Kodak, Apple, Proview, Bugatti: Intellectual Property

Eastman Kodak Co. won an appeals court ruling that it didn’t violate Apple Inc.’s patent rights over a way to process digital images in a case that the iPhone maker filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, without issuing a formal opinion, affirmed an ITC ruling from July 2011 that an Apple patent wasn’t infringed. Notice of the decision was posted on the court’s website.

“The court has affirmed that Apple’s legal position in this matter was without merit,” Chris Veronda, a Kodak spokesman, said in a statement. “Our position has consistently been that this dispute reflected Apple’s strategy of raising legal arguments to distract from Kodak’s central assertion that Apple and others have repeatedly violated our intellectual property rights.”

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, filed the case against Kodak after being targeted in a patent suit by Kodak. In the case Kodak filed against Apple and Research In Motion Ltd., the commission on July 20 said that a Kodak patent claim for an image-preview feature was invalid.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, is relying on its patent portfolio to help fund a turnaround. The company is auctioning off two groups of patents and plans to announce winners on Aug. 13.

Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, has said in a court filing that Apple owes it more than $1 billion in patent royalties. Apple, which claims co-ownership of some Kodak patents because of a research agreement from the 1990s, could have used a victory in this case to lower any amount it might have to pay.

The ITC case originally involved two patents. Apple didn’t appeal a finding that a second imaging patent it owned was invalid, Kodak said. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment on the ruling.

Kodak has a second case pending with the ITC against Apple and HTC Corp. over patents related to image transmission. That case is scheduled for trial in February, according to the agency’s website.

The appeal is Apple Inc. v. U.S. International Trade Commission, 11-1592, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The ITC case is In the Matter of Digital Imaging Devices and Related Software, 337-717, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

The Kodak case against Apple and RIM is In the Matter of Certain Mobile Telephones and Wireless Communication Devices Featuring Digital Cameras, and Components Thereof, 337-703, USITC.

Apple, Microsoft End Patent Fight With BlackBerry Foe NTP

Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. were among companies that reached a settlement of patent-infringement claims by NTP Inc., the licenser that extracted a $612.5 million settlement from Research in Motion Ltd. six years ago.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed in federal court filings in Richmond, Virginia, seeking dismissal of suits filed by NTP beginning in 2007. The agreements cover most of the wireless phone industry, including phone service companies like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, handset manufacturers such as LG Electronics Inc. and e-mail service providers like Yahoo! Inc.

The dispute was over wireless e-mail technology developed by NTP founder Thomas Campana. NTP battled with RIM for more than four years before reaching a settlement, and then sued other companies in the phone industry.

“Each of the parties in this arrangement are in some way making use of NTP’s, of Tom Campana’s, original wireless e-mail invention, although they’re at different levels of the industry,” NTP lawyer Ron Epstein said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Some are providing wireless services, others e-mail, others the handset, but they all are getting the same license.”

Dismissal requests also were filed in cases against Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Palm unit, Sprint Nextel Corp. and HTC Corp.

Campana was an electrical engineer who set up NTP with his patent lawyer, Don Stout, to hold patents on inventions he developed separate from work he did on contract. He died of cancer in June 2004, the day after his trial victory in the case against RIM was argued before an appeals court.

The patents cover a way e-mail is transmitted automatically to electronic devices.

“There’s a lot of use of this term patent troll to trivialize the discussion around what is the source of innovation,” said Epstein, who also is chief executive officer of patent brokerage Epicenter IP Group LLC in Redwood City, California. “Ultimately, there was a recognition that Tom Campana had in fact, back in the early 90s, developed a system that did wireless e-mail.”

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, Brenda Raney, with Verizon Wireless, and Laura Young, a Microsoft spokeswoman, said the companies had no comment.

HTC, in an e-mailed statement, said it was “pleased to see this issue resolved reasonably and without further litigation.”

