Hyperlinks, Pfizer, Harper Lee: Intellectual Property

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Websites can link to freely available online content without seeking permission from the copyright owner, the European Union’s highest court said.

Website owners “may, without the authorization of the copyright holders, redirect Internet users via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site,” the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg said yesterday. “The position would be different,” for links that circumvent a paywall, the court held.

The court was asked to rule on a dispute in Sweden between journalists and a company that provided hyperlinks directly to news articles published for free on the website of newspaper Goeteborgs-Posten.

A Swedish court sought EU legal guidance on whether such links to freely accessible content can be considered a copyright violation under EU law.

The case is C-466/12, Nils Svensson, Sten Sjoegren, Madelaine Sahlman, Pia Gadd v. Retriever Sverige AB.

Retailer H&M Gets Photographer’s Copyright Case Dismissed

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Hennes & Mauritz AB over the use of a photograph on its apparel.

Estevan Oriol, a photographer and director, claimed that H&M had misappropriated his 1995 photograph of hands demonstrating a symbol for Los Angeles. The photograph -- known as “LA Fingers” or “LA Hands” was, according to Oriol’s complaint, featured on the cover of several magazines and used in his own line of clothing.

Oriol sued H&M last year over the use of the image of hands creating the Los Angeles symbol on their apparel. He claimed the photo was similar to his in six ways -- the selection of film, camera angle, lighting and background, as well as the placement and size of rings on the model’s hands. Judge Manuel Real on Feb. 10 found the alleged similarities were insufficient to support the suit and dismissed the complaint.

Bradley Yourist, one of the attorneys representing Oriol, said in an e-mail “We disagree with the ruling, and Estevan Oriol intends on appealing. The fight will go on against those clothing manufacturers that continue to misappropriate protected artistic expression under the guise of ‘inspiration.’”

The case is Oriol v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz LP, 13-05088-R, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.


Pfizer Sued by Australia Regulator for Generic Lipitor Deals

Pfizer Inc.’s Australian unit was sued by the country’s competition regulator for misuse of market power relating to sales of its generic version of the cholesterol drug Lipitor.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it filed the lawsuit yesterday in federal court in Sydney claiming Pfizer Australia Pty.’s deals with pharmacies in 2012 for the sale of atorvastatin breached competition rules. A copy of the filing wasn’t immediately available.

Patent protection on Lipitor, the biggest-selling prescription drug in Australia under the federal drug plan, expired in May 2012. Prior to the expiration, the ACCC claimed that Pfizer offered pharmacies discounts and rebates if they bought a minimum 12 months’ supply of the generic equivalent.

“Pfizer engaged in this conduct for the purpose of deterring or preventing competitors in the market for atorvastatin from engaging in competitive conduct,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

Pfizer said in an e-mailed statement yesterday it plans to “vigorously defend the proceedings” and declined to comment further.

For more patent news, click here.


Kind Sues Clif Bar Over Packaging of MOJO Line

Kind LLC, the maker of Kind energy bars, sued Clif Bar & Co. alleging that the redesigned packaging and formulation of its MOJO line infringes Kind’s trademarks.

Keely Wachs, spokesman for Clif Bar, said in an e-mail that the MOJO line was introduced in 2002. He didn’t comment on the lawsuit filed Feb. 6 in federal court in Manhattan.

Justin Mervis, Kind’s general counsel, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is Kind LLC v. Clif Bar & Co., 14-cv-00770, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Museum in Harper Lee’s Hometown Fails to Win Lawsuit Dismissal

A trademark lawsuit by Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” who filed against a museum that capitalized on the book, will go forward, a federal judge ruled.

Judge William H. Steele of the federal court in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 7 declined to dismiss any of Lee’s nine claims against the Monroe County Heritage Museum Inc.

Steele held that the motion to dismiss lacked legal reasoning and instead relied on “bald conclusions” that fell short of demonstrating that any claims should be dismissed.

Lee claims the museum, which contains exhibits that feature both her name and the title of her book, violate federal and state trademark law. At the time Lee filed her complaint, the museum was using the domain name www.tokillamockingbird.com.

Lee claimed that Monroeville, Ala., is attempting to capitalize on the success of the novel, which was set in fictional Maycomb County, Ala.

The case is Lee v. Monroe County Heritage Museum Inc., 1:13-cv-00490-WS-B, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile).

For more trademark news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net

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

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