Apple, J&J, Kanye West, Fullscreen: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) agreed to a mediator in an effort to resolve their patent disputes over smartphone technology before their next trial in San Jose, California, set to begin in March.

Senior legal executives at the companies met Jan. 6 to discuss “settlement opportunities,” according to the agreement filed Jan. 8 in federal court in San Jose.

The companies agreed to retain someone “who has experience mediating high-profile disputes,” according to the filing, which doesn’t name the person.

Apple and Samsung previously tried and failed to reach agreement in court-ordered settlement negotiations. In 2012, in their first patent-infringement case in San Jose, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero handled negotiations. The companies also met at least twice in 2011 to discuss settling their dispute before the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to a company filing.

In San Jose, Apple is again seeking an order banning sales in the U.S. of Samsung products that were at issue in the companies’ first patent trial in California even though they are now no longer on the market. Apple said in a court filing that it needed the injunction to deter Samsung from releasing new products that also infringed its patents.

The iPhone-maker last month asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to bar sales of more than 20 smartphones and tablets that a jury in 2012 found to infringe Apple’s patents. Total damages owed by Samsung in that case stand at $930 million.

While Koh rejected Cupertino, California-based Apple’s bid for a sales ban on the infringing Samsung devices after the 2012 verdict, a federal appeals court on Nov. 18 cleared the way for the company to pursue an injunction targeting some Samsung products. Apple’s second case against Samsung in San Jose is over newer models, including Samsung’s Galaxy S III.

Adam Yates, a spokesman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, declined to comment on the mediation. Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, also declined to comment on it.

The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The appeals court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 13-1129, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Nintendo Acquires Litigation Opponent’s Patents at Sale

Nintendo Co., the maker of the Wii video-game console, bought at a sheriff’s sale patents it was once accused of infringing.

The Kyoto, Japan-based company said in a statement yesterday that it acquired the entire patent portfolio of IA Labs, which sued Nintendo for infringement in April 2010.

Nintendo prevailed in the infringement suit, and a federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling. IA Labs was ordered to pay Nintendo’s attorney fees and litigation costs and failed to do so.

The game company bought Potomac, Maryland-based IA Labs’ patent portfolio at a Jan. 7 sale in Maryland’s Montgomery County.

Nintendo, in a statement, called IA Labs a “defunct patent troll.” According to court papers, IA Labs was founded in 2002 and originally known as Powergrid Fitness.

The patent case is IA Labs v. Nintendo Co. (7974), 10-cv-00833, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Greenbelt).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

J&J Will Appeal China Ruling to Revoke Diabetes-Strip Trademark

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest maker of health-care products, said it will appeal a Chinese government agency ruling that called for its trademark for the OneTouch diabetes test strips to be revoked.

J&J will apply to a court “for judicial review and cancellation” of the decision from China’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce, it said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The administration’s trademark review board can remove the blood glucose meters from the market if the company hasn’t filed a lawsuit within 30 days of the Dec. 27 ruling, according to the state-owned China Daily.

Companies including Apple Inc. and Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) have faced battles over brand rights in China. Apple paid $60 million in 2012 to settle a two-year-old dispute regarding the iPad trademark in the Asian nation with Proview International Holdings Ltd., which had applied to Chinese customs to block local shipments of the U.S. company’s tablets.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which has invested in the Chinese market under this brand for almost 10 years, is extremely shocked by the decision and is very disappointed,” the company said in its statement on OneTouch.

The application against its trademark had been brought to the trademark board via a Chinese company that previously produced fake OneTouch test strips which were exported to the U.S. and other countries, J&J said.

J&J is also investigating producers and distributors of fake OneTouch test strips in China and “will continue to take active measures to ensure that patients will not be harmed by fake products,” it said.

J&J was fined by Chinese authorities last August, and two of its units were ordered to compensate a local distributor after a court in Shanghai ruled that their setting of minimum resale prices constituted monopolistic conduct. China has been conducting a crackdown on the health-care industry that led to a corruption probe into GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK)

Kanye West Threatens Litigation Over ‘Coinye West’ Bitcoins

The creators of the “Coinye West” virtual currency have been sent case-and-desist letters for the performer Kanye West, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The letters, sent to the coders who created the virtual coins, accused them of attempting to trade on the reputation of West, known for his rap music and his marriage to pop celebrity Kim Kardashian, according to the Guardian.

