Apple, Samsung, Maidenform, Louboutin Red Soles: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. should be allowed to intervene in a patent-infringement lawsuit against developers of iPhone applications, according to a court filing by Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) and ‘Angry Birds’ maker Rovio Entertainment Oy.

Closely held Lodsys LLC filed suit in May, contending that two of its patents for ways to interact with customers are infringed by iPhone applications including “Angry Birds,” Combay Inc.’s “Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem,” and “The Sims 3” by Electronic Arts. Apple has argued in court papers that its license with Lodsys covers the app developers as well and wants to join the case on their behalf.

“The participation of Apple as a party in this lawsuit is critical to the development of the very evidence needed to establish what may prove to be a complete defense to the infringement claims in this action,” the app developers said in a federal court filing Aug. 9 in support of Cupertino, California-based Apple’s request.

Lodsys, based in Marshall, Texas, where the lawsuit was filed, objected to Apple’s request. It said companies such as Electronic Arts and Rovio are big enough to handle their own defense, and there is no evidence that the lawsuit disrupts Apple’s relationship with developers.

Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, is the second-largest U.S. video-game publisher. Espoo, Finland-based Rovio has had more than 250 million downloads of its “Angry Birds” game on mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Other app developers named in the Lodsys complaint are Atari SA (ATA)’s Atari Interactive Inc., maker of Atari’s Greatest Hits for the iPhone and iPad; Iconfactory Inc., maker of Twitterrific; Illusion Labs AB, maker of Labyrinth; Michael G. Karr, maker of Shovelmate’s 69 Positions; Quickoffice Inc., maker of Quickoffice Connect; Square Enix Ltd., maker of Big Hit Baseball; and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO), maker of 2K Sports NHL.

All of the developers named in the complaint also signed the statement in support of Apple being allowed to join the case. Apple has said it needs to be able to protect agreements it has covering more than 425,000 apps.

“This litigation has fundamentally disrupted Apple’s relationships with the developers and with other developers, and places in jeopardy the revenue that Apple derives from those relationships,” the company said in a June filing.

The case is Lodsys LLC v. Combay Inc., 11cv272, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Samsung to Fight Apple’s Win on German Galaxy Tablet Order

Samsung Electronics Co. will seek to lift a temporary order won by Apple Inc. (AAPL) that may stop sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in most European Union countries.

Samsung will file its opposition in the Dusseldorf Regional Court, which issued the injunction, Annika Karstadt, a German spokeswoman for the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The court issued the order under an emergency procedure without a hearing.

“We will take all necessary measures to ensure that Samsung’s innovative mobile-communication devices are available for customers in Europe and around the world,” Karstadt said.

Apple, which said yesterday it won the injunction, contends Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablet computer “slavishly copy” the iPhone and iPad. Apple is also seeking a court order to block sales in the U.S. until a trial can be held on patent- infringement claims there. In Australia, Samsung has agreed not to introduce a version of the Galaxy tablet until an Apple lawsuit there is resolved.

Court hearings on the issue were scheduled for today and tomorrow in the Netherlands, the only EU country where the German order isn’t applicable.

Peter Schuetz, Dusseldorf Regional Court spokesman, said the injunction was issued Aug. 9. Samsung told him Apple has served it with the order, he said.

Apple must protect its intellectual property when other companies are stealing its ideas, a German spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

The dispute began in April when Apple sued Samsung in the U.S. claiming that the Galaxy products imitated Apple designs and technology. Samsung, which supplies memory chips for Apple, has retaliated with lawsuits in South Korea, Japan, Germany and the U.S.

Apple also has patent-infringement claims against Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. over its Xoom tablet computer. Motorola sued Apple first in Germany in April, and Apple responded by filing claims in May, said Christa Smith, a spokeswoman for Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility.

“Motorola has reviewed Apple’s claims and believe they have no merit,” Smith said. “We intend to vigorously defend Motorola’s own product designs.”

The companies also have dueling litigation in the U.S. -- Motorola Mobility filed the first complaint against Apple at the U.S. International Trade Commission in October, and Apple countered the same month. The commission has the authority to block imports into the U.S.

Motorola Mobility’s case against Apple at the ITC, scheduled for trial later this month, has been postponed because of the recent retirement of the judge assigned to the case. Apple’s claims against Motorola Mobility at the agency in Washington are scheduled for trial in September.

The German case against Samsung is LG Dusseldorf, 14c O 194/11.

Maidenform, Yummie Tummie Settle Dispute Over Design Patent

Maidenform Brands Inc. (MFB), the 88-year-old lingerie company, has settled a patent dispute with Times Three Clothier of New York.

Maidenform of Iselin, New Jersey, sued Times Three in federal court in Manhattan in March 2010, seeking a declaration its Flexees products didn’t infringe Times Three’s patent D606,285. The patent, which was issued in December 2009, covers the design for a form-fitting tank top.

Times Three, which does business as Yummie Tummie, was accused of telling one of Maidenform’s customers that its Flexees Fat-Free Dressing tank top infringed the patent. Maidenform argued in its court papers that it didn’t infringe and said its product differed from the design illustrated in the patent in at least three ways.

According to court papers, the case was dismissed yesterday, with each party to pay its own litigation costs and attorney fees.

