Samsung, Krka, DuPont, Campbell: Intellectual Property

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s largest smartphone maker, asked a judge in Japan to dismiss Apple Inc.’s appeal in a patent-infringement case won by the South Korean company in August.

Samsung and Apple representatives made their first oral arguments before Judge Shuhei Shiotsuki at the Intellectual Property High Court in Tokyo yesterday. The next round will be held March 21, the judge said.

The case is one of dozens in which the world’s two largest smartphone makers are using their patents to try to force each other into changing products or removing some models from store shelves. They are fighting for increased share of a mobile device market that researcher Yankee Group expects to double to $847 billion by 2016.

In August, the Tokyo District Court ruled that Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s smartphones and a tablet computer didn’t infringe an Apple invention for synchronizing music and video data with servers. Apple, the Cupertino, California-based maker of iPhones, claimed that the Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S II infringed the patent on synchronization, and sought 100 million yen ($1.1 million) in damages, according to court documents.

Slovenia’s Krka Ordered to Pay Damages to Merck on Asthma Drug

Krka Group d.d., Slovenia’s biggest drug company, was ordered to pay almost 630,000 euros ($846,000) to Merck & Co. (MRK) after a Finnish appeals court overturned a ruling on patent infringement of Merck’s Singulair asthma treatment.

Krka failed to prove that the process to produce the substance montelukast doesn’t infringe a Merck patent, the Court of Appeals in Helsinki found, the Novo Mesto, Slovenia-based company said in a regulatory statement yesterday. Krka said it is considering an appeal to the Finnish Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was filed by Merck units in Finland, Canada and the Netherlands in September 2009. Krka was ordered to pay 629,737 euros, with interest from Dec. 31, 2010, it said. Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.

Apple Seeks Patent on Sensor to Communicate Shoe-Wear Status

Apple Inc. (AAPL), maker of the iPad and iPhone, applied for a patent on a technology that will detect when shoes are wearing out.

Application 20130021152, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 24, covers what Cupertino, California-based Apple calls a “shoe wear-out sensor.”

The sensor will determine whether the shoe is providing the wearer with adequate support, regardless of its outward appearance, according to the application. When a critical level of wear is reached, the feet may be damaged, Apple said.

The shoe sensor will be able to tally the number of repetitive actions, while taking into account variables such as the weight of the wearer, Apple said.

Apple applied for the patent in July.

Since 2006, Nike Inc. (NKE) of Beaverton, Oregon, has released a running shoe with a sensor that communicates data to an Apple iPod.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

DuPont Responds to Easton-Bell Lawsuit by Filing Own Case

DuPont Co. (DD), the maker of Corian countertops and Tyvek packaging materials, sued a California maker of sports equipment for trademark infringement.

Easton-Bell Sports Inc. of Scotts Valley, California, is accused of making unauthorized use of DuPont’s “Kevlar” trademark. DuPont said the size of the Kevlar trademark on Easton-Bell’s packaging is even larger than the California company’s own mark, according to the complaint filed Jan. 28 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

DuPont said it first registered the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1974, and that “Kevlar” is used to cover resins for synthetic fibers and protective apparel.

Easton-Bell has sold and marketed bicycle tires and locks in packaging displaying the Kevlar trademark since July, according to court papers. Such products are sold through retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. (TGT) and Amazon.com Inc., DuPont said.

The Wilmington-based chemical company says it’s harmed by Easton-Bell’s actions and that efforts to resolve the dispute -- including the offer of a license agreement -- have failed. Instead, Easton-Bell sued in federal court in San Francisco Jan. 18, seeking a court declaration that it didn’t infringe the DuPont trademark.

In its pleadings, Easton-Bell said it has bought Kevlar from authorized distributors and resellers for at least six years and used it in bike tires and locks. Indicating on its packaging that the products contain Kevlar “has no likelihood of causing confusion,” the company claimed.

The California company said it declined the license offered by DuPont “on the grounds that the fees sought were exorbitant, given Easton-Bell’s limited and fair use of the mark.”

