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Google, JPMorgan, Viterra, Oshkosh: Intellectual Property

Updated on

Google Inc. and a Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. unit were ordered by the U.S. judge presiding over an Apple Inc. patent lawsuit to turn over information about the development of Google’s Android operating system.

The Motorola Mobility unit and Google must also hand over to Apple information about Google’s pending $12.5 billion acquisition of the mobile-phone maker, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner in Chicago ruled March 5.

Posner’s decision came in a patent lawsuit filed in 2010 by Cupertino, California-based Apple against Motorola Mobility, which has countersued.

“The Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses,” Apple’s attorneys’ said in a March 2 filing requesting the judge’s order.

Apple, maker of the iPhone, has been waging a global fight with the former Motorola Inc. unit that sells phones using Google’s Android operating system.

Posner, a federal appeals court judge who is presiding over the trial court-level case, has scheduled back-to-back trials before separate juries starting June 11. The first will address six Apple patents, and the second will cover three Motorola patents.

“Motorola shall be expected to obtain full and immediate compliance by Google with Apple’s liability discovery demands,” the judge said in a February order.

Motorola Mobility opposed Apple’s request, arguing that Google, the operator of the world’s most-visited Internet search portal, isn’t a party to the lawsuit.

“Google’s employees and documents are not within the ‘possession, custody, or control’ of Motorola, and Motorola cannot force Google to produce documents or witnesses over Google’s objections,” lawyers for the mobile phone maker said in a March 5 court filing.

Motorola Mobility was spun off from Motorola Inc. -- now Motorola Solutions Inc. Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for the Libertyville, Illinois-based company, declined to comment on the ruling.

Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman at Google, said in an e-mail that the company wouldn’t comment beyond what was submitted in court papers.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Motorola Inc., 11-cv-08540, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

JPMorgan to pay $4.5 Million to Settle LML Infringement Case

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $4.5 million to take a license to a disputed patent, ending an infringement case filed by LML Payment Systems Inc.

JPMorgan, based in New York, was one of more than 30 financial institutions named in the 2008 suit in Marshall, Texas, and the final remaining defendant, according to LML.

The case has brought in more than $45 million in settlements, LML said in a statement. The disputed patent -- RE40,0220 -- covers a check-writing point-of-sale system, and was issued in April 2008.

A second suit was filed against another group of banks in the same court in June 2009 and closed in October. Vancouver-based LML, a provider of financial payments, claimed the defendants in that case infringed the same patent.

The 2009 case is LML Patent Corp. v. National Bank of Daingerfield, Texas, 2:09-00180-DF, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

The 2008 case is LML Patent Corp. v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2:08-cv-00448, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.


Viterra Properly Denied ‘Xceed’ Registration, Court Rules

Viterra Inc., a Canadian agricultural supply company, was properly denied the right to register “Xceed” as a trademark, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application filed by Regina, Saskatchewan-based Viterra, saying “Xceed” was too similar to a mark owned by X-Seed Inc. of Clear Lake, Minnesota.

X-Seed’s mark was registered for use with “agricultural seeds,” the same category for which Viterra sought to register “Xceed.” The court said the patent office correctly determined that the two names were so similar in pronunciation that any minor differences “may go undetected by consumers.”

The case is In re Viterra, 11-01354, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Swedish Princess Estelle’s Name Becomes Popular Trademark Choice

The birth of the first royal baby in 30 years has prompted a rush to the Swedish Patent and Registration Board, the Local, an English-language Swedish newspaper, reported.

Following Princess Estelle’s birth Feb. 24, companies filed applications to register the name as a trademark in collection with makeup, clothing, cutlery, textiles, housewares and beverages, according to the Local.

One company that sells home furnishings and tableware online filed applications to register 16 names associated with female members of the Royal Family as trademarks, according to the Local.

Vuitton Parody IP Poster Doesn’t Infringe, Penn Law School Says

LMVH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA’s Louis Vuitton unit objected to a poster used at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school to promote an upcoming seminar on fashion law.

In a Feb. 29 letter, Michael Pantalony, who heads the luxury-goods company’s civil trademark-enforcement efforts, said he thought the Penn Intellectual Property Group “would understand the basics of intellectual property law and know better than to infringe and dilute the famous trademarks of fashion brands, including the LV trademarks, for a symposium on fashion law.”

What caused the company’s ire was a design at the top of the poster that it claimed infringed Vuitton’s “toile monogram” pattern. Pantalony said the use of the design was “a serious willful infringement” that diluted its trademarks and “may mislead others into thinking this type of unlawful activity is somehow ‘legal.’”

In a March 2 letter, Robert F. Firestone of Penn’s Office of General Counsel said the school disagreed that its poster infringed. U.S. trademark law “expressly protects a noncommercial use of a mark and a parody from any claim for dilution,” he wrote. There was no violation of trademark law because there was no likelihood that Vuitton sponsored or was associated with the seminar, Firestone said.

The use of the artwork parody wasn’t intended to identify goods and services, he said. Instead, it was “designed to evoke some of the very issues to be discussed at the conference.” Firestone said he would advise the school group that it could continue to use the posters and invitations containing the artwork “without violating any of Louis Vuitton’s legitimate trademark rights.”

Firestone closed the letter with an invitation to Pantalony to attend the March 20 event. In-house counsel from other fashion companies are scheduled to speak on panels at the symposium “and I am sure the students would welcome your attendance as well,” Firestone wrote.

For more trademark news, click here.


BT, TalkTalk Lose U.K. Appeal Over Government Anti-Piracy Law

BT Group Plc, Britain’s largest fixed-line phone company, and TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc lost a U.K. appeal to overturn parts of a digital-piracy law intended to curb illegal file sharing of music, film and books.