Times Three said in a statement yesterday that Maidenform paid $6.75 million to settle the case and agreed not to assist any 3rd party that may seek to invalidate the patent or render it unenforceable.

The case is Maidenform Brands Inc., v. Times Three Clothier LLC, 1:10-cv-01661-GBD-HBP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Louboutin Loses Bid to Bar Saint Laurent Red-Sole Shoe Sales

Christian Louboutin SA lost a court bid to stop Yves Saint Laurent America from selling women’s shoes that Louboutin claims are identical to its trademarked red-sole footwear.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York rejected Louboutin’s request for a preliminary injunction halting sales of the shoes during the case.

“Because in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition, the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection,” Marrero said in an opinion filed yesterday.

Louboutin, a Paris-based fashion company, sued Yves Saint Laurent in April, accusing it of selling shoes “with red outsoles that are virtually identical” to Louboutin’s. Saint Laurent’s shoes “threaten to mislead the public,” according to the complaint.

“We’re obviously very disappointed,” Harley Lewin, a lawyer for Louboutin, said in a telephone interview. “We think the judge missed it.”

After a court hearing July 22 where he argued for the injunction, Lewin said, “This is the lifeblood of this company, the red sole.” Louboutin’s sales from red-sole shoes are projected at $135 million this year, Lewin said in court.

Louboutin introduced the red sole in 1992, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the company a trademark for it in 2008, according to the complaint. The company uses the red sole on all of its luxury shoes, which have been popularized by actresses such as Sarah Jessica Parker in the television show “Sex and the City.”

‘This just reaffirms that no designer should be allowed to monopolize a primary color for fashion,” David Bernstein, a lawyer for Yves Saint Laurent, said about the ruling today in a telephone interview. “This is a trademark registration that never should have been issued and can’t be enforced.”

Yves Saint Laurent will ask the judge in a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the claims against the company and cancel Louboutin’s trademark registration, Bernstein said.

Marrero said in his ruling that the companies must appear in federal court in Manhattan Aug. 17, when Louboutin will have to provide arguments against a motion to cancel the mark.

Yves Saint Laurent, named for the designer who died in 2008, is a unit of Paris-based PPR (PP), the owner of other luxury brands including Gucci.

Louboutin’s red-sole high-heel shoes are priced from $535 to $4,645 a pair on the website of high-fashion department store Barneys.

The designer Christian Louboutin, for whom the company is named, got the idea for red soles when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes, according to court papers.

The case is Christian Louboutin SA v. Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., 11-2381, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Green Party Warns NZ Parliament Could Lose Internet Connection

New Zealand’s Parliament is at risk of losing its Internet connection under that country’s new file-sharing law, the Green Party of New Zealand said in a statement.

The file-sharing law, which provides for disconnection for copyright infringers, goes into effect Sept. 1. Beginning Aug. 11 Internet users will be subject to scrutiny under the law.

Under the law the holder of the account is subject to disconnection. The Green Party said that in New Zealand, Parliamentary Services, the holder of the government’s account, “provides Internet access to hundreds of users anyone of whom could cause infringement notices to be sent.”

The Green Party said parliament’s speaker has refused to comment in the House on the implications of the new law. New Zealand’s Unitec Institute of Technology has warned it may quit giving its students Internet access because of fears of liability for their acts of copyright infringement, according to the Green Party statement.

The Green Party opposed passage of the law.

Californian Sentenced to 18 Months for Copyright Infringement

A resident of Sacramento, California, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for felony copyright infringement, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

Yan Akhumov, who operated three Music Land Stores in the Sacramento area, was found to have possessed and distributed unauthorized copies of “The Godfather” and “Indiana Jones” and other films.

According to his plea agreement, filed with the court in March, Akhumov admitted that he possessed infringing materials with a value of as much as $120,000. His sentence was entered into the court file Aug. 5.

This case was the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crime Task Force. The U.S. Attorney’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case

The case is U.S. v. Akhumov, 2:11-cv-00092-LKIK, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

Hallmark Accused of Infringing Fabric Designer’s Copyrights

Hallmark Cards Inc., the 101-year-old greeting card company, was sued for copyright infringement by a Kansas City, Missouri-based fabric designer.

Martha Negley, who licenses her fabric designs to Westminster Fibers Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina, accused Hallmark of using her holiday designs without authorization. According to the complaint filed Aug. 9 in federal court in Kansas City, Negley submitted designs to Hallmark in 2007 for use for its 2008 season.

She claims that although Hallmark didn’t accept her designs, they showed up on gift wrap, gift bags, thank you notes and other items the Kansas City card company produced for sale in 2009 and 2010. This use wasn’t authorized, she said, and infringes her copyrights.

Negley claims the infringement is deliberate and that she’s harmed by the closely held card company’s actions.

She asked the court to bar Hallmark’s further unauthorized use of her work, and for awards for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Alleging the infringement is intentional, she asked for extra damages to punish Hallmark for its actions.

Hallmark didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

Negley is represented by James J. Kernell, Ginnie C. Derusseau and Kent R. Erickson of Kansas City’s Erickson, Kernell, Derusseau & Kleypas LLC.

The case is Martha Negley v. Hallmark Cards Inc., 4:11-cv- 00785-DW, U.S. District Court, Western District 9of Missouri (Kansas City).

For more copyright news, click here.

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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