Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s patent-infringement victory over Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) could go far in bolstering its claim of copying and providing an advantage in any settlement between the world’s two top smartphone manufacturers.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Aug. 9 said Samsung infringed two Apple patents and issued an order banning imports of products using the iPhone maker’s multitouch features and headphone jack detection. President Barack Obama’s administration could overturn the import ban on public policy grounds, as it did Aug. 3 in an order against older iPhones.
The companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees for some sort of victory that gives them the upper hand in a final, negotiated solution. Apple, which initiated the legal fight in 2011, is seeking to limit the Galaxy maker’s increasing share of the U.S. smartphone market, where Apple is No. 1 and Samsung No. 2.
Apple filed its first patent-infringement case against Samsung in April 2011, saying the Korean company “has chosen to slavishly copy Apple’s innovative technology.” Samsung responded a week later with its own patent claims, and the fight has escalated into a legal battle on four continents with no clear winner and no end in sight, despite negotiations that have included direct talks between chief executives of both companies.
Cupertino, California-based Apple has claimed that many of the phones running on Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system copied unique features of the iPhone, introduced in 2007. Its first suit, in March 2010 against Taiwan’s HTC Corp. (2498), resulted in a settlement that included a pledge by HTC that it wouldn’t make “cloned” copies of Apple products.
In the global marketplace, Android has grown to become the most popular operating system, running 80 percent of the almost 230 million smartphones sold worldwide in the second quarter, compared with Apple’s 14 percent, according to an Aug. 1 report by Boston-based researcher Strategy Analytics.
Apple won a $1 billion jury verdict last year in California, though a new trial was ordered to determine damages on about half of the award. Samsung won an ITC import ban against Apple, only to have it vetoed by the Obama administration on public policy grounds regarding patents on fundamental technology that’s used throughout the industry.
For both reputation purposes and settlement negotiations, hindering the other company’s sales is often more important than money. The $1 billion California verdict equals one-seventh of Samsung’s second-quarter profit and less than two weeks’ worth of iPhone sales
Abbott Wins Dismissal of Saffran Patent Suit Over Heart Devices
Abbott Laboratories (ABT), the Illinois-based producer of pharmaceuticals and health-care products, won dismissal of a patent suit over a cardiac stent.
Physician Bruce N. Saffran filed the suit in federal court in Marshall, Texas, in April 2009, accusing Abbott of infringing a patent belonging to him.
Saffran’s patent 5,653,760 was issued in August 1997 and broadly covers small drug-coated devices that can be inserted into damaged tissue and through which “additional treating materials” can be injected post-installation.
Saffran, of Princeton, New Jersey, previously won a $482 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson for infringing that same patent. That case was overturned on appeal in April.
Based on that appeals court ruling, Abbott products don’t infringe the patent either, according to court filings.
Parties on both sides of the case agreed to dismiss all claims, and each was to bear the cost of litigation and attorney fees, according to court filings.
The case is Saffran v. Abbott Laboratories, 2:09-cv-00256-JRG-RSP, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).
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Apple Variety Trademark Holder Warns Consumers Against Imports
Pink Lady LLC, the Wenatchee, Washington-based trade group is warning consumers against buying so-called “Pink Lady” apples that are sold without the trademark sticker on the fruit, Produce Retailer reported.
The trade group said untrademarked fruit from the southern hemisphere is being imported into the U.S., and there is no guarantee it will meet the quality standards for those entitled to use the sticker, according to Produce Retailer.
The article in Produce Retailer garnered a number of comments, many of them critical of Pink Lady LLC for “attempting to dictate to us (the consumer) what we should or should not buy.”
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Pirate Bay Offers Browser That Can Sidestep Web Censors
Pirate Bay, the website accused of enabling copyright infringement through the use of the BitTorrent protocol, celebrated its 10th anniversary by offering for downloading a Web browser that can circumvent any censorship and Web blocks, PC Magazine reported.
