Google, J. Crew, Sierra Railroad: Intellectual Property

Google Inc. (GOOG) was sued over claims it abused its market power by forcing hand-held device makers that use its Android operating system also to provide the search engine company’s applications.

Google’s requirements that manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) adopt less-popular applications to use consumer favorites such as YouTube are “designed to maintain and extend its monopolies,” according to a complaint filed May 1 in federal court in San Jose, California.

Worldwide, 78 percent of smartphones were run on Android in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to International Data Corp. Apple Inc.’s iOS had 18 percent of the market, while Windows had 3 percent and BlackBerry Ltd. had 0.6 percent.

Google’s expansion of its monopoly in search on smartphones, which helps through paid search-related advertisements to generate billions of dollars of profit a year, is “not merely a function of having built a better search engine,” according to yesterday’s complaint on behalf of consumers.

“Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android,” Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, said in an e-mail. “Since Android’s introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices.”

The case is Feitelson v. Google, 14-cv-02007, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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Trademark

J. Crew Chain Creates ‘Mercantile’ Brand Ahead of Possible IPO

J. Crew Group Inc., the retail chain that’s said to be planning an initial public offering for later this year, has created a brand called “J. Crew Mercantile,” potentially giving it a fresh store concept to boost sales.

The company filed an application on Nov. 25 to register the phrase as a trademark for selling clothing and accessories online and in retail locations, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. J. Crew plans to use the name to create a chain for budget shoppers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Margot Fooshee, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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Copyright

Tarantino Files Amended Complaint in Gawker Copyright Dispute

Movie director Quentin Tarantino responded to the dismissal of his copyright lawsuit against Gawker Media LLC by filing an amended complaint.

In the Jan. 27 suit, Tarantino claimed Gawker infringed his copyrights to the screenplay for the film “The Hateful Eight” and that he had to abandon his plans to make the film after the script was leaked.

Gawker countered that its posting of links to the script fell under the law’s “fair use” exception for news reporting.

In dismissing the suit, the court said April 22 that while Gawker’s argument was premature, the director failed to make a claim of contributory infringement against the celebrity-gossip website. The court did give him permission to amend his complaint.

In his new complaint, filed May 1, the director accused Gawker of directly infringing his copyright. He said that after obtaining an unauthorized download of the screenplay, the publication illegally downloaded an infringing copy to its computers. This action constituted a direct infringement, Tarantino said in his pleadings.

The case is Tarantino v. Gawker Media LLC, 14-cv-00603, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Sierra Is Awarded Additional $17.5 Million in Trade-Secrets Case

Sierra Railroad Co., which previously was awarded $22.3 million in a trade-secrets case against Patriot Rail Corp., was awarded 17.5 million in punitive damages May 1 in the same case.

It stems from a dispute over a contract to operate rail services in a business park in California’s Sacramento County. Woodland, California’s Sierra had claimed that despite a non-disclosure agreement between the two companies, Patriot Rail of Boca Raton, Florida, had used Sierra’s proprietary information to obtain the contract.

The case is Patriot Rail Corp. v. Sierra Railroad Co., 2:09-cv-00009, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

Organic Standards Board Opposes Trade-Secret Claims in Petitions

The National Organic Standards Board, an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on organic agricultural products, has recommended that those who petition the board be barred from including trade-secret exceptions in their petitions to the board, the Politico website reported.

At the board’s April 30 meeting, it said that permitting petitioners to claim trade-secret disclosure exemptions to their petitions seeking additions to a list of approved non-organic substances would violate the principles of transparency the board promotes, according to Politico.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Charles Carter, David Glovin

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