Apple, Motorola, Victoria’s Secret: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc.’s request for a permanent ban on U.S. sales of some Samsung Electronics Co. mobile devices will be considered at a Dec. 6 court hearing.

Apple is seeking a U.S. sales ban on eight models of Samsung smartphones and a tablet computer after a federal court jury found on Aug. 24 that Samsung infringed six of seven patents at stake at a trial in San Jose, California, and awarded Apple damages of $1.05 billion. Seven of the eight smartphones that Apple seeks to ban are part of Samsung’s Galaxy line.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh also scheduled a hearing on Samsung’s request to lift a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tab computer for Sept. 20 if she deems it necessary.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, won a ban on U.S. sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in June that Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said wouldn’t significantly affect its business. Apple, which seeks to make that prohibition permanent, said in an Aug. 27 court filing that Koh should also bar U.S. sales of a version of the tablet that runs on mobile networks, even though that product wasn’t covered by the Aug. 24 verdict.

Samsung sought to have the ban on the Tab 10.1 lifted on Aug. 26 after the jury found the device didn’t infringe the Apple design patent on which the June 26 court-ordered sales ban was based. The jury instead found that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed three of Apple’s software patents.

Samsung asked Koh on Aug. 27 to delay the implementation of the jury judgment until the issues of the sales bans are resolved and the company files an appeal. Samsung isn’t required to file a notice of appeal until 14 days after the post-trial issues, including the sales bans, are resolved.

“Apple will suffer no prejudice from this limited stay,” Samsung’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

Samsung said it’s prepared to post a bond for the $1.05 billion judgment, if the court requires.

No hearing has been scheduled on the delay request.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, and Adam Yates, a spokesman for Samsung, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment yesterday on the hearing dates.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more patent news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Motorola Worker Gets Four Years for Trade Secret ‘Raid’

Hanjuan Jin, a former Motorola Inc. software engineer, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing trade secrets from the company.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago, who convicted Jin, 41, on three counts following a nonjury trial last year, yesterday told her that she had conducted a “very purposeful raid,” on her employer.

“You conducted this raid in the dead of night, in the after-hours when you knew there was a lesser chance you would be caught,” he said before passing sentence. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

Indicted in 2008, Jin was accused of working simultaneously for Motorola and for Kai Sun News (Beijing) Technology Co., also known as SunKaisens, which was affiliated with China’s military. Motorola, now known as Motorola Solutions Inc., is a maker of communications equipment based in Schaumburg, Illinois, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Chicago.

U.S. customs agents stopped Jin as she was about to board a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 28, 2007. In her possession were more than 1,000 Motorola documents, $30,000 in cash and a one-way ticket to China.

She also had Chinese military documents with her, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Dollear reminded the court yesterday.

“I am so sorry for what has happened,” Jin told Castillo yesterday before being sentenced.

Jin was ordered to report to prison on Oct. 25. Her defense counsel John Murphy declined to comment after the sentencing.

Her lawyers, from the Federal Public Defender Program, disputed that the information Jin took actually constituted trade secrets as defined by law.

“Ms. Jin has overwhelming remorse and regret for those actions,” her lawyers said in their presentence brief. “She continues to suffer from the collateral consequences of her admittedly poor choice.”

Prosecutors said Jin’s information was worth more than $300 million. The defense said there was no actual loss because Jin was arrested with the information still in her possession.

Castillo assessed an intended loss of $10 million to $15 million, saying that only Jin’s interdiction by the customs agents prevented her from leaving the U.S. with stolen secrets.

Citing Jin’s master’s degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame, her paid-for home and her six-figure income, Castillo said there was “no economic need to justify this offense.”

“You are an enigma to this court,” he told Jin.

The case is U.S. v. Jin, 08-cr-192, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).


Victoria’s Secret Accused of Using Deceptive Hosiery Packaging

Limited Brands Inc.’s Victoria’s Secret unit was sued for trademark infringement by a New Jersey designer of hosiery and lingerie.

Runberg Inc., which does business as Zephyrs, said in court papers that over the years, Victoria’s Secret has sold at least $120 million worth of Zephyr-designed products through its retail stores, catalog and website.

According to the complaint originally filed under seal Aug. 10 in federal court on Columbus, Ohio, Victoria’s Secret is now selling knockoffs in packaging that depicts the Zephyr-designed products. These knockoffs are “cheaper, lower quality” merchandise, the company says. The court issued an order unsealing the complaint on Aug. 24.

