Apple, National PTA, Nepali Pashmina: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc., which is trying to stop Samsung Electronics Co. from claiming that a $1 billion trial verdict was tainted by jury misconduct, asked a judge to deny Samsung’s request that she bar communications with jurors.

Samsung asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on Sept. 21 to prohibit the companies from “any further communication with jurors who served during the trial” until its arguments for seeking a new trial are fully resolved.

Apple filed documents supporting its opposition to that request yesterday, after complaining to the judge two days ago that Samsung hasn’t revealed whether it has already contacted jurors.

“Apple has not done so to date, yet Samsung is seeking to preclude Apple from equal access to information,” Apple said in a Sept. 25 filing. “Nevertheless, despite the lack of any merit to Samsung’s request, Apple will not contact any jurors until the court resolves this” dispute.

Samsung filed its claims of juror misconduct under seal, citing concern for the privacy of jurors, according to court filings.

The jury found Aug. 24 that Samsung infringed six of seven Apple patents and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.

Adam Yates, a spokesman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Apple’s court filing yesterday.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.

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

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National PTA Files Second Suit Against School Family Media

The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, holder of the “PTA” trademarks, filed a second trademark-infringement case against School Family Media Inc., with respect to those marks.

In the suit filed Sept. 26 in federal court in Chicago, the congress -- a nonprofit organization -- said it had voluntarily dismissed an earlier trademark-infringement suit against School Family to give the parties additional time for negotiations over the use of the “PTA” mark.

The first suit was filed in November 2011 and dismissed a month later. In the new complaint, the Alexandra, Virginia-based group said that despite months of negotiation, School Family Media’s PTO Today website still contains what it says are false and misleading statements concerning the National PTA and uses statements “that trade upon the national goodwill” of the PTA.

It also objects to statements in the School Family Media’s advertising such as “tens of thousands of parent groups have left the PTA in recent years,” and “77 percent of parent groups are PTOs.” Those statements are misleading and “factually false,” the congress says in its pleadings.

The congress also alleged that employees of the for-profit School Family Media have contacted PTA members in efforts to induce them to leave the National PTA. It claimed it is damaged and the public is deceived by School Family Media’s actions.

In addition to seeking a ban on the use of “PTA” by School Family Media, the congress asked for an award of profits realized as a result of the alleged infringement, money damages, and additional damages to punish the company for its actions.

The congress also requested awards of attorney fees and litigation costs and for the destruction of all promotional materials that bear the PTA marks without authorization.

Tim Sullivan, the founder of School Family Media, said in an e-mailed statement that his company is “deeply disappointed” to discover the suit had been refilled. He said the claims in the suit have no merit that he and his company will defend “our rights to provide help to as many parent-teacher groups and parent-teacher group leaders as we can.”

He said that he has repeatedly offered to mediate or arbitrate the issues, most recently months ago, “and we heard nothing in return.”

He said his organization is “not the cause of the PTA’s struggles.”

The case is National Congress of Parents and Teachers v. School Family Media Inc., 1:11-cv-08018, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Nepali Pashmina Producers File Chinese Trademark Application

The Nepal Pashmina Industries Association has refiled an application to register its “chyangra pashmina” trademark in China, the Himalayan Times reported.

In its earlier attempt, the association was thwarted because of objections from Chinese pashmina companies that claimed the association’s mark was too similar to theirs, according to the Himalayan Times.

The association says it has made some variations in its product list, and thinks this time its application will be successful, according to the newspaper.

The “chyangra pashmina” trademark has been successfully registered in 41 countries, with Germany the largest buyer of the products, the Himalayan Times reported.

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Unauthorized Live Music Performances Infringe, Court Rules

The Delhi High Court has ruled that any performance of live music in concerts or recorded music in clubs, hotels and restaurants without authorization constitutes copyright infringement, India’s Daily News & Analysis reported.

The court was responding to a petition filed by the Indian Performing Right Society, according to DNA.

Justice VK Jain said in the ruling that “a soft view” of copyright infringement would be “misplaced and uncalled for,” and said damages that “pinch the infringer” need to be imposed, DNA reported.

The court said that it’s incumbent on the organizers of such events to make sure that no copyright infringement takes place, according to DNA.

Google, Producer Sued by Actress Over ‘Innocence of Muslims’

An actress who performed in the film now known through its “Innocence of Muslims” trailer uploaded to Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service sued the producer of the film for copyright infringement.

The film, which suggests that the prophet Mohammed was a child molester, has sparked riots throughout the Muslim world, and viewing of the film has been blocked in countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Cindy Lee Garcia, who initially filed a suit against the producer in California state court, claims she owns the copyright to her performance in the film.

Garcia said in her filing that to date she has been unable to locate a copy of the contract she signed with respect to the film. She maintains that the contract didn’t call for her to transfer any rights to the producer and that under the contract, her performance isn’t “work for hire” as defined under copyright law.

The actress says she has applied to register the copyright for her performance with the U.S. Copyright Office and requested expedited handling of her application.

Garcia said that to no avail she had already issued five “takedown” notices to YouTube under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

She accused the producer of infringement by distributing the film trailer via YouTube without her permission. Garcia claims that the lines she spoke in the film are not what she appears to be saying. After seeing the trailer, she said the words that she claims were dubbed in constitute “hate speech” against Islam and that she would never have used language that is “so offensive.’

Garcia says it is “obvious” that the words heard on the film are not consistent with the way her mouth moved, and that, as an ordained minister, she “would never debase another person’s religious beliefs.”

As the result of the trailer’s worldwide availability, Garcia claims an Egyptian cleric issued a “fatwa” against her, calling for Muslims to kill her and everyone else connected with the film. When accessed yesterday, “Innocence of Muslims” was still up on the YouTube site and had been viewed more than 14 million times.

Google Inc. is a co-defendant in the film, together with the producer. Google didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

Garcia asked the court to order an end to what she says is copyright infringement, and for money damages, including profits attributable to the alleged infringement, together with awards of attorney fees and money damages.

The case is Garcia V. Nakoula, 2:12-cv-08135, U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

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IP Moves

Latham Expands IP Practice With Patent Litigator from Kilpatrick

Latham & Watkins LLP hired Jonathan Link for its IP practice group, the Los Angeles-based firm said in a statement.

Link, a litigator, joins from Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. There he represented clients in patent disputes in federal courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission, a Washington-based body with the power to exclude imports that infringe U.S. patents. He is a former examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

His clients’ technologies have included computer software and business methods; electrical circuits, including semiconductors, display panels and wire bond connectors; power control circuits; electric motors and generators; electronic payments and financial services products, including credit, debit and stored value cards; and wireless communications.

Link has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a law degree from George Mason University.

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