Officials with the other companies didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The cases have been on hold pending NTP’s appeal of the patent-office findings that rejected elements of Compana’s patents. An appeals court last year ordered the agency to reconsider findings that invalidated elements of seven NTP patents.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Gets First Patent, for Privacy Settings

Facebook Inc. founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg received his first patent.

According to the database of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Zuckerberg is one of two inventors named on patent 8,225,376, which was issued July 17. The patent is assigned to Facebook.

The patent covers the process of “dynamically generating a privacy summary.” According to the patent document, many existing privacy settings are an all-or-nothing affair.

The advent of social media has created a need for a more refined system, in which the user can incorporate multiple privacy settings, which will limit or permit access to various parts of the user’s data, Menlo Park, California’s Facebook said in the patent.

Zuckerberg -- and co-inventor Chris Kelly -- applied for the patent in July 2006 with the assistance of Fenwick & West LLP of Mountain View, California.

For more patent news, click here.


Proview Sued by Law Firm Over Its Cut of $60 Million Settlement

Proview International Holdings Ltd., the Hong Kong company that received $60 million in a trademark dispute with Cupertino, California’s Apple Inc., has been sued by the law firm that represented the company in that case, CNET News reported.

The Grandall Law Firm is seeking its 4 percent of the settlement, which came in a dispute over ownership of the iPad trademark, according to CNET News.

Proview Founder Yan Rongshan said the case was “nonsense” and said that because the company as not operating normally, the fee agreement with the Beijing-based firm is not binding, CNET News reported.

Scotch Whisky Trade Group Loses Trademark Battle in New Zealand

The Mill, a New Zealand liquor-store chain, won a trademark dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association trade group, the Otago Daily Times reported.

The association had objected to The Mill’s application to register “Macgowans” as a trademark for its whisky-flavored 14 percent alcohol beverage, according to the newspaper.

Sally Peart, trademark counsel for the liquor store chain, told the newspaper that her client’s products didn’t “represent itself to be a whisky and has no mention of whisky on its labeling.”

She said she had argued that customers who bought her client’s alcoholic beverage, which retails for about 10 New Zealand dollars ($7.90) per liter, were “unlikely to be the same group of consumers who would buy a bottle of Scotch,” costing 50 New Zealand dollars or more, the Otago Daily Times reported.

Fake Bugatti Expected to Bring in More Than $155,000 at Auction

Even though it’s a fake, a Bugatti Type-51 car found in a U.K. garage is expected to sell for more than 100,000 British pounds ($155,000) at a September auction, the U.K.’s Worcester News reported.

The owner, who died in 2011, had believed it was the car that won a 1931 grand prix race and told various meetings of Bugatti fanciers in the U.K. it was genuine, according to the newspaper.

David Sewell, an independent Bugatti expert, said that building a replica of that particular model would cost more than 150,000 British pounds, the Worcester News reported.

If it were the real thing, the car could bring more than 2 million British pounds at the Sept. 26 auction, according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.


U.K. Internet Users Receive Fake Infringement Demand Letters

Some Internet users in the U.K. are being sent fake copyright-infringement letters demanding an immediate fee payment, the Broadband DSL website reported.

The letters, which claim to be sent by the Digital Economy Act, ask for the immediate payment of a fee of 50 British pounds ($78), according to the website.

The dunning letters are poorly written, which the Broadband DSL website says is a deliberate tactic to weed out those who would be too smart to respond to such a claim.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

King & Spalding Expands IP Group With Bingham McCutchen Hire

King & Spalding LLP hired William F. Abrams for its IP practice, the Atlanta-based firm said in a statement.

Abrams, who joins from Boston’s Bingham McCutchen LLP, where he was the former co-chair of the IP practice group. He has handled patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets disputes for technology companies.

He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Santa Clara.

-With the assistance of Susan Decker in Washington, Jon Erlichman in San Francisco. Editor: Peter Blumberg

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