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Gibson, Curtis, PepsiCo: Intellectual Property

Gibson Guitar Corp. settled its patent-infringement claims against Viacom Inc., Electronic Arts Inc. and retailers over the “Rock Band” music-video game, according to court filings.

The companies told Magistrate Judge Juliet Griffin on June 4 “that they had reached a full settlement” and plan to seek dismissal of the case by June 14, according to a filing in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee. Terms weren’t disclosed, and Viacom and Electronic Arts had no immediate comment.

Gibson, the closely held maker of B.B. King’s “Lucille” and Jimmy Page’s “Les Paul” guitars, sued Viacom and its Harmonix Music Systems in 2008. Nashville-based Gibson claimed the video game infringed a patent issued in 1999 for a way of using a musical instrument to take part in a simulated concert.

Viacom, the New York-based owner of MTV Networks and the Paramount Pictures film studio, is planning to release the next edition of “Rock Band” for the Christmas holiday season, Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman said in March. The franchise lost money last year amid declining industrywide sales.

Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, distributes the game. Also cited in the complaint were retail companies Inc., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Gibson also had claimed the “Guitar Hero” games made by Activision Blizzard Inc. infringed its patent. Those two companies settled their dispute last year.

The latest case is Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 08cv279, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville).

Idemitsu Kosan to Buy 32.73% Stake in LG Group’s Global OLED

Idemitsu Kosan Co. will invest in Global OLED Technology LLC, a U.S.-based company set up by South Korea’s LG Group, to secure patents related to organic displays.

Idemitsu will acquire a 32.73 percent stake in Global OLED, according to a statement yesterday on the Japanese company’s website that didn’t give the value of the investment.

LG Display Co. said in June 2009 it will partner with Idemitsu to develop organic screens.


Universal Tells ‘Tribute’ Groups to Quite Using ABBA’s Name

Lawyers for Universal Music Group’s ABBA band have sent cease-and-desist notices to at least 15 “tribute” acts that have used “ABBA” in their names, the U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported.

The groups, such as ABBA Queens, ABBA Mania and Swede Dreamz ABBa Tribute were told to stop using ABBA immediately, according to the independent.

The original ABBA, a Swedish pop group, last performed more than 25 years ago, the newspaper reported.

The Independent quoted an unidentified Universal spokesperson who said fans have complained they’ve been misled by the tribute bands and “it’s our duty to protect the ABBA brand from misuse.”

Curtis Sues Pizza Chain for Infringing Norman Rockwell Copyright

Curtis Publishing Co., which produces a magazine with origins dating back to 1728, sued a Michigan-based chain of pizza restaurants for copyright infringement.

The suit, filed June 3 in federal court in Indianapolis, accused Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs Inc. of Madison Heights, Michigan, of infringing the copyright to a Saturday Evening Post cover first published in 1943. The cover, “Freedom from Want,” is by the late Norman Rockwell, and features the image of a family at a Thanksgiving dinner as a large roast turkey is being brought to the table.

Curtis and the Saturday Evening Post Society, both based in Indianapolis, accused the pizza chain of using the Rockwell painting in an “unauthorized, multistate advertising campaign, according to court papers. The ads, which began in November 2009, featured a “precise mimicry of the various nuances” of the Rockwell painting,” with the alteration of replacing the turkey with a pizza, Curtis said in its complaint.

Despite having been sent a cease-and-desist letter and “numerous other communications,” the pizza chain continued to use this advertisement throughout the 2009 winter holiday season, according to court papers.

Curtis, which commissioned Rockwell to paint the cover art, says this particular image is one of the “most popular and valuable” of the images it and the Saturday Evening Post Society owns and licenses.

The publisher asked the court to bar the pizza chain from any additional use of the image, and for an award of both the chain’s profits attributable to its alleged infringement, and for money damages. Additionally, Curtis and the society seek recall and destruction of all infringing materials, and for litigation costs and attorney fees.

The publisher is represented by Jonathan Faber, Kyle M. Baker and Cynthia A. Bedrick of McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold of Shelbyville, Indiana.

The case is Saturday Evening Post Society Inc. v. Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs Inc., 1:10-cv-00680-LJM-DML, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

World Chess Federation Sues Website for Copyright Violations

Organizers of the World Chess Federation’s World Chess Championship series of matches between India’s Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria filed a copyright-infringement suit against operators of a website that transmitted the moves of the three-week series of games live, the Chess Vibes website reported.

