Apple, Gildan, Waterford, Google: Intellectual Property
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, in a March 1 ruling, reduced the jury’s damages award by $450.5 million and said Samsung deserved a new trial on infringement claims over its Galaxy Prevail and other smartphones. Koh rejected Apple’s request to enhance the jury’s award, saying the amount Samsung owed was heavily disputed and the jury wasn’t bound to accept either side’s damages estimate.
“It is not the proper role of the court to second-guess the jury’s factual determination as to the proper amount of compensation,” Koh said in her ruling.
Apple is entitled to additional damages for sales of infringing products that weren’t considered by the jury, Koh ruled, saying she intends to calculate the amount beginning on Aug. 25, the day after the jury reached its verdict. As the case has been appealed, Koh said she would delay considering evidence of actual post-verdict sales and pre-judgment interest until the appeals are completed.
Koh encouraged both companies to seek appeals court review of her March 1 order before any new trial.
Samsung and Apple, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, have each scored victories in patent disputes fought over four continents since Apple accused Asia’s biggest electronics maker of “slavishly copying” its devices. The companies, competing for dominance of a global mobile-device market estimated by researcher Yankee Group at $346 billion in 2012, are fighting over patents even as Apple remains one of Samsung’s biggest customers.
Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, said the company had no comment on the ruling. Samsung spokesman Adam Yates didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
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Gildan to Pay Trademark Damages to Berkshire Hathaway Units
Gildan Activewear Inc., a Canadian sportswear manufacturer, was ordered to pay $1.05 million to two units of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/B)
The order came in a trademark-infringement lawsuit Russell Brands and Union Underwear Co. filed in federal court in Kentucky in October. Russell and Union Underwear, which does business as Fruit of the Loom, said Gildan substituted its own label on the Jerzees clothing that had been made by Fruit of the Loom under license from Russell.
The label switch occurred after Dollar General Corp. (DG) switched suppliers for one of its product lines.
According to court papers, as part of the Dollar General supply arrangement with Gildan, the Montreal-based company was required to buy the remaining Jerzees inventory in the store’s distribution centers and replace it with Gildan’s own products.
In the complaint, the Berkshire Hathaway units claimed its labels were either partially ripped out or altered to reflect Gildan’s trademarks.
The court ordered Gildan to pay $1 million in damages, and $50,000 in attorney fees. Additionally, the court said the Canadian company was barred from removing labels from or adding its own label to Jerzees clothing. All Jerzees apparel in Gildan’s custody or control is to be destroyed within 30 days, the court said.
A Gildan spokesman told the Toronto Star that it offered the settlement to end the litigation and didn’t admit to any wrongdoing.
Dollar General isn’t a party to the case.
The case is Russell Brands LLC v. Gildan Activewear Inc. (GIL), 1:12-cv-00176, U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky (Bowling Green).
KPS Capital Partners’ Waterford Targeted in Trademark Action
The U.K.’s largest trade union has filed a complaint with the European trademark registrar claiming that KPS Capital Partners’ plans to start manufacturing Waterford Crystal in Slovenia violates geographic name protections, the New Legal Review reported.
The Ireland branch of the union Unite has said the move to Slovenia would cause the loss of an important skill base and shatter the link between glass production and the local area, according to New Legal Review.
Walter Cullen, the national coordinator for Unite said, and the New Legal Review reported, that other areas such as Champagne and Parma have managed to protect links between the place name and the product manufactured there.
The union is also concerned that more than 600 skilled jobs will be lost to Waterford if manufacturing moves to Slovenia, according to New Legal Review.
Fender Sues Maker of ‘Authentic Vintage Replica’ Guitars
Keldon Swade of Franklin, Tennessee, makes replica guitars that Fender claims infringe the company’s marks. The guitar company said Swade also uses the company’s trademarks on its website. Swade’s website says he makes “authentic vintage replicas.”
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Fender said that it sent Swade a cease-and-desist notice to no avail. The company claimed it’s harmed by the guitar-maker’s actions and that the public is confused by the unauthorized use of Fender trademarks.
