EBay, Facebook, Vivendi, GM: Intellectual Property

EBay.com Inc.’s PayPal Unit was sued by an Israeli company for infringing a patent that covers electronic currency and ways to make payments over a network.

PayPal infringed patent 7,590,602, according to the complaint filed Aug. 30 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. The application for the patent was filed in August 2000 and the patent was issued in September 2009, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

MoneyCat Ltd., of Omer Israel, the patent owner, also has two published and pending U.S. patent applications filed in 2009, both related to electronic currency, and one application filed with the European Patent Office in October 2000.

PayPal, which EBay acquired in 2002 for $1.49 billion, is the owner of 11 issued U.S. patents related to electronic transactions, according to the patent office database. The application for the earliest patent was filed in April 2000. The San Jose, California-based based company also has 13 published U.S. patent applications.

MoneyCat claims it’s damaged by PayPal’s alleged infringement. While the company doesn’t seek an order barring infringing actions, it did ask the court for a declaration its patent is valid and enforceable, and awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages, including a royalty for post-judgment infringement.

PayPal officials didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The Israeli company is represented by John G. Day, Lauren Maguire and Andrew C. Mayo of Wilmington’s Ashby & Geddes PA, and Wayne M. Barsky, Jason C. Lo and Lindsey Wittenberg of Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is MoneyCat Ltd. v. PayPal Inc., 1:10-cv-00736-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Facebook Gets Patent on Search Based on Friends’ Choices

Facebook Inc., the social network company with more than 500 million active users, received a patent on a method of providing search results based on choices made by the user’s friends.

Patent 7,788,260, one of 5,098 new U.S. patents issued Aug. 31, is for “ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation.”

The rankings would depend on the frequency of clicks by “members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query,” according to the patent.

Facebook said the method provides “a technique to improve the relevance of search results.”

The Palo Alto, California-based company applied for the patent in October 2004 with assistance from Houston’s Baker Botts LLP.

Serbia Joins European Patent Convention, 38th Nation to Do So

Serbia became the 38th European nation to sign on to the European Patent Convention, the European patent Office said in a statement.

The convention is a treaty providing a legal framework for the granting of patents in the signatory nations.

For more patent news, click here.


Vivendi Labels’ ‘Ellen’ Copyright Suit Set for November Trial

A federal judge ordered a November trial for the case in which Vivendi SA’s music labels charge that Time Warner Inc.’s “Ellen DeGeneres Show” plays their recordings without authorization.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles on Aug. 30 denied a request by both sides to halt the case for arbitration. The case will proceed to trial on Nov. 30, Wilson ordered.

Labels in Paris-based Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the largest record company in the world, sued New York-based Time Warner, the distributor of the daytime “Ellen” talk show, and its producers, accusing them of infringing copyrights by playing recordings without obtaining a license and paying royalties.

Lawyers for “Ellen” claimed Universal granted an implied license because it knew its songs were being played and took no action for almost six years.

The two sides said last month they had agreed to binding arbitration and asked Wilson to halt the case. The judge didn’t give a reason for denying the stay. Lawyers for Time Warner and Universal weren’t immediately available for comment.

The case is Interscope Records v. Time Warner Inc., 10-cv-01662, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Law Firm Offers Do-It-Yourself Kit for Copyright Defendants

The Affinity Law Firm of Jacksonville, Florida, is selling a package of forms for unrepresented defendants who are told that their Internet service providers have been subpoenaed to provide their identities in copyright-infringement litigation.

The package, which sells for $9.99 at the Payloadz.com website, includes a motion to quash the subpoena, a motion to dismiss the case, an affidavit in support of the motions, and a motion for protective order.

“You are representing yourself in any legal matter you undertake through these forms,” the firm said in a disclaimer. “Legal forms are no substitute for the experience and advice of counsel.”

The movie industry filed several suits in federal court in March against 14,000 defendants it said had illegally downloaded content. In June, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer told the industry’s lawyers that all the prospective defendants must be sent a notice informing them of their legal rights.

That case is Achte/Neunte Boll Kino Beteiligungs GmbH v. Does, 1:10-cv-00453-RMC, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

For more copyright news, click here.


Chanel Seeks Trademark Infringement Resolution in Tennessee

Chanel Inc., the maker of luxury fragrances, cosmetics, accessories and fashion items, is filing trademark-infringement cases in federal court in Memphis, Tennessee.

