Disney, Microsoft, Fortune Brands, Hats: Intellectual Property

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Walt Disney Co., owner of the Disneyland and Disney World Theme parks around the world, received a U.S. patent for a method of crowd control.

Disney’s patent 7,532,941 is one of 3,764 U.S. patents issued yesterday. It covers the use of advance reservations made through a mobile phone, computer or hotel-room television for multiple attractions in an amusement park.

The invention “is concerned with the management of lines of queues of patrons in an effective manner which is user-friendly and at the same time provides a system directed toward maximizing use of the facilities in the park by as many patrons as possible,” according to the patent.

The technology will make it possible for those who are planning a trip to the venue to reserve access to various attractions ahead of time.

The application for the patent was filed in October 2003, with the assistance of Miami-based Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Disney, which reported a 12 percent decline in park revenue in the quarter ending March 28, presently offers Fastpass service to save customers’ places in line.

‘Green’ Patents to Speed Through U.K. Process, Official Says

Patents for inventions with a positive environmental impact will be fast-tracked through the U.K.’s patent system, the Intellectual Property Office said in a statement yesterday.

Under the new program, “green” patents typically will be issued within nine months of filing an application. The present average time to issuance is two to three years.

“Climate change affects us all and any actions we take now to improve low-carbon technology has got to be positive for both the environment and our future economic competitiveness” David Lammy, the minister for intellectual property, said in the statement.

“We have already taken great steps forward in greener motoring, supporting the development of new vehicles and encouraging motorists to make greener choices,” Lammy said.

The IP office is “working with other major trading partners” to get them to sign up for a green-patents fast-track system, according to the statement. Yangaroo Sues Destiny Media Technologies for Infringement

Yangaroo Inc., a developer of digital media distribution systems, sued a competitor for patent infringement.

Destiny Media Technologies Inc., based in Vancouver, is accused of infringing Yangaroo’s U.S. patent 7,529,712. This patent, which covers a content distribution system and method, was issued May 5.

Yangaroo, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, issued a statement in January saying the patent was about to be issued. At that time, the company said the technology it covers is protected by Canadian patent 2,407,774.

Destiny’s Play MPE products imported into the U.S. infringe the patent, according to the complaint filed May 6 in federal court in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Destiny denied the allegations, saying in a statement that its technology is covered by U.S. patents that predate Yangaroo’s. The suit is “frivolous and only intended to create confusion in the marketplace,” Destiny chief executive Steve Vestergaard said in the statement.

Yangaroo asked the court to declare Destiny infringed the patent and to bar the company from further infringement, including importing the accused products into the U.S.

The company also asked for money damages and attorney fees. Yangaroo is represented by Jonathan H. Margolies, Katherine W. Schill and Angela J. Kujak of Milwaukee’s Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

The case is Yangaroo Inc., v. Destiny Media Technologies Inc., 1:09-cv-00462-WCG, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Green Bay).


Piracy Costs Software Makers Record $53 Billion, Study Finds

Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and other software makers lost a record $53 billion in potential sales to piracy in 2008, an industry study showed.

Illegally copied programs represented 41 percent of all software, 3 percentage points more than in 2007, because of higher personal-computer sales to countries including China and India, according to a study by the Washington-based Business Software Alliance and Interactive Data Corp. released yesterday in Singapore.

The U.S. listed China and Russia as the world’s worst copyright violators, costing American companies billions of dollars in lost revenue, the U.S. Trade Representative said last month. The U.S. has sought to increase protection of copyrights and patents to boost enforcement of trade agreements around the world and raise U.S. exports since President Barack Obama took office.

“The bad news is that software piracy remains so prevalent all over the world,” Robert Holleyman, the software association’s president, said in yesterday’s statement.

The so-called BRIC countries comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China had the highest software-piracy rate at 73 percent, followed by central and eastern Europe at 66 percent and Latin America at 65 percent, the study by the Business Software Alliance showed.

Georgia had the highest rate of illegal copying for a single country, at 95 percent, followed by Armenia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, according to the study. The U.S. had the lowest rate at 20 percent, followed by Japan and New Zealand.

The Business Software Alliance is a lobbying group representing major software companies including Microsoft, the world’s biggest maker, Adobe and Veritas Software Corp. IDC is a market researcher based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Last year’s $53 billion in lost sales was 11 percent more than the $47.8 billion for 2007. Excluding the effect of exchange rates, losses widened by 5 percent to $50.2 billion, the study said.

Producer of Cuban Music DVD Sues Supermarkets for Infringement

The producer of a DVD featuring a 1950s-tribute Cuban big band sued 10 defendants, including several Miami-area supermarkets, for copyright infringement.

Re-Gu Records of Miami produced a DVD of the 2003 debut performance of the Tropicana All Stars with Israel Kantor at the Fontainebleu Hilton Hotel in Miami Beach. The band and its singer perform tributes to the performances of Beny More, also known as El Barbaro del Ritmo, at Havana’s Tropicana Nightclub.

