Apple, Wharton, Del Monte, DuPont: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s future iPhones may look very different from present models, if a recently published patent application is any indication.

The Cupertino, California-based company submitted an application, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 28, for what it calls “an electronic device with wrap-around display.”

According to application 20130076612, the mobile device will have a flexible display housing that is enclosed in a transparent housing. Apple said any portion of the display can show visual content.

The present configuration of most mobile devices leaves its sides and rear surfaces “unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality,” according to the application. Because many of the device’s buttons and switches have fixed functionality they can’t always be incorporated into third-party applications, Apple said.

The aim of the new configuration would be to provide functionality on more than one surface, Apple said.

The company applied for the patent in September 2011. Unlike many Apple patent applications or patents related to the appearance of the company’s products, the application doesn’t name the late Steve Jobs, the company founder, as an inventor.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Penn Accuses California Company of Being Wharton Imposter

The University of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit accusing a California company of violating a trademark associated with the Wharton Business School.

The Wharton Business Foundation, which has locations in Beverly Hills, California, and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, is using Penn’s 132-year-old Wharton trademark without authorization, lawyers for the university said in a complaint made public March 28 in federal court in Philadelphia.

The company’s use of the name “creates a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace,” the University of Pennsylvania said in its complaint.

Wharton Business Foundation operates a website with the Wharton name and offers services including business education and business consultation through its Wharton Business Foundation University, according to the complaint. The company also advertises and has a toll-free phone number 888-4-WHARTON, the university said in its filing.

Penn has been using the Wharton registered mark for business education since as early as 1881 and for business consultation since 1953, lawyers for the university said in the filing. According to the school’s website, the name comes from businessman and entrepreneur Joseph Wharton, who established “the world’s first collegiate school of business” at the university in 1881.

The university is seeking a jury trial and a court order barring the misuse of its mark.

Officials at the Wharton Business Foundation didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania v. Wharton Business Foundation, 13-cv-01616, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Del Monte Barred From Some Labeling, Product-Dating Practices

Del Monte Foods Co., the maker of canned fruit and pet products controlled by KKR & Co., is barred from using its trademark on refrigerated food products containing five specified kinds of fruit.

A federal court in Manhattan told the San Francisco-based food company that it violated a licensing agreement with its 1989 spinoff Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (FDP), and falsely informed customers that some of its products that contained preservatives had to be refrigerated

The order came in resolution of the contract-dispute suit Fresh filed against Del Monte in 2008. Fresh, based in Coral Gables, Florida, claimed that the California company breached a trademark licensing agreement.

According to court papers, the agreement limited Del Monte Foods’ exclusive use of the Del Monte mark to preserved produce and gave Fresh the rights to use it with fresh fruit and vegetables.

The dispute centered on the parties’ different interpretations of a license agreement with respect to refrigerated pineapple, melons, berries, papayas and bananas regardless of whether they are fresh or preserved.

Following a jury verdict that Del Monte had violated trademark law with respect to some of the products, it gave Fresh a damages award of $7.2 million. Fresh then sought a court order controlling aspects of Del Monte’s packaging and marketing.

In his March 28 order, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said Del Monte is barred from using the trademark on any product containing any of the five fruits that is intended to be refrigerated or chilled at the point of sale. If Del Monte’s customers are refrigerating these products, the California company is required to tell them in writing that they aren’t permitted to sell them under refrigeration.

The company is also barred from pasteurizing or adding chemical preservatives to its fruit products without saying so. The judge said that while Del Monte didn’t have to add “‘Contains Preservatives’’ on the front label, it must state on the ingredient list that certain chemicals added are preservatives. Additionally, Del Monte cannot put ‘‘best by’’ or ‘‘sell by’’ dates on its products without test results that justify the existence of such a date, he said.

The case is Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. v. Del Monte Foods Co., 08-cv-08718, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

‘Star Wars’ Movie May Guide Big East on Selecting New Name

Darth Vader might serve as inspiration for the Big East Conference, which must change its name after the so-called Catholic Seven leaves in three months and takes the league’s moniker with them.

Among the names suggested by the marketing firm Duffy & Shanley when the conference formed in 1979 was Galactic East, which the company said was inspired by the 1977 movie ‘‘Star Wars.’’ Other suggestions were the Empire Conference, Conference One, Eastern One, Olympic Conference and Eastern Compact, according to the plan, a copy of which was provided to Bloomberg News by Dave Duffy, a partner in the firm at the time.

Geographic-based suggestions were the Big East, Met-East and North Atlantic Alliance. Heritage-based suggestions were the Patriot Athletic Conference, Colonial League and Mayflower Compact.

The firm’s principal recommendation was the Big East, which will be used by the seven departing schools that include Georgetown University, Villanova University and Providence College. Joseph Shanley, the father of current Providence College President Brian Shanley, was a partner in the marketing firm.

‘‘All the great brands of the world -- General Electric, Coca-Cola, they have a lot of roots,’’ Duffy, 73, said in a telephone interview from Florida. ‘‘It would be hard for the new basketball league to start over and match that.’’

