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L’Oreal, Oracle-Google, Optus, Nokia: Intellectual Property

L’Oreal SA’s effort to register trademarks that sound similar to Botox, a wrinkle treatment made by Allergan Inc., was rejected by the top European Union court.

The EU Court of Justice backed the earlier refusals by the EU trademark office for L’Oreal to own the rights to the words “botolist” and “botocyl” for cosmetic products.

“The use of the marks at issue would take unfair advantage of the reputation of the ‘Botox’ trademarks,” according to a court statement yesterday.

Botox, Allergan’s top-selling drug, is a purified form of the poison botulinum, which is given as an injection to paralyze certain muscles and nerves to make patients appear more youthful. L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics maker, was trying to “take advantage” of Botox’s reputation by using similar names for cosmetics, Allergan had told a lower court.

“This court ruling reinforces Allergan’s position that the Botox name should only be used in relation to Allergan’s product,” said Janet Kettels, a spokeswoman for the company.

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

L’Oreal and Nestle SA compete with Allergan’s Botox in selling an injectable skin treatment, Azzalure, in Europe.

The case is C-100/11 P Rubinstein and L’Oreal v. OHIM.

For more trademark news, click here.


CBS Sues ABC Alleging ‘Glass House’ Copies ‘Big Brother’ Show

CBS Corp. sued Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, alleging in a copyright infringement complaint that ABC’s “Life in a Glass House” is a “carbon copy” of CBS’s “Big Brother” reality television show.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CBS should take pride in ABC’s latest reality television project,” CBS said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles. It “replicates every key aspect of ‘Big Brother,’ including, among other things, its plot, themes, mood, setting, pace, characters, sequence of events.”

CBS, based in New York, said in the complaint that two former supervising producers and a former co-executive producer of “Big Brother,” as well as 16 other ex-producers and staff from the hit series, are working on “Glass House” and have disclosed CBS’s trade secrets and confidential information in violation of their non-disclosure agreements.

ABC, Burbank, California-based Disney and three former CBS employees are accused of copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition, among other claims. CBS asks for a court order to halt the alleged infringement and unspecified compensatory damages.

“We believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” ABC spokeswoman Hope Hartman said in an e-mailed statement. “The differences between Glass House and Big Brother are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from Glass House’s interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting edge technologies.”

The case is CBS v. ABC, 12-4073, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Writer’s Suit against Kelsey Grammer and CBS Studios Dismissed

A writer’s case against Kelsey Grammer and CBS Corp.’s CBS Studios was dismissed by a federal judge on Los Angeles.

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real on May 8 threw out the suit brought by Cassandra D. Colo’n, who claimed that she had given to an agent a script for an episode of the television show “The Game.” Colo’n alleged that an episode of the show resembled her script, for which she hadn’t been paid.

Real held that the suit was barred because it exceeded the statute of limitations and a federal court in Indiana had already adjudicated the claims.

That court, in an opinion upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last year, dismissed the case against CBS, Grammer and several other defendants because it lacked jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit also dismissed her case against the agent, finding that Colo’n hadn’t complied with the requirements of the Copyright Act to maintain her suit.

Colo’n didn’t have a lawyer and couldn’t be reached for comment.

All of the defendants, except for the agent, were represented by partner Lee S. Brenner and associates Kenneth D. Kronstadt and Audrey J. Jing from Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Brenner didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the dismissal.

The California case is Colo’n v. Akil, 12-cv-00861, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles). The Indiana case is Colo’n v. Akil, 11-1950, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Oracle Loses Bid for Ruling Google Didn’t Make ‘Fair Use’ of IP

Oracle Corp. failed to convince a federal judge in an intellectual property case that Google Inc. unfairly used its technology in the search engine provider’s Android software for mobile devices.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco denied Oracle’s request for a ruling that could have established that Google is liable for copyright infringement.

Oracle asked Alsup for a judgment in its favor on “fair use” after a jury found that Google infringed parts of its Java programming language and deadlocked on whether the copying constituted fair use. Liability rests on whether there was fair use, Alsup said after the jury reached a verdict May 7.

“I don’t think it would be right,” Alsup said at a hearing May 9. The decision could pave the way for a new trial on the question of whether Google’s infringement makes it liable for as much as $1 billion in damages for using parts of Java to develop Android without paying for a license.

