Google, Hallmark, Pendleton, WMS: Intellectual Property

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc., operator of the world’s most-used search engine, is seeking a patent on a technology that would add more dimensions to the reading of an electronic book.

The application, 20130209981, covers what the Mountain View, California-based company calls “triggered sounds” in e-books.

Google said in the application that many people are “transitioning from reading physical books to reading e-books, which have many advantages over physical books, such as more portability, the ability to access the e-book from multiple electronic devices, and text search capability.”

Existing e-book readers don’t take “full advantage” of their capabilities to immerse a reader, Google says.

The technology covered by the patent would allow certain trigger points in the text to call forth prerecorded sounds related to the contents of the book.

A single e-book may have multiple trigger points that could match phrases in the text, such as “lightning struck,” or “birds were singing,” according to the application. Users could also set preferences for a type of sound -- such as jazz music -- to be associated with a particular kind of trigger.

Google filed the application in February 2012, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

TruTag Gets Honors for Patented System to Authenticate Drugs

TruTag Technologies Inc. of Honolulu was named a 2014 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, the international organization known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The Hawaiian company was honored for developing a technology to help combat drug counterfeiting. TruTag has two patents on the technology, which involves putting edible microtags on pills that can be used to identify their source.

The tags are porous silica, which makes them difficult to read and reproduce without specialized equipment. The tags are etched onto the pills, according to TruTag’s patent 8,511,557, which was issued Aug. 20.

TruTag said in a statement that a tag “is a dust-size particle less than the width of a human hair. In addition to their use with drugs, they can also be used to identify food, industrial components, electronics and consumer products.

A report last month by Agence France-Presse said as many as 30 percent of the drugs on the market in some African countries are fakes.

TruTag applied for its newest patent in December 2010, with the assistance of Van Pelt, Yi & James LLC of Cupertino, California.

For more patent news, click here.


Hallmark Sued by Holiday Retailer Over ‘North Pole City’ Mark

Hallmark Cards Inc., the closely held greeting-card company, was sued for trademark infringement by a retailer of holiday-themed merchandise for using the phrase ‘‘North Pole City.’’

DKG Enterprises Inc., which does business as North Pole City, sued Sept. 9 in federal court in Oklahoma City. The company, which operates the website, has been in business since the early 1990s and registered its name with the Oklahoma Secretary of State in 1997, according to court papers. Hallmark will begin to sell products and engage in franchise development around a fictional ‘‘North Pole City,’’ DKG said.

Hallmark filed 12 applications to register the term as a trademark in June 2013, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based company said in its applications that it wants to use the mark with a wide range of products, including a book series, activity craft paint kits, clothing, music boxes, motion pictures, Christmas tree ornaments, plush toys, jewelry, table-top ornaments and candles.

DKG said the public is likely to confuse its products and those sold by Hallmark under the ‘‘North Pole City’’ name. It asked the court to order Hallmark to quit infringing the ‘‘North Pole City’’ trademark, and requested money damages, profit Hallmark derives from the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The company also asked the court to order the destruction of all allegedly infringing products and promotional materials.

Hallmark didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is DKG Enterprises Inc. v. Hallmark Cards Inc., 13-cv-00967, U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City).

Pendleton Woolen Mills, Round-Up Settle Trademark Dispute

One day before the Pendleton Round-Up opened this week, the sponsors of the annual rodeo and the Pendleton Woolen Mills settled their trademark dispute, according to a Sept. 10 court filing.

Pendleton Woolen, the Oregon company that won fame as a producer of Indian trade blankets, sued the sponsor of the 103-year-old rodeo in May 2011 for trademark infringement.

The suit, filed in federal court in Portland, Oregon, accused the Pendleton Round-Up Association of selling bottled fragrances that infringed the mill’s marks. According to court papers, the Round-Up Association has been a Pendleton licensee since 1997, covering sales of apparel.

Products made under that agreement are co-branded with the mill’s and the association’s marks, according to the pleadings.

The fragrances didn’t fall under the agreement, and the use of the mark on them was ‘‘likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception as to the affiliation, connection or association” of the Round-Up with the mill, according to the complaint.

According to the Let ’er Buck website, Let ’er Buck was introduced as the official fragrance of the Round-Up in 2010.

Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. According to court documents, the parties have until Oct. 17 to complete their agreement. The mill had asked the court to bar the Round-Up Association from further unauthorized use of its mark, and for an award of the profit the association derived from its alleged infringement.

The Round-Up, held in northeastern Oregon, attracts 50,000 attendees a year, according to the event website. It opened yesterday and runs through Sept. 14.

The case is Pendleton Woolen Mills Inc., v. Round-Up Association, 11-cv-00592, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Portland).

For more trademark news, click here.


WMS Gaming Awarded $3 Million in Slot-Machine Copyright Case

WMS Gaming Inc., a slot-machine maker, was awarded $3 million in copyright infringement suit.

According to a Sept. 9 court filing, the parties have agreed that Slots Warehouse of Tempe, Arizona, and two other defendants pay the damages and that they will surrender and forfeit any interest in the machines that contained the allegedly infringing content.

WMS sued Slots Warehouse in federal court in Arizona in November, 2012, claiming that 12 of its slot-machine games were copied without permission and distributed on machines the Arizona company sold.

In the Sept. 9 consent decree, U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver said the $3 million award is reasonable, saying the maximum damages available to Waukegan, Illinois-based WMS for copyright infringement and counterfeiting of its trademarks could exceed $60 million.

The case is WMS Gaming Inc. v. Slots Warehouse LLC, 12-cv-02455, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Former Excel Transportation President Gets 63-Month Sentence

Michael Musacchio, the ex-president of Excel Transportation Services Inc., was sentenced to five years and three months in prison after being convicted of hacking into his former employer’s computers, according to a Sept. 6 filing in federal court in Dallas.

Musacchio, 62, left Excel, a Memphis, Tennessee-based intermodal transportation company, in 2004 to form a new company, Total Transportation Services LLC, according to court documents. He was accused of hacking into Excel’s computers to obtain confidential information to benefit Total Transportation.

Musacchio, of Plano, Texas, was convicted in March of one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer and two felony counts of computer hacking.

He was also a defendant in a civil trade secrets case Excel brought in April 2006 against Total Transportation in the same court. He was dismissed in May 2007 from that case, which Total settled, according to court papers.

Two of Musacchio’s co-defendants in the criminal case previously entered guilty pleas, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Musacchio’s surrender date hasn’t been determined, according to his case docket. Excel was acquired by Hub Group Inc. in 2011.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Musacchio, 10-cr-00308, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas). The civil case is Excel Transportation Services Inc. v. Total Transportation Services LLC, 06-cv-00593, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.