Samsung, AB InBev,General Dynamics: Intellectual Property
Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s largest maker of smartphones, defended an import ban on some Apple Inc. (AAPL) products it won in a U.S. patent dispute and urged trade officials to let the block take effect.
The “limited effect” of halting certain iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models from entering the U.S. “raises no economic policy concerns sufficient to take the extraordinary and nearly unprecedented step” of overturning the ban issued June 4, Samsung told the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in a June 19 filing.
The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington ordered the ban after finding Apple’s older devices infringe a Samsung patent for a widely used way phones transmit data. Apple is asking the USTR, which acts on behalf of the president in such matters, to overturn that order before it takes effect in early August.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, submitted its own filing urging the USTR to decide Samsung hadn’t fulfilled requirements that it offer to license the patent on fair and reasonable terms, according to the blog Foss Patents, which first reported on the filings.
Apple and USTR officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for a copy of the Apple filing.
Samsung said it made an offer and Apple refused to pay anything.
“By any definition, Apple is an unwilling licensee of Samsung’s declared essential patents,” Samsung wrote in the filing.
Ronald Reagan was the last U.S. president to overturn an ITC-ordered import ban. Such decisions must be made on public-policy grounds. The president and USTR usually don’t take action, allowing the bans to take effect after the 60-day review period.
Apple would be precluded from importing or selling China-made models of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 that are designed to work on the AT&T Inc. (T) and T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) networks. Newer models, including the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad mini and the iPad with retina display, aren’t part of the case.
Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, said it acted properly in its efforts to license patents that cover elements of standardized technology used throughout the industry. Companies that participate in establishing industry standards get the advantage of having their technology used, so they must pledge to license any relevant patents to anyone on fair terms.
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AB InBev Gets EU Trademark Rights to Use ‘Bud’ Name for Beer
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) was formally granted the European Union-wide trademark right for the word “Bud” for beer after an EU agency registered the intellectual property right.
The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the EU’s trademark authority, registered the Bud trademark, the brewer said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The step follows AB InBev’s victory in a trademark clash with Czech competitor Budejovicky Budvar NP at the EU General Court in Luxembourg.
“While we have national rights for Bud and Budweiser in many European Union member states, it fills in the remaining gaps that we had,” Frank Hellwig, global legal director at AB InBev, said in a statement. “We now have more countries covered by Bud or Budweiser trademark registrations than we have had at any point in time in the 137 year history of the brand.”
AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, and Czech rival Budvar have been entangled in disputes over the use of the Bud brand for more than a century, as each brewer won and lost the rights in different rulings. Anheuser-Busch, founded by German-born American Adolphus Busch, said it started using the Budweiser name in 1876, 19 years before Budvar was formed.
The Czech brewer didn’t appeal the EU court decision from January. The EU trademark office approved the Bud registration on June 14, AB InBev said.
Trademark Applications Anticipate High Court Gay Marriage Ruling
Trademark applications indicate that some entrepreneurial sorts anticipated yesterday’s Supreme Court rulings related to same-sex marriage.
A resident of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, filed an application in July 2012 to register “gay i do” as a trademark. According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the mark -- which features a red heart dotting the letter “I” -- would be used for a wide range of party-related paper goods.
A Michigan company filed an application in March to register “Merriage,” with the mark to be used for the licensing of gay marriage.
A Costa Mesa, California-based resident is seeking to register Magayriagge.com as a mark. According to the September 2012 application, the mark would be used for online social-networking services.
New York-based Marriage Equality USA, an organization that has campaigned for same-sex marriage rights, registered its name as a trademark in February 2007. The organization said it would use the mark “promoting public awareness about the need for legal marital fairness in same-sex couples.”
China Considering Doubling Damages Available in Trademark Suits
Xie Jinggrong, deputy head of China’s top lawmaking body’s law committee, said the damages ceiling is being raised from a present top level of 500,000 yuan as part of efforts to protect marks and inhibit would-be infringers, according to the Standard.
China’s Trademark Law was initially adopted in 1982, and amended in 1993 and 2001, the Standard reported.
The bill raising the compensation levels up for a second reading by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the legislative body that can make the changes, according to the Standard.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
General Dynamics-Infinity Dispute Ordered Into Arbitration
Sturbridge, Massachusetts-based Infinity Fluids sued General Dynamics Land Systems for trade secret misappropriation in January 2012, after an agreement to produce a heating system for General Dynamics’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle failed to come to fruition.
Infinity claimed that General Dynamics violated a confidentiality agreement by disclosing data to an Infinity competitor who eventually won the contract to produce the heating systems. The Massachusetts company argued that the only way the other vendors could have bid on the system was if General Dynamics had disclosed Infinity’s proprietary information to them.
Infinity then filed suit and General Dynamics argued that arbitration language written into contracts between the two companies mandated that the dispute must go to arbitration.
Claiming that the arbitration agreement was no longer in force and that what General Dynamics allegedly disclosed was new intellectual property not covered by the agreement, Infinity fought to keep the dispute in federal court.
In his June 19 order, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman agreed with Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics. He said that the claims Infinity was making were covered by the arbitration agreement and that the Massachusetts company had failed to mention the “new” intellectual property it claimed was misappropriated.
He said that Infinity hadn’t provided adequate evidence that it made sufficient efforts to protect its trade secrets, so its argument that the dispute was about new trade secrets “does not follow logically.”
He granted General Dynamics’ motion to force the dispute into arbitration and dismissed the case.
The federal contract for the vehicle, which was being developed for the U.S. Marine Corps, was canceled in January 2011.
The case is Infinity Fluids Corp. v. General Dynamics Land Systems Inc., 4:12-cv-40004-TSH, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Worcester).
Barnes & Thornburg Hires Two Edwards Wildman IP Litigators
Barnes & Thornburg LLP hired two IP litigators, the Indianapolis-based firm said in a statement.
Mark L. Durbin and Peter N. Moore are joining the firm from Boston’s Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP.
Durbin, who has represented clients in complex commercial litigation including trade-secret misappropriation, has an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from DePaul University.
Moore has litigated cases involving patents, trademarks and copyrights in federal courts and before the Washington-based U.S. International Trade Commission, which has the power to exclude imports that infringe U.S. intellectual property rights.
He served as a judicial clerk for Judge William C. Bryson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals of patent cases.
Moore has both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Northwestern University.
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