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Spherix, Aristo, Motley Crue: Intellectual Property

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A consortium created by Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other technology companies to acquire $4.5 billion of patents from Nortel Networks Corp. agreed to sell Spherix Inc. a portfolio of more than 100 patents and patent applications, Spherix said.

Ottawa-based Rockstar Consortium LLP had previously sold seven patents covering mobile communications to Spherix in July 2013 for an undisclosed amount of cash and $1 million in stock, with Rockstar to receive a percentage of future profits.

Rockstar will share usage information for the newly-transferred patents and will work with Tysons Corner, Virginia-based Spherix to aid in their commercialization, Spherix said yesterday in a statement.

The newly-acquired patents are in the areas of data, optical and voice technology, Spherix said.

Vonage Sued by Patent Owner AIP Over Telecommunications Patent

Vonage Holdings Corp., which provides telephone service over the Internet, was sued by patent-owner AIP Acquisition LLC and accused of infringing a U.S. patent for telecommunications technology.

The suit, filed Jan. 3 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, accused Holmdel, New Jersey-based Vonage of infringing patent 7,269,247.

The patent, which was issued in September 2007, covers communication between two telecommunications nodes.

According to the complaint, AIP consists of former shareholders of Arbinet Corp., which was founded by Alex Mashinsky, the named inventor on the patent. AIP is now the owner of the patent.

AIP said in the complaint that services offered by Vonage infringe the patent. The company asked for an award of unspecified money damages.

The case is AIP v. Vonage, 14-cv-00002, U.S. District Court District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.


Aristo Wins Order Barring Innova CapTab’s Use of ‘Montinal’ Mark

Aristo Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. persuaded a court in India to bar Innova CapTab from using the “Montinal” trademark, India’s Business Standard reported.

Mumbai-based Aristo registered the mark “Montina” in India and renewed its registration for a 10-year term beginning in December 2012, according to the newspaper.

In August 2013 Aristo began selling products with a “Montina-L” label, Business Standard reported.

It sued Innova, based in Jharmajri Baddi, India, in September after it discovered Innova was selling products under the “Montinal” mark, according to the Business Standard.

University of Oregon, Iowa School District Reach Accord

A trademark dispute between the University of Oregon and an Iowa school district has settled, Iowa’s Sioux City Journal reported.

The university had objected to a letter “O” used by the Okoboji, Iowa, school district that it said looked too much like the logo Nike Inc. had designed for the Eugene, Oregon-based university, according to the newspaper.

The Iowa school district now has a new “O” logo centered with the image of a coonskin cap-wearing bearded pioneer, the newspaper reported.

It will take five years to phase out the old logo because of the cost of replacing uniforms and scoreboards, Sioux City Journal reported.

For more trademark news, click here.


Established Artists May Cut Back on New Work, Professor Says

A professor at Tulane University’s law school in New Orleans has argued that more file sharing may cause well-known artists and performers to produce fewer works.

Professor Glynn S. Lunney Jr. said in a paper available on the Social Science Research Network website that as file sharing grows, creators of some of the most popular content may “substitute leisure for work.”

Less-established artists will create more works because they need to take advantage of opportunities to gain more profit that was reduced because of file-sharing, he said.

Sherlock Holmes Anthology Can Draw on Early Stories, Judge Says

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary estate can’t bar the use of elements from the early Sherlock Holmes tales in a proposed anthology of original stories by contemporary authors, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago rejected the estate’s argument that even though the earliest entries in the series are in the public domain, copyrights covering later Holmes works bar the use of the early story elements.

Leslie S. Klinger, the editor of the proposed collection, sued in February, arguing that no permission or license should be required for the new book. He said the anthology used characters and story elements only from works about the fictional sleuth that are in the public domain.

The estate argued that the characters of Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, continued to be developed in later Conan Doyle stories that are still protected by copyright.

“A complex literary character can be no more unraveled than a human personality,” the estate argued, saying Klinger was suggesting “the characters can be dismantled into partial versions of themselves.”

Castillo said in his ruling last month that Klinger is entitled to use elements from the pre-1923 stories. The judge said the evidence Klinger presented was so “one-sided” that he had to prevail as a matter of law.

Still, Klinger’s argument that he could also use elements from the later stories was “unavailing and overcome by relevant case law.” Those elements are still protectable, Castillo said.

Conan Doyle’s first Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” was published in 1887. The last, “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place,” came out in 1927.

The case is Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., 13-cv-01226, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Motley Crue’s Drum Ring Wasn’t Stolen Trade Secret, Court Rules

Motley Crue, a Los Angeles-based heavy metal band, has defeated a trade-secrets claim by the inventor of a device that makes it possible for a drummer to perform while he’s up-side down.

Howard Scott King had accused the band and its drummer, Tommy Lee, of misappropriating the idea of the “Tommy Lee Loop Coaster,” an elliptical track on which the drummer rides on a wheeled platform.

He filed suit in California state court in September 2012, saying his discussions with the band were covered by a confidentiality agreement. He said the agreement, which dates back to 1991, has been “misplaced or lost.”

He claimed he never heard any response and hasn’t received any compensation from the band for a technology it began using in June 2011. The invention is also used in the band’s commercials for Kia Motors Corp. and to promote the band and its performances, according to court papers.

King had asked the court for money damages, an order barring further use of his invention and an award related to the alleged misappropriation of his invention.

The court found that King hadn’t taken the minimal steps to insure the confidentiality of his communications with the band over his invention.

Judge Lisa Cole said King was akin to an idea man who “blurts out his idea without having first made his bargain” and that the facts of the case didn’t support his claims.

The case is Howard Scott King v. Tommy Lee, SC118527, Superior Court of the State of California (Los Angeles County).

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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