Apple, Voss, IDBI, Fox, Nintendo: Intellectual Property

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have been targeted more by patent-licensing firms than any other companies in the past five years, PC World reported.

The licensing firms, sometimes derided as “trolls,” don’t make products or provide services covered by the patents they seek to enforce.

Speaking at a conference at Stanford University in California, attorney Michael Brody of Winston & Strawn LLP said the firms have a better than 24 percent chance of either negotiating a settlement or prevailing in court or on appeal, PC World said.

Brady said that lately it’s become harder for the licensing companies to get court orders barring the sale of products that allegedly infringe their patents, according to PC world.

HOT Smartwatch Gets Patent on Gesture-Driven Wrist Phone-Aid

A Houston inventor whose Kickstarter crowd-sourced funding campaign generated almost four times the $150,000 he sought has received a patent for his wrist-mounted communications accessory.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, patent 8,515,505 was issued to Ram Pattikonda on Aug. 20. Pattikonda applied for the patent in January 2012.

The patent covers a wristwatch-like apparatus that can be used with a mobile device to answer, hang up, or reject a phone call through wearers’ gestures. A user can also “speak” on the mobile device by holding the hand wearing the apparatus to the ear.

The patent specifies that the technology provides a way of protecting a mobile device from being dropped and that using the apparatus is less awkward than holding a phone to the ear. The device will work with any Bluetooth-enabled phone.

HOT Smartwatch Chief Executive Officer Sharq Hamid said in a statement that he is co-owner of the patent. Information about the patent’s change of ownership isn’t yet available through the PTO’s database.

Through its HOTWatch page on Kickstarter, the company was looking for $150,000 in backing. To date it has received $541,000 from more than 3,600 backers.

PH Technical Labs of Dallas, makers of the watch, began showing it last week. PH said it would be available in the third quarter of 2013.

For more patent news, click here.


Voss Settles Trademark Suit With High Liquors Over Bottle Shape

Voss of Norway ASA, a seller of bottled artesian water, and a Kentucky liquor maker have settled a trademark-infringement dispute related to the shape of a bottle.

In a federal case filed in Ashland, Kentucky, in January, the Oslo-based company claimed that High Liquors LLC of Russell used bottles virtually identical to the cylindrical flat-topped containers in which Voss water is sold in the U.S.

The two companies’ products are sold in liquor stores, and Voss claims the public was likely to assume falsely that the products are from the same source.

The parties jointly asked for dismissal of the case in an Aug. 22 court filing without revealing terms of any agreement. The dismissal is without prejudice, which means that the case can be refiled.

The case is Voss of Norway ASA v. High Liquors LLC, 13-cv-00004, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky (Ashland).

Feuding South Carolina Bishops’ Trademark Case Dismissed

A federal judge in South Carolina dismissed a dispute between two Episcopalian bishops over the use of diocesan trademarks, saying the case is better suited for state court.

U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck on Aug. 23 said the dispute between Charles G. vonRosenberg and Mark J. Lawrence could be refiled if it appears the underlying issues aren’t disposed of in state court, where a related case is pending.

The suit stems from a theological dispute after which Lawrence withdrew from the Episcopal Church and declared that the South Carolina diocese he led had “disassociated” from the church.

VonRosenberg was elected as provisional bishop of the diocese and filed the suit March 5 seeking an order barring Lawrence’s use of the diocese’s trademarks.

The federal case is VonRosenberg v. Lawrence, 13-cv-00587, U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina (Charleston).

Deccan Chronicle Trademarks for Sale ‘As-Is,’ IDBI Bank Says

India’s IDBI Bank Ltd. said it’s selling trademarks to Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. “as-is” and that the buyer will have to defend the marks in pending litigation over their ownership, the Business Standard reported.

The marks are for four publications: the Deccan Chronicle, Andhar Bhoomi, Asian Age and Financial Chronicle, according to Business Standard.

When Mumbai-based IDBI Bank said this month that the marks were for sale, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. said it had a clam to their ownership, the newspaper reported.

The dispute is being hard at the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Hyderabad, India, according to the Business Standard.

For more trademark news, click here.


Streaming TV Doesn’t Infringe Copyrights, Appeals Court Told

A company that streams TV shows to subscribers petitioned a federal appeals court in California to overturn a lower-court ruling that granted Fox Broadcasting Co.’s bid to shut down the service in the state.

FilmOn X LLC, based in Beverly Hills and founded by Alki David, argued at a hearing in Pasadena yesterday that it isn’t infringing copyrights by capturing broadcasters’ over-the-air signals with its small remotely located antennas and retransmitting the programming to its customers.

Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., sued FilmOn X in 2012, claiming that it violated Fox’s exclusive rights to reproduce and perform its works publicly and that the service doesn’t have a license to transmit its programming. Fox and other broadcasters, including CBS Corp., Comcast Corp.’s NBC and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, are fighting unlicensed online streaming services because they are a threat to the revenue the broadcast networks receive from cable and satellite TV providers.

After U.S. District Judge George Wu granted the injunction, FilmOn X appealed. Wu denied the broadcasters’ petition to extend the injunction beyond California and several other states and they have appealed that ruling.

FilmOn X argued in court papers that the California appeals court should follow a decision by a federal appeals court in New York. The New York court ruled against an injunction that would have shut down Aereo Inc., which has a technology similar to FilmOn’s.

Fox said in a letter to the California appeals court that it should take into account the dissenting opinion of U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in New York, who said the Aereo system “is a sham, as it was designed solely to avoid the reach of the copyright law.”

The lower-court case is Fox Broadcast Stations v. Aereokiller, 12-cv-06921, U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The appeal is Fox Television Stations v. Aereokiller, 13-55156, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Pasadena).

Nintendo Gets Metroid Fan Film’s Kickstarter Campaign Shut Down

Nintendo Co., the Japanese video-game maker, temporarily derailed a fan group’s campaign to raise money for a film based on the Metroid science-fiction action games.

The page on Kickstarter Inc.’s crowd-sourcing website for “Metroid: Enemies Within (A Metroid Fan Film)” now carries a notice that the film is the subject of an intellectual property dispute.

Nintendo sent a takedown request to New York-based Kickstarter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act stating that it owns copyrights “in all aspects of its Metroid video-game franchise and related products, including but not limited to the characters, storylines, audiovisual, pictorial and graphic works” from six different Metroid games.

Nintendo characterized the fan film, story boards and related material as “unauthorized derivative works” that infringe its copyrights.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Equinox Says Ex-Employee’s Peakfit Uses Its Trade Secrets

Equinox Holdings Inc., a New York-based operator of fitness clubs, sued a former employee and his company for trade-secret misappropriation.

In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Equinox accused Yaw Owusu and his Peakfit Academy of making unauthorized use of confidential information and stealing customers.

Owusu, a former fitness instructor for Equinox, allegedly converted the chain’s training program, materials and promotional items for use at Peakfit. Equinox also said Owusu and Peakfit are deceiving the public into thinking the training materials they are using actually belong to them.

Owusu is using confidential information to promote his new business and persuade Equinox members to join him at Peakfit, according to the plaintiff’s filing.

Equinox is asking the court for money damages, including a royalty, and an order barring further use of its trade secrets. It’s also asking for money the company claims was wrongfully obtained, including compensation paid to Owusu when he allegedly breached contractual obligations to Equinox.

Owusu and Peakfit didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail sent to the Peakfit website seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Equinox Holdings Inc. v. Owusu, BC517104, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County (Los Angeles).

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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