The PirateBrowser, which can be downloaded for free at www.piratebrowser.com, was created out of the Firefox Web browsers, with several add-ons, PC Magazine reported.
PirateBrowser is aimed at users in countries where access to certain websites is blocked, such as Pirate Bay, according to PC Magazine.
The browser doesn’t offer anonymous browsing, PC Magazine reported.
Artist Tala Madani Sued Over Paintings Found in Storage Locker
Two Oregon residents, who bought the contents of a storage locker at an auction of unclaimed goods in Independence, Oregon, filed suit against a California artist, seeking clarification of the ownership of the copyrights to a number of her works.
After Brad Daily and Mike Claxton won the auction, they discovered the locker contained 114 paintings they say are by Tala Madani, who was once a student at Oregon State University.
Madani, who was born in Iran, has won awards for her work, some of which is collected in museums such as the Tate Modern in the U.K. She is presently represented by the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London.
Daily and Claxton, who do business as the Independence Collection, said they found some personal items in the locker, including photo ID cards for Madani, and contacted her, in an attempt to return them to her.
While they also discussed returning several of Madani’s paintings, negotiations quickly degenerated, they said in their pleadings. They claim that Madani’s mother and independent documentation confirm that the paintings are the artist’s work.
They then put one of the paintings up for auction through the Phillips Gallery of New York in May 2013, at which they anticipated a sale price of between $15,000 and $20,000. The auction didn’t take place because Madani contacted the gallery to challenge the legitimacy of the Independence Group’s ownership of the work, and threatened to sue the gallery.
Madani’s lawyers then told the Independence Group that the artist disclaims the painting and that it would be a criminal offense to sell them as her artwork, according to court papers.
Independence Group asked the court to declare that it owns the work, and to quit interfering with their attempts to sell it. They also seek an order barring Madani from disclaiming the work, and money damages in excess of $150,000.
They also asked the court to declare that the sale of any of the works in the collection doesn’t violate any of the artist’s rights.
Madani didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment sent through her gallery.
The case is Independence Collection LLC v. Madani, 6:13-cv-01397-MC, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Eugene).
Judge Refuses to Hear Curb Records’ Case Against Tim McGraw
Curb sued McGraw for copyright infringement in federal court in Nashville in April, related to master recordings the singer delivered to a new label, Big Machine Records LLC.
McGraw recorded these in a time period covered by a contract to Curb, the company said in its complaint, alleging that it was the rightful owner of the copyrights.
Curb had also sued McGraw in state court, alleging that the singer had violated his contract.
U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. ordered the case closed, saying he couldn’t address the copyright-infringement case until the copyright ownership issues are finally resolved by the state courts.
In his ruling he said that any party to the litigation could file a motion to reopen the case after the state courts make their final ruling.
He noted that the Tennessee Court of Appeals had already denied Curb’s request to bar McGraw’s recording new content. That court found the request inappropriate, giving the label “the ability to keep McGraw from moving forward with his recording career.” That court refused to reverse a lower-court ruling permitting McGraw to go ahead and record new content.
The federal case is Curb Records Inc. v. McGraw, 3:13-cv-00399, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville).
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Telekom Malaysia Says It’s Still Probing Espionage Claim
Telekom Malaysia Bhd (T) is continuing its investigation into an alleged industrial espionage incident involving an employee of one of its multinational partner companies, the Malay Mail Online reported.
The incident involved a visit a group of Telekom Malaysia employees made to the overseas facility of a European partner company, according to Malay Mail Online.
The partner company employee allegedly joined the group of Telekom Malaysia employees on this visit, thus obtaining access to facilities belonging to a competitor, Malay Mail Online reported.
Although Telekom Malaysia declined to identify either of the two rival partner companies, Malay Mail reported that both are bidding to provide infrastructure for the Malaysian company’s 4G Long Term Evolution technology aimed at providing high speed mobile broadband.
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