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Google, Louboutin, Pinterest, Cengage: Intellectual Property

Google Inc., creator of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, received a patent on a technology that could provide a new level of security for computers and mobile device.

Patent 8,261,090, which was issued Sept. 4, covers a login to a computing device based on facial recognition. According to the patent, a camera is coupled to a computing device. As it receives an image of a potential user, the device compares that image to a predetermined identity.

If the user matched the identity, log-in will occur.

Mountain View, California-based Google applied for the patent in September 2011, with the assistance of Brake Hughes Bellermann LLP of Washington.

For more patent news, click here.


Louboutin Wins Right to Red-Sole Shoe Trademark Protection

Christian Louboutin Sarl won trademark protection for its women’s shoes with red soles, while an appeals court also ruled the company can’t trademark a design that is simply all red.

Louboutin had sought a preliminary injunction that would have prevented Yves Saint Laurent America Inc. from selling all-red shoes that Louboutin claimed were identical to some of its own. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August 2011 rejected Louboutin’s bid for an injunction and indicated it would probably lose the trademark case against Yves Saint Laurent.

The U.S. appeals court in Manhattan ruled yesterday that Louboutin’s red sole is entitled to limited trademark protection, extending only to a red lacquered outer sole that contrasts with the color of the rest of the shoe and not to shoes that are monochromatically red. The judges affirmed the lower court’s denial of the injunction against Yves Saint Laurent and sent the case back to the trial judge.

“We are pleased that our central premise, that color on the red sole, can be a trademark,” Harley Lewin, a lawyer representing Louboutin at McCarter & English LLP, said in an e-mail. “We consider this a significant win, not only for Louboutin, but for the fashion industry in general.

“We are happy to have achieved a victory in defending against Louboutin’s lawsuit,” David Bernstein, a lawyer for Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, who represents Yves Saint Laurent, said in an e-mail. “YSL will continue to produce monochromatic shoes with red outsoles, as it has done since the 1970s.”

Yves Saint Laurent, the company named for the designer who died in 2008, began selling shoes with red outsoles “long before Mr. Louboutin began using them,” David Bernstein, a lawyer at Debevoise, told Marrero at a hearing in July. He told the appeals court that the designer’s monochromatic shoe is “the DNA of the brand.”

Christian Louboutin, the designer for whom the company is named, said he got the idea for the red soles when he painted red nail polish on the black soles of a pair of women’s shoes.

On the website of high-fashion department store Barneys New York Inc., Louboutin’s red-soled high-heeled shoes are priced from $625 to $3,995 a pair. In court papers Louboutin projected U.S. retail sales of shoes for 2011 at $135 million.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Louboutin a trademark for the red sole in 2008, according to court filings.

The appeal is Christian Louboutin SA v. Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., 11-3303, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan). The lower-court case is Christian Louboutin SA v. Yves Saint Laurent America Inc., 1:11-cv-02381, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Pinterest Seeks to Bar Chinese Applicant’s ‘Pinterest’ Trademark

Pinterest Inc., the San Francisco operator of a social network site that allows Internet users to create, bookmark, annotate, and publicly share data, sued a Chinese trademark applicant for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 31 in federal court in San Francisco, Pinterest objects to several applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Qian Jin of Nanjing City, China. Pinterest’s trademark for the “pinterest” term was registered in May 2012, with the company claiming it first used the term in March 2010.

Jin’s applications, filed in March 2012, are for the use of “Pinterest” and “Pinterests” for hotel and food services and for advertising and marketing. Jin says his first use of the term was made in March 2011.

Raj V. Abhyanker of Mountain View, California’s LegalForce RAPC Worldwide P.C. filed Jin’s applications. He didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Pinterest also claims that 100 Internet domain names registered to Jin and using variations of “pinterest” infringe, deceive the public, and attempt to piggyback on the San Francisco company’s fame and reputation.

It asked the court to bar Jin’s use of the “pinterest” name, to be transferred all of the allegedly infringing domain names. Pinterest also seeks a court order directing the patent office to refuse to register the marks for which Jin applied.

Additionally, Pinterest asked for awards of litigation costs, attorney fees, money damages as much as $2 million per infringed mark and an award of Jin’s profits derived from the alleged infringement, and extra damages to punish Jin for his actions.

