Google, King.com, Apple, YouTube: Intellectual Property

The U.S. Supreme Court considered making it easier for companies that defeat patent-infringement lawsuits to collect legal fees from the losers in a case with ramifications for Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

Hearing arguments in Washington Feb. 25, the justices debated how best to deter meritless suits as they weighed for the first time the rules that govern fee awards in patent litigation. Apple and Google are among the companies urging the court to lower the bar for fee awards.

The cases are Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, 12-1184, and Highmark v. Allcare Health Management Systems, 12-1163.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

King.com Backs Down, Abandons Application for ‘Candy’ Trademark

King.com Ltd., the London-based social-games developer, abandoned its application to register “Candy” as a U.S. trademark, according to a Feb. 24 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The creator of the “Candy Crush” game played on Facebook Inc. (FB)’s social-media site was the target of criticism from individual game developers and Mount Royal, New Jersey’s International Game Developers Association, which said King.com was “overreaching” in seeking the trademark.

In January, King.com said on its website that its application wasn’t unusual, and that others had sought to register such common words as “Money,” “Apple” and “Time.”

Gallo Sues to Halt Distillery’s Use of ‘Dark Horse’ Mark

E&J Gallo Winery, the 81-year-old California wine producer, sued a Kansas distillery for infringing its “Dark Horse” trademark.

Gallo, in its suit against Dark Horse Distillery LLP of Lenexa, Kansas, claims to be what U.S. law defines as the “senior user” of the mark.

Wine has been sold under the Dark Horse label since 2004, according to the complaint filed Feb. 25 in federal court in New York. Gallo said it acquired the mark in 2011 and began using it for distilled spirits in October of that year.

The public will probably be confused if Dark Horse Distillery is permitted to use the mark, Gallo said. The company asked the court to bar the Kansas distillery from using the mark and requested money damages, including profits related to the alleged infringement. Gallo also seeks awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Dark Horse Distillery didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is E&J Gallo Winery v. Dark Horse Distillery, 14-cv-01231, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Apple Argues Ignorance in E-Books Price-Fixing Ruling Appeal

Apple Inc. (AAPL) said a ruling it violated antitrust laws should be thrown out because it didn’t know publishers were engaged in a conspiracy to fix e-book prices.

The July decision by a federal judge was based on a flawed theory of liability, Apple said in a Feb. 25 filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. The case is based on a Justice Department lawsuit that has spurred $840 million in state and consumer claims.

“Apple had no knowledge that the publishers were engaged in a conspiracy in December 2009 or at any other point,” the Cupertino, California-based company said in the filing.

The appeals case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan). The district court case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

‘Innocence of Muslims’ Actress Wins Takedown Order for Trailer

An actress who performed in the film known through the “Innocence of Muslims” trailer uploaded to Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service persuaded a federal appeals court to order its removal.

In a Feb. 26 ruling, the appeals court said the actress Cindy Lee Garcia had become the target of a fatwa because the film, which suggested the prophet Mohammed was a child molester, was so offensive to Muslims.

Garcia successfully argued that she wasn’t an employee of the filmmaker in the traditional sense and owned the copyright to her performance.

The case is Garcia v. Google Inc. (GOOG), 12-57302, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco). The lower court case is Garcia v. Google Inc., 12-cv-08315, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

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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