Covington & Burling LLP attorney Marie Lavalleye, acting as a representative of the league, on March 6 filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the term ‘‘America 12 Conference.’’ She didn’t return a telephone calling seeking comment on the name change.

Duffy & Shanley, in the original marketing plan, said the conference’s name, at least in the beginning, shouldn’t include a number because conference members are sure to change, a recommendation he said is even more valid today with the realignment in college sports. Shanley, the Providence president, earlier this month said ‘‘the landscape in college sports has not stopped morphing.”

Since 2011, the Big East has lost 16 schools that were either members or dropped out before playing a game. The Pac-10 Conference, meantime, became the Pac-12 after adding two schools. The Big Ten Conference hasn’t had 10 teams since Penn State University joined in 1990. While the Big Ten didn’t change its name at the time, it did alter its logo to reflect an 11th team. The current Big Ten has 12 football members and is adding more.

DuPont Drops Trademark-Infringement Suit Against Easton-Bell

DuPont Co. (DD), the maker of Corian countertops and Tyvek packaging materials, dropped a trademark-infringement lawsuit against a California maker of sports equipment.

The suit, filed Jan. 28 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, accused Easton-Bell Sports Inc. of Scotts Valley, California, of infringing the chemical company’s “Kevlar” trademark.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, said the size of the Kevlar trademark on Easton-Bell’s packaging was even larger than the California company’s own mark, according to the complaint

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.

Easton-Bell sued in federal court in San Francisco on 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.

On March 26, a magistrate judge refused to dismiss Easton- Bell’s case and rejected DuPont’s request that the dispute be transferred to Delaware. He said that DuPont’s request for a transfer was inappropriate.

Dupont didn’t give any reason for dropping its suit against Easton-Bell. According to the March 28 filing, Easton-Bell hadn’t answered the complaint or asked that the case be dismissed.

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).

For more trademark news, click here.

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Obama Urged by Democrats to Act on China’s Alleged Cyber Thefts

President Barack Obama’s administration should take action to curb China’s alleged cyber theft, two House Democrats said, after a top U.S. official accused the Asian nation of industrial espionage against American companies.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office needs to designate China as a top violator of intellectual property rights, which can lead to further trade restrictions, Representatives Sander Levin of Michigan and Charles Rangel of New York said March 28 in a letter to Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis.

“In the case of China, the government itself appears to be actively stealing the intellectual property of American businesses,” the lawmakers, ranking Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, which deals with trade issues, wrote.

China’s cyber espionage against U.S. businesses is adding tension between the governments of the world’s two largest economies, Obama’s National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said in a March 11 speech in New York. In their letter, Levin and Rangel cited a February report by Mandiant Corp., an Arlington, Virginia-based information security firm, that concluded the Chinese government is probably the source of recent hacking attacks.

The lawmakers asked the USTR to list China in the annual assessment of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement in other nations, to be released about April 30.

“We have received the letter and are reviewing it,” Carol Guthrie, a USTR spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The USTR will seek to toughen trade-secret protection through the annual assessment, the Obama administration said its strategy to mitigate violations, released in February.

Intellectual-property protection is among the issues being negotiated as the U.S. seeks trade deals with 10 Pacific-region governments and the 27-nation European Union. Companies including New York-based Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) rely on enforcement of trade laws to protect their patents.

Intellectual-property provisions shouldn’t be in a proposed U.S.-EU trade deal because they could raise health-care costs, limit free speech and restrict access to education materials, Washington-based consumer group Public Citizen said in a March 18 statement joined by other organizations.

IP Moves

Wilson Sonsini Expands IP Practice With Team of Five From Sidley

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC expanded its IP practice with the hiring of five patent litigators, the Palo Alto, California-based firm said in a statement.

The five new hires all previously were with Chicago’s Sidley Austin LLP. They are Edward Poplawski, Vera Elson, Paul Tripodi II, Olivia M. Kim and Sandra S. Fujiyama.

Poplawski, who headed Sidley’s West Coast IP practice, has litigated life-sciences and technology patent cases in federal courts and before the International Trade Commission, a Washington-based entity with the power to exclude imports of products that infringe U.S. intellectual property.

He has an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and a law degree from Villanova University.

Elson has previously practiced at Wilson Sonsini and at Chicago’s McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Before she was a lawyer, she was an electrical engineer at Hughes Aircraft’s Advanced Circuit Technology Labs.

She has an undergraduate degree in cybernetics and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles and a law degree from the University of Southern California.

Tripodi has practiced in both federal court and before the International Trade Commission.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in chemical physics from the California Institute of Technology and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Kim has represented clients whose technologies have included biometric sensors, computer processor architecture, Internet payment systems and plasma display panels. She was a researcher at the University of California’s immunology and physiology labs before she became a lawyer.

She has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Fujiyama does patent and trademark acquisition work in addition to litigation.

She has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.