patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation by a Washington state company.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Seattle on April 8, Wilson infringed patent 5,636,835, which covers an inflatable game ball with seams having a soft feel.

The patent, which was issued in June 1997, is allegedly infringed by Wilson’s basketballs with “cushion control” technology.

In addition to the patent infringement, closely held Baden Sports Inc. of Federal Way, Washington, accused Wilson of enticing a retired Baden employee to reveal the secrets of a device the company invented to inflate basketballs.

In the complaint, Baden says it came up with the idea of an “inflation table” that could be used to inflate multiple balls to the appropriate pressure. Baden said basketballs are shipped from overseas suppliers un-inflated and “the cost of inflating and packaging inflatable balls is a production cost item that is measurable.”

The cost savings Baden realized through the use of its inflation table were “significant” to the company’s business because of the large numbers of balls processed each year. Baden said it has never disclosed the design to the public and that it’s used inside the company in an area to which access is limited.

Wilson is accused of bringing the retired Baden employee to a Wilson facility in Tennessee and acquiring from him the design details of the inflation table. The retired employee “is believed to lack business experience,” and was enticed with consulting fees, Baden claims.

Amer didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Baden is represented by Bruce Kaser of Vantage Law PLLC of Issaquah, Washington, and A. Clifford Edwards, Triel D. Culver, and Philip McGrady of Edwards, Frickle & Culver of Billings, Montana.

The case is Baden Sports Inc. v. Wilson Sporting Goods Co., 2:11-cv-00603, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Film Company Sues Single Defendant in Copyright Suit

West Bay One Inc., a Florida filmmaker that sued 2,000 unnamed defendants for infringing the copyright to its one of its films, brought a new case over the same film, this time with just one defendant.

In the new suit, filed April 8 in federal court in Baltimore, West Bay One accused a resident of Nottingham, Maryland, of infringing the copyright to “The Steam Experiment.” According to court papers, this film, which stars Val Kilmer, Armand Assante and Patrick Muldoon, is also known as “The Chaos Experiment.”

The alleged infringement was accomplished through the use of the BitTorrent protocol for file sharing, West Bay One said in its pleadings.

Unlike some previous complaints for BitTorrent copyright infringement, this one lists the specific time of day at which the alleged infringement occurred and specifically identifies the defendant’s Internet service provider.

In its previous case, which was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, West Bay One accused 2,000 defendants of infringement and said in its court papers that it would need further court proceedings to identify the defendants.

Judge Rosemary Collyer questioned the West Bay One’s strategy in that case, and in June 2010 permitted several individual-rights advocacy groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief arguing against the suing of a large mass of unknown defendants. In December she then ordered the dismissal of the defendants whose names West Bay One hadn’t been able to identify, and said the case could go ahead against the rest.

That case is now titled West Bay One v. Does 1,653, 1:10- cv-00481-RMC, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

The new case is West Bay One Inc. v. Wisniewski, 1:11-cv- 00913-MJG, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore).

Go Daddy Founder Tries to Halt Elephant-Kill Video Posting

The founder of Go Daddy Group Inc., the world’s largest registrar of domain names, is sending out copyright infringement notices over a video of him shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe, DomainNameWire.com reported.

Bob Parsons of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Go Daddy, who had granted permission “quite liberally” to those who asked, according to a company statement, was demanding that those who posted the video without authorization “remove it, as per relevant copyright law.”

BayTSP Inc., an anti-piracy investigator and enforcement company based in Los Gatos, California, has been sending out takedown notices on Parsons’ behalf to operators of sites that have permitted unauthorized posting of the video, according to DomainNameWire.com.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

KBR Sued KBR Equity Partners, Claims Trademarks Infringed

KBR Inc. (KBR), the global engineering firm that is the largest contractor in Iraq, sued a Florida investment company for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed April 8 in Miami federal court, KBR Equity partners LLC of Miami operates a website using the KBR mark, and the investment company promotes itself to the public as KBR.

The Houston-based contractor said it has filed papers with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opposing the investment company’s attempt to register “KBR Equity Fund” as a trademark. The names are so similar as to “be confusing to a substantial number of actual and potential customers,” the company said in its pleadings.

It asked the court to bar the investment company from using “KBR,” “KBR Equity Fund” and any other mark that is “confusingly similar” to the construction company’s. It also seeks a halt to the investment company’s use of the “www.kbrequity.com” website and to be transferred that domain name.

The construction company also requested awards of the investment company’s profits related to the alleged infringement, together with money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

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

KBR Inc. is represented by Gregory M. Garno and Catherine Van Horn of Miami’s Genovese Joblove & Battista PA.

The case is KBR Inc. v, KBR Equity Partners LLC, 1:11-cv- 21257, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

Ferrero Sues Singapore Coffee Chain for Violating Nutella Mark

Ferrero SpA, the maker of the Nutella hazelnut spread controlled by billionaire Michele Ferrero, sought to stop a Singapore coffee shop chain from selling a drink called Nutello, claiming a trademark violation.

Sarika Connoisseur Cafe Pte, owner of 30 coffee shop outlets in Singapore, is trying to pass off the Nutello drink as being associated with Nutella, Ferrero claimed in a lawsuit filed in Singapore High Court.

“Nutella is an invented word; it’s highly distinctive,” Ferrero’s lawyer M. Ravindran told Judge Chan Seng Onn at the start of a trial yesterday. The mark is the lifeblood of the product, he said. The trial is scheduled to run until April 15.

Sarika has denied wrongdoing. There’s no similarity between the “Nutella” and “Nutello” marks, which have different fonts, designs and color schemes, and the public isn’t likely to be confused by the two, its lawyer Tan Tee Jim said in a submission to the court.

Ferrero, which has 21,500 employees and 18 factories around the world, also makes Ferrero Rocher truffles and Tic Tac sweets.

Michele Ferrero and his family ranked 32nd among the world’s wealthiest people with $18 billion, Forbes magazine’s U.S. edition reported in March.

The case is Ferrero Spa v. Sarika Connoisseur Cafe Pte, S9/2010, Singapore High Court.

Pernod Ricard’s Jacobs Creek Wine Faked, Imported to U.K.

Fake versions of Pernod Ricard SA’s Jacob’s Creek Wine have been seized by U.K. authorities, Australia’s Herald Sun reported.

Officials said the fake versions of the Jacob’s Creek wines -- which are imported from Australia -- had the country of origin incorrectly spelled as “Austrlia” on the label and tasted foul, according to the newspaper.

Simon Thomas, deputy managing director of wine for Pernod Ricard told the Herald Sun that while tests indicated the fake wine wasn’t harmful, it “is of very low quality and substandard taste.”

The wine, which was believed to have originated in China, sold for about 2 British pounds ($3.27), while the real thing sells for about 10 British pounds a bottle, the Herald Sun reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

Bryan Cave Expands IP Practice with Hire From Fish & Richardson

Bryan Cave LLC hired Andrew Warnecke for its IP practice, the St. Louis-based firm said in a statement yesterday.

Warnecke, a patent litigator, previously practiced at Boston’s Fish & Richardson. He has represented clients whose technologies included computer systems and networks, digital image processing, digital audio reproduction, navigation systems, and mechanical systems.

He has litigated cases both in federal district courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Warnecke has an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a law degree from George Washington University.

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: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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