Tour de France, Marvin Gaye, Zillow: Intellectual Property

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(Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for the Britain’s bicycle racing Team Sky are investigating possible hacking into training files for cyclist Chris Froome, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.

Sir Dave Brailsford, manager of Team Sky, told the newspaper he suspected the alleged hackers were attempting to prove Froome was using performance-enhancing drugs or methods, according to the Guardian.

Froome, who has worn the yellow jersey as the leader of several segments of this year’s Tour de France race, has denied any such use and said he is trying to be “as much a spokesman as I can for clean cycling,” according to the newspaper.

The alleged hackers had posted a video, now removed, on YouTube that put some of Froome’s data together with footage from one of the parts of the 2013 Tour, the Guardian reported.

Trademark

Camellia Grill Trademarks Included in Sale, Court Rules

In a dispute involving a 69-year-old New Orleans landmark restaurant, a federal court in Louisiana said that a 2006 bill of sale unambiguously transferred the trademarks associated with the restaurant to the buyer.

At issue are the marks related to the Camellia Grill, a restaurant that offers only counter service and that specializes in omelettes, waffles and hamburgers. The restaurant closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the building and what was described as “tangible personal property” were sold in 2006.

According to court papers, the buyers paid $10,000 for all the restaurant’s furniture, fixtures, equipment, recipes, trademarks, names and logos on the property on Carrollton Avenue.

After a series of disagreements between the seller and the buyer, the buyer -- Uptown Grill LLC -- sued in New Orleans federal court in December 2013, seeking a court declaration that it owned the rights to the trademarks.

In its July 9 ruling, the court agreed.

The sellers argued that the $10,000 price reflected in the bill of sale was “irreconcilable with the value of the Camellia Grill name.”

The court said that even though the sellers “appear to be suffering from an acute case of seller’s remorse” it could not say that $10,000 was an absurd valuation. U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo wrote that she declined “to allow contracting parties to escape the unfortunate and unexpected, although not objectively ‘absurd,’ consequences of a contract by subsequently characterizing their consequences as ‘absurd.’”

In a July 13 court filing, the sellers said they will appeal.

The case is Uptown Grill LLC v. Schwartz, 2:13-cv-0650, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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Copyright

Zillow Sued Over Use of Real Estate Photos on Digs Website

Zillow Group Inc., the Seattle-based operator of a real-estate listing website, was sued for copyright infringement by VHT Inc., a provider of professional photographs for the real estate industry.

In a July 8 complaint in federal court in Seattle, VHT of Rosemont, Illinois, accused Zillow of using photos on one of its websites beyond the terms of its licenses.

VHT said that it had engaged in unsuccessful discussions with Zillow over the use of photos on the Zillow Digs website. According to court papers, Zillow then told VHT it didn’t plan to use the pictures on its Digs site.

The Illinois company said its photos are appearing on the Digs platform and on Zillow’s Digs mobile app despite VHT’s putting the company on notice about their unauthorized use beginning in mid-2014. Zillow monetizes the infringing content by superimposing “bubbles” on the photos that, when clicked, show the prices of the goods depicted in the images, together with vendor websites where the items may be purchased, according to court papers.

VHT asked the court to order Zillow to cease its allegedly infringing activities and for an award of profits related to the unauthorized use of the images, as well as money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

A spokeswoman for Zillow, Jill Simmons, said the suit is without merit and the company will fight the allegations.

“Zillow has abided by the terms of the licenses agreed to by the parties who provided these photos,” Simmons said in an e-mail, declining to comment further on specifics of the litigation.

The case is VHT Inc. v. Zillow Group Inc., 2:15-cv-01096, U.s. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Three Romanian Streaming Sites Go Down After Police Raids

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has worked with Romanian authorities to shut down three websites that allegedly offered unauthorized streaming of movies and television programs, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website reported.

People who attempt to visit one of the sites -- Serialepenet.ro -- now see a message from the Romanian Ministry of Justice saying the domain name has been seized and is now subject to criminal cases, according to TorrentFreak.

The investigation that led to the shutdown began in 2011 and was concluded with raids conducted by police officials from organized-crime units, TorrentFreak reported.

Police also searched companies believed to be offering services to the three websites, as well as the homes of several suspects, according to TorrentFreak.

‘Blurred Lines’ Writers Lose Bid for Retrial in Gaye Lawsuit

Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a bid for a new trial in the copyright case brought by the heirs of Marvin Gaye over the pair’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.”

In March, a Los Angeles federal jury awarded the heirs $7.4 million, saying Williams and Thicke’s song was too similar to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”

U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt on July 14 said Williams and Thicke failed to present evidence that a new trial was warranted. He did cut damages to $3.2 million from $4 million and the award of profit from the infringement to $358,000 from $1.6 million.

He also said any further performance, sale or distribution of “Blurred Lines” would be infringement and the Gaye family was entitled to future royalties.

The Associated Press reported that defense lawyers said the judgment would be appealed.

The case is Williams v. Bridgeport Music Inc., 13-cv-06004, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net. Charles Carter, Joe Schneider

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