WIPO Report, Rodina, Beatles, Seed: Intellectual Property

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Patent filings around the world increased at a greater rate in 2012 than at any time in the previous 18 years, according to a report from the World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency.

Filings grew by 9.2 percent last year, with 2.35 million applications, WIPO said. China led both among countries doing the filing and as a destination for filings.

China’s State Intellectual Property Office experienced a 24 percent increase in filings last year, followed by IP offices in New Zealand, with a 14.3 percent increase; Mexico, which was up 9 percent; and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which saw a 7.8 percent gain.

Filings by technology differed from region to region, according to the WIPO report. The highest percentage of filings in computer and medical technologies were made in the U.S. and Israel, while Belgium, India and Switzerland saw the greatest increase in organic fine chemistry.

Brazil’s greatest increase was in basic materials chemistry, while China and Russia showed the greatest gain in material metallurgy filings.

The greatest increases in Japan, Singapore and South Korea were for semiconductor patents, while Germany, France and Sweden led in increases in applications related to transport technologies.

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Rodina Company Seeks Non-Migrant Labor Mark, RIA Novosti Says

A company in St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by the political party Rodina, applied for a trademark it said it would use to identify products made without migrant labor, the RIA Novosti news service reported.

The mark features a lake in the shape of Russia with a white swan swimming in it, according to RIA Novosti.

Andrei Petrof, who leads Rodina’s operations in St. Petersburg, told RIA Novosti the swan was chosen as a symbol of purity and loyalty as part of a campaign against the use of migrant labor, which he said “lowers the quality and the patriotic component of goods.”

Rodina’s Intellectual Design Bureau plans to send inspectors to businesses to make sure they don’t employ migrant labor before permitting the use of the logo, RIA Novosti reported.

Specialized Bicycles Backs Down in Canada ‘Roubaix’ Dispute

Mike Sinyard, the founder of Specialized Bicycles Inc., made a trip to Cochrane, Alberta, to apologize for demanding that a local bicycle shop change its name.

Sinyard, whose Morgan Hill, California-based company makes road bikes under the Roubaix brand that sell for as much as $3,600, visited the Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, where he said he took personal responsibility for what some perceived as bullying, according to a video posted on the shop’s Facebook page.

“I screwed up and I owned it,” Sinyard said on Specialized’s Facebook page. He said his company has seen a massive increase in counterfeit bikes and most riders have no idea they are fake. That can be dangerous because of the risk of failure in untested products, he said.

Still, “we went too far with this aggressive approach,” he said. “In some cases we hurt the local bike shops and small businesses we wanted to protect.”

Sinyard said his company will “take a much closer look at all pending and future intellectual property and trademark issues, making sure to only pursue those that present a clear and obvious danger.”

Cafe Roubaix’s owner, Dan Richter, said on Facebook that he’s happy with how the matter was resolved. “There are no issues between our companies anymore.”

Regent Baby Products Prevails in Sippy Cup Trade Dress Dispute

Regent Baby Products Corp., which does business as Baby King, has prevailed in a trade dress allegation in an infringement case brought by Luv N. Care Ltd. of Monroe, Louisiana.

The case, filed in New York federal court in December 2010, addresses drinking cups used by babies and young children and pacifiers, as well as teething keys, food containers and pacifier holders.

The ruling, handed down Dec. 11, is limited to the trade dress of Jamaica, New York-based Baby King’s no-spill drinking cup design, specifically to the flip-top cap and the hard spout cup-and-cap combination.

The Louisiana company, which said it’s been selling its cups for more than 14 years, claimed that Baby King’s cups that are produced under several different brand names, had caused it a business disadvantage.

The court said that the general shape and configuration of Luv N’ Care’s baby-cup design is “ubiquitous in the sippy cup market” and doesn’t warrant protection under U.S. trademark law.

The case is Luv n’ Care Ltd. v. Regent Baby Products Corp., 1:10-cv-09492, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Beatles Releases Triggered by EU Rights Changes, Guardian Says

Apple Records will put out 59 previously unreleased versions of Beatles’ songs this week, the Guardian reported.

The tracks, which will be available as downloads, include outtakes, demos and live BBC radio performances, according to the newspaper.

Recent changes in European Union copyright laws put unreleased performances into the public domain 50 years after they are recorded, and industry observers told the Guardian that although Apple isn’t commenting on the release, this may be the reason for the company’s actions.

While some of the material has been circulating for years in bootleg versions, this is the first time it will be made available legally, the Guardian reported.

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

U.S. Says Chinese National Conspired to Steal Seed Secrets

A Chinese national was charged by the U.S. with conspiracy to steal corn seed genetically modified by companies including DuPont Co. and Monsanto Co. and send it to China.

Robert Mo Hailong, director of international business at Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co., part of the Beijing-based DBN Group, is accused of conspiring to obtain the intellectual property of U.S.-based seed companies to benefit Kings Nower Seed, DBN’s corn seed unit, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Dec. 11 in federal court in Iowa.

Mo, with his conspirators, collected seeds from farms in Iowa and Illinois and attempted to ship them to China from the U.S. and through Canada, according to the complaint. The seeds can be cultivated to reveal their genetic makeup, the U.S. said. Companies develop the seeds to carry particular traits, such as resistance to weed killers.

A woman who answered the phone at Kings Nower Seed and asked not to be identified said she couldn’t immediately comment on the allegations. Kings Nower Seed didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment and isn’t a defendant in the case. Mo was arrested in Miami on Dec. 11, according to court filings. Valentin Rodriguez, his attorney, didn’t return a call for comment.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, two other Chinese citizens were arrested and charged with theft of seeds from a research facility in Kansas. Both are agricultural scientists. The biopharmaceutical company from which they allegedly stole the seeds wasn’t identified by name.

The seeds the defendants were accused of stealing were found in the luggage of an outbound group of visitors from China known to have visited agricultural facilities and universities in the U.S. Midwest, as well as the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Prosecutors said in the statement that the seeds were delivered to members of the delegation during a stay in the U.S. from July 16 through Aug. 7.

The Iowa case is U.S. v Mo, 13-mj-00267, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa. The Kansas case is U.S. v. Jhang, 13-mj-08318, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas (Kansas City).

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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