Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- A $50 million settlement of a lawsuit against the National Football League over claims it made money using players’ images in marketing without sharing it with them was given final approval by a judge.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson in St. Paul, Minnesota, approved the accord Nov. 1 over objections that it won’t put money directly into players’ hands. Critics of the deal were lured by their attorneys’ promise of lucrative payouts, the judge said.
“Although the objectors have been especially vociferous in this matter, only one-tenth of one percent of the class objected,” Magnuson wrote. “More importantly, the objections raised here are without merit. Nearly all of the objections boil down to what is, in the court’s view, the objector’s very mistaken belief that they could reap significant financial benefits from continuing this case.”
Under the terms of the settlement, the NFL will pay $42 million into a fund administered by retirees for their peers, plus $8 million to defray legal expenses. An agency will be created to handle ex-player image licensing. The NFL can deduct as much as $13.5 million from the fund for expenses related to opt-out claims, Magnuson said.
The accord ends a lawsuit filed in 2009 by six players including former Los Angeles Ram Fred Dryer and Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall on behalf of all of their retired colleagues.
More than 2,000 requests for exclusion from the settlement were filed by players including ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski, onetime Baltimore Colts receiver Raymond Berry and Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Jan Stenerud, according to court filings. More than 150 withdrew their exclusion requests after the deal won preliminary approval in April.
The chances of the lawsuit’s succeeding are “slim at best,” Magnuson said, calling the settlement a remarkable victory for the class as a whole.
The agreement “benefits all class members, not just those who are well-known or whose publicity rights are the most valuable,” Magnuson said.
The case is Dryer v. National Football League, 09-cv-02182, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (St. Paul).
Dr. Reddy’s Gets Cancellation of ‘Reddy’ Trademark, Paper Says
Reddy Pharmaceutical of Delhi lost the right to its “Reddy” trademark following a complaint from Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., India’s Financial Express reported.
Dr. Reddy’s, a Hyderabad, India-based maker of generic drugs, had sought cancellation of the Delhi company’s mark within six months of its registration in 2005, according to the Financial Express.
India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board said it had mistakenly assumed that Reddy Pharmaceutical was an affiliate or subsidiary of Dr. Reddy’s, the newspaper reported.
The board said facts indicated that Reddy Pharmaceutical chose the mark to deceive the public, according to the Express.
‘Thanksgivukkah’ Trademark Holder Celebrates American Life
This year the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset the day before Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the U.S. on Nov. 28
A resident of Roslindale, Massachusetts, registered “Thanksgivukkah” -- a word that conflates the names of the two holidays -- as a trademark. Dana Gittell registered the term in July for use with greeting cards and party decorations, and in August for clothing, including T-shirts, baby apparel and bibs.
Gittell registered an Internet domain name, and has also set up “Thanksgivukkah” accounts on Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.’s social media sites. She is selling T-shirts, greeting cards and posters through her website.
One of the items is a gloss on Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” The poster has the two familiar figures, changed to show the woman dressed as a pilgrim and the man wearing Hasidic attire and holding a menorah instead of a pitchfork.
Gittell told an interviewer for JewishBoston.com that she’s using her Thanksgivukkah trademark to “celebrate the Jewish-American experience and give thanks for America as a bastion of religious freedom.”
According to the Shop Thanksgivukkah Facebook page, the last time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided was in 1988 and it “may not happen again for 79,043 years.”
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Rovi Loses Patent Case Against Netflix Over TV Program Guides
Netflix Inc. didn’t violate Rovi Corp. patent rights, the U.S. International Trade Commission said in a notice posted on its website Nov. 1.
The commission found that Los Gatos, California-based Netflix’s software-development kit didn’t infringe four Rovi patents. Netflix also won an argument that Rovi didn’t meet a requirement that an infringing product be imported to merit a violation finding.
In dispute were patents 6,898,762, 7,065,709, 7,103,906, and 8,112,776. Earlier an administrative law judge found that the first three patents weren’t infringed, and that the fourth patent was invalid. In its Nov. 1 statement, the commission said it affirmed the judge’s finding and that it will issue an opinion shortly.
LG Electronics Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Vizio Inc., which were all also subjects of the investigation, settled earlier, according to the commission statement.
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Aereo Says Law Already Permits Its Online-TV Service
Aereo Inc., whose service relays network television shows to online viewers, asked a New York judge in a copyright lawsuit by Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, CBS Corp. and other broadcasters to rule that its business is legal.
The request, in a filing Oct. 31 in Manhattan federal court, comes after the broadcasters, who failed to get courts to halt Aereo’s service, asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to weigh in.
New York-based Aereo uses thousands of small antennas to capture free over-the-air TV signals and transmit them to paying subscribers on the Internet. The company gives members access to remote equipment and functionality that they could otherwise have and use at home, according to the filing.
Aereo, backed by Barry Diller, threatens $3 billion in fees that broadcast station owners will receive this year from pay-TV systems to provide signals to subscribers. The broadcasters say Aereo violates their copyrights by capturing their signals and sending them to customers without permission.
Federal judges in Boston and New York so far have permitted Aereo to operate during legal challenges. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston last month wrote that the broadcasters hadn’t “demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits” to justify an injunction.
U.S. law already entitles consumers to pick up local TV broadcasts on the public airwaves using individual antennas, to copy those broadcasts for their own personal use and to play back those recordings, according to Aereo’s filing. Aereo technology does the same thing, the company said.
In October, 21st Century Fox Inc., Univision Communications Inc., the Public Broadcasting Service and station WNET, and New York’s Tribune Co.-owned WPIX petitioned the Supreme Court for a ruling that Aereo is an illegal operation.
The cases in New York are American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo Inc., 12-cv-01540, WNET v. Aereo Inc., 12-cv-01543, and Aereo Inc. v. CBS Broadcasting Inc., 13-cv-03013, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The case in Boston is Hearst Stations Inc. v. Aereo Inc., 13-cv-11649, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
Antigua to Seek Bids for WTO-Mandated U.S. Content Exploitation
The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is on the verge of submitting a plan to that nation’s parliament for the exploitation of U.S. intellectual property rights, according to a government statement.
Earlier this year the World Trade Organization authorized Antigua and Barbuda to suspend treaty obligations it has with the U.S. related to intellectual property rights. This was the result of U.S. action to block access to online gambling websites in Antigua. The WTO previously found that U.S. gambling laws related to Internet gambling on horse racing weren’t in compliance with treaty obligations.
At that time, the island nation’s government said the blockage “resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” according to the statement.
The online gambling industry was at one point the second-largest employer in the country and worth “over $3.4 billion to the Antiguan economy,” the government said.
In its newest statement, the Antiguan government said it will soon announce the opening of bids from the private sector to operate a website through which access to the U.S. content can be obtained.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said in the statement that the website will give Antigua and Barbuda “a tangible benefit for our years of perseverance in this matter.”
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
BBC Says Chinese-Made Consumer Products Could Be Trojan Horses
Some Chinese consumer goods have been found to contain chips that could send data through unprotected Wi-Fi networks, the BBC reported.
A technician on Russia’s state-owned Rossiya 24 channel was shown opening up a Chinese-made iron containing what was called a “spy chip” with a “tiny microphone,” according to the BBC.
Car dashboard cameras and mobile phones have allegedly also been found to contain such modifications, the BBC reported.
The BBC said Russian news sources have reported that these chips could be used to get inside company networks, spread viruses or send out spam without company officials’ knowledge.
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