The case is Pinterest Inc. v. Jin, 3:12-04586-MEJ, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Ben & Jerry’s Sues Film-Makers Saying Porn Titles Mock Flavors

Unilever NV’s Ben & Jerry’s Homemade unit sued producers and distributors of adult films for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan, allegedly pornographic films are sold under titles that closely resemble titles used for flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Among the marks they claim are infringed are “Cherry Garcia,” which was devised originally in 1987 to honor the late member of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia. Some of the other infringed marks are those for “Everything But,” “New York Super Fudge Chunk” and “Banana Split.”

The ice cream maker claims that its trademarks are infringed because the films are sold in packaging that feature graphics imitating those used on its ice cream cartons. Ben & Jerry’s said it is harmed by the film companies’ actions, and that its trademarks values are diminished.

It asked the court to bar the film companies’ use of any name and packaging design that is confusingly similar to what is used for the ice cream. Additionally, it seeks the recall and destruction of all infringing products and promotional material, and awards of profits derived from the alleged infringement.

The ice cream company also asked for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Defendant Caballero Video, when contacted through its website, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., v. Rodax Distributors Inc., 1:12-cv-06734, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more trademark news, click here.


Cengage, Four Others Settle Cases Against Textbook Distributors

Cengage Learning Inc., together with John Wiley & Sons Inc., Pearson Education Inc., and McGraw-Hill Education has settled five copyright and trademark infringement cases related to the sale of counterfeit textbooks, the companies said in a joint statement.

The settlement is with five book distributors accused of acquiring counterfeit textbooks oversea. The publishers said they will receive $2.6 million in the settlement and the distributors have agreed not to bring in infringing books in the future.

According to the statement, the publishers are continuing to pursue similar claims against other individuals and companies also accused of importing counterfeit texts.

One of the cases is Cengage Learning Inc. v. Roland E. Lau, 2:11-cv-03738-GHK-PJW, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Two From China Charged With Plot for Pittsburgh Corning Secrets

Two Chinese citizens were charged in Kansas City, Missouri, with trying to buy trade secrets stolen from Pittsburgh Corning Corp. so they could open a competing plant in China.

Ji Li Huang, 45, and Xiao Guang Qi, 31, attempted to buy what they were told were documents revealing Pittsburgh Corning’s processes for making cellular-glass insulation, U.S. prosecutors in Kansas City said in a Sept. 4 statement.

The two brought $25,000 to a Sept. 2 meeting in Kansas City with an individual who was cooperating with federal agents, and were shown documents purported to be company trade secrets, prosecutors said. Both were arrested at their hotel afterward, appeared in court yesterday and remained in federal custody pending a detention hearing, prosecutors said.

Pittsburgh Corning, an affiliate of PPG Industries Inc. and Corning Inc., manufactures Foamglas cellular glass used by energy and petrochemical companies to insulate piping systems and storage-tank bases. The company announced plans three months ago to open a plant in China, prosecutors said.

Huang and an uncharged co-conspirator allegedly trespassed in June at the company’s flagship plant in Sedalia, Missouri.

Attorneys for Huang and Qi weren’t disclosed in court filings. Matt Dobransky, a spokesman for Pittsburgh-based Pittsburgh Corning, didn’t immediately answer a voice-mail message seeking comment on the charges left after regular business hours.

The case is U.S. v Huang, 12-156, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

IP Moves

King & Spalding Hires Bingham McCutchen Litigator for IP Group

King & Spalding LLP hired Boyd Cloern for its IP practice group, the Atlanta-based firm said in a statement.

Cloern, who joins from Boston’s Bingham McCutchen LLP, is a litigator. He has represented clients in the automotive, defense, telecommunications, consumer products, semiconductor and medical device industries in disputes involving patents, trade secrets and copyrights.

He has both and undergraduate and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.

Mayer Brown Hires Patent Litigator Amr Aly From Kirkpatrick Firm

Mayer Brown LLP hired Amr Aly for its IP practice, the Chicago-based firm said in a statement.

Aly, who joins from Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, does patent litigation. He has represented clients whose technologies have included telecommunications, networking, data encryption and security, the Internet, biotechnology, banking, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

He is also a named inventor on U.S. patent 4,999,225.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University, a master’s degree in business from Hofstra University, and a law degree from Seton Hall University.

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