ISE, Diageo, Disney, Billboards: Intellectual Property

International Securities Exchange LLC, an electronic options-trading forum, is set to renew legal hostilities with Chicago Board Options Exchange Inc. in a fight over a patent covering automated trading.

Jury selection began yesterday at the federal courthouse in Chicago for a trial that U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow told the prospective panelists may last into early April. The case is one of at least four legal disputes between Deutsche Borse AG- owned ISE and CBOE Holdings Inc., the Chicago-based operator of the biggest U.S. options exchange.

“The evidence will establish that CBOE deliberately copied ISE’s patented system for executing trades,” New York-based ISE said in a court filing last month.

Competition is increasing among derivatives-exchange operators including NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. ISE in a March 1 regulatory filing revealed plans to start a second options market called Topaz which, if approved, would be the 12th such U.S. forum. Nasdaq OMX owns three of the venues while CBOE and NYSE Euronext have two each.

ISE’s patent scrap with the Chicago Board Options Exchange began with a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan in

2006. The case was transferred to Chicago after CBOE counter-sued there, seeking a finding of non-infringement.

ISE seeks a royalty and lost profits, as well as either an injunction barring further infringement or royalties for the balance of the patent’s life. The patent expires in 2019.

CBOE contends in court papers that ISE did nothing more than acquire a patent for a method that had already been used elsewhere.

“Automating such floor-based trading is far from new,” the Chicago exchange’s lawyers said in a pretrial brief filed last month. CBOE argued that the ISE patent claims lack innovation and should be declared invalid.

Lefkow declared the patent invalid in March 2011. A federal appeals court reversed that ruling in May.

The cases are Chicago Board Options Exchange Inc. v. International Securities Exchange LLC, 07-cv-00623, and International Securities Exchange LLC v. Chicago Board Options Exchange Inc., 07-cv-04709, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

IIPSC to Offer IP Insurance Policy for Small Companies

Intellectual Property Insurance Services Corp., a 25-year-old insurance company based in Louisville, Kentucky, has begun offering an insurance product aimed at inventors and small companies.

According to a company statement, the product is for individuals and companies with one to three patents, patent applications, trademarks or trademark applications.

The policies offer coverage of as much as $500,000 and terms of as many as three years, with a 10 percent copayment. This specific policy doesn’t cover software or website patents.

Pre-existing infringement excludes the infringing activity from coverage, according to the company statement.

Intellectual Property Insurance Services Corp. was founded in 1988 by Robert W. Fletcher, a chemical engineer turned patent lawyer, who has served as a patent counsel for Standard Oil Co. and General Electric Co.

EPO Says Patent Applications Increased 5.2 Percent in 2012

The European Patent Office experienced a 5.2 percent increase in patent filings last year over the previous year’s total.

According to a statement from the EPO, in 2012 it received 257,744 filings. Top country filers were the U.S., with 24.6 percent of all applications, followed by Japan, with 20.1 percent; Germany, with 13.3 percent; China, with 7.3 percent; and Korea, with 5.6 percent.

Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. was the leading corporate filer. This is the first time an Asian company won the top spot.

The greatest number of applications was filed in the medical-technology area. In that area, 42 percent of the applicants came from the U.S. The EPO said that 60 percent of all applications in the transportation segment -- including automobiles and air transport -- came from European Union member countries.

For more patent news, click here.


Wild Squirrel Changes Name to Wild Friends After Trademark Fight

Wild Squirrel Nut Butter, a specialty food company begun in 2011 by two University of Oregon students, has changed its name in the wake of two trademark suits.

The Tualatin, Oregon-based company, which produces sesame cranberry peanut butter and chocolate sunflower seed almond butter, changed its name to Wild Friends, according to a March 4 blog posting. The posting makes no reference to the litigation, saying instead that “we chose it to call out the wild flavors we create, and the friendly ingredients we use.”

On July 10, Wild Squirrel filed suit in Portland, Oregon, seeking a declaration it didn’t infringe trademarks belonging to Squirrel Brand Holdings LP of McKinney, Texas, which sells nuts and candy.

The Oregon company said it had received a cease-and-desist notice from Squirrel Brand Holdings and asked the court to find that it didn’t infringe and wasn’t competing unfairly with the Texas company.

