Google, Samsung, Redskins, LDS: Intellectual Property

Companies that successfully fight off “unreasonable” patent lawsuits can get their legal fees paid, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a decision that may benefit Google Inc., Apple Inc. and other technology businesses.

The high court yesterday gave trial judges more power to impose fees if they determine the case “stands out from others” in the conduct of the losing party. In a related opinion, the court limited the ability of an appeals court to overturn a trial judge’s decision in such cases.

The court said the Federal Circuit should be more deferential to trial judges on patent abuse and review such decisions only to see if there was an abuse of discretion.

The cases are Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, 12-1184, and Highmark v. Allcare Health Management Systems, 12-1163.

Motorola Mobility, Samsung Escape EU Fines in Apple Clash

Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics Co. avoided fines as European Union antitrust regulators said “patent wars” with Apple Inc. shouldn’t allow consumers to get caught in the crossfire.

Motorola Mobility, which Google Inc. is selling to Lenovo Group Ltd., broke EU antitrust law when it sought and enforced a German legal injunction against Apple over patents for technology for industry-standard products such as mobile phones, the European Commission said.

“The so-called smartphone patent wars should not occur at the expense of consumers,” Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition chief, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The EU’s decisions provide “legal clarity on the circumstances in which injunctions to enforce standard essential patents can be anti-competitive.”

The EU is cracking down on patent abuses as Motorola Mobility, Microsoft Corp., Apple and Samsung trade victories in courts across the world on intellectual property.

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NFL Probing ‘Redskins’ Assault Rifle for Trademark Violation

The National Football League said it’s investigating an assault rifle bearing the name and logo of the Washington Redskins team that was offered for sale at a Washington gun show, CBS Sports reported.

A comparable gun was offered for sale by Terminal Performance Associates, a gun dealer in Caroline County, Virginia, which on its website called the gun a “tribute to our nation’s capital home team,” according to CBS Sports.

Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, told CBS Sports that the league is looking at a possible unauthorized use of its trademarks.

CBS Sports reported the gun is now listed as out of stock by Terminal Performance.

Mormon Dating Website Operator Seeks to Register Trademark

The operator of a dating website aimed at members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sued in federal court in Texas, seeking clarification that the name “Mormon Match” does not infringe trademarks held by the church.

Jonathan Eller of Spring, Texas, said he and the Utah-based church are at odds in proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over his efforts to register “Mormon Match” as a trademark.

The case is Eller v. Intellectual Reserve Inc., 4:14-cv-00914, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

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Saudi Arabia Cracks Down, Issues Fines to Copyright Infringers

Copyright enforcement regulators in Saudi Arabia issued $1 million worth of fines to infringers last year, Arabian Business reported.

Additionally, the General Administration of Copyright at the Ministry of Culture ordered that $2 million in compensation be paid to that country’s copyright holders, according to Arabian Business.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Zalando Says Undercover Reporter Engaged in Industrial Espionage

Zalando AG, a Berlin-based fashion retailer, sued a European television reporter for industrial espionage after she worked undercover and secretly filmed one of the company’s logistics centers in Germany for three months to document working conditions, the Times of India reported.

The reporter, who accused Zalando of labor-law violations, said she had to walk as much as 17 miles a day in the logistics center and was told that resting was frowned on, according to the newspaper.

Zalando responded in a posting on Facebook Inc.’s social-media site, saying the news coverage didn’t correspond to the culture within the company, and that in an anonymous poll, 99 percent of its employees said they enjoyed working there, the Times of India reported.