Digi, Amazon.com, Facebook: Intellectual Property

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Digi International Inc., a provider of wireless products, has settled a patent case brought by U.S. Ethernet Innovations, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company said in a statement.

U.S. Ethernet filed suit against Digi in federal court in Tyler, Texas, in May, claiming that the Minnesota company infringed three patents related to network data transmission. Initially in dispute were patents 5,732,094, 5,434,872 and 5,530,874, with a fourth patent -- 5,299,313 -- added in an amended complaint filed in September 2012.

Tyler-based U.S. Ethernet is the successor to 3Com Corp.’s Ethernet business, according to court papers. 3Com was acquired by Hewlett-Packard Co. in April 2010.

In its statement, Digi said it’s paying U.S. Ethernet $1.525 million, with no further payment obligations.

The case is U.S. Ethernet Innovations LLC v. Digi International Inc., 6:12-cv-00351-MHS-JDL, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

Amazon Seeks Patent on Device That Receives Power, Content

Amazon.com Inc.’s founder Jeffrey Bezos is a named inventor on an application for a patent on a portable device that receives both content and power wirelessly.

According to application 20130069865, the device is a display system that is remote from, and without a tangible connection to, a primary station.

This would enable the device to be smaller and more lightweight than many present-day devices that must incorporate a large battery. Amazon.com said in the application that while the size of batteries used in mobile devices are “continuously getting smaller, the operational or functional time of these smaller batteries is often insufficient for many users.”

The device covered by this application won’t need to be recharged often and it won’t need a charging cord.

As content transmitted to the device is read -- it can be replaced by new content, according to the application. The device may also contain a detection element through which a user can direct it to turn the page through a touch-sensitive panel, a verbal command or an eye movement.

Seattle-based Amazon.com filed the application for this patent in September 2012. Co-inventor with Bezos is Amazon.com Vice President Gregory M. Hart.

VirnetX Files New Patent Suit Against Microsoft Over Skype

VirnetX Holding Corp., which won a $200 million settlement from Microsoft Corp. over patents related to private networks in 2010, filed a new lawsuit yesterday claiming it’s entitled to more money.

VirnetX said Microsoft’s Skype unit, which allows instant messaging and Internet calling, is infringing six patents. Skype, which Microsoft bought in October 2011 for $8.5 billion, wasn’t part of that earlier deal, the Zephyr Cove, Nevada-based VirnetX said in a statement yesterday.

“Although Microsoft previously signed a patent license with VirnetX, we believe they are infringing our patents in ways that are outside the scope of the original license,” Kendall Larsen, the company’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We look forward to quickly resolving this matter.”

The complaint was filed in federal court in Tyler, Texas, where VirnetX has had mixed luck. One jury in November awarded VirnetX $368 million in a case against Apple Inc. over some of the same patents, while a different jury in March decided that Cisco Systems Inc. didn’t infringe the patents.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and VirnetX reached the earlier settlement after Microsoft lost a jury verdict against VirnetX.

VirnetX, which relies on patent licensing for its income, reported $412,000 in revenue last year.

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, reported $73.7 billion in sales in the last fiscal year.

The new case is VirnetX Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 13-cv-00351, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For more patent news, click here.


Facebook Trial Over ‘Timeline’ Trademark Rights Postponed

Facebook Inc.’s trial over its right to use the word “timeline” to describe user profiles has been delayed at least a day and possibly longer.

A jury trial in the trademark infringement case filed in 2011 by the operator of timelines.com was scheduled to start yesterday at the federal courthouse in Chicago.

More than 90 minutes after conferring with lawyers and declaring a recess, U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah retook the bench and said the matter would be taken up today or, if necessary, would be postponed to May 7 for a status conference.

The judge offered no explanation for the delay. Douglas Albritton, an attorney for Timelines Inc., declined to immediately comment on the postponement. Lawyers for Facebook also declined to comment.

