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Kodak, Disney, Apple, DC Comics: Intellectual Property

Eastman Kodak Co., the bankrupt photography company, was sued by Japan’s Kyocera Corp. for allegedly infringing more than a dozen U.S. patents with its printers and digital cameras.

Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, will cause “irreparable harm” to Kyoto-based Kyocera if the infringement isn’t stopped, plaintiff’s lawyers said in a complaint filed Dec. 4 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Kyocera is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages from Kodak, which has been trying to sell some of its own patents to pay creditors.

Kodak sought bankruptcy protection in January 2012, citing $5.1 billion in assets and $6.75 billion in debt, as the transition to digital photography eroded the company’s film-based business.

Christopher Veronda, a Kodak spokesman, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The bankruptcy case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Disney Seeks U.S. Patent on Computer Game Controller With Lens

The Walt Disney Co. has filed an application for a patent on a gaming console that can use images from everyday reality and allow a user to manipulate and animate those images.

Application 20130002698, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Jan. 3, covers what Disney calls “virtual lens-rendering for augmented reality lens.”

The application noted that while some game devices already capture images from outside the game, the colors shown on the screen may not match up with the actual object. While some devices can allow the user to make adjustments so the image more closely aligns with the object, these adjustments may produce “an unrealistic display” in other environments.”

Burbank, California-based Disney applied for the patent in June 2011. CNet News reported Jan. 4 that the technology described in the patent application may be related to the forthcoming Toy Box console.

USPTO Seeks Public Input on Improvement of Software Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will hold two public meetings aimed at the improvement of software patents.

According to a notice published Jan. 3 in the Federal Register, roundtable meetings will be held in California and New York in February.

Stanford University is the site of the Feb. 12 meeting, and the New York event will be held at New York University Feb. 27.

One of the topics under discussion is the establishment of clear boundaries for patent claims that use functional language. Another subject is the office’s request for comments on the preparation of patent applications.

The office is also seeking input on topics for future discussions related to software patents.

While attendees at both events will have opportunity to provide input, the office said group-consensus advice won’t be sought.

Advance registration may be made by sending an e-mail to Applicants should specify name, title, applicable company or organization, address, phone number and e-mail address, and which presentation they wish to attend.

Those who wish to make a presentation should send final electronic copies of their remarks to the same address.

Potential attendees are asked to register by Feb. 4.

For more patent news, click here.


‘Scottish Wild Salmon’ Now a Protected Name Indicator in EU

“Scottish Wild Salmon” is now a protected geographic name indicator in the European Union, according to a December publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Use of the term to describe either non-wild salmon or salmon from outside the specific geographic area was barred beginning Dec. 27.

The Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland is the organization that had sought the designation, Scotland’s Montrose Review reported.

According to the Aberdeen, Scotland-based association’s website, all rights of salmon fishing in that country are held as private titles that can be inherited, regardless of whether the fishing is done in fresh water or in the sea.

The 107-year-old association’s membership is comprised of owners and lessees of salmon fisheries on the east coast of Scotland, and is Scotland’s oldest fishermen’s organization.

For more trademark news, click here.


Apple Fined in Beijing Court for Infringing Writers Copyrights

Apple Inc., the maker of the iPhone and iPod, must pay 1.03 million Chinese yuan ($165,300) in a Chinese copyright case, XinHua’s English language news reported.

The ruling came from Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, which found that Cupertino, California-based Apple had violated the copyrights of eight Chinese writers and two companies, XinHua reported.

The suits were related to alleged unlicensed electronic versions of books sold as downloads by Apple, according to XinHua.

The charge against Apple was violation of the writers “right of communication through information networks,” XinHua reported.

DC Comics’ ‘Batmobile’ Case Set for Jan. 30 Motion Hearing

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30 in the copyright-infringement case Time Warner Inc.’s DC Comics unit brought against a builder of custom autos.

DC Comics sued Mark Towle of Santa Ana, California, in federal court in Los Angeles in March 2011, claiming he infringed copyrights by producing replica Batmobiles through his Gotham Garage.

The court will hear both sides’ presentations on motions for dismissal of the case, according to a Dec. 26 filing.

That document specifies that Towle has made and distributed copies of the Batmobile seen in the 1996 “Batman” television series, and car kits with which others could also reconfigure their cars to resemble the Batmobile. Towel didn’t stipulate that his replicas contained all the “separable, non-functional, artistic elements” that DC Comics contends it owns.

The joint statement specifies that all the stipulations the parties made in that document are valid only in connection with the motion for dismissal of the case. Should the case go forward beyond that point, the stipulations would have “no force and effect,” according to the statement.

The case is DC Comics v. Mart Towle, 2:11-cv-03934-RSWL-OP, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Verdero’s Starfire, Extreme Environment Materials Settle Dispute

Verdero Capital LLC’s Starfire Systems said in a Jan. 3 statement that it has resolved a trade-secret and trademark-infringement case against Extreme Environment Materials Solutions unit and two former Starfire employees.

New York-based Starfire engineers polymer-based ceramic components for its customers. They are used in armor, aerospace and electronics. The company sued Extreme Environment and the ex-employees in federal court in Syracuse, New York, in July 2011.

According to a Dec. 21 court filing, all the defendants are permanently barred from developing , manufacturing, purchasing, selling or brokering products based on a process outlined in some “highly confidential” Starfire documents.

They are also barred from using Starfire’s trademarks as a name for or description of any products not made by Starfire. They must also discontinue use of the “” Internet domain name, and from any involvement with any other domain name that directly or indirectly contains the terms “Starfire” or “Starfire Systems.”

No financial terms were mentioned in this court filing, which specified that all claims and defenses are now dismissed and parties had to pay their own litigation costs and attorney fees.

The case is Starfire Systems Inc. v. Extreme Environment Materials Solutions LLC, 1:11-cv-00888-GLS-CFH, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York (Syracuse).

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