The Court of Appeal in London yesterday upheld an April 2011 ruling that the U.K. Digital Economy Act doesn’t violate European Union law, as the companies claimed, or place unfair enforcement costs on Internet service providers.

“The judge’s conclusion was soundly based on detailed evidence,” a panel of three judges said of the lower court’s ruling in favor of the government.

Courts are increasingly protecting copyright owners against websites engaged in mass piracy. In February, Sony Corp.’s British unit and eight other record labels won a trial to help them force British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc and other ISPs to block access to the Swedish file-sharing site Pirate Bay. A similar ruling was issued last year against a website known as Newzbin.

“Now that the court has made its decision, we will look at the judgment carefully to understand its implications and consider our next steps,” Dan Thomas, a BT spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

The law was created to prevent unlawful downloading of copyright material by requiring ISPs to block some repeat offenders. BT and TalkTalk, which sought the so-called judicial review in 2010 when the law was passed, said enforcing the law would cost “tens of millions of pounds in new systems and processes” to monitor Internet users.

The government was supported in the case by the British Recorded Music Industry and other organizations that support copyright owners.

In last year’s ruling, the companies won the removal of an obligation to pay 25 percent of regulator Ofcom’s expenses and the cost of establishing an appeals body for the regulations.

Botched Spider Web Takes Starring Role in ‘Spider-Man’ Battle

Director Julie Taymor traces her March 2011 dismissal from “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” to a giant, disobedient spider web briefly parked high above the seats inside Broadway’s Foxwoods Theatre.

The $1 million prop for the $75 million musical was intended “to descend from the ceiling of the theater in a thrilling flight/fly sequence” at the end of the show, she said in a filing March 2 in federal court in Manhattan.

Instead, the “coup de theatre” was improperly designed by a team led by set designer George Tsypin, she said in court papers.

The malfunctioning web interfered with the rigging necessary to fly the cast through the auditorium and was removed the day it was installed, Taymor said.

Tsypin later told the producers that cuts to the second act suggested by Taymor’s co-writer, Glen Berger, were “our only chance to save the show,” according to court papers.

She said in her filing that a streamlined story “appears to have been conceived as a way to avoid the technical challenges Tsypin and his team were having with staging the finale” that she envisioned.

Taymor claimed in a Nov. 8 lawsuit that producers violated her intellectual-property rights by making changes without her permission and didn’t pay royalties due her as a co-book writer.

In their January countersuit, the producers accused her of refusing to make changes and storming out of meetings when alterations were even hinted at.

Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the production and lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, said March 5 that Cohl wasn’t available. Harris declined to comment. Chris Kanarick, a spokesman for Taymor, said she wasn’t available. A representative for Tsypin, who has designed operas worldwide, referred inquiries to Miramontez.

The director’s filing accused producers of making her a scapegoat to appease anxious investors, and portrayed her onetime collaborators, including Bono and the Edge of U2, as duplicitous and inept. She said she repeatedly urged Cohl to address the spider web.

Taymor blamed the web failure for why early previews had an anticlimactic ending.

The case is Julie Taymor v. 8 Legged Productions LLC, 1:11-cv-08002-RJH, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Oshkosh Unit Wins Monetary Sanctions Against Ex-Employee

Oshkosh Corp.’s JLG Industries unit was awarded a monetary fine against an ex-employee who failed to disclose which computer files he copied shortly before leaving the construction-equipment company, the law firm representing JLG said in a statement.

JLG sued the ex-employee in Illinois state court within 24 hours of his resignation in September, claiming he would disclose the company’s proprietary information to a competitor with whom he was taking a new job. The court issued a temporary order barring disclosure of the information and destruction of any evidence.

After hearing testimony on JLG’s behalf from computer forensic experts, Judge Thomas C. Mueller of the Circuit Court of Kane County, Illinois, ruled that the ex-employee had copied the files and violated a court order requiring him to disclose them or their location.

Mueller said the ex-employee would be subject to a daily fine as long as he failed to require with the court’s orders.

JLG, based in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, is represented by Chicago’s Schiff Hardin LLP.

Amron Awarded Sanctions in Diving-Equipment Trade Secrets Case

Amron International Diving Supply Inc., a maker of diving and hyperbarics equipment, was awarded $73,000 in sanctions against a former employee it accused of destroying evidence in a trade-secrets case.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff said the defendant was fined because he failed to comply with an earlier order that he produce computers and storage devices Amron claimed contained its proprietary information.

The underlying suit was filed in federal court in San Diego in August. In its complaint, Amron claimed that former employee Saad Sadik and the company he founded -- Hydrolinx Diving Communication Inc. of Carlsbad, California, took proprietary information after Sadik’s termination in April 2010.

Forensic analysis indicated that Sadik had copied more than 100,000 of Amron’s files and purged critical files from Amron’s computer systems, according to court papers. Amron said Sadik copied many files he wasn’t authorized to access, including information about vendors and customers, customer quote information, and non-public technical manuals.

Amron, based in Vista, California, said that some of the files Sadik deleted from its computer system made it impossible to support functional changes to its product line “without having to recreate years of engineering effort.”

The sanctions awarded against Sadik were related to Amron’s attorney fees and the costs of forensic computer analysis, according to the court order. The judge denied Sadik’s motion to represent his company in litigation, noting that he isn’t a lawyer and Hydrolinx is a corporation, which the law requires to appear through counsel.

Huff granted Amron’s motion to find Sadik and Hydrolinx in contempt for violating court orders and refused the defendants’ request to extend other deadlines.

Sadik didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the judge’s rulings.

The case is Amron International Diving Supply Inc., v. Hydrolinx Diving Communication Inc., 3:11-cv-01890-CAB-JMA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

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