Viacom, Fiskars, Uwajimaya: Intellectual Property

Konami Corp. and Viacom Inc.’s Harmonix studio settled a patent dispute over music-video games including “Rock Band,” according to court filings.

Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. The companies said in a filing Sept. 15 in federal court in Tyler, Texas, that they agreed to dismiss “all claims and counterclaims” in the lawsuit, filed by Konami in 2008. Notice that the companies agreed to drop a Viacom suit against Konami was filed yesterday in federal court in Boston.

Konami, based in Tokyo, makes “Rock Revolution,” which simulates playing popular music. Harmonix, owned by New York- based Viacom, makes the competing “Rock Band.” Each suit claimed infringement of patents related to game controllers that simulate musical instruments.

The Konami case is Konami Digital Entertainment Co. v. Harmonix Music Systems Inc., 08cv286, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler). The Viacom case is Harmonix Music Systems Inc. v. Konami Digital Entertainment Co., 09cv10206, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Quick-Med is Licensee for Rosacea-Treatment Patent

Quick-Med Technologies Inc., a Gainesville, Florida-based biotechnology company, is the licensee on a newly issued patent for the treatment of rosacea.

About 16 million people in the U.S. -- mainly women between 30 and 60 years of age -- have rosacea, a disease of unknown origin. People with rosacea have chronic inflammation of the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead and eyelids. According to the patent, the late W.C. Fields was the best-known person with rosacea.

Patent 7,795,302 covers the method of treating the disorder with a group of compounds also used to treat victims of potential terrorist attacks, according to the company website.

These compounds, known as matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors, are also used to treat skin damage from aging or sun exposure, or for exposure to sulfur mustard gas following a terrorist attack.

The patent was issued Sept. 14 to the University of Michigan, which licensed the intellectual property it covers to Quick-Med. The lead inventor on the patent is Professor Sewon Kang, now chairman of the department of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University’s Medical School.

The university applied for the patent in November 2005, with assistance from Harness, Dickey & Pierce Plc of Troy, Michigan.

For more patent news, click here.


Cancellation of Fiskars Orange-Handle Trademark Sought

Fiskars Oyj was sued by Officemate International Corp. in a dispute over orange handles for scissors.

Officemate, of Edison, New Jersey, asked a federal court to declare its orange-handled scissors don’t infringe a Fiskars trademark. The company is also seeking an order to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel Fiskar’s trademark.

The office-supply company has sold scissors with colored handles, including orange, for more than 20 years, it said in the complaint filed Sept. 14 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. It said it received a cease-and-desist letter from Fiskars in June 28, demanding that Officemate quilt selling all scissors with orange handles.

Fiskars, based in Helsinki, sent counsel for Officemate an e-mail on Sept. 8 warning that unless all sales of its orange-handled scissors ceased, it would be sued for infringement. According to the patent office database, Fiskars registered orange as applied to the handle of scissors as a trademark in January 2009.

In addition to its request for findings of non-infringement and the cancellation of Fiskar’s trademark, Officemate asked the court for money damages, and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Officemate is represented by Gregory S. Gewirtz and Gregg A. Paradise of Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik LLP of Westfield, New Jersey.

The case is Officemate International Corp. v. Fiskars Brands Inc., 2:10-cv-04703-KSH-PS, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

Uwajimaya Sues Airport Concessionaire Over ‘Waji’ Trademark

Uwajimaya Inc., a closely held chain of grocery and variety stores specializing in Japanese goods, sued an airport concessionaire for trademark infringement.

The Seattle-based chain, which has been in business in Washington State since 1946, is informally called “Waji’s” by many of its customers.

In 2003 a partnership between Uwajimaya and concessionaire HMSHost Corp. submitted a proposal to the Port of Seattle for a food and beverage concession at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is operated by the Port. The proposal was for an Uwajimaya-brand concept, according to the complaint filed Sept. 14 in federal court in Seattle.

The restaurant, operated by Concourse Concessions LLC of Des Moines, Washington, opened in 2007. It specialized in quick-service ready-to-eat Asian foods. Its name, “Waji’s by Uwajimaya,” was suggested by Uwajimaya, according to court papers.

The restaurant operated under the name only under an oral license agreement, Uwajimaya said. Once the restaurant operations were stabilized, Uwajimaya “anticipated that the oral license agreement would be formalized and reduced to writing with mutually agreed upon terms,” the chain said in its pleadings.

In 2009, Uwajimaya began preparations to file a trademark application and learned that Concourse Concessions had already submitted applications to register “Waji’s” and Uwajimaya.” According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Concourse Concessions successfully registered “Waji’s” in March and has a pending application for “Waji’s by Uwajimaya.”

The name “Uwajimaya” itself was registered by the chain in December 1999, according to the patent office database. It was chosen by the chain’s founder to honor the town of Uwajima in Japan, where he first got into the food-selling business, according to the Uwajimaya website. The ending “ya” in Japanese is used to indicate a store.

