Apple, Batman, Pokemon, DuPont: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. (AAPL), the maker of the iPhone and iPod, received a patent on an invention that could be used for wrist-shaped wearable electronic devices.

Patent 8,808,483, issued Aug. 19, covers a method of making a curved touch panel. The panel is created by depositing a touch sensor pattern on a flexible substrate and curving it to conform to the shape of a covering surface.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said the curve will leave room underneath for other components of a computing system that communicate with the touch panel.

The company applied for the patent in November 2010, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Vringo Says It Will Seek Full Court Review of Patent Decision

Vringo Inc. (VRNG) said in a statement yesterday that it will ask the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to take a second look at the court’s Aug. 15 ruling in a patent case against AOL Inc., Google Inc. (GOOG) and others.

In November 2012, a Vringo unit won its infringement verdict and was awarded $30.5 million. That trial court then awarded another $17.3 million in damages and, in January 2014, set an ongoing royalty rate for continued infringement of two patents.

The defendants appealed, and the appellate court determined Aug. 15 that elements of the patents at issue were invalid.

Vringo, a patent licensing firm, said it has until Sept. 15 to file its request for an en banc review and, if the court grants the New York-based company its requested 30-day extension, can file the petition until Oct. 15.

In dispute are patents 6,314,420, and 6,775,664. The patents cover filtering technology to determine placement of advertisements on search results.

The appeal is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 13-1307, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 2:11-cv-00512, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Warner Brothers Defeats Software Company’s ‘Clean Slate’ Appeal

A victory by Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Brothers Entertainment unit in a trademark suit involving an Indiana-based software company was affirmed by a federal appeals court.

Fortres Grand Corp. of Plymouth, Indiana, filed the suit in September 2012, claiming that the use of a fictional piece of software in Warner Brothers’ Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” caused the company harm and lost sales.

Both Fortres Grand and the film used the name “Clean Slate” for the software. In the film, the fictional product could be used to erase a person’s past, while the Indiana company’s product scours a computer’s hard drive, according to court papers.

Fortres Grand said sales of its product declined after the film’s release and blamed the drop on negative associations consumers made with the fictional product. A federal judge disagreed, and in May 2013 dismissed the case. Fortres Grand appealed.

The appeals court agreed with the lower court, saying the two products -- the film and the software -- are dissimilar and Fortres Grand failed to argue facts that would “make it plausible” the public would mistakenly think both came from the same source.

The case is Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc., 12-cv-00535, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana (South Bend). The appeal is Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Brothers Entertainment, 13-2337, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Pokemon Tells Company to Halt Sale of 3-D Printed Planter

Shapeways Inc. got a cease-and-desist notice from Pokemon Co. International demanding that it quit selling a 3-D printed planter which Pokemon said infringed its copyright on the Bulbasaur character, Anime News Network reported.

Although the planter wasn’t labeled a Pokemon character, the Shapeways website listing did refer to Pokemon, Anime News said.

South African Documentary Makers Misunderstand Fair-Use Rights

Because of documentary filmmakers’ lack of understanding of South African copyright laws, they are making and distributing fewer documentary films, Screen Africa reported.

The Documentary Filmmakers Association and the South African Screen Federation met with the University of Cape Town’s IP unit and American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property Aug. 18 to resolve the problem, according to Screen Africa, a trade publication.

Researchers told meeting attendees that the country’s filmmakers weren’t aware of user rights with respect to quoting copyrighted material, according to the publication.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Former DuPont Engineer Seeks Leniency in Trade Secret Case

An ex-DuPont Co. (DD) engineer who was convicted of economic espionage, trade secret theft and witness tampering should get a three-year prison sentence, federal prosecutors said.

The engineer, Robert Maegerle, was convicted in March. The government made its sentencing recommendation in a sentencing memo Aug. 19. The day before, Maegerle, who turns 79 next month, said in a filing that in view of his age, medical condition and ties to the community, he should be given home confinement.

His offense was related to the misappropriation of DuPont trade secrets for making white pigment used in paint and plastics. The secrets were transmitted to a Chinese chemical company.

The government said in its sentencing memo that despite the “many good things” Maegerle did as a DuPont employee, and the small amount of money -- $370,000 -- he received for the purloined data, a prison sentence was appropriate and “promotes respect for the law.”

“A 36-month sentence for a 79-year-old man with no criminal history who made $370,000 sends a strong message that the United Stated takes corporate espionage seriously,” the prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Maegerle, 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 editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, David E. Rovella

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