Viacom-YouTube, Time Warne, Macy’s: Intellectual Property

Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing website for a second time persuaded a judge to throw out a Viacom Inc. lawsuit claiming YouTube violated copyrights by letting users post clips from shows without authorization.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan yesterday granted YouTube’s request for a judgment without a trial. He said YouTube was protected from liability by the safe harbor provision of the Copyright Act because it removed infringing videos when notified.

“There is no evidence that YouTube induced its users to submit infringing videos,” Stanton said in his ruling.

Stanton ruled in 2010 in Google’s favor. In April 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York overturned that ruling and sent the case back to the district court. Viacom said in a statement that it plans to appeal yesterday’s decision.

Viacom argued that YouTube used unauthorized copyrighted material from shows such as “The Colbert Report” and “South Park” to draw visitors and make the website more attractive to potential buyers. The site benefited financially from infringement through revenue from advertisements placed next to the videos, Viacom said.

“This ruling ignores the opinions of the higher courts and completely disregards the rights of creative artists,” Jeremy Zweig, a Viacom spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We continue to believe that a jury should weigh the facts of this case and the overwhelming evidence that YouTube willfully infringed on our rights.”

The case is Viacom v. YouTube, 07-2103, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The appeal case is Viacom International v. YouTube, 10-03270, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).


EU Wins Court Appeal Against Systran $15.7 Million Damages Award

European Union regulators won a challenge at the EU’s highest court overturning a 12 million-euro ($15.7 million) damages award for language translation software maker Systran SA over a copyright infringement.

The EU General Court, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, in 2010 had ordered the European Commission to pay Systran a lump sum for violating the copyright and knowhow in the Unix version of the Systran machine-translation software.

“The General Court should have declined jurisdiction and invited the parties to refer to the competent national courts, designated by the various contracts concerning the Systran machine translation system, concluded by Systran and the commission,” the top EU court ruled yesterday.

For more copyright news, click here.


Federal Circuit Revives K-Tech’s Case with DirecTV, Time Warner

DirecTV and Time Warner Cable Inc. must face a revived patent-infringement case brought by K-Tech Telecommunications Inc. over systems to modify television numbers, a court ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington yesterday said U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner in Los Angeles used the incorrect legal standard to dismiss the case, and sent it back to the lower court for further proceedings.

The case is K-Tech Telecommunications Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, 2012-1446, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

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Macy’s Denied Restraining Order on Some J.C. Penney Sales

Macy’s Inc. was denied a temporary restraining order halting J.C. Penney Co. from selling some goods designed by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. that don’t bear the Stewart brand name.

An appeals court judge in Manhattan yesterday refused to halt the sales of the goods, which are labeled under the brand “JCP Everyday,” on the condition that J.C. Penney not associate the products with the Martha Stewart name in promotions or marketing.

Richard Andrias, an associate justice with the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, granted an expedited schedule for briefing and arguing Macy’s challenge to a lower-court judge’s refusal to grant a similar order blocking the sales.

“Pending an expedited determination of the motion by a full bench of the court, J.C. Penney may continue to sell the unbranded goods in the exclusive product categories,” provided it doesn’t promote, advertise or associate the goods with the name Martha Stewart, Andrias wrote in the ruling.

Eric Seiler, a lawyer for Martha Stewart Living, declined to comment immediately, saying he hadn’t seen the decision. Joey Thomas, a spokesman for J.C. Penney, declined to comment on the ruling in an e-mail.

“While we are disappointed that the appeals court declined to issue a temporary restraining order, it is appropriate that the court made it clear that the JCP Everyday product cannot be associated with the Martha Stewart name in any way,” Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy’s, said in an e-mail. “We look forward to the full appeals court decision on our request for an expansion of the preliminary injunction that remains in place.”

The cases are Macy’s Inc. v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., 650197/2012, and Macy’s Inc. v. J.C. Penney Corp., 652861/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

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Cybersecurity Bill Passes U.S. House After Obama Veto Threat

The U.S. House yesterday passed cybersecurity legislation backed by companies including Boeing Co. and AT&T Inc., defying a veto threat by President Barack Obama’s administration over what it called inadequate privacy protections.

The bill gives companies immunity from lawsuits when they voluntarily share information, such as threats to computer networks and malicious source code, with each other and the U.S. government. It passed on a vote of 288 to 127.

Congress is renewing a push to pass cybersecurity legislation following warnings by U.S. intelligence officials that electronic attacks could disrupt the nation’s banks, utilities, telecommunications networks and other essential services. It isn’t clear whether the Senate will take up the House bill or offer its own version.

The bill doesn’t require companies “to take reasonable steps” to remove personal information when sharing cybersecurity data with the government or other companies, the White House said April 16 in a statement on the veto threat.

“Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable -- and not granted immunity -- for failing to safeguard personal information adequately,” according to the administration statement.

The bill is H.R. 624. For more, click here.