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Telecom, Apple, AB InBev, Getty: Intellectual Property

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Squeezed out of the mobile-phone market by trendier offerings, Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB and other one-time leaders are selling chunks of their patent portfolios, often to the litigious licensing firms the industry has derided.

The companies are being driven by their need for greater profit, and are finding that with changing business models, tough economics and investor pressure, there is little reason to hold on to patents for computer memory, wireless infrastructure and other technology that can still fetch good prices.

Ericsson, Panasonic Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. sold almost 5,000 patents in the first quarter combined, according to Innography Inc., an Austin, Texas-based maker of software to analyze patent portfolios. Nokia on July 7 said it had sold a group of phone patents to licensing company Wi-Lan Inc.

Picking up the pieces are licensing firms whose sole mission is to buy castoff patents and then demand royalties from other companies in a strategy to make a profit.

Skechers Sues Fila Saying Shoe Model Infringes Design Patents

Skechers U.S.A. Inc., a maker of casual footwear, sued Fila U.S.A. Inc. of Hunts Valley, Maryland, for patent infringement.

The lawsuit involved Fila’s Amazen Memory Moc, a shoe Skechers says infringes two design patents and the trade dress of its Skechers Go Walk slip-on shoe.

Skechers, based in Manhattan Beach, California, said in its complaint that it sent a cease-and-desist notice to Fila in July 2013 and Fila agreed to quit making the offending shoe.

Fila continues to infringe the patents and trade dress “willfully, wantonly and deliberately” and to compete unfairly, Skechers claims.

The Skechers claim is without merit and Fila will defend the suit, Fila spokesman Sean Lynch said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Skechers U.S.A. Inc. v. Fila U.S.A. Inc., 14-cv-05123, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more patent news, click here.


Apple May Fight Copycat Stores With Trademarks, EU Court Says

Apple Inc. may be able to seek a German trademark that would stop retailers mimicking the layout of its flagship stores, the European Union’s top court said.

Apple can try to register an image of its store layout if it can show that it can distinguish its goods from others, the EU Court of Justice said. Apple is challenging a refusal by the German patent office to accept the picture as a trademark. A national court will decide the final details of the appeal.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of iPads and iPhones registered a U.S. three-dimensional trademark for the design of its stores in January, according to the Los Angeles Times.

AB InBev Buys Brewer in Budweiser Rival’s Czech Home

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest beer maker and the brewer of Budweiser, bought a brewery in the hometown of Budejovicky Budvar, a rival it has battled over trademark rights for more than a century.

InBev bought Pivovar Samson a.s. and is considering expanding the brewer’s Budweiser brand, the company said in a statement without disclosing the details of the deal. Through the takeover, InBev acquires beer production in the Czech Republic city of Ceske Budejovice, known as Budweis in German, which is the source of the name claimed by both it and Budvar.

Each brewer has won or lost the right in rulings in different countries to use brands linked to the city’s name.

For more trademark news, click here.


Getty Images Demands Fee From Blogger for Unlicensed Photo Use

A resident of a Portland, Oregon, suburb says Getty Images Inc. is demanding that she pay a $926 fee for using a photo of dogs on her blog, ABC television’s Portland affiliate KATU reported on its website.

The blogger said that although she removed the image immediately, she didn’t pay the initial demand of $480, and Getty escalated it to $926, according to KATU.

Seattle-based Getty sent KATU a statement saying that the blogger’s site advertises a real estate broker and needed a license to use the image, and that the demand was increased because the matter had to be referred to outside counsel.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Yahoo Hacks Highlight Cyber Onslaught Japan Rushing to Thwart

Shortly after the alert sounded at 9:10 p.m., Yahoo Japan Corp.’s risk team knew it had a problem. More than 20 million usernames and passwords belonging to its customers were being dumped into a file, primed to be stolen.

The April 2013 breach of Yahoo Japan was an attempt to grab the user identities of the nation’s most visited website.

Now, after a series of hacks on targets from the nation’s space agency and its largest defense contractor to Bitcoin exchange operator Mt. Gox, Japan’s government is set to pass a law in fall to beef up cybersecurity in the world’s third-largest economy. Less than 25 percent of Japanese companies have a business continuity plan in case of a cyber-attack, according to the National Information Security Center, a government agency.

The proposed new law would name NISC as the central cybersecurity coordinator reporting directly to Japan’s Cabinet, said Takuya Hirai, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who drafted the bill.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at Stephen Farr, Andrew Dunn

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