IRobot, Aroz Gandhi, FilmOn X: Intellectual Property

IRobot Corp., the Bedford, Massachusetts-based maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, said in a statement that a German court has issued an order against two Chinese companies for infringing four European patents.

The order, from the district court of Dusseldorf, was against models of vacuum cleaner robots made by Shenzen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co, and Shenzen Silver Star Intelligent Electronic Ltd., according to the statement. These products were seized at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin earlier this month.

IRobot made its request for an order based on the German parts covered by the four European patents, according to the statement.

Shenzen Silver Star didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail seeking comment on the court order.

In June IRobot filed a patent infringement suit in the same court against four companies it said were infringing its European patents. The Chinese companies weren’t among the defendants in that suit.

Google Receives U.S. Patent on Method Giving a Gift Tax-Free

Google Inc., creator of the world’s most used Internet search engine, received a U.S. patent on what it calls “tax-free gifting.”

Patent 8,515,829 covers a method that enables the giver of a gift of digital content such as film or music to determine the amount of tax imposed by authorities in the recipient’s location. The giver can then add the amount of tax to the gift.

The location of the taxing jurisdiction is determined based on the Internet protocol address of the recipient’s device to which the gift is transmitted, according to the patent.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, applied for the patent in March 2011 with the assistance of Washington’s Morris & Kamlay LLP. The patent was issued Aug. 20, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For more patent news, click here.


Ecuador Rejects ‘Ghandi’ Trademark, Was to Be Used as Rice Label

The Ecuadorian Institute for Intellectual Property has rejected an application to register “Aroz Gandhi” as a trademark, the Indian Education Diary news website reported.

Lalit Bhasin of New Delhi had opposed the registration, saying it would be considered almost a blasphemy in India to try to sell rice under the name of Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered the father of his nation, according to Indian Education Diary.

The registry rejected the application, saying the use of Ghandi’s image as part of the mark infringed the copyright for the drawing, Indian Education Diary reported.

While Ecuador’s law related to personality rights is relatively unformed in that country, the registry took note of Bhasin’s arguments, and found that he had legal standing to oppose the trademark’s registration, the website reported.

For more trademark news, click here.


FilmOn X Told to Stop Service in Court Win for TV Broadcasters

FilmOn X LLC was ordered to cease service by a federal judge who said Fox Television Stations Inc. and other broadcasters are likely to succeed in their lawsuit claiming the online streaming company violates their copyrights.

“This court concludes that the Copyright Act forbids FilmOn X from retransmitting plaintiff’s copyrighted programs over the Internet,” U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington wrote, granting the broadcasters request for a preliminary injunction.

Collyer’s Sept. 5 ruling adds to a legal landscape of mixed rulings for FilmOn X and other streaming services, including rival Aereo Inc., backed by Barry Diller.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled against an injunction that would have shut Aereo, which has a technology similar to FilmOn X’s.

Lawyers for FilmOn X last month urged a San Francisco-based federal appeals court to heed the New York ruling and overturn a lower-court decision in California that granted broadcasters’ bid to shut down the service in the state.

If the California appeals panel upholds the lower-court ruling, it will create a legal split between the two federal circuits, which could lead to a Supreme Court review.

In her ruling, Collyer acknowledged the competing decisions and said she found the California district judge’s opinion more compelling.

Ryan Baker, an attorney for FilmOn X, said the company will appeal Collyer’s ruling.

FilmOn X, based in Beverly Hills, California, and founded by Alki David, argued 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.

FilmOn X’s retransmissions occur “without the consent of the affected broadcast stations or copyright owner” and are thus illegal, according to Fox’s Washington complaint, which was joined by other broadcasters including ABC, CBS and NBC.

The Washington case is Fox Television Stations Inc. v. FilmOn X, 13-cv-00758, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Pier 1 Accused of Infringing Copyright to Solar Dancing Chicken

Pier 1 Imports Inc., the Fort Worth, Texas-based importer and retailer of gifts and household items, was sued for copyright infringement by Fourstar Group USA Inc.

The suit, filed Sept. 6 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, alleges a plastic, solar-powered item sold by Pier 1 infringes the copyright to Clearwater, Florida-based Fourstar Group’s solar-powered dancing chicken figurine.

According to the complaint, Fourstar claims that the items are so similar that the mold used to make its “Chick Solar” was then used to create Pier 1’s “Solar Dancing Chick.” Pier 1 wasn’t authorized or licensed to make and sell a copy of its product, the Florida company claims.

It asked the court for awards of money damages and Pier 1’s profits attributable to the sale of the allegedly infringing item. Additionally, Fourstar asked for an order barring further infringement and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

Pier 1 didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Fourstar Group USA Inc. v. Pier 1 Imports Inc., 8:13-cv-02304-SDM-EAJ, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Espionage Possible Motive for Engineer’s Killing, Police Say.

French police are speculating that industrial espionage may have played a part in the murder of an Iraqi-born British engineer and his family near the village of Chevaline a year ago, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

Saad al-Hilli had what police said was “an unusual amount” of information related to his work with a satellite company when he, his wife, and his mother-in-law were gunned down, as well as a passing cyclist, according to the newspaper.

French officials are investigating possible leads in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia and Switzerland, the Guardian reported.

Police also mentioned a possible “violent” dispute al-Hilli allegedly had with a brother over an inheritance from their father, according to the Guardian.

IP Moves

King & Spalding Adds Heafey to Intellectual Property Group

King & Spalding LLC hired Michael F. Heafey for its intellectual property practice, the Atlanta-based firm said in a statement.

Heafey, who does patent acquisition and licensing work as well as patent and trade-secret litigation, was previously with San Francisco’s Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLC. There he represented clients in state and federal courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

His clients’ technologies have included integrated circuit packaging, fiber optics, light-emitting diodes, packet switch networks and dynamic random access memory.

He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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