Additionally, Victoria’s Secret is accused of contacting Zephyr’s suppliers and using the Zephyr proprietary information “in order to reduce or eliminate the volume of sales” conducted through the New Jersey company. Zephyr also objects to a new agreement that would require it to cede ownership of its intellectual property to Victoria’s Secret, the company says.

As a result of the actions of Victoria’s Secret, Zephyr claims, consumers are being tricked into buying lower-quality goods and the company has suffered “irreparable” economic injury.

Runberg asked the court to rule that Victoria’s Secret has breached an agreement, engaged in consumer fraud, and infringed Zephyr’s intellectual property rights. The company seeks an order barring further infringement, and mandating corrective advertising by Victoria’s Secret “to ameliorate the false and deceptive impressions produced by such violations.”

Zephyr asked for money damages of at least $15 million and additional damages to punish Victoria’s Secret for its actions.

Limited Brands, based in Columbus, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Runberg Inc. v. Victoria’s Secret Stores Inc., 12-cv-00722, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Columbus).

Australian Winnebago to Appeal Court Ruling Barring Use of Name

A unit of Knott Investments Pty said it will appeal an Australian court ruling last month barring the company from using the “Winnebago” name, associated with the U.S. maker of motor homes.

“Ours is a family-owned business that has been trading as Winnebago since we first acquired the business name in Australia in 1978,” Ben Binns, director of Knott’s Winnebago (Australia) unit, said in an e-mail yesterday. “We truly believed we were able to use the Winnebago name in Australia given the written agreement we had.”

Winnebago Industries Inc., the U.S. maker of motor homes, won a July 30 court order prohibiting Knott from using the name in Australia, as it has been doing for at least 30 years. Justice Lindsay Foster of the Federal Court of Australia said at the time that Knott founder Bruce Binns “intentionally hijacked” the Winnebago name to prevent the U.S. company from entering the Australian market.

Binns founded Emu Plains, New South Wales-based Knott in 1967 as a holding company that acquired properties for recreational vehicle factories in Australia. The manufacturing company, Freeway Camper Co., failed and was liquidated in 1977, Foster wrote.

Knott then began making recreational vehicles and selling them under the Winnebago name, either in 1978, according to Binns, or 1982, according to Winnebago, Foster said.

Knott applied for, and received, registration of the Winnebago name as a trademark in Australia in 1997. Foster ordered the registration canceled.

The word “Winnebago,” is a name given to an American Indian tribe in the Wisconsin area, according to a tribal website. There is also a Lake Winnebago in eastern Wisconsin.

The case is Winnebago Industries Inc. v. Knott Investments Pty, NSD1355/2010, Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

For more trademark news, click here.


Merkel’s Cabinet Seeks Fees on News Portals for German Content

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved a bill that would impose copyright fees on news portals and search engines that display articles from German newspapers.

The proposal limits the copyright protection for each article to one year from the date of publication, Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, said at a news briefing in Berlin yesterday. The bill now goes to parliament.

Bloggers, professional associations and private news consumers won’t be affected by the planned copyright extension, the German Justice Ministry said in a statement on its website. “The new law will not restrict the flow of information on the Internet,” according to the ministry.

Supporters of making news aggregators pay for press content include Mathias Doepfner, chief executive officer of Axel Springer AG, Europe’s biggest newspaper publisher and the owner of Bild, Germany’s most-read newspaper. The bill doesn’t specify the copyright fees.

IP Moves

Music Industry Trade Group Hires Former Copyright Office Lawyer

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, an advocacy group for the recorded-music industry, hired the former general counsel of the U.S. Copyright Office.

David O. Carson, who served at the U.S. agency since 1997, will be head of global legal policy, the Zurich-based federation said in an Aug 28 statement. He will work with governments, lawmakers, other industries and international groups on matters including responses to online piracy and the establishment of a sustainable digital music market, according to the statement.

At the Copyright Office, Carson oversaw litigation and regulatory activities, and worked as a liaison on legal and policy issues with Congress, executive branch agencies and the U.S. Justice Department.

Before joining the Copyright Office, Carson was in private practice in California and New York for 16 years at Schwab Goldberg Price & Dannay and Cooper, Epstein & Hurwitz. He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University.

For more copyright news, click here.

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