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Land Rover, NFL, Citadel: Intellectual Property

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Land Rover sued China’s Trademark Appeal Board as part of a dispute with the Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., Xinhua Chinese news service reported.

The suit involves two Chinese characters that the British carmaker has used in China for its Land Rover brand since 1990, according to Xinhua.

Geely registered the same mark in 1999, and after an unsuccessful appeal to the trademark board, Land Rover sued the board, the Chinese news service reported.

The suit has been accepted by the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, according to Xinhua.

Clothier Ordered to Pay NFL Profits from Knock-Off Steelers Gear

Placing a disclaimer on knock-off apparel that they weren’t officially sanctioned by the National Football League wasn’t enough for a Pittsburgh clothing retailer to avoid a trademark infringement verdict.

The league and its Pittsburgh Steelers team sued Turtle Creek Sportswear for infringement in federal court in Pittsburgh in January 2005. The league accused Turtle Creek of making and selling unauthorized Steelers jerseys and other merchandise.

In an order filed Feb. 18, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence F. McVerry found that Turtle Creek had tried to step around his 2005 order barring sale of unlicensed NFL merchandise. He ordered it to recall all the infringing products and said that disclaimers placed by Turtle Creek on the unlicensed products didn’t “dispel the potential of consumer confusion.”

He ruled that Turtle Creek had “engaged in gamesmanship and ‘pushed the envelope’ in a deliberate effort to evade and minimize the effect” of his 2005 order. The apparel company’s conduct “was knowing, intentional, reckless and not in good faith,” he said.

He ordered the company to recall all remaining unsold inventory of the infringing merchandise, and, together with its own unsold inventory, deliver it to the league. The court encouraged the league to donate the items to a foreign charity such as World Vision “for distribution to impoverished communities worldwide” instead of destroying the infringing items.

Additionally, he ordered Turtle Creek to pay all its profits from the infringing items sold during the Steelers’ 2010-2011 season to the league, and to be fined at least $200 for each day the company failed to comply with his order.

The case is NFL Properties LLC v. Nicholas Wohlfarth, 2:05-cv-00067-TFM, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh).

ChaCha Search Sues HTC for Infringement Over Smartphone

ChaCha Search Inc., the operator of a question-and-answer website, sued HTC Corp. for trademark infringement over the planned introduction of a smartphone called the ChaCha.

ChaCha, based in Carmel, Indiana, seeks a court order that would prevent HTC from using the name or trademark, according to a filing in federal court in Indianapolis on Feb. 22.

HTC, based in Taoyuan, Taiwan, announced this month it plans to release the HTC ChaCha phone in Europe and Asia during the second quarter and in the U.S. later this year, according to the complaint.

“HTC’s use of the entirety of the ChaCha mark in connection with the infringing phone is likely to cause consumers to mistakenly believe that there is an affiliation between ChaCha and the infringing phone,” ChaCha said in its complaint.

ChaCha, which registered its U.S. trademark in 2007, said it contacted HTC by letter about its concerns and the Taiwanese company “has yet to substantively respond.”

HTC officials didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

According to the trademark database at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the only other “chacha” trademarks registered belong to Hefei Huatai Food Co. of Anhui, China, and are used for edible melon seeds, dried fruits, frozen yogurt and distilled spirits.

The case is ChaCha Search Inc. v. HTC America Corp., 11-0262, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

P&G Halts Competitor’s Use of ‘Total Effects’ Mark in India

Procter & Gamble Co., the Cincinnati-based consumer products company, successfully challenged an Indian company’s attempt to use “Total Effects” on its products, India’s Business Standard reported.

The Delhi High Court told Joy Creators of Calcutta it couldn’t use the phrase on any product that was comparable to any for which P&G uses the mark “Olay Total Effects,” according to the newspaper.

Joy Creators had claimed it had used “total effects” before P&G, and therefore had a right to use the phrase, the newspaper reported.

The court said “total effects” was an essential component of the P&G mark, according to the Business Standard.

Buffalo Traffic Stop Yields Trademark Infringement Arrest

A Buffalo, New York, resident faces possible prosecution for criminal trademark infringement after he was stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the Buffalo News reported.

He was charged with trademark counterfeiting after police found more than 200 illegally copied CDs, according to the Buffalo News.

The man was also charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, the newspaper reported.

For more trademark news, click here.


Church & Dwight Sues Colgate Over Battery-Powered Toothbrushes

Church & Dwight Co., maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda, sued Colgate-Palmolive Co. for patent infringement.

