Aereo, Random House, Apple, Dotcom: Intellectual Property

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(Bloomberg) -- Aereo Inc. agreed to pay CBS Corp. and other broadcasters a total of $950,000 to resolve copyright claims totaling more than $99 million as the online-TV service backed by Barry Diller seeks to wind down in bankruptcy.

The deal to pay less than a penny on the dollar would resolve all litigation among the companies, including Aereo’s lawsuit accusing the broadcasters of intentionally botching its asset auction, according to a filing Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

The deal, backed by all the broadcasters, would leave Aereo with $811,000 to pay non-broadcast creditors with claims totaling $7.5 million, the company said. A hearing to approve the accord was set for May 7.

“In the absence of settlement, there is a likelihood of expensive, protracted litigation that will likely consume the debtor’s limited remaining funds,” Aereo said in the filing.

Under the deal, CBS’s claims against Aereo will total $27.8 million while Walt Disney Co.’s ABC will have a claim of $17.7 million, according to the filing. 21st Century Fox Inc.’s claim is more than $26 million.

The broadcasters joined Aereo in arguing that the company has limited funds that shouldn’t be wasted on a court fight. Bruce Keller, a lawyer for ABC who has spoken in court on behalf of all of them, didn’t immediately return a phone call for comment on the accord.

The startup filed for bankruptcy in November after the U.S. Supreme Court said its TV service violated programming copyrights. The June ruling rang the death knell for Aereo, handing a victory to the broadcast giants.

The case is In re Aereo Inc., 14-bk-13200, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Random House Hit with Payment Demand From Goebbels Estate

Penguin Random House Plc’s Random House Germany unit has received a copyright payment demand letter from the estate of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The publisher is targeted because of its biography “Goebbels,” which uses extracts from the Nazi leader’s diaries, according to the Guardian.

Rainer Dresen, general counsel of Random House Germany, said his client is “convinced that no money should go to a war criminal,” and that when the initial contact was made by the estate, “I did not want to believe that anyone can claim royalties for Goebbels’ words,” the Guardian reported.

The estate has rejected Dresen’s offer to pay royalties if they are donated to a Holocaust charity, demanding that any payment be made instead to Goebbels’s family, according to the newspaper.

Kim Dotcom Asks for Another Delay of Extradition Hearing

Kim Dotcom, the founder of the defunct Megaupload file-storage company, has asked for a four-month delay in court proceedings in New Zealand on the U.S. request for his extradition to face criminal-copyright charges in Virginia, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website reported.

Counsel for Dotcom asked New Zealand’s North Shore District Court not to take up the extradition request until October, claiming that the case is so complicated that extra time is needed, according to TorrentFreak.

If the court accepts Dotcom’s request for an extension, it will be fifth such delay for his extradition hearing, TorrentFreak reported.

Dotcom is also awaiting a ruling on whether his application for New Zealand residency will be negatively affected by a speeding ticket he failed to disclose, according to TorrentFreak.

For more copyright news, click here.


Apple Prevails In Chinese Voice-Recognition Patent Dispute

Apple Inc., the iPhone and iPad maker, won a dispute in China over a patent covering voice-recognition technology, China’s Xinhua English-language news service reported.

The Beijing Higher People’s Court reversed a lower-court ruling in favor of Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co., according to Xinhua.

The dispute between the companies began in 2012, when Zhizhen said Apple’s Siri personal assistant infringed a patent for an “instant messaging chat robot system,” Xinhua reported.

Cupertino, California-based Apple then sought unsuccessfully to have China’s State Intellectual Property Office invalidate the disputed patent, according to Xinhua.

For more patent news, click here.


Appeals Court Says ‘The Slant’ Mark Too Disparaging to Register

A federal appeals court has rejected a Portland, Oregon-based dance band’s argument that it should be able to register “the Slants” as a trademark as a way of owning a racial stereotype.

The band, composed of six Asian-American musicians, filed an application to register the name as a U.S. trademark in 2010. After a trademark examiner refused the application on the ground that the term was disparaging to Asian people, the band abandoned that application.

In 2011, the band applied again, and the application was once more rejected. The band appealed to a patent office board, which also rejected the application, saying the term would have the “likely meaning” of people of Asian descent and that it was disparaging.

The band then asked the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reconsider the decision.

In an April 20 ruling, the appeals court said there was “substantial evidence” supporting the appeal board’s finding that the term “is disparaging to a substantial composite of people of Asian descent.” It rejected the band’s argument that its First Amendment rights were restricted by the board’s refusal to register the name, saying the band’s right to use the term isn’t affected.

The case is In re: Tam, 2014-1203, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Marc Jacobs Accuses 66 Websites of Selling Infringing Products

Marc Jacobs International LL, headed by the former director of Louis Vuitton, has sued 66 websites for trademark infringement, including one that accepts payment in Bitcoin digital currency.

The complaint, filed April 14 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accused the defendants of selling counterfeit versions of the Marc Jacobs luxury goods. According to the website, legitimate handbags by the designer sell for as much as $5,500.

The designer asked the court to order the defendants to halt their infringing actions and for money damages of as much as $2 million for each Marc Jacobs trademark infringed.

The case is Marc Jacobs Trademarks LLC v., 0:15-cv-60786, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

For more trademark news, click here.

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 Charles Carter, Joe Schneider

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