Among the defendants is Sedano’s Market Inc., which operates 30 supermarkets in South Florida catering to the state’s Hispanic population. Co-defendant is Marakka 200 Inc., which sells Spanish-language videos through its Web site, according to the complaint filed May 8 in Miami federal court.

Re-Gu says the defendants are selling unauthorized copies of the DVD. Waldo Fernandez, one of the named defendants, also appears on television “and refers to himself as a pirate,” according to the court papers.

The DVD maker asked the court for an order barring further infringement of the DVD and for destruction of all infringing products and promotional material. Re-Gu also seeks the names, addresses and phone numbers of all entities that manufactured the allegedly infringing products and promotional materials.

Re-Gu also sought defendants’ profits from the infringement and money damages, including extra damages to punish the defendants for their actions.

Robert J. Van Der Wall of Coconut Grove, Florida, represents Re-Gu.

The case is Re-Gu Records v. Marakka 2000 Inc., 1:09-cv-21251-DLG, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).


North Carolina Man Admits Infringing Titleist, Golf Pride Marks

A North Carolina resident pleaded guilty to selling fake brand-name golf gear on EBay Inc.’s Internet auction site, the Triangle Business Journal reported.

Warren Fondrie pleaded guilty to more than a dozen counts of criminal use of fake trademarks, according to the journal.

Fortune Brands Inc.’s Titleist brand was infringed, as well as Eaton Corp.’s Golf Pride, the journal reported.

Fodrie received a suspended sentence of 60 to 80 months, and was ordered to pay brand holders $253,000 in restitution, according to the journal.

Apple Designer Loses WIPO Case Over Personal Name Web Site

Jonathan Ive, Apple Inc.’s senior vice president of industrial design and the designer of the iPod, iPhone and iMac, lost an administrative proceeding at the World Intellectual Property Organization relating to the use of his name.

He filed a complaint with the organization’s Arbitration and Mediation Center on March 9, objecting to the use of his name as a domain name by Harry Jones of London. Jones operates the jonathanive.com and jonathan-ive.com Web sites, according to papers filed with the United Nations agency known as WIPO.

Jones, a Web designer living in the U.K., set up the site as a university project back in 2004, according to the Web site. He said he’s been “a huge fan” of Ive since 1998.

The site contains a notice that it isn’t owned by or affiliated with either Ive or Apple. Jones also posted a notice that he has a copyright to the design of the site and all of its text.

Jones contacted Apple in February 2008 and offered to sell the domain name for $400,000.

Ive filed a European trademark application in October 2008, more than four years after Jones registered the jonathanive.com domain name. Jones registered additional domain names with variations on Ive’s name in February 2007 and February 2008.

The additional names link directly to the main www.jonathanive.com site, according to the WIPO ruling. Jones earns “considerable” advertising revenue from his Web site, according to the WIPO ruling.

The WIPO arbiter said Ive has failed to demonstrate he’s used his name as a brand or trademark. In fact, Ive “has made a conscious decision not to do so,” the arbiter said in the descision.

Ive was represented by London’s Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP. The Altenberger firm from Zurich represented Jones.

The case is Jonathan Ive v. Harry Jones, D2009-0301, WIPO Arbitration and Mediaton Center, Administrative Panel Decision.

Aretha Franklin Claims She Should Get Royalties for Hat Sales

Aretha Franklin, the soul singer whose be-ribboned inauguration-day hat has been Photoshopped onto thousands of digital photos, told a radio reporter she thought she should get royalties from the sale of similar hats, the Detroit Free Press reported on May 5.

The hat was made by Mr. Song Millinery of Detroit and is to be loaned to the Smithsonian Institution, according to the hatmaker’s Web site.

Song sells what it calls the “Aretha Promo Hat” through its Web site for $179.

Domestic Korean Trademarks Expire More Often Than Foreign Marks

Korea’s Industrial Property Office has fewer registrations for domestic trademarks that are renewed than those held by foreign companies, the Chosun Iibo reported today.

Trademarks must be renewed every 10 years in Korea, and 16.5 percent of foreign corporations renew before expiration, while only 10.2 percent of domestic trademark holders reapply, according to Chosun Iibo.

Korea’s longest-lasting trademarks were all registered in 1954 and are “Saempyo,” for soy sauce; “Jinro,” for a traditional Korean liquor; and “Moongoonghwa,” for a kind of flour, according to the newspaper.

Italy Seeks Origin Protection for ‘Insalata de Lusia” Lettuce

Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is seeking geographic-origin protection for a variety of lettuce that doesn’t need salt.

The “Insalata de Lusia” is to be reserved for two varieties of Lactuca sativa grown only in the provinces of Rovigo and Padua, according to the application published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Because of the high levels of mineral salts in the soil in that region, this lettuce has a distinctive flavor, richer than many others in calcium and potassium, the application specifies. The region has a high water table, so the lettuce can be grown even in the summer and is available in the markets almost year-round.

It must be grown in soil that contains no less than 30 percent sand and no more than 20 percent clay, according to the application.

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