Uwajimaya said it’s harmed by Concourse Concession’s trademark registration and the restaurant’s use of the name. The company claims that it will suffer “irreparable harm to its trade, business reputation and goodwill” if the alleged infringement continues.

It asked the court to order Concourse Concessions to quit using “Waji’s” and “Uwajimaya” and for awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages. Uwajimaya asked that the damages be tripled.

Uwajimaya is represented by Sara E. Moum and Michael R. Scott of Hills Clark Martin & Peterson PS of Seattle. Concourse Concessions is represented by David L. Tingey from the Law Office of David L. Tingey of Renton, Washington.

Tingey didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit’s allegations.

The case is Uwajimaya Inc. V. Concourse Concessions LLC, 2:10-cv-01474, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

For more trademark news, click here.


Fox Sues Carnahan Senate Campaign for TV-Footage Use

Fox News Network sued the U.S. Senate campaign organization of Robin Carnahan in Missouri alleging the unauthorized use of television footage with newsman Christopher Wallace in a “smear ad” against her opponent.

The campaign used its video to make it appear the network and Wallace were endorsing Carnahan against her opponent, Roy Blunt, Fox said yesterday in the complaint filed Sept. 14 in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri.

The network said Carnahan, a Democrat, infringed its copyright by using in a 32-second campaign advertisement a Wallace interview with Blunt, a U.S. congressman. Fox, a unit of New York-based News Corp., said in its complaint that it hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the race.

“We stand behind our ad,” Linden Zakula, press secretary for the Carnahan campaign, said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s unclear why Fox News refuses to stand by its own content that simply asked questions about Congressman Blunt’s Washington record.”

On Carnahan’s campaign website, a link to the ad returns this text: “The interview with Roy Blunt that Fox News doesn’t want you to see has been temporarily removed. Check back soon.”

Robin Carnahan is a member of the Carnahan political family. Her father, the late Mel Carnahan, served as governor of Missouri, and was elected posthumously to the U.S. Senate against Republican candidate -- and later U.S. Attorney General -- John Ashcroft.

Her mother, Jean Carnahan, filled that senate seat for two years. Her brother, Russ Carnahan, is presently a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. And her grandfather, the late A.S.J. Carnahan, served in the House of Representatives for 14 years.

In its suit against Robin Carnahan, Fox asked the court for an order barring further use of the footage and destruction of all materials containing the allegedly infringing content. Additionally, Fox requested awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages, including extra damages to punish Carnahan for her campaign’s actions.

Fox is represented by Bernard J. Rhodes of Lathrop & Gage LLP of Kansas City.

The case is Fox News Network LLC v. Robin Carnahan for Senate Inc., 10-00906, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

Pilgrim Properties Sues Over Magnetic Yellow Ribbon Copyright

Pilgrim Properties LLC, the North Carolina company that holds the copyright to the yellow-ribbon “Support Our Troops” vehicle magnet, sued a competitor for copyright infringement.

Magnetic Attractions Inc., of Elmhurst, Illinois, is accused of making, advertising and selling vehicle magnets that infringe the copyrights.

The ribbons were originally designed by an employee of King International Corp. of King, North Carolina. According to King’s website, the company has contributed more than $45,000 in revenue from the ribbon sales to Freedom Calls, a nonprofit organization that helps military service members in Iraq communicate with their families back home.

Pilgrim Properties, also based in King, owns the copyright to the ribbons.

Magnetic Attractions is accused of copying the elements of the ribbon design that are protected by copyright, down to the “artistic manner in which the ribbon copyright is colored and shaded. ” The company didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Pilgrim asked the court to find that Magnetic Attraction’s infringing actions were willful, and asked for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. The copyright holder requested that the damages be tripled.

This is Pilgrim’s third copyright case connected with the ribbon magnets. The previous two cases both settled.

Pilgrim is represented by Jeffrey M. Young of Ellis & Winters LLP of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The case is Pilgrim Properties LLC v. Magnetic Attractions Inc., 1:10-cv-00708, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Haynes & Boone Expands Washington IP Group With Two New Hires

Haynes & Boone LLP hired two intellectual-property litigators for its Washington office, the Dallas-based firm said in a statement.

The new hires, Kyle Musgrove and Michael Shen, joined from New York’s Kenyon & Kenyon LLP. Both have practices focusing on pharmaceutical patents, especially cases relating to generic drug applications made under the Hatch-Waxman Act.

Musgrove also has litigated cases covering other technologies, including medical devices, medical imaging, paper and pulp bleaching, optics, nutritional supplements, vaccines and methods of drug delivery.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Tulane University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina.

In addition to his pharmaceutical work, Shen has litigated cases in federal trial and appellate courts and before the U.S. International trade Commission. He previously practiced at Washington’s Sughrue Mion PLLC.

Shen has represented clients in disputes involving electric connectors, electronics, chemical processes, industrial and food chemicals and medical devices.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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