AT&T, Google, Isohunt, Daniels: Intellectual Property

AT&T Inc. (T) was told to pay $27.5 million for infringing a Colorado company’s patents for controlling how audio or video is streamed online.

AT&T’s U-verse TV services infringed two patents owned by Two-Way Media LLC, a federal jury in San Antonio said March 20. The jury rejected Dallas-based AT&T’s efforts to have the patents deemed invalid.

The Two-Way patents cover live streaming technology as well as ways to record detailed customer usage data, according to the company’s lawyers at Susman Godfrey LLP. Boulder-based Two-Way had sued Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) and Limelight Networks Inc. (LLNW) over the same technology. They settled.

“This was a very hard-fought case,” Parker Folse, of Susman’s Seattle office, said in a statement.

The trial focused on three Two-Way patents. The jury found U-verse infringed two of them. AT&T said it would seek to have the verdict overturned.

“While the verdict was a small fraction of what the plaintiff sought in this case, we will challenge the amount that was awarded,” Marty Richter, an AT&T spokesman, said in a statement.

The case is Two-Way Media LLC v. AT&T Inc., 09-cv-00476, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio).

Apple Seeks Patent for Protecting Dropped Mobile Phones

Apple Inc. (AAPL), the maker of the iPhone, applied for a patent on a technology aimed at helping protect dropped mobile phones.

Application 20130073095, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday, describes a combination of a sensor, processor and what Apple calls a “protective mechanism” all within the handheld device.

The sensor transmits a signal through the processor alerting the protective mechanism to alter the device’s center of mass to change the orientation of the device as it falls.

This can keep the phone from landing on its most vulnerable parts, according to the application. Apple acknowledged in the application that devices, even those in cases, can be damaged by being dropped or pushed off a counter or table.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, filed the application for the patent in September 2011.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Google Rivals Ask Almunia to Send Complaint as Talks Continue

Google Inc. (GOOG)’s rivals urged European Union regulators to send antitrust objections to the world’s largest search-engine operator, almost two months after the company submitted settlement concessions to end a probe.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia should issue a statement of objections laying out antitrust concerns with the company’s search business because a settlement might not change Google’s conduct, TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP) and Expedia Inc. (EXPE), along with seven other companies and two German media groups, said in a letter yesterday.

Google is “unlikely to volunteer effective, future-proof remedies without being formally charged with infringement,” the companies said in the letter.

Almunia has sought a deal with Google to end the more than two-year-old antitrust probe without imposing fines. He asked the company last year to give him a detailed offer to address allegations that Google promotes its own specialist search- services, copies rivals’ travel and restaurant reviews, and has agreements with websites and software developers that stifle competition in the advertising industry.

The EU’s antitrust chief said this month that regulators prefer to use settlements to end cases in high-tech and fast- moving markets. After he received Google’s settlement offer in January, he said he hoped to check it with rivals and customers “in the coming months” and finalize it later this year.

Bill Echikson, a spokesman for Google, said the company was cooperating with regulators. Neither Mountain View, California- based Google nor the EU have disclosed the content of Google’s offer.

The U.S. ended an investigation into Google’s search business in January, saying there was no evidence that the company’s actions harmed consumers.

In 2010, the EU began investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting competitors’ ads. While Microsoft and partner Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post in 2011, citing data from regulators.

Italian Apples from Cuneo Get ‘Mela Rosa Cuneo’ Registration

A number of apple varieties grown in Italy’s Piedmont region are now protected as “Mela Rosa Cuneo,” according to a March 6 publication in the journal of the European Union.

Varieties entitled to this designation include the Red Delicious, Gala, Braeburn and the Fuji. They must all have bright and shiny shades of color.

According to the website of the agricultural producers of Italy’s Cuneo province, apple cultivation dates back to Roman times, with Cluniac and Cistercian monks improving the methods of apple growing during the Middle Ages.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Isohunt Web Tech Induced Infringement, Appeals Court Rules

Isohunt Web Technologies Inc., a BitTorrent file-sharing system, induces infringement, a federal appeals court ruled, refusing to overturn an order barring searches for movie titles through its system.

U.S. District Judge Stephen H. Wilson issued an order in March 2010 barring Isohunt and founder Gary Fung from a wide range of what the judge deemed infringing conduct. Earlier, he found Fung and Isohunt liable for infringement because they “engaged in purposeful, culpable expression and conduct aimed at promoting infringing uses” of their websites.

Movie studios including Walt Disney Co. (DIS), Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. sued Fung and Isohunt for copyright infringement in federal court in Los Angeles in September 2006, claiming the company infringed film copyrights and facilitated infringement by others.

Fung and Isohunt in June asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to keep Wilson’s orders from taking effect until they could appeal his rulings.

Writing for the appeals court, U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon called the case “yet another concerning the application of established intellectual property concepts to new technologies.”

She said that even though what Fung was using wasn’t a device, copyright law was still applicable.

“Unlike patents, copyrights protect expression, not products or devices,” she said. Inducement, under copyright law, is not limited to those who distribute a “device.”

The lists of movie titles Fung provided to subscribers proved to be an inducement, she said.

Henry Hoberman of the Motion Picture Association of America said in a statement the ruling demonstrates that those “who build businesses around encouraging, enabling, and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their illegal actions.”

The lower-court case is Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. v. Fung, 06-cv-05578, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The appeals court case is Columbia Picture Industries v. Fung, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 10-55946 (San Francisco).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Daniels Health Sciences Says Vascular Health Violated Order

Daniels Health Sciences LLC, a Texas company that created and sells a product aimed at reducing blood clots, asked a federal court in Texas to find its opponent in a trade secrets case in contempt of court.

Daniels said in a March 11 filing that Vascular Health Sciences LLC of American Fork, Utah, violated an order from a federal appeals court to quit selling a product that made unauthorized use of trade secrets.

Daniels sued in June 2012, saying that after it brought in Vascular Health to market a compound for improving artery health, the Utah company took intellectual property and confidential information and used it to develop its own infringing product

A federal appeals court said March 5 that the lower court properly issued an order barring the Vascular sales and that Daniels was likely to succeed in its claim of trade-secret misappropriation.

According to Daniels Health’s March 11 filing, Vascular was “still selling and marketing” the allegedly infringing product over the Internet. Daniels said it could show by clear and convincing evidence that despite the court order, the prohibited conduct continued.

Daniels submitted website images it claimed established that even after the court order, Vascular was continuing to market the infringing product.

The Texas company also asked for attorney fees and litigation costs in connection with its request.

When attempts were made yesterday to reach the Vascular website -- www.vascularhealthsciences.com -- it appeared to have been taken down.

The case is Daniels Health Sciences LLC v. Vascular Health Sciences LLC, 12-cv-01896, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston). The appeal is Daniels Health Sciences LLC v. Vascular Health Sciences LLC, 12-20599, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

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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