Vuitton, Facebook, NeighborCity: Intellectual Property

Louis Vuitton, the French maker of laminated canvas handbags, was named the world’s most valuable luxury brand for a seventh consecutive year.

The brand, owned by Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC), is worth $25.9 billion, a 7 percent increase from 2011, according to Millward Brown Optimor’s 2012 BrandZ study published yesterday. Hermes, in which LVMH owns a stake, rose to second place with a value of $19.1 billion, up 61 percent from last year. Rolex, the closely held Swiss watch brand, was ranked third at $7.17 billion, a 36 percent gain.

“Luxury is seen as a good investment with people increasingly buying classic pieces rather than high fashion,” Millward Brown Optimor Managing Director Nick Cooper said in a statement.

Vuitton’s value amounts to about a third of LVMH’s market capitalization of 61.05 billion euros ($78 billion).

Chanel, which ranked fourth in the study, saw its value decrease 2 percent to $6.68 billion, while the value of fifth-placed Gucci fell 14 percent to $6.42 billion. Gucci’s worth was affected by a decline in owner PPR SA’s share price last year, according to an external spokeswoman for Millward Brown Optimor.

Prada, which sold shares in Hong Kong’s biggest initial public offering last year, made its debut in the luxury ranking in sixth place with a value of $5.7 billion. Prada plans to add about 80 stores annually over the next three years, many of which will be directly owned, reflecting a general trend among luxury makers to assert tighter brand control by shifting away from licensing and franchising, according to the study.

Cartier, the jewelry brand owned by Geneva-based Cie. Financiere Richemont SA (CFR), Hennessy cognac and Moet & Chandon champagne were seventh, eighth and ninth in the study, respectively, with values of $4.22 billion to $4.84 billion. LVMH, owner of Hennessy and Moet & Chandon, controls or has stakes in four of the industry’s 10-most valuable brands. The company holds a 22.3 percent stake in Hermes International SCA. (RMS)

The Burberry brand ranked 10th with a value of $4.09 billion, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and almost half of its market capitalization of 6.1 billion pounds ($9.7 billion).

Vuitton was the 21st most-valuable brand across 13 industries in the BrandZ study. Apple (APPL), the maker of the iPad tablet, ranked first with its estimated value rising 19 percent to $182.9 billion, according to Millward Brown Optimor.

The study, commissioned by WPP Plc (WPP), was based on interviews with consumers as well as analysis of company performance.

Facebook’s Trademark Case Against Faceporn Site Tossed by Court

Facebook Inc. (FB)’s trademark infringement suit against the operators of the Faceporn.no website was dismissed May 21 by a federal judge in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White said his court didn’t have jurisdiction over Thomas Pedersen, the Norwegian operator of the adult-oriented social networking site. Facebook, which has been in operation since 2004, had filed the suit in October 2010, claiming it was harmed and its marks could be tarnished by the public’s potential confusion with the Norwegian site.

The company, based in Palo Alto, California, which held its initial public offering last week, said Faceporn’s site imitated its pages, down to a logo that was “strikingly similar” to Facebook’s.

White said he followed the recommendations in a report by Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins. Cousins’s report, filed with the court in March, said Facebook had failed to establish that Faceporn had sufficient contacts with California to justify the court’s jurisdiction.

Facebook was represented by Anne Harris Peck, Jeffrey Thomas Norberg and Michael Graham Rhodes of Cooley LLP of San Francisco. Pedersen, who was unrepresented by counsel, did not file any court papers.

The case is Facebook Inc., v. Thomas Pedersen, 3:10-cv-04673-JSE, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Aldi Sues Tesco Over Price-Comparison Banners in Irish Markets

Aldi Einkauf GmbH, the German discount supermarket chain, sued Tesco Plc (TSCO)’s Tesco Ireland unit for trademark infringement, the Irish Times reported.

The suit, filed in Irish courts, is related to a Tesco campaign comparing the prices of products sold by the two companies, according to the newspaper.

Aldi objected to banners used at Tesco’s Irish stores that reproduced the German company’s trademarks without authorization, the Irish Times reported.

Earlier Aldi had referred the dispute to Ireland’s National Consumer Agency and Advertising Standards Authority, telling the Times it resorted to litigation only after the “last straw” of the banner display.

Sports Stores Proprietor Convicted of Infringing Team Trademarks

The owner of two sporting goods stores was convicted in Virginia state courts of trademark infringement, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported.

