Google, Glaxo, Victoria’s Secret: Intellectual Property

Google Inc., creator of the most-used Internet search engine, received a patent on a technology that will push advertising into a new area of telephone use.

Patent 8,135,613, issued yesterday, covers ring-back advertising. A “ring back” is what is heard by the user of a phone when the number dialed is ringing.

According to the patent, even though advertising “unnecessarily bothers consumers,” the method covered by the patent provides an advertisement when the person listening would otherwise have to listen to some other form of audio.

A particular ad can be associated either with the number that is being called, or the number from which the call is made, according to the patent. Advertisers can bid for the amount they are willing to pay in order to have their ad played as a ring tone.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, applied for the patent in January 2008 with assistance from Boston’s Fish & Richardson PC.

Glaxo Says EU Regulators Ask for Patent Settlement Information

GlaxoSmithKline Plc said European Union regulators asked it in January for information on patent settlement agreements in the pharmaceutical industry.

The European Commission asked for similar information in 2011, the London-based drugmaker said in its annual report. The EU is probing deals that may delay the market entry of generic versions of branded medicines.

BioCryst Plans Challenge to ‘Improvidently Granted’ Patent

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., the North Carolina biotechnology company testing an experimental drug to treat gout, said it started procedures at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to challenge a patent issued to a competitor.

The company said in a regulatory filing it will argue the patent office erroneously issued patent 8,119,607 on Feb. 21 to Australia’s Biota holdings Ltd. That patent contains a claim that covers the structure of a compound that can fight Hepatitis C to which BioCrist claims prior invention rights.

BioCryst said in its filing that the patent was “improvidently granted” and that it hired Washington’s Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP to represent it in the proceedings at the patent office.

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Australia Targeted in WTO Complaint Over Ban on Tobacco Logos

Ukraine complained at the World Trade Organization over Australia’s decision to prohibit trademarks and logos on tobacco products, saying the ban violates global rules on intellectual property.

Australia is the first country to require plain, identical cigarette packaging. As of Dec. 1, cigarettes there will be sold in dark brown packets, with no company logos or images and the same font for all brands. Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, British American Tobacco Plc and Japan Tobacco Inc. are among companies that have challenged the law, which Australia is extending to include cigars and loose-leaf tobacco products.

Ukraine says the scientific evidence on which the law is based was insufficient and that the plain-packaging rules will unnecessarily curb trade because Australia’s public-health goal can be met by other means.

Australia said at a Feb. 28 meeting in Geneva that it had “comprehensively responded to all the claims” made by numerous WTO governments in committee discussions about the law.

The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first international treaty aimed at cutting tobacco use, includes provisions on non-pricing measures to lower demand, including regulations on packaging and labeling.

While the treaty doesn’t specifically address the use of trademarked brands or logos, it requires signatories to ensure that packaging and labeling don’t promote a tobacco product by “any means that are false, misleading, deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions.”

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said on Nov. 23 that major tobacco companies were harassing governments including Australia, Norway and Uruguay in a bid to overturn cigarette package-labeling rules.

Ukraine’s request for consultations is the first step in the case and means the governments must now hold talks for at least two months in a bid to resolve the dispute. After that, Ukraine can ask WTO judges to rule. Judges typically rule within six months, after which either side can appeal.

Chivas Brothers Lose Trademark Fight with Chinese Clothing Maker

Chivas Brothers Europe Ltd., maker of Chivas Regal Scotch whisky, lost a bid to halt the use of its mark by a Chinese clothing company, China’s People’s Daily reported.

Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court ruled that the clothing maker didn’t infringe because the mark was used on a different category of merchandise than alcoholic beverages, according to People’s Daily.

The court determined that the whisky brand wasn’t well-known in China and that Chivas Brothers failed to prove the design of its brand was completed before the clothing maker registered his “Chivas Regal 88” mark, People’s Daily reported.

The fact that Chivas Brothers used its “Chivas Regal” mark on uniforms for its salespeople didn’t impress the court, which found that this use wasn’t for clothing for commercial sale, according to the newspaper.

MOM Brands to Use ‘Choice of a New Generation’ to Sell Cereal

MOM Brands, maker of Malt-o-Meal cereal, acquired the “choice of a new generation” trademark formerly used by PepsiCo Inc. and is using it in an online video ad for its “Better Oats” instant cereal, created by an amateur filmmaker, Advertising Age reported.

PepsiCo told Advertising Age it hadn’t used the slogan with its products since 1991.

MOM Brands, a 92-year-old closely held Northfield, Minnesota-based company, said it sought the mark once it realized PepsiCo let its trademark registration for the phrase lapse, Advertising Age reported.

PepsiCo made no objections, MOM’s lawyer told Advertising Age, and the cereal company is using the phrase in an ad campaign to be found on Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site, the company’s Facebook page, and a new website,

‘Hobbit’ Pub Owners Told by Berkeley Company to Change Name

Saul Zentz Co., a film company holding the rights to brands associated with the late British author J.R.R. Tolkein, told a pub in the U.K.’s Southampton that it must change its name, the BBC reported.

The Berkeley, California-based film company objected to the pub’s use of “The Hobbit” as its name and its use of characters from the Tolkein stories on its signs, menu and loyalty cards, according to the BBC.

The pub’s owners told the BBC that they never intended to infringe anyone’s intellectual-property rights.

A “Save the Hobbit” page has been set up on Facebook Inc.’s social-media site by fans of the pub, the BBC reported.

Ron Paul Campaign’s Trademark-Infringement Case Hits a Snag

Presidential candidate Ron Paul lost a bid to unmask creators of a video he claimed infringed his trademarks.

In a March 8 order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James rejected the Paul campaign’s request for an expedited process to learn their identity. She said the campaign failed to demonstrate that it would prevail on the trademark infringement claims it was making.

The campaign filed suit Jan. 13 in federal court in San Francisco against 10 unnamed defendants, calling a YouTube video they uploaded “a classic case of dirty politics resulting from the unlawful use in commerce of an underhanded and deceptive advertisement designed to tarnish” Paul’s reputation.

The video, titled “Jon Huntsman’s Values,” was posted under the name “NHLiberty4Paul.” The campaign was seeking information about the identity of whoever posted the video.

In her order, the magistrate judge noted that U.S. trademark law is related to commerce, and that the campaign failed in its attempt to characterize the video as an interference with commerce. She did say that the suit’s claims for libel and defamation appeared “to be plausible and well pled.”

The case is Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee Inc., v. John Does 1-10, 12-cv-00240, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For more trademark news, click here.


Chinese Students Accused of Cloning Victoria’s Secret Show

Students at China’s Chengdu University’s School of Radio, Film & Television created a lingerie fashion show critics say was ripped off from a similar show staged by Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC and televised, the EdVantage education news website reported.

The outfits worn in the fashion show were virtually identical to those shown by Victoria’s Secret, as were the poses assumed by the models, according to EdVantage.

In addition to the allegations of plagiarism, the students were accused of “shameful” behavior for modeling such revealing clothing in an educational context, EdVantage reported.

SABAM Seeks Fees for the Reading Aloud of Library Books to Kids

SABAM, the Belgian rights-collection society, is contacting local libraries in that country, demanding fees because library books are being read aloud to children, Belgium’s DeMorgen newspaper reported.

The collecting society’s demands would cost one local library 250 euros ($326) a year, a library official told DeMorgen.

SABAM told DeMorgen it’s not systematically targeting libraries and the demand came because the collecting group has a system to detect events for which fees should be paid.

Because the libraries are a public place, the reading constitutes a public performance requiring a license fee, SABAM said and DeMorgen reported.

For copyright news, click here.

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