Apple, Kodak, Home Shopping Network:Intellectual Property
Apple Inc. (AAPL) won a round of a U.S. International Trade Commission case brought by Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) over patented technology in the iPhone and iPad tablet computer, its second U.S. legal victory in a month over its largest smartphone competitor.
Apple didn’t violate Samsung’s patent rights, ITC Judge James Gildea said in a notice posted on the agency’s website. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.
The judge’s findings follow a federal jury’s ruling in San Jose, California, on Aug. 24 awarding Apple more than $1 billion in damages, after finding that Samsung copies the look and some features of the iPhone. The California jury rejected claims that Apple infringed other Samsung patents.
Gildea said there was no infringement of any of the four patents in the ITC case, and also determined that Samsung had not proven it had a domestic industry that used the patents, a requirement that is unique to the trade agency. The judge didn’t provide the reasons behind his findings. The opinion will be public after both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has its own ITC complaint pending against Samsung, and the judge in that case is scheduled to release his findings Oct. 19. The two companies, which together make about half the smartphones sold in the world, are embroiled in more than 30 lawsuits spanning four continents.
The issue of how to handle patents related to industry standards has arisen in other cases before the trade agency, with no clear resolution. Companies that help establish standards that let various devices work with each other pledge to license their relevant patents on fair and reasonable terms.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in a filing with the ITC on other cases, argued that such patents should be treated differently than other patents, and any dispute over licensing fees should be resolved in district court.
Most of the patents asserted in the legal battles over smartphones and tablet computers don’t involve standard- essential patents.
Samsung’s case against Apple is In the Matter of Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, 337-794, and Apple’s case against Samsung is In the Matter of Electronic Digital Media Devices, 337-796, both U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).
Kodak Considering Retaining Patents Put Up for Sale
Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ), which put patents up for sale at a bankruptcy auction, is consulting with creditors about retaining the patents and forming a licensing company.
Kodak has been engaged in “extensive ongoing negotiations” for a potential sale and licensing transaction, the company said in a filing Sept. 14 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
“The debtors are continuing to explore other alternatives with respect to the digital imaging patent assets, and their intellectual property more broadly, and may not reach acceptable terms with parties via the auction process,” Kodak said.
Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, is selling the patents to finance a turnaround after filing for bankruptcy in January. A court hearing scheduled for this week to consider a sale of the assets was adjourned “until further notice,” Kodak said.
The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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Home Shopping Network Sued Over Fake Solingen Lagasse Knives
IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI)’s Home Shopping Network was sued for trademark infringement by the chamber of commerce from Germany’s Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid.
The suit, filed Sept. 11 in federal court in Miami, relates to the sale of knives through the company’s Home Shopping Network. The chamber says the knives, which are sold on the Home Shopping Network under the Emeril Lagasse brand now owned by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., falsely are marked as “Solingen” knives, despite also being marked with the word “China.”
Only knives made in Solingen are entitled to use that name, the chamber said in its pleadings. The name is so valued that Germany has special legislation covering its use, according to the complaint, and in the past, U.S. Customs has seized falsely marked fakes at the border.
The chamber says the counterfeit Soligen knives sold through the television program harm the manufacturers of legitimate products, and the unauthorized use of the mark weakened the distinctive quality of the brand.
In the court filing, the chamber quoted a consumer complaint made after a knife promoted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse on the Home Shopping Network television program as a Soligen product showed up as a Chinese fake. The consumer complained that Lagasse was “a famous chef who cannot be trusted with what he advertises.”
The chamber seeks a court order barring further infringement, together with awards of money damages in excess of $2 million, profits derived from the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.
The Home Shopping Network didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment. Co-defendants with the network are the company’s supplier, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO), and both Stewart and Lagasse as individuals.
The case is Chamber of Industry and Commerce Wuppertal- Soligen-Remscheld v. Stewart, 0:12-cv-61778-KMW, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).
Tiger Woods Seeks to Halt Indian Metals Trader’s Use of His Name
Om Agro Chemical filed an application in February 2010 to register the golfer’s name as a trademark, claiming it came up with the idea one month earlier, according to the newspaper.
ETW Corp., which handles licensing deals for Woods, hired Delhi-based Amand & Amand to file the opposition with India’s Registrar of Trademarks, the Times reported.
Woods set up ETW, based on his given name of Eldrick Tont Woods, as a licensing entity in 1996, according to the Times.
‘Frank’s Anatra’ Rejected as U.S. Trademark for Hot-Dog Truck
A Michigan hot-dog vendor’s application to register “Frank’s Anatra” as a trademark for his business was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.
In its Sept. 12 ruling, the board said that the name falsely suggests a connection with Frank Sinatra, the singer who died in 1998.
Sinatra has sufficient fame and reputation that the public would presume a connection to the performer exists if the hot dog vendor were permitted to use the name, according to the ruling. The fact that the proposed trademark was sounded similar to Sinatra name was another reason the board gave for the rejection.
The applicant Bill Loizon of Birmingham, Michigan, had argued that “Anatra,” which means “duck” in Italian, wasn’t chosen as a way of piggybacking onto the singer’s name. The board wasn’t persuaded, saying that there was “nothing inherent in the applicant’s mark or his marketing to lead consumers to translate ‘Anatra’ to duck.”
The board said it couldn’t understand how the name was chosen for any other reason than to make a “play on the Frank Sinatra name.”
Loizon also claimed that “antara” was the name of the “People’s Republic of Antara,” and displayed what he said was the badge of the nation on the door of his hot dog truck. The board rejected this, saying Loizon’s explanation for choosing this name was obscure and that it was “unlikely” that consumers would understand.”
Loizon was represented by Jay Schloff of Aidenbaum Schloff & Bloom PLLC of West Bloomfield, Michigan. Frank Sinatra Enterprises LLC was represented by James D. Weinberger of New York’s Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu PC.
The case is Frank Sinatra Enterprises v. Loizon, Opposition No. 91198282 to Application 77947013, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
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First French Illegal Downloading Defendant Fined 150 Euros
A French court has ordered a defendant accused of illegal downloading to pay a fine ordered in that country in Internet music copyright enforcement efforts, the TorrentFreak website reported.
The defendant, who claimed the actual downloading was done by someone else, was convicted of failing to secure his Internet connections, according to TorrentFreak, an anti-copyright website.
Under French law, the owner of the Internet connection is responsible for unauthorized downloading, regardless of who actually performed the act, TorrentFreak reported.
Although prosecutors had sought a 300 euro ($394) fine, the Tribunal de Police de Belfort suspended all but 150 euros, according to TorrentFreak.
Zynga Countersues Electronic Arts Over Game Similarities
EA, the second-largest U.S. video-game maker, sued Zynga Aug. 3, claiming Zynga’s “The Ville” video game infringed copyrights for “The Sims Social,” an EA game that runs on social-media site Facebook. Zynga filed counterclaims Sept. 14 in federal court in San Francisco.
“The Sims Social,” released in August 2011, has generated more than $50 million in revenue and averaged about 3 million daily users in the past month, Frank Gibeau, president of Electronic Arts Labels, said on a post-earnings conference call on July 31.
Zynga, based in San Francisco, said in an Aug. 3 e-mail that “The Ville” builds on its earlier games and Reggie Davis, the company’s general counsel, alleged that the recently released EA game “SimCity Social” had “an uncanny resemblance” to Zynga’s “CityVille” game.
Zynga has 274 million monthly users on Facebook while Redwood City, California-based Electronic Arts has 53 million players, according to website AppData. Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI), maker of “World of Warcraft,” is the largest U.S. video-game maker.
The case is Electronic Arts v. Zynga, 12-4099, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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