Apple, Microsoft, Humana, Diageo: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. is appealing a bankruptcy judge’s ruling in favor of Eastman Kodak Co. that blocked the iPhone maker’s claims to two patents.

Apple said in a court filing Aug. 22 that it is challenging U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper’s decision that gave Kodak a partial victory in a lawsuit over ownership of 10 patents.

The assets are in a portfolio of patents that Kodak put up for sale as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. The Rochester, New York-based company sued Apple after the Cupertino, California-based company asserted claims to the patents.

Gropper ruled in favor of Kodak on two of the patents. The judge denied the company’s request for a pretrial ruling known as summary judgment on the eight others and said Kodak could renew its request.

The case is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Apple Inc., 12-01720, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Microsoft Debuts New Logo Ahead of Windows 8, Surface Tablet

Microsoft Corp. unveiled its first new logo in 25 years as it prepares to introduce Windows 8, an updated version of its flagship software that will power the company’s own Surface tablet and other touch-screen devices.

The logo uses the so-called Segoe font, which is used in Microsoft products and marketing materials, and four colored squares that are “intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products,” the Redmond, Washington-based company said on its blog.

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, has revamped products including Windows, phone software and the Xbox game machine to adopt a sleeker, more modern-looking design to compete with Apple Inc. for style-conscious consumers. The colored squares in the new logo resemble the tiles found on touch-screen phones and tablets.

The new logo is meant “to show that this isn’t your father’s Microsoft, and there is something fresh, but also familiar,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at market research firm Gartner Inc. It also helps to show Windows and Microsoft’s overall new design language, formerly known as Metro, are “relevant and aspirational to the market.”

The redesign comes as consumers are increasingly choosing the tablets over laptops, weakening personal-computer sales and curbing Windows revenue. The company has said it plans to release Windows 8 on Oct. 26 and the Surface with an ARM Holdings Plc-based chip at the same time.

“This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning,” Microsoft said on the blog.

For the past several years, Microsoft has been trying to forge a more unified look and feel for the company’s products using a colorful, tile-based design first unveiled as part of Windows Phone under the name Metro. Earlier this month, Microsoft retired Metro, stating that it was used merely as a code name.

Humana Sues Human-Resources Management Company for Infringement

Humana Inc., the Louisville, Kentucky-based health insurer, sued an Illinois-based company that manages human resources.

Humanalogic Inc. infringes trademarks held by the health insurer, according to the complaint filed Aug. 22 in federal court in Chicago. Humana said that as soon as it became aware of Humanalogic in early 2012, it began sending a series of cease-and-desist notices.

Humanalogic, of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, has failed to respond to Humana’s requests, the company said in its court papers. Humana said that its attempts to resolve the issue “amicably and quickly” have been unsuccessful.

In addition to the Humanalogic name, Humana said it objects to the company’s Internet domain name.

Humana asked the court to bar further infringement and give it the offending domain name. It also seeks the destruction of all allegedly infringing material and awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees, plus extra damages intended to punish Humanalogic for its actions.

Humanalogic didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Humana Inc. v. Humanalogic Inc., 12-cv-06842, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Diageo’s ‘Stark Raving’ Wines Infringe Mark, Winemaker Claims

A unit of Diageo Plc, the world’s largest distiller, was sued for trademark infringement by a winemaker from California’s Sonoma County.

Christian Stark, who established his Stark Wine LLC in Healdsburg, California, in 2009, objects to Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines’ use of “Stark Raving” as a label for two of its wines.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 20 in federal court in San Francisco, Stark, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, makes small batches of premium varietal wines that sell for $28 to $44 a bottle. He also produces wine under a second label -- “Stark Thirst” -- that sells in the $16 range and is aimed at a younger market, he said in court papers.

The “Stark Raving” wines, which are on the verge of hitting the market, “appear to be high volume, mass produced wines that will sell for less than $10 per bottle,” according to the complaint.

Stark said he was met with a refusal when he sent Diageo a cease-and-desist notice. He claims that the public will be confused by the “Stark Raving” label and assume some connection to his winery, and that he will be harmed as a result.

He asked the court to bar Diageo’s use of “Stark Raving” and for the seizure and destruction of all infringing products and promotional materials. He also seeks a court order barring the Commissioner of Trademarks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from registering “Stark Raving” and “Stark Raving Mad” marks for Diageo, and asked for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

Stark requested that the court order Diageo to take down the website and transfer the domain name to him.

Diageo didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Stark v. Diageo Chateau & Estate Wine Co., 12-cv-04385, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For more trademark news, click here.


Wal-Mart Accused of Infringing Gift-Wrap Design Copyrights

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, was sued for copyright infringement by a manufacturer of gift wrap.

The suit, filed in federal court in Atlanta Aug. 21, targets Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart and its supplier.

Wal-Mart is selling gift wrap and gift items wrapped in paper that infringed designs belonging to the U.K’s International Greetings Plc’s International Greetings USA unit, according to the complaint.

The designs are used without license or permission, the company claims. International Greetings alleged that Wal-Mart realized gross revenue of at least $1.5 million from the sale of the allegedly infringing products.

The company asked the court for awards of money damages and litigation costs.

Wal-Mart has “strict standards that all of our suppliers must follow and we hold our suppliers accountable if there are instances of copyright or other infringement,” Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The company is “looking into” the allegations, he said.

The case is International Greetings USA Inc., v. Seminole Consulting and Marketing Inc., 12-cv-02897, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

McCarter & English Expands IP Practice, Hires Thomas Hoover

McCarter & English LLP hired Thomas O. Hoover for its intellectual-property practice, the Newark, New Jersey-based firm said in a statement.

Hoover, who does patent-acquisition work and litigation, joins from Boston’s Weingarten, Schurgin, Gagnebin & Liebovici LLP. He represented clients whose technologies have included medical devices, semiconductors, control systems and software in federal district and appellate courts, as well as before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

He has an undergraduate degree from College of the Holy Cross and a law degree from South Texas College of Law.

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