The suit, filed Feb. 23 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, accused New York-based Colgate-Palmolive of infringing three patents related to battery-powered toothbrushes.

The technology covered by the patent enables a potential customer to test briefly the action of a packaged battery-operated product without draining the battery.

Church & Dwight says it sells a number of such brushes under its Arm & Hammer label. It accuses Colgate-Palmolive of incorporating the patented technology into its products without authorization.

Among the products Church & Dwight claims infringes is the Colgate 360-degree Actiflex SonicPower toothbrush. The Princeton, New Jersey-based company claims it sent letters to Colgate in November 2010, warning of the infringement.

In dispute are parents 6,189,693, 6,311,837, 6,371,294, and 6,932,216.

Church & Dwight said it will be “substantially and irreparably damaged and harmed” if the court doesn’t order Colgate to stop its alleged infringement.

In addition to a court order barring further unauthorized use of its patented technology, Church & Dwight asked the court for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. The company requested that the damages be tripled to punish Colgate for what Church & Dwight claims is willful infringement.

Colgate didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Church & Dwight is represented by Ronald J. Levine of Herrick Feinstein LLP of Princeton, and D. Michael Underhill, Eric J. Maurer and John C. Brosky of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP of Armonk, New York.

The case is Church & Dwight CO v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 3:11-cv-01037-MLC-LHG, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

Dollar Tree, Lifetime Brands Sued for Patent Infringement

Dollar Tree Stores Inc. of Chesapeake, Virginia, was sued for infringement by the owner of a patent issued Feb. 1.

Dexas International Inc., based in Coppell, Texas, accused Dollar Tree and Lifetime Brands Inc., of Westbury, New York, of infringing patent 7,878,493. That patent is for a cutting board scoop.

While the complaint doesn’t specifically name which products infringe the patent, photos of the allegedly infringing patents are included in the court filing.

Dexas claims it’s been damaged by the retailers’ actions, and that the infringement is deliberate.

The company asked the court to bar the retailers from selling any product that infringes the patent, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. It asked that the damages be tripled.

Dollar Tree and Lifetimes brands didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Dexas is represented by Daniel V. Thompson of the Law Office of Daniel V. Thompson of Dallas.

The case is Dexas International Ltd. v. Lifetime Brands Inc., 4:11-cv-00090-RAS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Sherman).

For more patent news, click here.


Citadel Sued by Righthaven Over Posting of TSA Pat-Down Photo

Citadel Broadcasting Co., the Las Vegas-based radio broadcast company that Atlanta’s Cumulus Media Inc. is negotiating to buy, was sued for infringement by the company that enforces the copyrights to the content of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas accused Citadel of infringing the copyright on a photo of a Transportation Safety Administration airport pat-down search, according to the complaint filed Feb. 24 in federal court in Las Vegas.

This is the same photo whose copyright Righthaven accused the Drudge Report website of infringing in an earlier suit.

In the new case, Righthaven claims Citadel and employee Matt Allen infringed the copyright by placing the photo on its website Nov. 18.

Citadel didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Righthaven asked the court for an order barring future infringement and for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Additionally, it seeks to be transferred control of the Citadel website. The company made the same request when it sued the Drudge Report, a conservatively oriented news-aggregation website.

The Citadel case is Righthaven LLC v. Citadel Broadcasting Co., 2:11-cv-00308, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas). The Drudge Report case is Righthaven LLC v. Drudge, 2:10-cv-02135, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

Seinfeld Didn’t Defame Cookbook Author, New York Judge Rules

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld didn’t defame a cookbook author when he called her “wacko” and “a nut job” on television, a New York state judge ruled.

Judge Marcy Friedman in Manhattan dismissed a lawsuit by Missy Chase Lapine, author of “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals,” against Seinfeld and News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers unit, which she claims stole her ideas when it published a cookbook by Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica.

“Seinfeld’s statements disparage Lapine’s claim of plagiarism as false or baseless or, more colloquially, as wacky,” Friedman wrote in a decision made public Feb. 25. “As statements of opinion about the lack of merit of plaintiff’s claims, they are not actionable.”

A federal judge in 2009 dismissed Lapine’s trademark and copyright infringement claims against Jessica Seinfeld’s book, “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.” That ruling was upheld last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York.

The decision “is a complete victory for Jerry -- and also a victory for the First Amendment and the right of comedians to tell jokes,” Orin Snyder, a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner who represented the defendants, said in a statement. Snyder said the ruling also confirms that Jessica Seinfeld created her book on her own.

Chris Seeger, a lawyer for Lapine, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

The case is Lapine v. Seinfeld, 150051/2010, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at

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