It asked the court to order Swade to halt his infringement and for the seizure and destruction of all infringing products and promotional material. Additionally, Fender seeks awards of money damages of as much as $2 million for each trademark it said Swade has infringed, and attorney fees and litigation costs.
Swade didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail sent to his website.
The case is Fender Musical Instruments Corp. v. Swade, 2:13-cv-00431, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
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Google Defeats Publishers Over Web Copyright in German Vote
Google Inc. (GOOG) and other news aggregators may continue to show short news items on their Internet sites without being required to pay, German lawmakers decided in a March 1 parliamentary vote in a blow to publishers including Axel Springer AG (SPR) and Bertelsmann SE.
A majority of lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition allowed companies such as Google to display “single words or very small text excerpts” referring to publishers’ websites at no cost. For content exceeding these limits, publishers retain the exclusive right of use, according to the bill.
Publishers, pressed by falling revenue from newspapers and magazines, argued search engines and aggregators like Google News should pay for displaying short excerpts from news stories. Google, which doesn’t display ads on its news aggregator pages in Europe, argued its so-called “snippets” are actually helping publishers by driving traffic to their sites.
The bill by Germany’s Justice Ministry gives publishers one year during which they have the sole rights to commercially use their journalistic content. Google’s director of public policy in Europe, Simon Hampton, in November called this a “complete reversal of the legal situation today” and a reversal of current Web practices.
“As a result of today’s vote, ancillary copyright in its most damaging form has been stopped,” Google said in a statement. “However, the best outcome for Germany would be no new legislation because it threatens innovation, particularly for start-ups. It’s also not necessary because publishers and Internet companies can innovate together, just as Google has done in many other countries.”
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and French President Francois Hollande earlier this year signed an agreement to settle disputes with French news sites. Under the accord, Mountain View, California-based Google will help publishers lift Web advertising sales and set up a 60 million-euro ($78 million) fund to boost their digital publishing efforts.
The search-engine operator in 2011 removed some Belgian newspaper content from its search engine after an appeals court upheld a 2007 ruling granted in favor of newspaper association Copiepresse, forcing Google to remove links and snippets of articles from Google.com and Google.be.
Google later agreed to restore French- and German-language newspapers in Belgium to search results without displaying the papers’ full articles.
The bill was passed in the Bundestag with 293 votes in favor, 243 against and three abstentions.
U.S. Wins Bid to Limit Disclosure in Kim Dotcom Extradition
The U.S. won an appeal in its bid to limit the amount of information it must turn over to Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom in his fight against extradition from New Zealand.
The New Zealand Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that ordered the U.S. to provide extensive documents relating to Dotcom’s indictment, saying the disclosure would slow proceedings.
“If suspects were entitled to extensive disclosure of documents on the basis that they wished to challenge the evidence at the extradition hearing, the procedure would lose much if not most of its efficacy,” the Court of Appeal said in a summary of the ruling on its website March 1.
Dotcom, 39, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “mega conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment, with the U.S. seeking his extradition for a trial in Virginia.
The amount of documentation ordered to be turned over to Dotcom was unprecedented in the country or anywhere else for extradition cases, the U.S. had argued.
Germany-born Dotcom was arrested at his home in an Auckland, New Zealand, suburb in January last year and spent four weeks in jail before being released to await the extradition hearing, which is scheduled for August.
The case is between U.S. and Kim Dotcom. Civ 2012-404-3026. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland).
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Blue Rubicon to Work With U.K. Government Against Cybercrime
Blue Rubicon Ltd., a U.K.-based management-consulting service, will work with that country’s Home Office’s National Fraud Authority in a campaign against hacking and industrial espionage, PR Week reported.
The focus of the campaign will be both businesses and individuals, the magazine said.
The appointment comes in the wake of a government survey finding that the U.K. economy loses as much as 27 billion pounds ($40.6 billion) a year to cybercrime, according to PR Week.
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