The legal doctrine of fair use states that anyone can use copyrighted work without consent of the owner under certain circumstances, such as for teaching, in news reporting and commentary or to advance the public interest by creating something new.

The May 7 jury verdict came in the first phase of an eight-week trial that began April 16. The jury is hearing testimony this week on Oracle’s claims that Google also infringed two Java patents. The last phase of the trial will deal with damages.

The case is Oracle v. Google, 10-3561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Optus Seeks Hearing in Australia’s Top Court Over TV Now Service

SingTel Optus Ltd. will ask Australia’s top court for a review after losing a legal dispute with sports leagues wanting to protect broadcasting rights valued at more than A$2 billion ($2 billion).

The Australian Football League, the most popular spectator sport in the country, and the National Rugby League sued Optus, claiming its TV Now service infringes copyright. An Australian federal court appeal panel on April 27 agreed with them, overturning a lower court ruling.

“This is a very important public policy issue that needs to be determined by the highest court in the land,” Paul O’Sullivan, Optus’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Cloud computing will see Australians using applications held online and wanting to store online, rather than just using fixed hardware based in the home.”

Central to the dispute is determination of who creates the electronic files viewed by the customer. TV Now allows users in Australia’s mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to record free-to-air television programs, including AFL and NRL games, and play them back on computers, Apple Inc. iPads, and most 3G mobile devices. Some programs can be viewed within minutes of airing live.

The AFL, NRL and Telstra Corp., Australia’s biggest phone company, said TV Now infringed their copyrights because the service makes the match recordings, stores them on its servers, and passes them on to customers.

Judge Steven Rares said in February that Optus customers record the broadcasts for personal use, much as people use video cassette or digital video recorders, which Australian copyright allows. His decision was then overturned by the three-member appeal panel in Sydney last month.

The case is National Rugby League Investments Ltd. v. SingTel Optus Ltd. NSD201/2012 Federal Court of Australia, Full Court (Sydney).

For more copyright news, click here.


Nokia Loses London Court Appeal Over IPCom 3G Phone Patent

Nokia Oyj infringed a European patent held by IPCom GmbH & Co. related to connecting mobile phones to a network, a U.K. appeals court ruled.

Judge David Kitchin dismissed Nokia’s appeal, confirming an earlier ruling that two of its devices infringed IPCom’s intellectual property. IPCom, based in Germany, said in an e-mailed statement it would seek damages and ask for an injunction blocking Nokia from using the technology in the U.K.

Nokia, which lost its title as world’s biggest seller of mobile phones last year to Samsung Electronics Co., is battling HTC Corp., Research in Motion Ltd. and Apple Inc. in patent lawsuits around the world.

The IPCom patent wasn’t infringed by any current Nokia products and isn’t used by U.K. carriers, the Espoo, Finland-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

“Nokia believes that IPCom needs to recognize its position and end its unrealistic demands for what remains of this significantly diminished portfolio,” the company said.

The technology, which allows phones to link to third-generation mobile networks, was acquired by IPCom when it bought a family of mobile-technology patents in 2007 from Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s largest automotive supplier.

For more patent news, click here.


YGM Trading to Acquire Aquascutum Assets for 15 Million Pounds

YGM Trading Ltd., a Hong Kong-based garment maker, will buy many of the assets of Aquascutum, the U.K. fashion label founded in 1851 and favored by British royalty and actor Pierce Brosnan.

YGM agreed with Aquascutum’s administrators to pay 15 million pounds ($24 million) for assets including intellectual property, stock-in-trade and plant and equipment, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing May 9. The deal excludes U.K. real estate and 14 retail concessions, YGM said.

The Hong Kong company bought YGM’s Asian intellectual property rights in 2009 for HK$173.7 million ($22.4 million), after running the brand’s retail operations in the region since 1998, opening more than 300 shops.

“This acquisition marks our next phase in consolidating the brand globally under one owner and will create a better platform for strengthening worldwide image and future growth,” YGM Chairman Peter Chan said in a separate e-mailed press release May 9.

Aquascutum’s former owner Harold Tillman put the company into administration last month, a day after he sold fashion chain Jaeger Group Ltd. The U.K. fashion label had “significant losses,” administrators FRP Advisory LLP said at the time.

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