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Broadcom, CSR, SpeechSwitch: Intellectual Property

Broadcom Corp., a microchip maker, was sued by the U.K.’s CSR Plc alleging infringement of four U.S. patents protecting global positioning system and telephone headset inventions.

CSR, with offices in Cambridge, England, asked for a jury trial, unspecified damages and an order to stop Broadcom from using the technology, in a complaint filed Oct. 13 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Broadcom has caused, and will continue to cause, CSR irreparable injury and damages” including “lost profits and diminution of the rights granted” by the patents, CSR said in court papers.

The technology is used for mobile telephones, media players and Bluetooth devices, CSR contends in the suit.

A U.S. appeals court in April upheld a finding that SiRF violated Broadcom patents and an import ban on the chips and devices containing them imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

SiRF altered its products to avoid using Broadcom technology, and the alterations were approved by U.S. customs officials, SiRF’s founder Kanwar Chadha said in an April phone interview.

Broadcom filed a new complaint Oct. 8 against CSR and SiRF at the ITC, claiming that SiRF’s new products also infringe the patents and that SiRF ignored an order to stop selling products that infringe the patents.

It is seeking an order blocking imports of the redesigned chips as well as civil penalties.

The case is CSR Plc v. Broadcom Corp., 1:10-cv-00876, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

SpeechSwitch Gets Wind-Generated Energy Management Patent

SpeechSwitch Inc., a former unit of iVoice Inc., received a patent related to alternative energy solutions, the Flemington, New Jersey-based company said in a statement.

The technology covered by patent 7,808,121, which was issued Oct. 5, related to battery recharging by micro wind turbines.

The turbines generate power for a vehicle, according to the patent. The power generation occurs only during periods of deceleration and rest, and supplements the vehicle’s braking power.

Application for the patent was filed in September 2009 by Kenneth P. Glynn of Flemington, New Jersey. Glynn is also the inventor and the president of SpeechSwitch.

Fulbright & Jaworski Study Indicates More Patent Litigation

Patent litigation increased in 2010, with companies in manufacturing, engineering and real estate experiencing a doubling of infringement filings from the previous year, according to a litigation-trends study conducted by a Houston-based law firm.

Fulbright & Jaworski LLP’s annual survey found that 52 percent of the companies in those industrial sectors filed patent-infringement claims in 2010, the firm said in an Oct. 13 statement.

Patent-infringement filings by companies in the technology/communications sector declined, according to the survey. In 2009, 38 percent of the technology/communications companies surveyed said they had filed a lawsuit, while in 2010 only 15 percent had.

The firm surveyed 403 in-house counsel in the U.K. and the U.S. Respondents said health-care and manufacturing companies will likely file more patent-infringement suits in 2011.

Companies in the retail/wholesale and manufacturing sectors told Fulbright & Jaworski they expect to be targets of infringement litigation, with 21 percent of those in retail/wholesale and 20 percent in manufacturing preparing for an increase in suits in which they are defendants.

More than half the respondents to the survey said they use some kind of alternative-fee arrangement for some of their litigation.

For more patent news, click here.


Lime Wire Seeks to Reduce Liability in Copyright Case

Lime Wire LLC, operator of a website found guilty of inducing the infringement of music copyrights, is seeking to reduce the number of recordings it’s liable for, as the case moves toward trial on damages to be paid to labels.

Lime Wire plans to file motions that would decrease the number of recordings on which it would pay damages from about 10,000 to fewer than 1,000, lawyers for the New York-based company said at a hearing yesterday in Manhattan.

“In the list they provided us, they used the same copyright for each track on an album,” Joseph Baio, a lawyer for Lime Wire, told the judge. Lime Wire will argue that an album with 10 tracks should be counted as one infringed work not 10.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in May found Lime Wire liable for inducing copyright infringement by allowing users to download recordings without authorization. Wood said a trial in January will determine the damages to be paid by Lime Wire and its founder, Mark Gorton. The amount of damages will depend on the number of infringed works.

Wood’s ruling pertained to only 30 recordings. The plaintiffs, the four largest record companies, have been able to add thousands more recordings to the list of those infringed. The labels have said in court papers that damages may top $1 billion. Statutory damages for each infringed work could be as high as $150,000.

Bringing suit against 10-year-old Lime Wire were labels operated by Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. and Terra Firma Capital Partners’ EMI Group.

