Samsung, Apple, Coca-Cola, WWE: Intellectual Property

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co., Apple Inc.’s rival in the smartphone market, is seeking U.S. patent protection for a mobile device with dual screens.

Application 20130314338, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Nov. 18, covers a dual display apparatus and the method of its operation.

According to the application, the technology would make it possible for a user to see a second display, either through the first, or on a surface opposite to the first. This would enable a user to conduct two simultaneous operations, such as playing a game and holding a face-to-face conversation with another user.

The South Korean electronics company filed the application for this patent in May 2012.

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Trademark

Apple Reaches Accord With Kodak Over ‘Retina’ Mark in Russia

Apple Inc. and Kodak GmbH reached an agreement over use of the “Retina” trademark in Russia, the Russian legal information agency RAPSI reported.

The Moscow Commercial Court approved the settlement, according to RAPSI. Initially, Apple had sought cancellation of Kodak’s “Retina” mark, according to the news service.

Under terms of agreement, Apple will use the mark with display devices supplied by LG Display and Samsung Electronics Co. in its products, while Kodak will be limited to using the mark with its own products, RAPSI reported.

Frucor Doesn’t Infringe Coca-Cola Trademarks, NZ Court Rules

Frucor Beverages Ltd., a New Zealand producer of soft drinks, bested the Coca-Cola Co. in a battle over bottle shape, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Coca-Cola had claimed that Frucor was infringing its trademark by bottling PepsiCo Inc. products in bottles the U.S. company claimed resembled the shape of the Coca-Cola bottles, according to the newspaper.

New Zealand’s high court agreed with Frucor that the bottles were sufficiently different and, in each case, clearly marked with Pepsi’s brands, the newspaper reported.

The court also said it took Coca-Cola almost a year after the bottles’ introduction to complain about their shape and hadn’t filed infringement actions in any other country where beverages packaged in that particular bottle shape were sold, according to the Herald.

WWE’s ‘Second City Punk’ Mark Opposed by Chicago Comedy Club

Second City Inc., operators of the Chicago comedy club, have until March 26 to file papers in opposition to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.’s “Second City Saint” trademark application, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

WWE, based in Stamford, Connecticut, filed an application July 19 to register the term for use with entertainment services focused on wrestling. Its performer CM Punk once wrestled as a member of the Second City Punk team.

Second City is where many well-known comedians once performed in early stages of their career, including Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Joan Rivers, Peter Boyle, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Stephen Colbert.

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Copyrights

Boundless Dispute With Textbook Publishers Nears Settlement

Boundless Learning Inc., a Boston-based online education company, is near settlement of a copyright suit brought by three publishers of college textbooks, according to a Dec. 16 court filing.

Pearson Plc’s Person Education unit, Cengage Learning Inc. and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s MacMillan Higher Education unit sued Boundless in federal court in New York in March 2012, complaining that the company’s educational material infringed their copyrights.

In their complaint, the publishers said Boundless “replacement textbooks” copied the “distinctive selection, arrangement and presentation” of their own books, along with “other original text, imagery and protected expression” of the publishers and their authors. The publishers said Boundless gets “an F in originality.”

They asked the court for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs, and for an order barring further infringement of their works.

Arial Diaz, founder of Boundless, said in a Dec. 17 blog posting that there is a confidential settlement in the case, in addition to a public judgment and court order. He said the company now has a “clear path” for building and marketing its textbook alternatives, “without treading on” the publishers’ rights.

Plaintiffs lawyers said in a Dec. 16 court filing that they are reviewing draft settlement papers. They have requested a status conference on Jan. 3.

The case is Pearson Education Inc. v. Boundless Learning Inc., 1:12-cv-01986, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Trade-Related IP Issues

U.S. Sued by News Service for IP Treaty Negotiation Documents

Intellectual Property Watch, a nonprofit news service, filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court seeking information about U.S. negotiations of a proposed treaty dealing with IP issues.

IP Watch said in its Dec. 18 complaint that it has tried unsuccessfully to get records related to U.S. negotiating positions and draft proposals, as well as communications between the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and various industry advisory committees.

Negotiations are being conducted among 12 nations: the U.S., Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico and Brunei.

IP Watch said that of special interest to it are communications between the U.S. Trade Representative and the industry advisory committees on chemicals, pharmaceuticals, health science products and services, and services and finance industries.

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act have been unsuccessful and the U.S. Trade Representative has said the documents being sought were categorically exempt from disclosure under the law, according to New York-based IP Watch’s complaint.

Most of what was provided under the FOIA request consisted of “merely copies of materials publicly available on the USTR website,” IP Watch said.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital rights organization, said in a statement on its website that the treaty will “rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement” and is being negotiated “with a lack of transparency.”

The negotiating process has “shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy,” the foundation said.

In a Dec. 10 statement posted on the U.S. Trade Representative website, the 12 nations said they have made “substantial progress” toward completing an agreement, identifying potential “landing zones” for the majority of key outstanding issues in the text.

Wikileaks posted two items Dec. 9 that it said included a country-by-country list of matters over which the various nations disagreed, and excerpts from a draft of the treaty. According to one of the Wikileaks releases, while the U.S. is exerting “great pressure” to close up as many of the issues as possible, negotiators “did not record much progress.”

The purported list of disagreements indicates that accords haven’t been reached with respect to obligations to establish criminal penalties and fines for recordings of public works, or the extension of patent protection to new uses, such as plants, animals and surgical procedures.

IP Watch asked the court to order the U.S. Trade Representative to provide copies of the requested documents “immediately and expeditiously” and to declare that the records related to the proposed treaty that are responsive to the FOIA request must be disclosed in their entirety.

The case is Intellectual Property Watch v. United States Trade Representative, 1:13-cv-08955, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net