Two days later, Squirrel Brand holdings filed its suit in federal court in Sherman, Texas, saying the Oregon company infringed trademarks and that customers were likely to be confused by the name similarity.

Both cases were dismissed in November 2012.

Wild Squirrel’s case is Wild Squirrel LLC v. Squirrel Brand Holdings LP, 3:12-cv-01239-HZ, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Portland). Squirrel Brand Holdings’ case is Squirrel Brand Holdings LP v. Wild Squirrel LLC, 4:12-cv-00429-RC-ALM, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Sherman).

Diageo’s ‘Guinness’ Dispute With Aqualife to Be Heard April 12

A Russian soft-drink manufacturer’s trademark dispute with London-based Diageo Plc over the “Guinness” trademark is set for April 12 in Moscow Commercial Court, the Russian Legal Information News Service reported.

Aqualife, which is a parallel importer of Guinness, has claimed the Diageo’s Russian “Guinness” trademark should be terminated and that the U.K.-based company isn’t using the brand in Russia, according to the news service.

Lawyers for Diageo said the company is using the brand, which is associated with an Irish beer made since 1759, the news service reported.

Presently Guinness is being imported under license into Russia by Heineken NV, according to the news service.

Applied Microcircuits Registers ‘Hardsilicon’ as U.S. Trademark

Applied Microcircuits Corp., a Sunnyvale, California-based semiconductor manufacturer, registered “hardsilicon” as a trademark March 5.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Applied Microcircuits filed an application in July 2011 to register the mark. The company said it plans to use the term for semiconductors, circuit boards and central processing units.

For more trademark news, click here.


Disney’s Oz Lacks Ruby Slippers Because of Copyright Issues

Although the Walt Disney Co.’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which sold more than $80 million worth of tickets this past week, has many merchandise tie-ins, the famed ruby slippers won’t be part of the product mix, the Los Angeles Times reported.

That’s because such items as the slippers and Dorothy’s distinctive blue gingham dress are from the 1939 “Wizard of Oz” film and, as such, are Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. unit’s intellectual property, according to the Times.

Lutz Miller, who heads consumer-products company Kloters Trading Corp., told the Times that having two large companies simultaneously offering different takes on the same intellectual property -- the out-of-copyright novels by L. Frank Baum -- is unprecedented.

Warner Bros., the Times reported, is planning an Oz-related television program, and many of its own new products.

Hacked Belgrade Billboard Displays File-Sharing Website Logo

An electronic billboard on Belgrade’s Republic Square was recently hacked and its advertising display replaced with the logo of the Pirate Bay file-sharing site, according to the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website.

Students who did the hacking said their intention was primarily to demonstrate how poorly protected some computer systems are, according to TorrentFreak.

They told TorrentFreak that while raising awareness of poor computer security was their primary aim, they also wanted to support Pirate Bay.

Pirate Bay is the closest thing they have to a free apolitical independent worldwide organization that supports their values, according to TorrentFreak.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

China Cyber Attacks Harm U.S. Bid for Tighter Ties, Donilon Says

China’s campaign of cyberespionage against U.S. companies risks undermining President Barack Obama’s second-term effort to build stronger ties with Asia, said White House National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.

The widespread theft of intellectual property and trade secrets through attacks “emanating from China on an unprecedented scale” has become a point of contention with the Chinese government, Donilon said yesterday in prepared remarks for a speech at the Asia Society in New York.

“We have worked hard to build a constructive bilateral relationship that allows us to engage forthrightly on priority issues of concern,” said Donilon. “The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, both dependent on the Internet, must lead the way in addressing this problem.”

Donilon emphasized that the Obama administration intends to keep shifting U.S. foreign policy toward Asia, a change in direction from the Middle East that was announced in the president’s first term. He said the policy shift wasn’t designed to rein in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Rebalancing U.S. priorities toward the Pacific “does not mean containing China or seeking to dictate terms to Asia,” said Donilon, who has helped shape Obama’s policy overseas. Obama has “engaged with China at an unprecedented pace, including twelve face-to-face meetings with Hu Jintao,” he said, referring to the departing Chinese leader.

Donilon said China needs to recognize the scope of the hacking issue, take steps to halt computer espionage and start a “constructive dialogue” with the U.S. on standards for conduct in cyberspace.

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