Apple, MGM, Filene’s, Pangang Group: Intellectual Property
Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s proposals for smaller SIM cards face a second round of debate after talks stalled following the Finnish mobile-phone company’s threat to withhold its patents.
A two-day meeting in Sophia Antipolis, France, to adopt a standard from competing proposals by Apple and Nokia finished March 30 without a decision, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute said in an e-mailed statement.
The tiny smartcards that identify wireless subscribers are standardized to reduce industry costs and give consumers freedom to switch handsets and networks. Smaller versions permit the design of thinner phones. Nokia said before the meeting that it would not permit its patents to be used in the Apple standard, said Mark Durrant, a spokesman for the Espoo-based company.
“Generally in ETSI all of our decisions are taken by consensus and it’s very uncommon that we have a technical vote,” said Ultan Mulligan, an ETSI spokesman. “If they have decided to postpone the vote, that would give them more time to achieve consensus.”
ETSI began to develop a standard last year for identity cards at least 25 percent to 40 percent smaller than the mini- SIM standard, according to its website.
The decision could be made at a meeting starting May 31 in Osaka or at a new meeting with 30 days’ notice, ETSI said in the statement.
“We hope that this extra time will allow ETSI members to work collaboratively on selecting the best technology solution that meets ETSI’s pre-agreed requirements, rather than adopting an inferior solution,” Durrant said by e-mail. The Nokia proposal incorporates work by BlackBerry handset maker Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM), he said.
Alan Hely, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t return voice-mail or e-mail seeking comment.
Novatel’s Infringement Claim Sufficiently Specific, Court Says
Franklin Wireless Corp., a San Diego-based maker of high- speed wireless data products, tried to defeat a patent- infringement suit from a competitor by saying in a statement that the court filing failed to identify any Franklin products that allegedly infringed the patents at issue.
Novatel Wireless Inc. sued Franklin Wireless and China’s ZTE Corp. for patent infringement in federal court in San Diego in December 2010. Franklin was accused of infringing four patents related to wireless communication, specifically “mobile intelligent hotspots.”
In a March 29 order, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo found that Novatel’s general statement of the offending products was sufficient under federal court rules. She rejected that defense by Franklin and ZTE.
She also said that Novatel didn’t provide enough evidence to show that Franklin and ZTE induced others to infringe the patents or contributed to others’ infringement of the disputed patents. She also tossed out the willful infringement claim, saying it didn’t contain enough factual matter on its face to state a plausible claim.
The judge gave Novatel a chance to file an amended complaint addressing the issue of direct infringement.
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MGM Lion’s Roar Can Be Registered as Canadian Trademark
Canada’s Intellectual Property Office will begin accepting sound-based trademark applications following a court ruling related to the lion’s roar used at the beginning of MGM Studio Inc.’s movies, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported.
The decision comes after almost 20 years of wrangling amid the Canadian office’s skepticism about whether sound trademarks could be registered, the newspaper reported.
Although applications for aural trademarks will be accepted, the office will require visual representations of the sounds, such as a waveform, the Globe & Mail reported.
Lisa Power, who heads the office’s trademark branch, told the Globe & Mail that other forms of marks -- such as scents and holograms -- might also be accepted.
Filene’s ‘Running of the Brides’ Marks to Be Sold at Auction
Filene’s Basement LLC’s “Running of the Brides” event in which prospective brides and their wedding parties participated in a mad scramble for cut-price wedding dresses may be going to a new home.
The trademark is part of a package of intellectual property that Secaucus, New Jersey-based Filene’s and Syms Corp (SYMSQ) are seeking court permission to put up for auction as part of bankruptcy proceedings, according to a March 23 filing in bankruptcy court in Delaware.
Also included in the auction are the www.syms.com and www.filenesbasement.com domain names, customer data for almost 2 million names, and a perpetual royalty-free license from Macy’s Inc., for the “Filene’s Basement” trademark. House brands including “Stanley Blacker” and “Maine Bay” are also part of the package.
Hilco Streambank LLC is to handle the auction, and according to court papers, about 20 parties have already expressed interest in some or all of the IP assets. If the court approves, bidding will be closed by the end of May 1.
The auction is to be publicized in USA Today, the Boston Globe and Women’s Wear Daily within five days of a court order authorizing the auction, according to the court filing.
The case is in re: Filene’s Basement LLC, 11-13511-KJC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.
Hasbro Can’t Halt Asustek’s Use of ‘Transformer,’ Judge Says
Hasbro Inc., maker of the Mr. Potato Head and My Little Pony toys, lost its bid for a court order barring a computer company’s use of “transformers” in connection with its products.
The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toymaker filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles in December, accusing Taiwan’s Asustek Computer Inc. (2357) of infringing the “Transformer” trademarks. Hasbro uses the mark for a series of action figures and games, and objected to Asustek’s use of the mark with some of its tablet computers.
In a March 23 order, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez said that Hasbro waited too long to complain about the computer company’s actions. He said that despite the toymaker’s knowledge of the computer company’s intent to market a product using the “Transformer” name at the beginning of 2011, the suit wasn’t brought until December,
He said that the computer company submitted “uncontroverted evidence that considerable hardship will result” from the recall of its products already in circulation and that Hasbro produced “no substantive evidence that it will suffer any non-compensable injury” if he didn’t order Asustek to quit using the term.
The case is Hasbro Inc. (HAS) v. Asus Computer International Inc., 2:11-cv-10437-PSG-E, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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AOL Wins Dismissal of Suit by Huffington Post Bloggers
AOL Inc. won dismissal of a suit by unpaid bloggers seeking $105 million for their work on the Huffington Post.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan threw out the suit March 30, filed last April by writers seeking a share in AOL’s $315 million purchase of the news and opinion website run by Arianna Huffington. Koeltl said the bloggers submitted pieces to the Huffington Post for the exposure, knowing they wouldn’t be paid.
“No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to The Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation,” Koeltl said in his opinion. “The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open.”
The lawsuit was filed by a group of writers led by Jonathan Tasini who were seeking to represent a class of about 9,000 unpaid Huffington Post bloggers. Koeltl rejected claims that AOL, an online publisher based in New York, unjustly enriched itself by using their work and that the company engaged in deceptive business practices.
Jeffrey Kurzon, a lawyer for the bloggers, declined to comment, saying he hadn’t seen the ruling.
The Huffington Post said in November that it had 35 million readers.
The case is Tasini v. AOL Inc. (AOL), 11-2472, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
China’s Pangang Seeks to Quash U.S. Suit It Stole DuPont Secrets
China’s Pangang Group Co. (PISZ), facing U.S. allegations it conspired to steal secrets about titanium dioxide technology from DuPont Co. (DD), sought to have the charges thrown out because summonses were delivered to the wrong person.
Pangang said in a filing May 29 in San Francisco federal court that it would seek a hearing on June 7 to quash the summonses that were delivered to Pan America Inc. on Feb. 9. The U.S. government failed to comply with Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Chinese company said.
China sought to develop a manufacturing process for developing chloride-route titanium oxide, a white pigment used in paint, plastics and paper, and state-owned Pangang conspired with California businessman Walter Liew and two former DuPont employees to steal the technology developed by DuPont, according to a U.S. indictment.
Pangang runs the largest titanium complex in China and is one of the country’s largest titanium pigment producers, according to its website.
The Chinese company is represented by Robert P. Feldman and John M. Potter of Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (496224L).
The criminal case is U.S. v. Liew, 3:11-cr-00573, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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