Toyo, Petrobras, BMW, Netflix: Intellectual Property

The U.S. International Trade Commission said yesterday it began an investigation of a complaint that Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. filed on Aug. 14, according to a statement posted on its website.

The Osaka-based tire company claimed that tires made in China and Thailand are copying proprietary designs used for the Toyo and Nitto brand of tires. It asked that the trade agency block U.S. imports of products that infringe eight patents.

Toyo, which makes tires for Audi, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan and Scion vehicles, said in its petition tires that infringe U.S. patents are made or sold by 22 entities. They include Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic, Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre, Shandong Linglong Tyre, Dunlap & Kyle; and South China Tire & Rubber. In addition to the overseas companies, Toyo targeted some U.S. companies for allegedly selling the infringing products.

The Washington-based trade commission has the power to exclude imports that infringe U.S. patents.

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

NSA Accused of Spying on Petrobras, Snowden Leaks Indicate

The U.S. National Security Agency has been accused of spying on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Brazilian oil company commonly known as Petrobras, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The revelations, made on a Brazilian news program, are related to files Edward Snowden gave to a reporter for the Guardian, the newspaper reported.

Dates of the alleged spying weren’t revealed by the news program, nor was information about what information the NSA may have been seeking, the Guardian reported.

James Clapper, director of U.S. National Intelligence, said in a statement the surveillance wasn’t industrial espionage and that the information gathered could provide “insight” into other countries’ economic policy or behavior, according to the Guardian.

BMW Accused of Industrial Espionage Against Car-Sharing Firm

Groupe Bollore, the French company that operates the Autolib’ car-sharing program in Paris, accused Bayerische Motoren Werke AG of industrial espionage and filed a criminal complaint against the German maker of BMW autos, Agence France-Presse reported.

Puteaux, France-based Bollore said it observed people working for a company engaged by BMW tampering with both charging points and Autolib’ vehicles in Paris, according to AFP.

BMW said the workers were checking the compatibility of charging points on public roads in anticipation of its future release of electric vehicles and weren’t engaging in spying, AFP reported.

Bollore began its Autolib’ service -- in which members of the public can participate for a subscription fee -- in December 2011, according to the news service.


Berlin Zoo Manages to Block U.K. Company’s Use of ‘Knud’ Mark

The European Court of Justice rejected a British company’s trademark registration for the name of a polar bear from the Berlin Zoo, the U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported.

The Luxembourg-based court said Knut IP Management Ltd. had no rights to register “Knut - Der Eisbaer” (Knut -- The Polar Bear) because that would infringe the zoo’s trademarks for the bear’s name and cause the public to be confused, according to the Independent.

Knut, who was born in 2007 and rejected by his mother, was hand-raised in the zoo, and was mourned by animal lovers when he died suddenly in 2011, the newspaper reported.

The zoo has realized millions of euros in revenue from its sale of “Knud” trademarked mugs, postcards, stamps and other products, according to the Independent.

Court Upholds Registration for Indian Temple’s Mark, Deity Image

A court in India dismissed an appeal of a government decision to register a picture of a goddess and the description of the temple associated with her as a pilgrimage center for women, the Indian Express reported.

The Kerala High Court said that the registration by the temple would bar the use of the name of the deity of the Attukal Devi Temple by others and restrict the commercialization of services offered in the goddess’s name, according to the newspaper.

The court said it didn’t see any merit in the argument of the petitioner opposed to the trademark, the Indian Express reported.

The Temple Trust was issued the trademark in 2009, and has the exclusive right to the image of the goddess and the associated “Sabarimala of women” title, according to the Express.

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Netflix Finds Traffic to Pirate Sites Can Shape Buying Choices

Netflix Inc., the Internet-based film and television program subscription service, looks at pirate sites to determine what programs to buy and offer to users, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news service reported.

Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of the Los Gatos, California-based company, said that some of the piracy sites create the demand for a particular film or television series, TorrentFreak reported.

Hastings said that some of the users of the piracy sites may move to Netflix because they get a better user experience for which all they have to do is “click and watch,” according to TorrentFreak.

He claimed traffic to sites in Canada that offered pirated content through the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol dropped 50 percent after his company started offering streaming service in that country three years ago, TorrentFreak reported.

Font Designer Says Use on ‘Go Home’ Vans is Unauthorized

A French designer of a type font said he may sue the U.K. government over the unauthorized use of the font on mobile billboards, the BBC reported.

Fabien Delage objects to the font’s use on Home Office billboards telling illegal immigrants to the U.K. to go home or face arrest, according to the BBC.

He said that his fonts are free only for personal use, and that a license is required for any commercial use, the BBC reported.

Delage said he’s concerned that his customers may now think that he supports the billboards’ sentiments, which “have been quite unpopular abroad,” according to the BBC.

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