Apple, Samsung, VirnetX, Abercrombie: Intellectual Property

A European Union design Apple Inc. (AAPL) used to win a sales ban on Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy 10.1 tablets may be of limited value after new evidence was introduced in an appeal of the decision, a German court said.

Samsung introduced as evidence a U.S. utility patent using a type of flat screen that was published 13 days before Apple filed its EU design right. That fact may limit the range of protection the world’s most valuable technology company gets, said Wilhelm Berneke, the presiding judge at the hearing in Dusseldorf. Apple may still be able to rely on fair-competition rules for a German ban, he said yesterday, adding that the court’s assessment is preliminary. A ruling is scheduled for Jan. 31.

Under German rules “Apple’s tablet design may have a rather broad range of protection, because it’s widely known,” said Berneke. “But there are also elements that need to remain free, like the feature that tablets are very thin.”

Both sides are appealing a Sept. 9 sales ban issued by a lower court. Samsung (005930) seeks to overturn the ban, while Apple wants it extended to cover all EU countries and both Samsung’s German sales company and the Suwon, South-Korea based parent. The companies are to face each other again on Dec. 22 in the lower court, where Apple is also seeking a sales ban for the Galaxy 10.1N, a tablet Samsung offered after the Sept. 9 ruling.

As many as 2.1 million tablet computers will be sold in Germany in 2011, a sales increase of 162 percent from 2010, Bitkom, the nation’s technology and telecommunications association, said last week.

Yesterday’s cases were: OLG Dusseldorf, I-20 U 175/11 and I-20 U 126/11.

Samsung Tablet, Phone Cases Infringe Patents, Apple Claims

Apple Inc., which on Dec. 9 lost a bid to keep Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet out of Australia, claims the case for the device and cases for Samsung phones infringe its patents and registered design.

Apple issued the notice of infringement to Samsung in Australia over the cases, and will file a statement of claim, Apple’s lawyer Stephen Burley said at a hearing in Sydney yesterday. Samsung’s lawyer Katrina Howard said at the same hearing the company was served with the notice that the cases infringe at least 10 patents.

The latest claims further expand patent disputes between the two companies that have spread across four continents. Apple and Samsung have filed more than 30 lawsuits against each other, according to the Suwon, South Korea-based company.

The case dispute was disclosed at the end of a seven-hour hearing at which Apple attempted to persuade Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett to delay a scheduled trial in Sydney on Samsung’s claims that Apple’s iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2, infringe its patents governing wireless transmissions on 3G networks.

“This matter can’t be ready in time for March,” Burley said. “It’d be unfair to Apple if the case were to be hurried on.”

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, needs time to gather experts, who must file reports, and will need time to collect evidence to defend itself, Burley said.

Howard opposed the request, saying the trial can proceed as scheduled.

Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones last quarter, dropped its bid for a temporary injunction barring Apple from selling the iPhones and iPad 2 and instead agreed to the early hearing, Howard said.

The company would be “severely prejudiced” if the trial were delayed, she told the judge.

Bennett deferred a decision on Apple’s request and will hold another hearing Feb. 3. She told the companies to proceed with the gathering of evidence and expert testimony.

The Australian trial will be a prelude for Samsung in its U.S. case before the International Trade Commission on similar claims. Burley had said at an earlier hearing that will be heard in May and June.

VirnetX Says USPTO Rejected Cisco System’s Challenges to Patent

VirnetX Holding Corp. (VHC), a producer of Internet security software, said in a statement yesterday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected a list of 10 challenges to its patent 7,188,180.

The patent, issued in March 2007, covers a “method for establishing secure communication link between computers of virtual private network.”

The Zephyr Cove, Nevada-based company said the challenges were filed by Cisco Systems Inc. in October. Cisco had asked the patent office to conduct a procedure known as an “inter parties reexamination.”

The patent is one of six patents at issue in an infringement suit VirnetX filed against Cisco in federal court in Texas in August. On December 19 the court appointed Michael T. McLemore, an intellectual property lawyer based in Rockport, Texas, as a technical adviser in the case.

The case is VirnetX Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), 6:10- cv-00417-LED, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

China’s Baidu Dropped From U.S. ‘Notorious Markets’ Piracy List

Baidu Inc., China’s biggest Internet company by market value, was removed from the U.S. Trade Representative’s list of “notorious markets” that help sustain piracy and counterfeiting of intellectual property.

The U.S. cited “positive action” by Baidu, which was on the list in February, even as it named more than 30 Internet and physical markets worldwide for helping the illegal sale of goods or materials protected by copyright or patents.

The list released yesterday includes the Pirate Bay file- sharing website in Sweden as one of five sites enabling unauthorized file sharing through the use of the BitTorrent protocol.

The list included physical markets where significant sales of pirated goods take place. They are in China, Ecuador, Paraguay, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico City, Columbia, and Pakistan.

The Urdu Bazaars in two different locations in Pakistan were cited as the leading source of pirated books in that country. Paraguay’s Ciudad del Este was listed as a market where pirated electronic goods, including circumvention devices, were “‘an especially prominent feature,’’ according to the USTR list.

Ataturk’s Name Can Be Used as Trademark in E.U., Court Says

The name of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s first president, can be used as a trademark, a British court ruled and the PanArmenian.net website reported.

Sujah Jioher Yaqub, a British-born Muslim entrepreneur, had registered the mark in the U.K. in 2005, according to the website.

Turkey had objected, arguing it shouldn’t be useable in countries within the European Union, PanArmenian.net reported.

A U.K. court dismissed Turkey’s complaint, enabling Yaqub’s use of the mark, according to PanArmenian.net.

Abercrombie Tells ‘The Situation’ It Doesn’t Infringe Trademarks

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF), the clothing retailer known for its edgy ads, has filed court papers seeking dismissal of the trademark case filed by a cast member of Viacom Inc.’s ‘‘Jersey Shore” reality program.

In November, Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino sued New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie, claiming T-shirts sold by the clothier infringed his trademarks by creating a “false affiliation” with his business interests. He said he filed the suit in response to an Abercrombie statement in August that it was willing to pay him not to wear its clothing.

In its filing seeking dismissal of the case, Abercrombie argued that Sorrentino had failed to state a claim for which the court could offer him any relief. The company said Sorrentino couldn’t claim his marks were infringed because he didn’t own the marks “GTL” and “The Situation.”

Sorrentino has applied to register the marks, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Abercrombie said he couldn’t stake a claim for infringement because he only had applications, not actual registrations.

The clothing company also claims the T-shirts to which Sorrentino objected fell into the realm of parody, which trademark law doesn’t find constitutes infringement.

The case is MPS Entertainment LLC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc., 1:11-cv-24110-JAL, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

FACT Accused Tesco, British Telecom of Financing Infringement

The U.K.’s Federation Against Copyright Theft has accused 83 companies including British Telecom Communications Plc and the Tesco Plc (TSCO) supermarket chain of indirectly supporting piracy through ads placed on websites that enable illegal downloading, according to the U.K.’s Mail newspaper.

The federation, known as FACT, said these websites cost the content industries in the U.K. about 200 million pounds ($313 million) per year, the Mail reported.

The accused companies have told FACT they don’t necessarily know where their ads will appear and when they learn they’re on an offending site, they remove them immediately, according to the Mail.

The situation arises because the companies will often use an agency to place ads, and the agencies will buy space on the websites that enable infringement, the newspaper reported.

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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