Gap, Grange, Hawaiian Holdings: Intellectual Property

July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Gap Inc. didn’t infringe a Texas company’s patents for prepaid gift cards, a U.S. jury said June 28 in the second case this month in which a retailer fended off royalty demands from the licensing company.

The jury in Marshall, Texas, rebuffed Alexsam Inc.’s request for $34.5 million in damages. San Francisco-based Gap, the largest U.S. specialty apparel retailer, claimed it didn’t use the technology and the jury agreed.

Closely held Alexsam owns patents that cover systems to activate and recharge stored-value cards, and has claimed it’s entitled to royalties on every gift card sold. The retailers joined together to try to invalidate the patents. A jury sided with Alexsam in May, setting the stage for a series of trials on the different non-infringement arguments.

In dispute are patents 6,000,608, issued in December 1999, and 6,189,787, issued in February, 2001.

Best Buy Co. settled before trial. Barnes & Noble Inc. won a non-infringement ruling from a different Marshall jury on June 7 in which Alexsam sought more than $72 million. Trials against McDonald’s Corp., JC Penney Co. and Toys “R” Us Inc. are scheduled for October, said Alan Fisch of Fisch Hoffman Sigler in Washington, who represented Gap and Barnes & Noble at their trials.

Though it’s reached a number of settlements, Alexsam has had less luck in courts.

It won a $9 million verdict against IDT Corp. that overturned by an appeals court in May. In 2011, Pier 1 Imports Inc. won a case in which Alexsam was seeking $26.1 million in damages. Alexsam’s appeal in that case is pending.

The case is Alexsam Inc. v. The Gap Inc., 2:13-cv-00004-MHS-CMC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Teva Sued by UCB Over Generic Copy of Vimpat Epilepsy Drug

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s largest generic-drug maker, was sued for patent infringement by a U.S. unit of UCB SA in a bid to block plans to copy the epilepsy drug Vimpat.

UCB, based in Brussels, seeks unspecified damages from Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva, according to a complaint filed June 28 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. At issue is patent RE 38,551.

Denise Bradley, a Teva spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed message that the company declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is UCB v. Teva, 13-cv-01148, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

InterDigital Loses First Round in ITC Fight Against ZTE, Huawei

InterDigital Inc. lost the first round of its two-year effort to use patent litigation to force Nokia Oyj, ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. into paying royalties on standard mobile phone technologies.

The three handset manufacturers didn’t violate the patent rights of InterDigital, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge David Shaw said in a notice posted on the Washington agency’s website June 28. The findings are subject to review by the six-member commission, which can block imports of products that violate U.S. patent rights. The investigation is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 28.

For more patent news, click here.


Fare Grange LLP Says It Doesn’t Infringe Grange Trademarks

An agricultural advocacy group founded in the wake of the American Civil War in 1867 was sued in a trademark dispute by a Minneapolis-based public-interest law firm.

According to the complaint filed June 25 in federal court in Minnesota, Fare Grange LLP has asked the court to declare it isn’t infringing trademarks belonging to the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, the Washington-based organization generally known as the Grange.

The law firm said in its court papers that since it was formed on March 1, it has been contacted repeatedly by the Grange, with demands it quit using the word “grange.” The law firm said the Grange has accused it of trying to suggest, falsely, that an affiliation exists between the advocacy group and Fare Grange. According to its website, Fare Grange is offering legal services for independent farmers and food businesses.

Fare Grange said its “logo, website, social media presence and other trade dress” differs significantly from the Grange’s in terms of language, design, style, color and focus. The law firm also notes that there are a number of businesses using the world “grange” in their names or trademarks that have no affiliation with the Grange, including a winery and a retail lumber store. The Grange “coexists and has coexisted” with these companies, according to court papers.

The word “grange” has been in use for hundreds of years, the law firm said, including at the Hamilton Grange, a home built by Alexander Hamilton and today operated by the U.S. National Park Service.

The firm asked the court to declare it doesn’t infringe the Grange’s trademarks and to cancel the Grange’s trademark registrations.

Amanda Leigh Brozana, a Grange spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that her organization had offered to have private discussions with the law firm over the use of the trademark and “rather than making any attempt at response, they have taken an overly aggressive route that includes manipulation of the press.”

The case is Fare Grange LLP v. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, 0:13-cv-01571-JRT-JJG, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (St. Paul).

For more trademark news, click here.


Hawaiian Holdings Sued Over Use of Hanauma Bay Photo at Airport

Hawaiian Holdings Inc.’s Hawaiian Airlines unit was sued for copyright infringement by photographer who is a Hawaii resident.

The suit, filed June 26 in federal court in Hawaii, accuses the airlines of making use of a photo of the island of Oahu’s Hanauma Bay without authorization.

Photographer Vincent Khoury Tylor, said the copyright to the photo was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in December 2009, and that the airline has used the photo for at least 17 months without a license or consent.

The photo is used in a digital signage software package that the airline uses at the Honolulu International Airport, according to the complaint.

Tylor said the photo is not a “work for hire” as defined by U.S. copyright law, and accuses the provider of its software of deliberately removing or altering the photo’s copyright management information.

He is seeking a court order barring further unauthorized use of his image, together with the impoundment or destruction of anything containing the photo without permission. He also asked for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

Hawaiian Airlines didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Tylor v. Hawaiian Airlines Inc., 1:13-cv-00319-RLP-NONE, U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii (Honolulu).

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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