The coders, who operate through the Coinyeco.in website, then released their first “coins” Jan. 7, saying “we want to release this to the public before the man can try to crush it,” the Guardian reported.

Counsel for West said in the letters to the coders that they will sue any business that accepts the coins, and “notify the cryptocurrency community” of the actions the performer considers infringement of his trademarks, according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Disney-Fox Bid to End Aereo Web TV Threat Nears Top Court Action

Major broadcasters are heading for a showdown in their bid to block a Barry Diller-backed company from upending the industry’s economics by offering subscribers live television over the Internet.

The U.S. Supreme Court will say as soon as tomorrow whether it will consider the claim by companies including Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC and 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOX) that Aereo Inc.’s business is built on copyright violations, obtaining broadcast signals for free and distributing them for a profit.

Both sides in the dispute are seeking a high court hearing, increasing the chances the justices will step in. If so, the case will determine the fate of Aereo, a startup that threatens the billions of dollars in retransmission fees broadcasters get from pay-TV systems that provide signals to subscribers.

A federal appeals court in New York ruled that Aereo, which provides broadcast signals to subscribers after capturing them with thousands of small antennas, isn’t violating broadcasters’ copyrights. Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBCUniversal and CBS Corp. (CBS) are joining Disney and Fox in urging reversal.

A decision this month to take up the case may mean a Supreme Court ruling by early July. The justices might also ask the Obama administration for input, a step that would delay a resolution.

The Supreme Court case is American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, 13-461.

Fullscreen, Music Publishers Settle Licensing, Royalty Lawsuit

Fullscreen Inc., a YouTube content provider, reached an accord with music publishers in a copyright suit over royalty nonpayment.

In a Jan. 8 court filing, the parties agreed to dismiss the case. Terms were not disclosed in the court filing other than the fact that all parties were to bear their own court costs and attorney fees.

The music publishers filed the infringement suit in federal court in New York on Aug. 4, 2013, saying Fullscreen was using music videos without obtaining licenses or paying royalties.

Fullscreen is a multichannel network that operates and aggregates thousands of YouTube channels, with content that is comprised mainly of cover song videos, according to the complaint.

Founded by former YouTube manager George Strompolos, Fullscreen claims to have 200 million subscribers across 15,000 YouTube channels with more than 2.5 billion monthly views, according to its website.

The case is Warner/Chappell Music Inc. v. Fullscreen Inc., 13-cv-05472, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

China’s Pangang Paid for Stolen DuPont Secrets, Prosecutors Say

Chinese officials “desperately wanted” the technical know-how to manufacture white pigment cleanly, and California engineer Walter Liew told them he could provide it, a U.S. prosecutor told jurors.

Except Liew didn’t have the knowledge, the prosecutor said. So he stole it from DuPont Co. (DD), the world’s largest producer of the pigment, and gave it to a Chinese state-owned company for $28 million in contracts, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann said this week in San Francisco, where Liew is on trial, accused of conspiracy, economic espionage and trade secret theft.

“He didn’t have the ability,” Hemann said in opening statements in federal court. “It had to be taken. This case is about theft.”

Liew, a poor Malaysian farmer’s son who emigrated to the U.S. in 1980, and co-defendant Robert Maegerle, a 78-year-old ex-DuPont engineer, say trade secrets played no role in the plans they delivered to help a Chinese company in the $14 billion global market for white pigment.

Rather, they took publicly available information developed in the 1960s and technology that wasn’t protected by confidentiality agreements, and over several years came up with their own design to cleanly manufacture titanium dioxide, a white chemical substance used paper, paint and plastics, their lawyers said.

“We are talking about some old stuff,” Stuart Gasner, Liew’s attorney, told the jury. “There’s no evidence of trade secrets’ being used.”

China’s Pangang Group Inc. paid Liew $28 million from 2006 to 2011 for contracts to design a titanium plant that used chloride, instead of the more toxic sulphate, to make titanium dioxide, Hemann said. The men had process-flow diagrams and parts of an internal report from Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, the biggest U.S. chemical maker, about the specialized vats needed for such a plant, both trade secrets, he said.

Pangang was also charged in the case. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White is weighing dismissal of the indictment because prosecutors failed to get the charging documents to the company.

The case is U.S. v. Liew, 11-cr-00573, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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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