In addition to seeking a declaration of non-infringement, Easton-Bell asked the court to bar DuPont from trying to prohibit the sports-gear company from using “Kevlar,” and for an award of the cost of the litigation.

In its complaint, DuPont asked the court to halt Easton- Bell’s use of the mark, and for the recall of all of the California company’s goods and promotional material bearing the mark, including those possessed by customers. DuPont seeks an order for the destruction of the items, and for an award of Easton-Bell’s profits attributable to the alleged infringement.

Additionally, DuPont asked for money damages and requested they and the awarded profits be tripled. The company also seeks attorney fees and litigation costs.

The DuPont case is E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Easton- Bell Sports Inc., 1:13-cv-00150, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). The earlier case is Easton-Bell Sports v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co, 3:13-cv-00283, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Campbell, Chicken Soup for the Soul Settle Trademark Dispute

Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) and publisher of a series of inspirational books settled their trademark dispute, according to a Jan. 25 court filing.

Terms of the accord with Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing of Cos Cob, Connecticut, weren’t disclosed in the filing in federal court in Camden, New Jersey. Litigation costs and attorney fees weren’t awarded, according to the filing.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing formed an alliance in July with branding company Daymon Worldwide Inc. to produce a line of branded food products. They founded a jointly owned company, Chicken Soup for the Soul Foods.

At the time, Bill Rouhana, chief executive officer of the publishing company, said that for years, fans had encouraged the company to come out with a food line.

Campbell, based in Camden, filed the trademark suit October, claiming that images it had seen of the proposed packaging indicated that the new food company was trying to trade off the soup maker’s fame. The trade dress -- which is protected by U.S. trademark law -- was “extremely and confusingly similar to that offered by Campbell Soup,” the company said. Daymon was also a defendant in the case.

Campbell accused the new food company of embarking on “an unlawful campaign to lure consumers into purchasing their chicken noodle soup and related goods” under the mistaken belief that they were sponsored by or affiliated with Campbell.

The soup company asked the court to bar the use of what it claimed was an infringing label design, and for the recall and destruction of any promotional materials that would violate that order.

The company also sought awards of money damages and profits related to the alleged infringement, together with attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is CSC Brands LP v. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC, 1:12-cv-06569, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Delhi University Students Fight Against Copyright Injunction

Students at the Delhi School of Economics have created an association to oppose a court order barring a college photocopy shop from making copies of academic tests, the Deccan Herald reported.

They were responding to the Oct. 18 court order obtained by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis, according to the newspaper.

In that ruling, the court also said that compiling photocopied course packs is illegal, the newspaper reported.

The students are arguing that under Indian copyright law, students are guaranteed the right of access to educational materials, the Deccan Herald reported.

Christmas Decor Company Seeks Non-Infringement Declaration

A Hong Kong company that sells illuminated Christmas figures filed a lawsuit seeking a U.S. court declaration it’s not infringing the copyrights of a Taiwan resident.

City-Talent Ltd. said it received a cease-and-desist letter from Jing-Sheng Yang of Taiwan City warning that it infringed his copyrights.

According to Bloomberg data, Yang has filed more than 10 copyright-infringement suits since 2001, targeting such retailers as Dollar Tree Stores Inc., Big Lots Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) All of the other suits were dismissed without being tried, City-Talent said.

City-Talent claims that Yang isn’t entitled to claim the rights to the copyrights he asserts. The Hong Kong company is asking the court to declare that its distribution and sales of illuminated figures are valid and don’t violate Yang’s rights.

Yang isn’t the author of the subject matter covered by the copyrights, which is in the public domain, City-Talent said in the complaint filed in federal court in Dallas. The figures that Yang claimed a copyright on are an illuminated choir angel and an illuminated snowman on skis, according to the complaint.

City-Talent says it suffered damages as a result of Yang’s claims, and the copyright-infringement claims are a form of unfair competition.

The company asked the court to declare that it has the right to distribute and sell its figurines in the U.S. and that they don’t infringe Yang’s copyrights. City-Talent also requested an order barring Yang from asserting that the figurines infringe his copyrights, and awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is City-Talent Ltd. v. Yang, 3:13-cv-00374, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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