Microsoft, Sanrio, H&R, Google: Intellectual Property

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) plan to announce an agreement that will enable customers of Microsoft’s cloud-computing service to use Salesforce’s enterprise software, said people familiar with the talks, signaling a thaw between two longtime rivals.

The partnership will make Salesforce’s customer-management programs available on Microsoft’s Azure service, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. Salesforce will also commit to using Azure to host some of its own applications and will integrate data from Salesforce products into Microsoft’s Office programs, the people said.

An agreement would mark a shift in what has sometimes been a fractious relationship between the two companies. In 2010, Microsoft sued Salesforce for patent infringement, setting off a countersuit before the companies settled later that year. Microsoft in 2005 also announced plans to “give Salesforce a very effective run for their money” with a competing product and in 2010 ran an anti-Salesforce ad campaign with the tagline “Don’t Get Forced.”

Nortel European Units Seek Slice of Asset Auction Cash Hoard

Nortel Networks Corp. (NRTLQ)’s defunct units in the U.K. and Europe deserve part of the bankrupt telecom company’s $7.3 billion cash hoard because of their technology researchers’ past work, an investment banker said.

Paul Huffard, a senior managing director at Blackstone Group LP called to testify by the European units, argued May 28 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, that the best way to split the cash is based on the research and development by Nortel’s regional units.

Using that method, disputed by Nortel’s defunct U.S. and Canadian components, the U.K. and European units deserve about 18 percent of the cash, Huffard said.

The contingents are in the third week of a six-week trial over how to divide money raised in auctions after what was once North America’s largest telephone-equipment maker went bankrupt in 2009. The money includes proceeds of a patent sale that raised $4.5 billion.

The units are arguing on behalf of creditors including bondholders in the U.S. and pensioners in the U.K. and Canada. Each group is trying to convince a U.S. bankruptcy judge and a Canadian judge that its method for dividing the money is best.

The case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-bk-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, Comic Book Hero Items Seized in Singapore

Sanrio Co. (8136)’s Hello Kitty items were among counterfeit merchandise seized in a raid by Singapore Customs May 20.

Enforcement officers from the customs service found a 40-foot container containing toys, water bottles and accessories with unauthorized Hello Kitty, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, Superman, Transformers, Barney and Care Bears marks, the service said in a statement yesterday.

The goods came from Shenzhen, China, and the customs service said it found more infringing merchandise in the office of the importer who was bringing in the container.

H&R Block Settles Suit Over ‘Peace of Mind’ Trademark

H&R Block Inc. (HRB) of Kansas City, Missouri, and a competing tax-preparation service settled their trademark dispute, according to a May 19 court filing.

The lawsuit involved Fast Cash Taxes LLC’s alleged unauthorized use of H&R Block’s “Peace of Mind” trademark. H&R Block sued Fast Cash, of Doraville, Georgia, in Atlanta federal court on March 28, seeking a court order barring unauthorized use of the mark and awards of money damages.

The court filing didn’t disclose terms of the settlement.

The case is HRB Innovations Inc. v. Fast Cash Taxes LLC, 14-cv-00903, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

More than 1.3 Million Copyright Alert Notices Sent, Center Says

The Center for Copyright Information, an advocacy group comprising copyright holders and Internet service providers, issued a report on the “six strikes” copyright alert system in place in the U.S. since February 2013.

More than 1.3 million notices were sent to consumers in the past year, with 70 percent sent at the first stage of what can be an escalating alert and mitigation system, according to the report.

Under a policy set up when the system was put into place, the American Arbitration Association reviews challenges filed by consumers who say the notices were erroneous. In the past year, only 265 requests were filed, according to the center.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Google Releases Previously Closely Held Employment Data

Google Inc. (GOOG), creator of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, backed down on its claims that numbers reflecting the ethnic and gender makeup of its workforce were a trade secret.

In a report published on the Mountain View, California-based company’s official blog May 28, Google said that it was in the wrong when it refused to release the data.

The company revealed that 70 percent of its employees are male and 61 percent are white. Only 2 percent of its workforce is black, Google said.

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 Stephen Farr, Andrew Dunn

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