Apple, Google, Nidera, Disney: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. (AAPL) was criticized by U.K. judges for posting a notice on its website about a lawsuit with Samsung Electronics Co. that was “untrue” and “incorrect.”

The U.K. Court of Appeal in London ordered Apple to remove the statement within 24 hours and replace it with a new notice acknowledging the inaccurate comments.

“I’m at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this,” Judge Robin Jacob said yesterday. “That is a plain breach of the order.”

The decision is the latest in a lawsuit that produced a July judgment in which another London court said the design for three Samsung Galaxy tablets didn’t infringe Apple’s registered design because they were not “cool” enough. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, was told by the same court last month to post a notice about the ruling that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets didn’t copy the design of Apple’s iPad.

The court’s initial order was for a simple notice on its website about the Oct. 18 judgment meant to correct the impression Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung had copied Apple’s product.

Apple’s post, criticized by judges yesterday, inserted four paragraphs including excerpts of the original “cool” ruling regarding the tablets’ coolness that appear to favor Apple and details of German lawsuits about similar issues that the court yesterday said weren’t true.

The notice created the “impression that the U.K. court is out of step with other courts,” Henry Carr, Samsung’s lawyer, said in a filing.

“It was clear the judges were not happy with what Apple had done,” Gary Moss, a lawyer at EIP Partnership LLP who isn’t involved in the case but attended yesterday’s hearing, said in a phone interview. “They thought Apple was playing fast and loose.”

Alan Hely, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment on the ruling. Michael Beloff, a lawyer for the company, told the court the comments were in line with the original order.

The notice “is not designed to punish, it is not designed to makes us grovel,” Beloff said in court yesterday. “The only purpose is to dispel commercial uncertainty.”

Apple’s request for 14 days to make the changes was rejected.

“I would like to see the head of Apple make an affidavit setting out the technical difficulties which means Apple can’t put this on” their website, Jacob said. “I just can’t believe the instructions you’ve been given. This is Apple. They cannot put something on their website?”

Apple must now add a three sentence note on its homepage in acknowledgment of “the incorrect statement,” with a link to a new notice, the judges said yesterday.

Activist’s Estate Says Permission Needed for ‘Gay is Good’ Use

The efforts of a gay-rights activist to set up a page on Facebook Inc. (FB)’s social media site highlighting contributions gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have made to society has run into a potential trademark problem, the Washington Blade newspaper reported.

Christopher Dyer of Washington received a cease-and-desist letter telling him his slogan for the page -- “Gay is Good, Make LGBT Great” -- infringed a registered U.S. trademark, according to the Blade.

The “Gay is Good” mark was created by the late Frank Kameny, a gay rights activist, and registered by his estate with the intention of make sure the phrase is always used in a respectful fashion, the newspaper reported.

Dyer, former head of the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs in Washington, told the Blade that while he’ll quit using the phrase, he is “frankly disgusted” the estate registered the trademark and is trying to control its use.

Aussie Registers ‘Mate,’ Hopes to Rival Billabong’s Reach

An Australian truck driver has registered “mate” as a trademark in his county, Queensland, Australia’s Sunshine Coast Daily reported.

Trent Lecky of Bli Bli, Australia, said he wants to turn his mark “into an Australian brand that people around the world can relate to,” according to the newspaper.

He said that while his goal isn’t necessarily to make money, he hopes to sell 1,000 shirts through his MateAustralia.com website by Christmas and eventually rival Billabong International Ltd. (BBG) as an Australian clothing brand, the newspaper reported.

Lecky told the newspaper he is using a page on Facebook Inc.’s social media site to promote his brand.

For more trademark news, click here.

Patents

FTC Staff Said to Formally Recommend Google Patent Suit

Google Inc. (GOOG) should be sued by the Federal Trade Commission for trying to block competitors’ access to key smartphone- technology patents in violation of antitrust law, the agency’s staff told commissioners in a formal recommendation, according to four people familiar with the matter.

