May 1 (Bloomberg) -- A hearing in a patent dispute between Limelight Networks Inc. and Akamai Technologies Inc. left the U.S. Supreme Court wondering whether its ruling would make any difference.
The justices became mired in procedural questions yesterday as they heard Limelight’s bid to block a lawsuit by Akamai and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The case centers on Akamai’s patented method for delivering video or graphics over the Internet during periods of high demand.
A federal appeals court said Akamai could sue Limelight under a legal theory known as inducing infringement, even though no single company performed every aspect of the patented method. Akamai says Limelight takes all but one step and induces its customers to perform the final one.
The problem for the justices was that the appeals court didn’t resolve a second legal theory, known as direct infringement, being pressed by Akamai.
The case is Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, 12-786, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).
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Hershey Successfully Challenges United Confectioners Over Mark
Russia’s Guta Group’s United Confectioners unit lost a trademark battle in Russia over the “Ice Breakers” trademark, Confectionery News reported.
Hershey Co., based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, successfully challenged the Russian company’s mark, saying it infringed one used with Ice Breakers gum and mints, according to Confectionery News.
A Hershey spokesman, Jeff Beckman, said the decision of Russia’s intellectual property court was important because Ice Breakers is an “iconic” brand for his company, Confectionery News reported.
Irish Trade Group Seeks Trademark for Beef Produced in Ireland
The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, which promotes commercial cooperative businesses, called for the creation of a trademark for beef produced in Ireland, the Irish Independent reported.
The co-op said a trademark only for beef produced in an area of protected geographical indication would provide legal protection to Irish beef’s reputation, according to the Independent.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Dan A. Hughes’s Oil Extraction Procedure Deemed Trade Secret
Dan A. Hughes Co., which was fined $25,000 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for performing an unauthorized extraction procedure at an oil well in Florida’s Collier County, doesn’t have to make public the nature of the technique it used, the Fort Meyers News-Press reported.
Under Florida law, government agencies, including the DEP, are barred from disclosing companies’ proprietary business information, according to the News-Press.
The newspaper reported that the DEP didn’t respond to multiple requests for clarification of how the extraction procedure qualified as a trade secret.
Diller Blasts Broadcasters for Stifling Innovation in Aereo Suit
Barry Diller said broadcasters are seeking to stifle innovation for their own financial gain by suing to shut down Aereo Inc., the streaming-video company he’s backing.
U.S. Supreme Court justices last week questioned the legality of Aereo as they weighed whether the startup violates copyright law by recording over-the-air programming from an offsite antenna and delivering it to customers via the Internet.
“I’m really tired of being accused of stealing anyone else’s programming when we’re not,” Diller said on the earnings conference call yesterday day of his media company, IAC/InterActiveCorp. “It’s kind of obnoxious to take away the programming they’ve promised the public they could receive directly simply because they want to take away every dollar from consumers.”
Aereo’s faceoff against broadcasters including CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. at the nation’s highest court stemmed from its bid to forge a technological route around the television companies’ copyrights. It was Diller, co-creator of Fox’s broadcast network, who pushed Aereo beyond its original plan to offer service only in parts of New York, Aereo Chief Executive Officer Chet Kanojia said last month.
Neal Katyal, a Washington lawyer speaking on behalf of the TV companies, didn’t immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
Lesser Attorney Fees Awarded in Film-Downloading Copyright Case
A Massachusetts resident who challenged what he said were fraudulent and coercive demand letters was awarded $31,795 in attorney fees from owners of the copyright for a film based on the “Far Cry” video game.
Dmitry Shirokov sought more than $360,000 in fees, claiming that the quality of work done by lawyers on the case he tried unsuccessfully to get certified as a class action warranted that amount.
U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. disagreed, saying that Shirokov was overstating the complexity of the case. The award was justified, he said, because it might deter similar infringement litigation by the copyright owners. The case is Shirokov v. Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver PLLC, 10-cv-12043, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
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