Tournament organizers sued in Berlin, claiming the unauthorized transmission by Chessbase through its Playchess of the server violates Germany copyright law with relation to databases, Rainer Polzin, the organizer’s Berlin-based lawyer, told Chess Vibes.

Websites that had sought to transmit chess moves live had been told they would need to pay 15,000 euros ($18,000) to do so, according to Chess Vibes.

The competition’s official website transmitted the 12 games live together with a warning that others were barred from doing so without explicit permission, Chess Vibes reported.

Lime Wire Copyright Case Gets January Damages Trial

File-sharing website Lime Wire LLC received a January trial date for damages in a copyright infringement case brought by record companies including Warner Music Group Inc.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in New York yesterday also gave Lime Wire two weeks to file legal papers supporting its argument that it shouldn’t be shut down.

The world’s four largest music companies were seeking a permanent order from Wood shutting down Lime Wire. Wood ruled last month that the file-sharing site was liable for inducing copyright infringement by millions of users who downloaded songs for free.

Lawyers for Lime Group LLC and its founder Mark Gorton are fighting the labels’ attempt to add thousands more recordings to the list of those said to be infringed. The number of songs will likely determine the monetary damages, which the label’s lawyers said could reach “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The court’s ruling applied to a sample of just 30 recordings.

“I am likely to allow expansion of the number of recordings that will be subject to this case,” Wood said.

Michael Sommer of Palo Alto’s Wilson, Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and counsel to Lime Wire, said in court papers that the “evidence cited by the court did not establish that Lime Group had the right and ability to supervise or actually exercised control over the conduct of Lime Wire that the court found to induce infringement by Lime Wire users.”

The labels sued in 2006, in the face of declining sales of CDs, their largest source of revenue. They include Arista Records, owned by Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment; Atlantic Recording Corp., part of Warner Music; Capitol Records, a unit of Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd.’s EMI Group; and Vivendi SA’s Motown Record Co., a unit of Universal Music Group.

The case is Arista Records LLC v. Lime Wire LLC., 06-05936, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Heinz Wins Indian Trademark Dispute, Economic Times Says

H.J. Heinz Co.’s Heinz India unit won a trademark dispute with PepsiCo Inc., India’s Economic Times reported.

The Pittsburgh-based maker of ketchup and baked beans disputed PepsiCo’s claim to exclusive use of “rehydrate,” “replenish” and “refuel” in its advertisements for its energy drink, according to Economic Times.

The words are “commonly used” and “no one can therefore claim monopoly over them,” Heinz’s lawyer, Anuradha Salhotra of Gorgaon, India’s Lall Lahiri & Salhotra, told the Economic Times.

Pepsico, which was represented by New Delhi’s Singh & Singh, didn’t respond to the Economic Times’ request for comment.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

OSU Claims Trade-Secrets Law Protects Area Management Deal

Ohio State University has used trade-secrets law to keep from revealing financial details of an agreement under which the school uses the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

A spokesperson for the university said the revenue-sharing arrangement is confidential to keep potential users of the facility from manipulating the school and the team over financial issues, according to the newspaper.

IP Moves

Proskauer Hires IP Litigator from New York’s Skadden Arps

Proskauer Rose LLP hired Justin J. Daniels for its IP litigation group, the New York-based firm said in a statement.

Daniels joins from New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP where he represented clients in the software, entertainment, media, finance and pharmaceutical industries.

He has served as a judicial clerk to U.S. District Judge Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York, and as a marshal to a high court justice of the English crown court, Queen’s Bench Division in the U.K.

Daniels has an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Harvard University and is presently completing a master’s degree in computer science from Northeastern University.

WSGR Hires Larry Schatzer, Foley & Lardner’s IP Litigation Chief

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati hired Larry L. Schatzer for its IP practice, the Palo Alto, California-based firm said in a statement.

Schatzer, a patent litigator, joins from Foley & Lardner. Where he headed the Milwaukee-based firm’s IP litigation group. He has also previously practiced at Washington’s Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP.

He has represented clients in federal district court and before the U.S. International Trade Commission. His clients’ technologies have included biotech, chemicals, semiconductors, telecommunications and mechanical systems.

Schatzer has an undergraduate degree from David Lipscomb College and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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