Apple, Google, Actavis, Nestle: Intellectual Property

Samsung Electronics Co.’s first U.S. patent victory over Apple Inc. may prove fleeting if the iPhone maker rolls out new products before the government’s ban on older devices takes effect.

Apple has several avenues to string out, if not eliminate, damage from an import ban ordered by a U.S. trade panel yesterday on devices including the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G. It can appeal to President Barack Obama and an appeals court, and lobby customs officials charged with enforcing import bans.

AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc. and two regional carriers selling the offending devices have been offering the iPhone 5, which isn’t covered by the import ban, since last year and a new model is expected out later this year. When Samsung filed its complaint in June 2011, it targeted the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPad 3G -- none of which are sold anymore. Apple usually discontinues older models when it introduces a new one.

The iPhone 4 and iPad 2 3G, offered as entry-level products to lure in people that Apple hopes to convert into long-term customers, were found by the U.S. International Trade Commission to infringe Samsung’s patent 7,706,348, covering a way data is transmitted over networks.

In an April 10 filing with the ITC, Samsung estimated an import ban against Apple would impact about 1.4 percent of the smartphones and 2.7 percent of the tablet computers sold in the U.S. While Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Apple dominates in the U.S.

T-Mobile said June 5 it “doesn’t anticipate any impact of current and future supply of Apple devices.” AT&T said it expects “minimal, if any, impact for customers wanting an iPhone 4 or iPad 2.”

The Cupertino, California-based Apple has indicated it won’t give up without a fight, even if only a few of the models it currently sells are blocked.

On the other side, Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung is the pride of a nation forging closer economic ties with the U.S., including a free trade agreement signed in March 2012 and a pledge to stand together against threats from North Korea.

Apple said it will appeal the ITC ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Google Patents Facial Gesture-Recognition Unlocking Method

Google Inc., creator of the most-used search engine, received a patent on a technology that may lead users to scowl or grin in order to unlock their mobile devices.

Patent 8,457,267, issued June 4, covers a technology that will detect facial landmarks and facial gestures. The device will compare the original image to one with a different gesture when determining whether to grant access to the user.

The technology would defeat attempts to access a device equipped with facial-recognition software by using a photo of the face the device recognizes. The device would contain what Google calls an “anti-spoofing module” that could detect the “liveness” of the facial image, according to the patent.

Mountain View, California-based Google filed the application for the patent in June 2012 with the assistance of Shumaker & Sieffert PA of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Fresenius Sues Actavis Over Generic Diprivan Anesthetic

Actavis Inc. was sued by a unit of global health-care products maker Fresenius SE over claims the drugmaker infringed four U.S. patents covering the injectable anesthetic Diprivan.

Fresenius Kabi USA, based in Lake Zurich, Illinois, contends Corona, California-based Actavis plans to market copies of Diprivan in violation of Fresenius’s patent rights, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Fresenius will be substantially and irreparably harmed” by the infringement unless it’s stopped by a court,’’ company lawyers said. Fresenius seeks an order prohibiting Actavis and its Watson Laboratories unit from marketing the copies until the patents expire.

Charlie Mayr, an Actavis spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Fresenius Kabi USA LLC v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 13-cv-01015, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.


Nestle’s ‘Maggi’ Mark Barred From Use by Appliance Company

Nestle SA, the Switzerland-based maker of packaged food, persuaded India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board that a Mumbai-based appliance company wasn’t entitled to the “Maggi” trademark, the Indian Express reported.

Although Swaraj Industrial & Domestic Appliances argued that it had used the name since 1983, the board said the company could give no adequate explanation for its use of the name, according to the newspaper.

Nestle said it used “Maggi” because it was the surname of Julius Maggi, the company’s founder, according to the Indian Express.

The board said that the appliance company’s use of the term would confuse consumers into thinking these products emanated from the Swiss food company, the newspaper reported.

For more trademark news, click here.


London Police, Fraud Intelligence Bureau Team Up Against Piracy

London police have begun contacting websites believed to enable copyright infringement, the BBC reported.

Police are working with the U.K.’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and have given the owners of the accused websites until June 14 to respond to law-enforcement inquiries, according to the BBC.

Letters warning of possible heavy jail sentences for criminal copyright infringement have been sent to sites known to share links to pirated music, according to the BBC.

Several content-industry trade groups provided the impetus for the new enforcement program, the BBC reported.

Google Art Project Yields New Art Focused on Copyright Issues

Copyright issues related to Google Inc.’s Google Art Project have given rise to a new series of artworks, Wired magazine reported.

The art project, which involves the use of the same 15-lens cameras that create the Google Street Views, blurs certain paintings because of copyright restrictions, according to Wired.

British artist Phil Thompson made screen grabs of the blurred images, sent them to a company in China that makes paintings to order, and is exhibiting the resulting images in a gallery, Wired reported.

He told Wired he wanted the blurred image to exist as independent works of art, and that his choice of a Chinese company was deliberate and his gloss on the issue of Web censorship in that country.

CBS Files Copyright Suit Over YouTube Post of ‘Judge Judy’ Show

CBS Corp.’s King World unit sued a Californian accused of posting episodes of the “Judge Judy” program to Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service.

According to the complaint filed May 28 in federal court in Manhattan, Jessie Zaragosa of Long Beach, California, has posted multiple “Judge Judy” episodes to YouTube without authorization and has sought to monetize the postings.

New York-based CBS claims the poster has multiple accounts with YouTube containing “Judge Judy” as part of their names. The networking sent notices to YouTube demanding, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that the content be taken down.

In response, CBS claims, Zaragosa sent a counter-notice, seeking reposting of the content. Efforts to contact Zaragosa for comment on the suit were unsuccessful.

The network asked the court to bar further infringement, and for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

The case is Big Ticket Television Inc., v. Zaragosa, 13-cv-03582, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here.

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