The owner of the Players Sports Nuts stores was convicted of selling fake jerseys for teams of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, the newspaper reported.

Chesapeake Circuit Court Judge Marjorie T. Arrington rejected the store owner’s argument that he thought the goods were authentic, saying to him “of course you should know” they were fakes, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Keith Carter, the store owner who is set to be sentenced Aug. 31, told the court he ordered the goods online from wholesalers and, while other stores charged more for their goods, he thought their prices were “ridiculous,” according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

India’s Parliament Votes to Enact Copyright Act Amendment

India’s parliament passed an amendment to that country’s copyright act yesterday, the Indian Express reported.

The amendment is focused on payment of royalties to composers and performer for radio and television broadcasts of their work, according to the newspaper.

The new legislation also bans the production of cover versions of a work for five years after the initial recording, the Express reported.

The measure was supported by the copyright societies, a government official told the Indian Express.

Half-Inch Olympic Rings on Doll Sweater Raise Copyright Concerns

An 81-year-old woman who was knitting sweaters for 10-inch dolls to raise money for charity has run afoul of intellectual property enforcement efforts connected to the 2012 Olympic Games, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.

Joy Tompkins, of Kings Lynn in the U.K., was told her charity knitting group couldn’t sell the dolls because they potentially infringed London 2012’s copyrights, the newspaper reported.

She told the Daily Mail the Olympic rings on the doll sweaters were only half an inch in size and that she couldn’t fit a work-around phrase -- “Global gathering of top athletes in England’s capital this year” -- onto the tiny garments.

She said her experience made her wonder “just how far does this copyright law stretch,” according to the newspaper.

NeighborCity Owner Responds to Multi-Listing Copyright Complaint

San Francisco’s American Home Realty Network Inc. has responded to a copyright-infringement suit related to real estate listings.

The complaint, which was filed in March in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, accuses American Home Realty’s NeighborCity.com website of infringing the copyrights for Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.’s listings.

According to a real estate trade industry publication, the National Association of Realtors voted May 19 to pay as much as $30,000 toward Metropolitan Regional’s costs in the case.

In a May 21 statement, American Home Realty said the multiple-listing service wasn’t injured, and the complaint’s allegations are insufficient for the case. American Home said it will also argue that Metropolitan Regional is misusing copyright as part of a “horizontal boycott” against the San Francisco organization.

The support of the National Association of Realtors for the case indicated that Metropolitan Regional “refuses to recognize that the public interest lies with competition,” American Home said in its statement.

The case is Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., v. American Home Realty Network Inc., 8:12-cv-00954-AW, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Greenbelt).

For more copyright news, click here.

Patents

Oracle Patent Jury in Google Case Ends Fifth Day of Deliberation

The jury weighing Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s patent-infringement claims against Google Inc. (GOOG) over the code used in Android software ended its fifth day of deliberations without reaching a verdict yesterday. Deliberations were set to resume today.

Myhrvold’s, Other Inventor Claims Properly Rejected, Court Says

A group of inventors including Nathan Myhrvold was told that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office properly refused to patent claims on two inventions related to oscillators.

Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer at Microsoft Corp., is now chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures of Bellevue, Washington. He characterized Intellectual Ventures as an “invention company,” and periodically brings together a team of inventors to brainstorm and come up with new ideas for which they then seek patents.

Several of the named inventors listed on the patent application along with Myhrvold are members of Intellectual Ventures’ team of inventors, including Casey Tegreene, the company’s chief patent counsel.

In its May 21 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals of determinations by the patent office, said the patent office was correct in rejecting all the claims in the patent application.

The Washington-based court noted that the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences found that while the application “contains a well-written summary of college level optical physics courses and included many of the basic equations and physical parameters taught in any electrical or optical engineering curriculum,” it failed to make a connection between the theory and the technology the application covered in such a way that it would be possible to duplicate the invention.

Under patent law, this is called a lack of enablement. The court said that the two applications “merely describe the well-known science of optical physics and suggest potential applications.” This isn’t enough information to make it possible for someone skilled in the technology to create either the optical component described in one application or to perform the method described in the other, the court said.

Manu J. Tejwani argued the case on behalf of Intellectual Ventures. The government’s argument was made by Raymond T. Chen, solicitor for the patent office.

The case is In re Hillis, 11-01401, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

For more patent 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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