Apple, LG, Seiko Epson, Samsung, Outlet Works: Intellectual Property

Seven developers of applications for Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone were sued by a Texas company that owns patents for ways to interact with customers through the software programs.

The suit, filed May 31 by Lodsys LLC, came after Apple sent a letter warning the company to leave the developers alone. In the May 23 letter, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell said Apple has a license to the Lodsys patents and, by extension, its application developers were covered as well.

Closely held Lodsys, which had sent letters to the developers last month demanding licensing fees, said in a posting on its website that it filed the suit faster than it planned “in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options.”

“Apple appeared to give the developer community what they wanted,” Lodsys said on its website. “Unfortunately for developers, Apple’s claim of infallibility has no discernible basis in law or fact.”

Among the companies targeted by the complaint are Combay Inc., maker of Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem; Iconfactory Inc., maker of Twitterrific for the iPhone, iPad and Mac; Shovelmate, developer of 69 Positions; Quickoffice Inc., maker of Quickoffice Connect; Richard Shinderman, who made Hearts and Daggers; and Wulven Game Studios, maker of Shadow Era.

Also named was Illusion Labs AB, which makes Labyrinth for both the iPhone and the Android operating system developed by Google Inc. (GOOG) Neither Apple nor Google was named in the complaint.

In its letter, Cupertino, California-based Apple claimed that Lodsys was trying to get paid twice for the same use of its patents, and asked Lodsys to “immediately withdraw all notice letters” sent to third-party developers.

“Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys’ patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys,” Sewell wrote.

The complaint was filed in Marshall, Texas, which is considered to be a favorable venue for patent owners. Some 19 percent of all open patent cases are being handled in the Eastern District that includes Marshall, according to Greg Upchurch, director of research for St. Louis-based LegalMetric Inc., which compiles litigation data for law firms and companies.

The case is Lodsys LLC v. Combay Inc., 11-cv-272, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

LG’s Patent Claim Against Sony Faces Review by U.S. Trade Agency

A U.S. trade agency will review patent-infringement claims that LG Electronics Inc. (066570)’s Zenith unit made against Sony Corp. (6758) as part of a dispute over expired licensing of digital television technology.

Zenith claims Sony televisions that meet an industry standard for signal processing are using technology it invented. The U.S. International Trade Commission opened an investigation yesterday into the complaint and, if a violation is found, the agency has the power to block imports of the Sony TVs, including Bravia high-definition models.

In the complaint, Zenith said it contacted Sony “and attempted to negotiate terms of a license.” According to a civil suit that Lincolnshire, Illinois-based Zenith filed against Sony in October, Sony had been licensed to use the patented technology. That license expired and Sony, based in Tokyo, has been unwilling to renew it, according the civil suit.

Sony is Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics and the world’s third-largest TV maker. LG, based in Seoul, is the world’s second-biggest, behind Samsung Electronics Co.

The ITC in Washington is an independent agency that investigates unfair trade practices, including allegations of patent infringement. It typically completes investigations in 15 to 18 months.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices Having a Digital Television Receiver, 337-774, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil suit is Zenith Electronics LLC v Sony Corp. (SNE), 11-cv-2439, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco)

Seiko Patent Dispute with Taiwan’s UBAR Settled, Company Says

Seiko Epson Corp. (6724), a Suwa, Japan-based maker of printers, has settled a patent dispute with a maker of ink cartridges.

According to a company statement, the settlement follows a finding by the Taiwan Taichung District Court that UBAR of Taiwan infringed Seiko Epson’s patent rights. That court ordered UBAR to pay damages and to quit selling infringing products.

In addition to paying Seiko Epson unspecified damages and halting production and sales of infringing products, UBAR also made a public apology to the Japanese company.

In the apology, UBAR said it was sorry for the “inconvenience and damage” it caused Epson. UBAR promised it wouldn’t make, sell or important any infringing products.

Intel Accused of Infringing Patents for Powering Computer Chips

Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, was accused of infringing patents owned by a Pennsylvania company over ways to improve how power is delivered to an electronic circuit.

X2Y Attenuators LLC, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, filed a complaint May 31 with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, and a civil suit in its hometown. The ITC complaint seeks to block imports of Intel’s microprocessors, including its high-end desktop Core i7 chip, as well as Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) computers that run on the processor.

“Apple and HP incorporate Intel’s infringing microprocessors into their computers,” X2Y said in the ITC complaint. “These microprocessors perform the core functionality of Apple and HP’s accused products.”

The inventions covered by the patents, five in all, are designed to overcome electromagnetic interference, which can damage electronics, according to the ITC complaint. X2Y said it has licensed its inventions for inclusion in satellite radios, military aircraft and noise-canceling headphones.

X2Y said it “has attempted to persuade Santa Clara, California-based Intel to license X2Y’s technology for use in Intel’s microprocessors.”

The microprocessors are made in Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines, and China, according to the complaint.

“We’re evaluating the case,” said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman. “We would expect that we’ll be conducting a vigorous defense.”

