Macronix, Hooters, Canada’s ERCC: Intellectual Property

Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Macronix International Co., a Hsinchu, Taiwan-based maker of integrated circuits and memory products, said yesterday that it filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Spansion Inc. and some of its customers.

The Washington-based commission has the power to exclude imports of products that violate U.S. intellectual property rights. According to Macronix’s statement yesterday, Sunnyvale, California’s Spansion and eight of its customers infringe three patents related to flash memory.

The Taiwanese company said that the infringement is “rampant.” In addition to the eight named Spansion customers, Maronix also asked the commission to exclude “other unidentified parties” from importing infringing products.

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Hooters Sues Florida Escort Service Over Ad Soliciting Employees

Hooters Inc., the restaurant chain known for the uniforms worn by its wait staff, sued a Florida escort service for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 26 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is related to advertisements Nikki’s Escort Service of Pembroke Pines, Florida, ran on the online classified service offered by San Francisco’s Craigslist Inc.

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain, which has more than 375 outlets, said that beginning in November, the escort service placed ads on the Craigslist site seeking Hooters employees. The ads offered employment to “Hooters Girls” at $100 an hour, and were accompanied by photos taken inside one of the chain’s properties, showing waitresses wearing their official uniforms bearing Hooters trademarks, the company said.

Hooters said it called the number given in the ad, and received a response “in a profane and unprofessional manner” before the escort service terminated the call. Written cease-and-desist demands were also rejected “in a similarly abusive and unprofessional manner,” the chain said. One of the e-mails, allegedly from the escort service, was attached to the complaint.

The chain then contacted Craigslist via e-mail to complain about the trademark issues. The ads were then replaced with new ones seeking employees from “Kooters,” according to the complaint. The new ads were still accompanied by a photo of Hooters waitresses in their uniforms, the company said.

Hooters said the public is confused by the ads and likely to assume, falsely, that some affiliation exists between the restaurant chain and the escort service. It accused the escort service of seeking to trade on the fame acquired over almost 30 years by the restaurant chain.

Nikki’s Escort Service didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Hooters asked the court for an order barring further infringement, together with awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

The case is HI Limited Partnership v. Nikki’s Escort Service, 13-cv-62788-JIC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

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Canadian Royalty Collection Group Gets Approval to Wind Down

The Educational Rights Collective of Canada, a royalty-collection cooperative, was given permission to quit trying to collect royalties as part of the process of wrapping up business.

The organization, established in 1998 to collect royalties on educational institutions’ copyright and use of radio and television programs, told the Copyright Board of Canada that it has never collected royalties of more than C$10,000 ($9,396) a year.

These amounts, the collective said, never came close to covering the cost of operations. It’s been kept afloat by loans from its six member collectives, none of which it was ever able to repay.

At the time it filed its petition to the board, the collective had debts of more than C$930,000, and once it winds up operations, it would be able to pay creditors less than 4 percent of what they are owed.

As a result of the board’s decision, it said that educational institutions will be able to use the content for free, and rights holders will receive nothing “since there is not and never will be anything to distribute among them.”

Michael Geist, a professor of Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, said in a blog posting that the cooperative “was simply a bad idea in which millions was spent by both sides to decide on royalties worth a fraction of expense.”

He said it was difficult to understand “how broadcast organizations ever thought this was a good idea.” Even before the advent of Internet-based video, Geist said that the law permitted schools to copy news and news programs for playback in the school for one year without payment.

“Today, the tariff is a non-starter,” Guest said, because of changes in Canadian copyright law that expanded the rights of educational institutions to use content royalty-free.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Chinese Executive Accused of Seed-Theft Conspiracy Denied Bail

Mo Hailong, the Chinese executive accused of being part of a plot to steal genetically modified seed corn and take it to China, was denied bail, Iowa’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

In his ruling denying bail, Federal Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon said that Mo was a flight risk and there was strong evidence he knew he was taking proprietary intellectual property, the newspaper reported.

Mo is director of international business at Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co., part of the Beijing-based DBN Group, and also heads Kings Nower North America, a seed company based in Naperville, Illinois, according to the Courier.

Mo is being held in federal facilities in Florida and is to be extradited to Iowa, the newspaper reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

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

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