CAFC, Icann, Pearson, Activision: Intellectual Property

President Barack Obama has sent two names to the U.S. Senate for confirmation for seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Washington-based court that hears appeals of patent cases, according to a government statement.

One of the two nominees comes from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Raymond T. Chen is presently the deputy general counsel for intellectual property law and solicitor. He’s had that post since 2008.

He is a familiar figure at the appeals court, where he served as a technical assistant from 1996 to 1998. After he left the court he moved to the patent office, where he was assistant solicitor until his promotion to solicitor in 2008.

Before the patent office, he practiced at Irvine, California’s Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP, an IP specialty firm.

Chen has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles and a law degree from New York University.

The other nominee to the court comes from the U.S. Justice Department. Rodd H. Hughes has served as deputy director of the commercial litigation branch of the department’s Civil Division since 2007.

Before he began the practice of law, he was a judicial clerk for Judge Robert B. Krupansky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He joined the Justice Department’s commercial litigation branch in 1994 as a trial attorney and became assistant director for commercial litigation five years later. He was named deputy director in 2007.

Hughes’s experience has been related to federal personnel law, veterans benefits, international trade, government contracts and jurisdictional issues regarding the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He has appeared regularly before the CAFC on some of these issues.

He has an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a joint legal degree and master’s degree in English from Duke University.

Software Patent Debate Divides Companies at U.S. Appeals Court

A U.S. appeals court specializing in patent law grappled with questions about when computer programs should be eligible for legal protection.

Ten judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington heard arguments Feb. 8 about how to distinguish software innovations from programs that computerize unpatentable ideas.

Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among companies that say patent standards for software are too lax and lead to expensive litigation. Stricter rules about what types of software can be patented could make it cheaper and quicker to weed out lawsuits over patents that cover the use of a computer to implement a concept.

The broad use of computer software in every industry has generated interest and debate about the case, with Internet retailers and financial institutions generally seeking tighter standards. Technology companies are divided, depending on the nature of their businesses.

The patents in the Federal Circuit case concern a computerized method for using an intermediary to make sure buyers and sellers meet their obligations in stock and currency trading. CLS was accused of infringement in 2007 by patent owner Alice Corp., a Melbourne-based company jointly owned by National Australia Bank Ltd. and Alice Ventures Pty.

A federal judge in Washington ruled in 2011 that the idea of using a third party to settle trades isn’t eligible for a patent, and computerizing the notion didn’t make it patentable.

In a 2-1 decision in July, the appeals court reversed that decision, ruling Alice’s suit should proceed because the patents cover “practical applications of the invention.” Friday’s arguments were before all nine active judges plus Circuit Judge Richard Linn, who wrote the original opinion and is now a senior judge.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said the court should set up a flexible test that looks at whether the computer is added to the description of an idea to obtain a patent.

Google, along with a group that includes British Airways, Intuit Inc., Twitter Inc., Yelp Inc. and SAP AG, said the court’s July ruling may keep judges from quickly resolving cases about patents that shouldn’t have been issued under standards set in recent Supreme Court cases.

International Business Machines Corp., which has received the most U.S. patents for the past 20 years, and a lobbying group whose members include Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., said software needs legal protection because it contributes to the nation’s economy.

The case is CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation, 11-1301, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is CLS Bank International v. Alice Corp., 07cv974, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

ANA Asks Icann to Protect Trademarks in Domain Registration

The Association of National Advertisers, a New York-based advertising-industry trade group, has asked the organization that assigns Internet domain names to slow down the process of creating new top-level domains.

According to a statement from the group, the ANA wants the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to set up a defensive mechanism so trademark holders can prevent registration of their exact trademarks across all the registries for a single reasonable fee.

The advertisers group said it is joined by more than 60 companies and industry groups asking Icann to adopt what it calls “Limited Preventative Registration” to help protect trademarks from exploitation by unauthorized entities.

The organization said that no one has disputed its contention that consumers could be harmed by increased fraud in the new top-level domain names and that “billions of dollars” in defensive registrations would be needed by the industry to protect consumers.