The civil suit, filed in federal court in Erie, seeks unspecified cash compensation for the unauthorized use of X2Y patents. That case is likely to be put on hold until the ITC review is completed.

The ITC is an independent agency that investigates unfair trade practices, including patent infringement, and has the power to block the import of products found to violate U.S. patent rights. If it agrees to investigate X2Y’s complaint, it will complete the process in about 15 to 18 months.

The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain Microprocessors, Components Thereof and Products Containing Same, complaint No. 2810, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil case is X2Y Attenuators LLC v. Intel Corp. (INTC), 11cv117, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Erie).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Samsung Seeks Samples of iPhone, iPad in Trademark Battle

Samsung Electronics Co. has turned the tables on Apple Inc. in a trademark infringement suit involving both companies’ mobile telephones.

On May 18, U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh ordered the Korean company to give samples of five mobile phones, their packaging and the package inserts to outside counsel for Apple, the plaintiff in the case.

Samsung filed a request May 27 that Judge Koh issue Apple a similar order. The Korean company is asking for samples of the final commercial versions of the next generation of the iPhone and iPad to be released, together with inserts and packaging.

It argued that the packaging and product samples are “highly relevant” to the defense of any motion Apple will bring in its trademark and trade dress claims.

Apple sued Samsung in federal court in Oakland, California, April 15, claiming the Samsung products “slavishly copied” Cupertino-based Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch products.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 5:11-cv- 01846-LHK, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Sustainable Palm Oil Group Releases Trademark for Members’ Use

The Roundable on Sustainable Palm Oil has released a trademark for use by those who produce sustainable palm-derived products, the organization said in a statement yesterday.

The mark has been registered in more than 60 countries, including all major palm oil markets. In order to use the mark, members must provide contract details, and supply chain information.

The mark can be used for free until July 1 2012.

Palm oil is used as an ingredient in candles, cosmetics, cleaning products, food products and as a source of biofuel. Increasing demand for palm oil has led to deforestation in tropical areas and loss of habitat for endangered species such as orangutans.

The Roundtable is an organization of almost 400 palm growers, palm oil processors and traders, retailers, investors and non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam International and World Wildlife Fund.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Russia Leader Says Others at G8 Too Conservative on Copyright

Present-day copyright laws are too restrictive, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the close of the Group of Eight summit meeting in Deauville France May 29, International Business Times reported.

Speaking after the close of the meeting, Medvedev said copyright conventions are between 50 and 100 years old and “they are unable to regulate the whole complex of relations between the copyright owner and users,” according to International Business Times.

The newspaper reported that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France called for stronger enforcement of IP rights, saying it was important to have better national laws to aid in the process.

Medvev disagreed, saying his colleagues at the meeting “have a more conservative opinion than is necessary at the moment” and that they either don’t use the Internet or understand it, International Business Times reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Outlet Works Wins $1.5 Million in Railcar Trade Secrets Case

Outlet Works of Texas Inc., a company that makes gates for railcars, won a $1.5 million jury verdict in a trade secrets case, the Montgomery County Courier newspaper reported May 28.

The technology at issue is a process to repair pneumatic outlet gates on the railcars, according to the newspaper.

After a company recruited two Outlet Works employees, it began offering a process identical to Outlet Works’ trade secret, according to the Courier.

The jury award was unanimous, the newspaper reported.

Record in Suit to Seize Publix’s Shareholder Votes Made Public

A Florida town that tried to seize the unexercised votes of shareholders in Lakeland, Florida’s Publix Super Markets Inc. (PUSH) lost its bid to keep the court record of its maneuver sealed as a trade secret, the Jackson County Floridian newspaper reported.

Judge Christopher Patterson of Florida’s 14th Judicial Circuit denied the town of Cambellton’s request to seal the record and the town dropped the suit, according to the Floridian.

The town wanted to use the votes for economic promotion and “as the means-to-an-end to achieve profit or potential profit for public purpose,” the Floridian reported.

Cambellton said it wanted to keep the record secret because it was a “unique action” that might be imitated by other cities that didn’t invest the “time, money or effort” to develop the idea independently, according to the Floridian.

IP Moves

Frilot IP Associate Competes for Love on ABC’s Bachelorette

Frilot LLC’s Benjamin Melvin Castoriano, an IP litigation associate at the New Orleans-based firm, is a contestant on Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC network’s reality show dating “Bachelorette.

As of May 31, Castoriano hadn’t yet been eliminated from the competition, according to the “Bachelorette” website. The aim of the program is for a woman to select a marriage partner from among 25 candidates.

In his bio listed on the show website, Castoriano is listed as “Ben C.” with Lake Charles, Louisiana, given as his hometown.

According to his law firm bio, he was a member of the team that brought Houston’s Ion Geophysical Corp. (IO) a jury verdict of more than $20 million in a trade secrets misappropriation case in Louisiana state court.

Castoriano has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Tulane 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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