Music publishers, which control the copyrights to the songs themselves rather than the recordings, sued Lime Wire separately in June for copyright infringement.

The labels’ case is Arista Records LLC v. Lime Wire LLC., 06-05936, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The publishers’ case is EMI April Music Inc. v. Lime Wire LLC, 10-04695, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

‘Willy the Wizard’ Can Continue Court Duel Over ‘Harry Potter’

J.K. Rowling, the world’s richest author, lost a bid to dismiss a U.K. lawsuit over claims that parts of her “Harry Potter” wizard novels were copied from an earlier book about “Willy the Wizard.”

While Justice David Kitchin at the High Court in London declined to dismiss the case, he said that it was “improbable” the lawsuit would ultimately succeed. He said he plans to issue an order forcing the estate of “Willy the Wizard” author Adrian Jacobs to meet certain conditions as part of the case if it continues.

Jacobs’s estate claims in the suit that part of the 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard” was copied by Rowling. A year of wizard contests in the book was similar to a central theme of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the estate says.

Schillings, Rowling’s law firm, said she “welcomes” the ruling in a statement distributed at the court. Rowling said that the claims are “not only unfounded, but absurd,” according to the statement.

Jacobs’s estate claims that Christopher Little, who manages the Harry Potter brand worldwide, was given a copy of “Willy the Wizard,” which he passed on to Rowling eight years later.

Kitchin said in his ruling that “it is inherently improbable that Mr. Little would have thought it worth giving a copy to Ms. Rowling some eight years later.”

Kitchin said he plans to make a so-called conditional order -- a court order making the estate agree to take specified steps such as paying a security if the case is continued. He said the conditions will be worked out at another hearing.

A spokesman for the law firm DMH Stallard LLP, which is representing the author’s estate in the suit, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A similar lawsuit was filed in New York in July.

The U.K. case is GLC 72/10 Allen v Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

For more copyright news, click here.


Tampa Team Settles Trademark Dispute, Quits Using ‘Rowdies’

Citrus Sports Group LLC is changing the name of its soccer club, the Tampa, Florida, organization said in a statement yesterday.

The team, formerly known as the Tampa Bay Rowdies, became embroiled in a trademark dispute with a Dallas-based maker of sports clothing. Classic Ink Inc. claimed it had exclusive ownership of the team name and sued in federal court in Dallas in April 2009, alleging the mark was infringed.

A federal court ruled Sept. 13 that the team and its owners were barred from use of “Tampa Bay Rowdies,” “Rowdies” or “TBR,” according to court papers.

The court ordered the team to remove any use of the disputed terms from its website and all other promotional material by Oct. 14. When accessed yesterday, a statement posted in the team website acknowledged that the team agreed to cease using the Rowdies name.

“Our organization has seen positive developments in this process and we look forward to a quick resolution,” the club president and owner Andrew Nestor said in the statement.

The website now refers to the team as FCTB. Merchandise for sale on the site doesn’t bear any Tampa Bay Rowdies marks.

Classic Ink was represented by D. Scott Hemingway and Eugenia S. Hansen of Dallas-based Hemingway & Hansen LLP. The team’s lawyers were Michael D. Pegues and Jason A. Wietjes of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP of Houston.

The case is Classic Ink Inc. v. Tampa Bay Rowdies, 3:09-cv-00784, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Mattel Lodges Trade-Secret Theft Allegations Against MGA

Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, has responded to trade-secret theft allegations in a case involving Bratz dolls by accusing MGA Entertainment Inc. of similar conduct.

In an Oct. 13 court filing, Mattel said MGA employees “repeatedly gained access to Mattel toy fair showrooms and reported on Mattel’s unreleased products.” MGA accused Mattel of the same actions in papers filed with the court in August.

Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, also accused Isaac Larian, MGA’s chief executive officer, of praising in writing an MGA employee who said he had stolen Mattel price lists and pricing information from a showroom in 2004. One MGA executive gave Larian non-public Mattel information “he had obtained by spying on a Mattel employee while on an airplane,” according to the Mattel court documents.

Claims by Van Nuys, California-based MGA in its court filings are a “baseless tale of wrongdoing,” Mattel said.

The underlying dispute is related to a fight over the line of Bratz dolls that were found to have infringed Mattel’s copyrights. The case was filed in federal court in Los Angeles in November 2004.

The case is Carter Bryant v. Mattel, 2:04-cv-09049-DOC-RNB, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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