Presently the Icann website lists 1930 domain names for which applications have been filed.

China Will Consider Registration of Sounds as Trademarks

China’s State Council has approved a draft revision to that nation’s trademark law that would enable the registration of sonic trademarks, China Daily reported.

The proposed changes would permit the registration of sounds, smells and moving objects, as well as words, colors and graphics, according to China Daily.

Yang Yanchao, an IP specialist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily that for a sound to qualify for registration, it needs to be unique, memorable and flexible.

He said that the challenge in registering aural trademarks is setting up clear regulations on registration, examination and dispute resolution, and that these need to be more detailed than for word trademarks, according to China Daily.

Pearson’s Trademark Battle with Bennett Coleman & Co. Stayed

Trademark proceedings between India’s Bennett Coleman & Co. and the Financial Times unit of the U.K.’s Pearson Plc have been stayed for four weeks, the Indian Express reported.

India’s Supreme Court is hearing a dispute between the two companies over the “Financial Times (FT)” trademark, according to Indian Express.

Pearson’s Financial Times Group is seeking clear title to the trademark in line with its plans to publish the paper in India, the newspaper reported.

The dispute between the two companies began in 1993 when the Pearson unit filed a suit in Bangalore against the Indian company that resulted in the cancellation of registration for the mark for both companies, according to Indian Express.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Activision Complaint Triggers North Korea Video Takedown

Following an objection lodged by Santa Monica, California- based Activision Blizzard Inc., Google Inc.’s YouTube video- sharing service has taken down a North Korea propaganda video showing an American city reduced to flames, PC World reported.

Some of the footage was taken without authorization from Activision’s “Call of Duty” video game, according to PC World.

The video had been posted to North Korea’s YouTube channel, the website reported and can still be seen on the website of the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.

Soundtrack for the removed video was an instrumental version of “We Are the World,” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, according to PC World.

Macmillan Settles U.S. Antitrust Lawsuit Over E-Book Pricing

The U.S. Justice Department said it reached a settlement with Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH over its alleged antitrust violations involving Macmillan e-books.

Macmillan, the last publisher left in a U.S. lawsuit alleging an e-books price-fixing conspiracy with Apple Inc., reached a settlement with the U.S., agreeing to void deals with retailers that restrict discounting.

The settlement also requires Macmillan to avoid entering any new restrictive agreements on price or promotions until December 2014. Macmillan, a unit of Stuttgart, Germany-based Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, also agreed to a compliance program that includes reporting to the government communications with other publishers.

The agreement, filed in federal court in Manhattan, will “immediately allow retailers to lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan’s e-books,” Jamillia Ferris, an attorney in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said in a statement.

The settlement, if approved by a federal judge in Manhattan, would mark the end of a lawsuit for publishers alleging they conspired with Apple to undermine discounter Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in the e-books market.

The ligation against Apple will continue, the department said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment on the continued litigation.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan on Feb. 8 gave final approval to a $69 million settlement between 49 states and three of the publishers also named in the Justice Department complaint -- CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group and News Corp.’s HarperCollins.

John Sargent, president of Holtzbrinck’s U.S. group, said in a statement that Macmillan settled “because the potential penalties became too high to risk even the possibility of an unfavorable outcome.”

The Justice Department claimed in the suit that consumers were typically forced to pay as much as $14.99 or more for the most sought after titles, up from what one of the publisher’s chief executive officers described as the “wretched $9.99 price point,” that prevailed before the conspiracy.

The plan was aimed in large part at thwarting Amazon.com Inc., the largest U.S. seller of digital books, which had triggered an e-book boom by introducing the Kindle e-reader in 2007 and pricing bestselling e-books at $9.99.

At Apple’s suggestion, the publishers agreed to raise retail prices and give Cupertino, California-based Apple a 30 percent cut, according to the complaint. Amazon was eventually forced to fall in line.

Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the settlement.

The Justice Department case is U.S. v. Apple, 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The case brought by states is Texas v. Hachette Book Group Inc., 1:12-cv-06625, 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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