Facebook is the world’s most-popular social networking website. The Menlo Park, California-based company has more than a billion monthly users, according to its website.

Timelines’ website allows its users to create or add content to historical chronologies documenting topics including space exploration, political assassinations, wars and sporting events.

Chicago-based Timelines sued Facebook a week after the social network announced it was converting user-profile pages previously known as walls to individual chronologies called timelines.

The website Timelines, which has about 94,000 visitors a month, contends it has held a U.S. trademark on the use of “timelines” for user-created Internet chronologies since 2009.

The company is seeking an order barring Facebook from using the word, according to its amended complaint. It’s also seeking compensation equivalent to Facebook’s Timeline-derived ad revenue, Albritton said in a phone interview earlier this month.

Facebook has filed papers asking Darrah to strike Timelines’ request for a jury, arguing that the demands for injunctive relief and wrongful profits are arguments for equitable relief that should be decided by a judge.

The California company has also countersued, claiming the trademark is too generic to warrant federal rights protection. Darrah on April 1 denied a defense motion for judgment on the issue, setting the matter for a jury trial.

The case is Timelines Inc. v. Facebook Inc., 11-cv-06867, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

POMWonderful Sues Malt-o-Meal Maker for Trademark Infringement

POMWonderful LLC, the juice company founded by billionaire Stewart Resnick, has sued a 94-year-old cereal company for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed April 19 in federal court in Los Angeles, MOM Brands Co. of Minneapolis is accused of infringing PomWonderful’s “POM” trademark.

MOM Brands, maker of Malt-O-Meal cereal, makes and sells “Blue Pom Wheat-fuls” and “Blue Pom Tumble Wheats” in the U.S. and “Blue Pom Bundles” in Canada. PomWonderful claims that the public is confused through MOM Brands’ use of “Pom” and that the cereal company is intentionally causing this confusion.

Minneapolis-based MOM is using “Pom” “to target consumers who are familiar with the POM Brand by creating an impression of an association” with the juice company, according to court papers. POM claims it is losing sales and revenue from potential “licensing and co-branding opportunities” because of the cereal company’s actions.

The juice company asked the court for an order barring MOM Brands’ use of “Pom,” together with an order for the recall and destruction of all allegedly infringing products. Additionally, the Los Angeles-based juice company seeks awards of money damages, MOM Brands’ profits attributable to the alleged infringement, and the money to pay for corrective advertising, plus attorney fees and litigation costs.

Linda Fisher, a spokeswoman for MOM Brands, said in an e-mail yesterday that the company’s attorneys are reviewing the complaint.

The case is PomWonderful LLC v. Mom Brands Co., 2:13-cv-02745-MRP-MAN, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.


Indian Copyright Agency Seeks Photocopying Fees From Schools

India’s copyright licensing agency, the Indian Reprographics Rights Organization, has begun collecting fees from that country’s universities for photocopying text books into course packs, India’s Economic Times reported.

The IRRO has put 400 colleges on notice, demanding payment and a licensing agreement that permits the copying of as much as 10 percent of a book, according to the newspaper.

Some Indian copyright experts are arguing that such licenses are unnecessary because that country’s copyright law grants exemptions for copyright related to educational research, according to the Economic Times.

The demand from the IRRO follows a pending suit pitting academic publishers Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Informa Plc’s Taylor & Francis unit against Delhi University over course packs prepared by its licensed photocopying service, the newspaper reported.

Nigeria’s Copyright Agency Joins Forces With Crime Commission

In efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s copyright enforcement, the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have signed a collaboration agreement, the Nigerian Tribune reported.

The agreement specifies that the two agencies will work together on anti-piracy operations, according to the Tribune.

Model for the accord is an agreement between the copyright commission and the Nigeria Customs Service that has yielded the confiscation of 16 containers of allegedly pirated material with a value exceeding 6 billion Nigerian naira ($38 million), the newspaper reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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