A majority of the agency’s five commissioners are inclined to sue, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. A final decision on the staff recommendation, made last month, isn’t likely until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, they said.

At issue are Google’s efforts to block U.S. imports of products made by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Apple Inc. by claiming the devices, which rely on industry-standard technology, infringe patents owned by Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, the people said.

“We take our commitments to license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms very seriously and are happy to answer any questions,” Niki Fenwick, a Google spokeswoman, said. Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the FTC, declined to comment.

The FTC opened a formal probe into the matter in June, when it began seeking information from companies including Microsoft and Apple about whether Google offered licensing for technology under patents that help operate 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming on fair and reasonable terms, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

Industry-standard technology helps ensure that different manufacturers’ products, such as mobile phone antennas and global-positioning system software, work together. Companies that create technology that helps develop the agreed-upon industry standard pledge to license patents for those inventions on reasonable terms.

Argentina Seed Law May Be Postponed Until 2013, Cronista Says

Argentina’s Congress may postpone until 2013 a debate on a seed law to protect intellectual property rights for agricultural biotechnology, El Cronista said, citing unidentified executives from seed producers such as Asociados Don Mario SA and Nidera SA.

Congress will delay the debate after opposition from some farm organizations, Buenos Aires-based El Cronista said. Seed producers support the proposed law that will primarily benefit Monsanto Co. (MON), which has a patent for seeds in Argentina, it said.

Farmers aren’t currently required to pay royalties on seeds they withhold for the next planting season, the newspaper said.

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Disney’s ‘Mr. Young’ Accused of Infringing ‘Student Teacher’

Walt Disney Co. (DIS), which agreed this week to buy George Lucas’s Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion, was sued for copyright infringement by a Los Angeles screenwriter.

According to the complaint filed Oct. 30 in federal court in Los Angeles, the company is accused of infringing copyrights to a script and “show bible” for “Student Teacher,” a television series about a student who becomes the teacher in his class.

Emir Tiar, who writes as E.T. Radcliffe, said he submitted the script and the show bible -- a written sales pitch for the script -- through the William Morris Agency, which he said showed interest in his project.

He said that after initial discussions with Morris, he was told in 2009 his project was too “high concept” for American audiences and that the script was unmarketable.

Tiar later discovered a program “Mr. Young” airing on one of the Disney channels. The program, he said contains “all the elements” of “Student Teacher.” He claims Disney is now earning money from infringing his script, and that he is damaged by the studio’s actions.

The Morris agency is co-defendant with Disney, as are a Canadian production company that filmed the show and producer Dan Signer.

Tiar asked the court to declare his copyright is infringed, and that he is entitled to “at least $100 million based on the fact that the television series is now in its third season and is being broadcast in 31 different countries,” according to court papers.

Additionally, he asked for awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.

Disney didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Emir Tiar v. Walt Disney Co., 2:12-cv-09323-GW- FFM, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Arbitron, Magic Broadcasting Settle Copyright-Infringement Suit

Arbitron Inc. (ARB), the media research and marketing firm, settled a copyright-infringement dispute with Magic Broadcasting LLC.

According to an Oct. 31 statement from the Columbia, Maryland-based company, the dispute had involved the use of some of its rating data after the expiration of a contract with Magic, the former owner and operator of six FM radio stations in Alabama.

Magic, based in Panama City Beach, Florida, had a license to use Arbitron audience-measurement reports through March 31, 2010. Arbitron filed the infringement suit in November 2011, after saying it found that Magic was using Arbitron data to promote the radio stations after the license ended.

The dispute was settled for an undisclosed sum, Arbitron said in its statement. Magic agreed to refrain from making any future unauthorized use of Arbitron ratings data and its on-air personalities are barred from making any reference to the data, the company said.

The case is Arbitron Inc. v. Magic Broadcasting LLC, 1:11- cv-08311-DLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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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