Since the start of 2010, Chanel has filed 12 trademark infringement cases in the same court. Many are against defendants in China and relate to the sale of fake items through commercial Internet sites. The company is seeking damages of $2 million for each counterfeit Chanel mark used.

Chanel, with U.S. headquarters in Piscataway, New Jersey, selected the Tennessee court because the company’s e-commerce fulfillment business is conducted through a warehouse in Shelby County, Tennessee, the same county where the court is located.

The newest suit, filed Aug. 31, accuses Huo Cai Cai of China and 10 unidentified defendants of infringement. No city or province is given in court papers for Huo.

The defendants’ “entire Internet-based website businesses amount to nothing more than a massive illegal operation, infringing on the intellectual property rights of Chanel and others,” according to the complaint.

The defendants are accused of using trademarks that are virtually identical to Chanel’s on merchandise “of a quality substantially different from that of Chanel’s genuine goods.” The public is confused and Chanel is harmed by such actions, the company says in its pleadings.

The luxury-goods company seeks a court order barring future infringement, together with the disabling or transfer of domain names. Additionally, Chanel asked for an order for an accounting and award of all profits from the alleged cyberpiracy and requested that award be tripled.

The company also asked for an order awarding litigation costs, attorney fees, and damages for corrective advertising.

Chanel is represented by Charles F. Morrow of Butler Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC of Memphis. He is representing Chanel in all the 2010 cases in Tennessee.

The newest case is Chanel Inc., v. Huo Cai Cai, 2:10-cv-02639-dkv, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee (Memphis).

GM ‘Range Anxiety’ Trademark Application Part of Marketing

General Motors Co., the automaker that will introduce the Chevrolet Volt electric-drive car with a backup gas engine this year, applied to register “range anxiety” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The application, filed July 6, specifies that the term is to be used for “promoting public awareness of electric vehicle capabilities.”

Joel Ewanick, who heads the automaker’s U.S. marketing efforts, told the Jalopnik.com website that the company needed to be “very aware” of range anxiety when marketing the Volt. The car will be marketed as “a car first and electric second,” he said. “People do not want to be stranded on the way home from work.”

According to a survey results released on the Cars.com website in May 2010, 54 percent of the respondents said they were concerned about the range of all-electric vehicles, and 42 percent said they drive too far for the 100-mile range of many electric vehicles.

Minnesota’s Bachmann Asked to Remove Fair Logo, MPR Says

A Minnesota congresswoman was asked to remove the logo of the Minnesota State Fair from campaign materials, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican seeking re-election in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, used the logo in an ad in which she suggested that her opponent voted to raise taxes on some state fair items, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

A spokeswoman for the fair told Minnesota Public Radio that the fair, which doesn’t give endorsements in political races, didn’t want to be seen as endorsing Bachmann.

Ford Fiesta Trademark to Be Touted on Vampire Series

Ford Motor Co.’s “Fiesta” trademark will be prominent in this season of the CW Network’s “Vampire Diaries,” series, Product Placement News reported.

Fiesta, an entry-level vehicle brand, will be marketed in connection with the show through social media and e-mails, according to Product Placement News.

The automaker is also holding an essay contest about the car and will give away one Ford Fiesta during the “Vampire Diaries” Sept. 9 premiere, Product Placement News reported.

Red Hat Seeks Early Examples of ‘Fedora’ Mark Use

Red Hat Inc. asked members of the Fedora community to gather up examples of the use of the “Fedora” mark for possible infringement actions, according to a request posted on the FedoraProject.org website.

The legal department of the Raleigh, North Carolina-based software company is seeking to protect marks used with the Fedora, a Linux-based open-source operating system. Fedora is being created by Red Hat employees and the user community.

Among the items sought are photos or scans of anything like CD’s, T-shirts, key rings and mouse pads, plus webpage printouts from before Jan. 30, 2007. The company is also seeking issues of the Linux magazine and other publications that may mention Fedora published before that date.

The request didn’t identify any specific IP dispute. According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Red Hat first registered “Fedora” as a trademark in 2004, to be used in conjunction with open-source software.

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

Lando & Anastasi Hires Patent Litigator From Fish & Richardson

Lando & Anastasi LLP hired Craig R. Smith for its litigation practice, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based intellectual-property specialty firm said in a statement.

Smith joined from Boston’s Fish & Richardson PC. He has represented clients in patent disputes in federal courts and before the International Trade Commission and the European Patent Office. Among the clients he has represented are Microsoft Corp., Velcro Ltd. and the University of Massachusetts.

He has an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College, a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois, and a law degree from New York University.

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