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AOL, Davis, Megaupload, Anonymous: Intellectual Property

AOL Inc., the New York-based Web portal, has started a $400 million stock repurchase as part of a plan to return funds to shareholders from a $1.1 billion patent sale.

The company is buying the stock using a so-called Dutch auction tender offer, AOL said yesterday in a statement. The deal brings the total amount that AOL plans to return to shareholders this year to $1.1 billion.

AOL, facing a slump in sales, agreed in April to sell and license patents to Microsoft Corp. The Internet company is selling more than 800 patents and related applications to Microsoft and will grant the software maker a nonexclusive license to its retained patent portfolio. AOL still holds more than 300 patents and applications following the transaction.

Lexmark Seeks Contempt Order in Patent Infringement Suit

Lexmark International Inc., the maker of laser and inkjet printers, asked a federal court in Ohio to declare that a seller of ink for computers is in contempt of court.

In a June 28 filing, Lexmark claimed that IJSS Inc. of Los Angeles was violating a court order handed down in April 2011 barring the importation of toner cartridges that infringe Lexmark’s patents.

That order came in a patent-infringement case Lexmark filed in August 2010 against more than 20 defendants. Lexington, Kentucky-based Lexmark also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission at that time, seeking an order barring the import of infringing cartridges.

In its request for a contempt order, Lexmark said that IJSS is still selling infringing products, some of which are Lexmark’s own cartridges that were refilled without authorization.

IJSS, which does business as Ink Jet Superstore, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Lexmark International Inc. v. Ink Technologies Printer Supplies LLC, 10-cv-00564, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati).

For more patent news, click here.


‘Nuckin Futs’ Gets Trademark in Australia After No Complaints

Because no official complaints about the name were received during a three-month comment period, Australia’s trademark authority permitted the “Nuckin Futs” trademark to be issued for a brand of snack products, B&T magazine reported.

Dan Ratner, managing director at Australia’s Uberbrand Ltd. branding agency, told B&T that the use of controversial-sounding brands may be on the rise as a way of cutting through the clutter.

He said the Nuckin Futs campaign has a parallel to the “clean your balls” campaign used by Unilever Australasia’s Lynx shower gel, according to B&T.

Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis Seeks ‘Fear the Brow’ Trademark

Anthony Marshon Davis, who finished his first season playing basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, has applied to register two trademarks related to his unibrow eyebrows.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Davis filed applications in the first week of June to register “fear the brow” and “raise the brow.”

He said he plans to use the marks for a range of products and services, including cosmetics, lunch boxes, clothing, entertainment and charitable services and sports-related services, including sports training and a website related to basketball.

C. Brandon Browning of Birmingham, Alabama’s Maynard Cooper & Gale PC filed the trademark applications on behalf of Davis.

There is another pending application for “fear the brow.” That application was filed in November by John Salcido of Lexington, Kentucky. Salcido said in his application that he plans to use the mark for clothing.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright Founder Wins Warrant Dispute in New Zealand

Kim Dotcom, the website founder accused of orchestrating the biggest copyright-infringement conspiracy in U.S. history, had his home searched illegally by police, a New Zealand judge ruled.

Helen Winkelmann, the chief justice of the High Court of New Zealand, which is an intermediate court, yesterday ruled warrants used by police to search Dotcom’s rented mansion on the outskirts of Auckland and seize his property, including a pink Cadillac, were overly broad and invalid.

“Police relied on invalid warrants when they searched the properties and seized various items,” Winkelmann wrote in a 56-page decision yesterday. “The search and seizure was therefore illegal.”

Winkelmann ordered the New Zealand’s Attorney General to notify U.S. authorities of her decision and request the voluntary return of copies of Dotcom’s hard drives that were removed. She also ordered the return of all computer hardware to Dotcom that was seized by police.

Dotcom, 38, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “Mega Conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for August in New Zealand.

German-born Dotcom was arrested at his residence in late January and spent four weeks in jail before being released to await the extradition hearing.

Officials from the New Zealand Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. New Zealand police said in a statement the judgment is being reviewed and declined to comment further.

New Zealand police sought and executed the search warrants at the request of the U.S. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation under a treaty allowing for mutual cooperation in criminal investigations.

A broad category of items was covered and the FBI intended to determine if they were relevant to the investigation offshore, according to Winkelmann’s ruling.

The U.S. “is not entitled to irrelevant material seized during the search,” Winkelmann wrote, saying that computers and mobile phones contain personal property including family photos.

The case is between Kim Dotcom and Attorney-General. Civ 2012-404-1928. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland). Owner Convicted in U.K. Copyright Case

The owner of a website that offers links to unauthorized copies of streaming videos faces a potential 10-year jail sentence following his conviction in a copyright case in the U.K., the BBC reported.

Anton Vickerman, whose website attracted more than 400,000 visitors a day and generated more than 35,000 pounds ($54,300) in ad revenue a month, is to be sentenced July 30, according to the BBC.

He was convicted of conspiracy to defraud, a charge criticized by the U.K.’s anti-copyright Pirate Party, which said the actions Vickerman allegedly performed criminalized conduct by two or more people “that would not be criminal when performed by an individual,” according to the BBC.

Vickerman’s wife, who was also charged in the case, wasn’t convicted, the BBC Reported.

‘Anonymous” Protests Copyright Law Revisions, Attacks Websites

The international Internet hackers group “Anonymous” has attacked a number of Japanese government websites in the wake of revisions to that country’s copyright law, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Among the target websites were those of Japan’s Finance Ministry, Supreme Court and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, according to the newspaper.

The new law to which “Anonymous” objects treats illegal downloading with a two-year prison sentence, Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

“Anonymous” posted a statement on the Internet saying its “Operation Japan” attack was in direct response to the enactment of the new law, according to the newspaper.

Stone Roses’ Stand on Photo Rights Wins Boycott in U.K.

British photojournalists were joined by the U.K.’s National Union of Journalists in a boycott of the band Stone Roses in the wake of the band’s insistence that press photographers assign all rights “in perpetuity throughout the world” to the band, the British Journal of Photography reported.

Stone Roses also required all contracted photographers to provide the band “with digital copies of any or all of the photographs upon request,” according to the publication.

The band’s intransigence on these issues led to a boycott, John Toner, who organizes freelancers for the union, told the Journal.

Murray Chalmers, manager of the band’s public relations, denied there was a boycott, telling the Journal there was a full quota of photographers attending the band’s performances to shoot the performers.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Bridgestone Scientist’s Secrets Trial Postponed to Sept. 17

The trial of a Hudson, Ohio, resident accused of stealing trade secrets from Bridgestone Corp.’s Bridgestone center for Research and Technology has been postponed until Sept. 17, according to court filings.

Xiaorong Wang, 50, a research scientist at the Akron, Ohio-based facility, was accused of stealing trade secrets related to the company’s Project 610. In an affidavit filed by the government, the secrets are identified as related to polymers for racing tires and liquid paper powder.

He used his “insider status” at the research center to steal trade secrets, the government said in a statement in April. Wang took the trade secrets as part of his plan to establish a research program related to polymers at China’s Suzhou University, the government claimed.

Wang is represented by Paul F. Adamson of Burdon & Merlitti of Akron Ohio, who told the Hudson Hub Times that his client didn’t plan to do anything inappropriate with any Bridgestone trade secrets.

The case is U.S. v. Wang, 5:12-cr-00228-JG, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Akron).

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