Target, Swatch, Rocky Top, Tesla: Intellectual Property

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Target Corp. used to sell a teeth-whitener under its name that was $15 cheaper than Crest Whitestrips. Then came the call from Procter & Gamble Co.

P&G informed Target it was suing Clio USA Inc., the manufacturer of the store-brand product, and two distributors, accusing them of infringing patents for a strip of material used to apply the whitener on teeth. According to Clio, it was enough to make Target pull the product from store shelves on April 20.

The rift exposed an aggressive strategy by P&G to protect its products from private-label store brands that have siphoned off consumers by offering similar quality at lower prices. Analysts say the strength of a name like Crest fades as consumers get used to store brands, an erosion that has already befallen surface cleaners, dishwashing soaps and bleach.

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Swatch Objects to Authorities Over Apple’s Use of IWatch Label

Swatch Group AG, the world’s biggest watchmaker, says it’s taking action against Apple Inc. over the most valuable technology company’s use of the iWatch label, as it’s too similar to its own iSwatch product, Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said.

Measures may include pointing out Apple’s branding to authorities in all the countries where it has been registered as a trademark, he said.

“This is the normal procedure to protect your own brand name,” Hayek said. “We react like this for all other brand names that we have protected.”

He said there are no plans as yet to take Apple to court.

Cupertino, California-based Apple hasn’t yet disclosed any specifics for an Internet-connected wristwatch. Swatch Group, with headquarters in Biel, Switzerland, sells a digital-display model called iSwatch.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple in California, declined to comment on Swatch’s challenge.

Rocky Top (Town) Claims Lawsuit Immunity Over ‘Rocky Top’ (Song)

A small Tennessee town that approved changing its name from Lake City to Rocky Top is arguing that it is immune to a trademark suit from the owners of the copyright to the “Rocky Top,” a song beloved of Tennesseans and the unofficial fight song of the state university.

The House of Bryant Publications LLC sued Lake City, as it’s currently called, and a marketing company that promoted the name change, saying in its March 10 complaint that it would confuse the public. The copyright holder asked for a court order barring the name change.

The case is House of Bryant Publications LLC v. City of Lake City, Tennessee, 3:14-cv-00093, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville).

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Google Sued Over Posting of Photos on Company-Hosted Website

Google Inc. was sued May 2 for copyright infringement by a photographer who claims the company failed to remove his photos posted without permission by a Google customer to a website the search-engine company hosted.

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment on the complaint.

The case is Boffoli v. Google Inc., 2:14-cv-00655, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Four Plead Guilty in Groundbreaking Android-App Piracy Case

Four people charged in a first-of-its-kind piracy case involving applications for Android mobile devices pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement.

The four were accused of reproducing and distributing more than 1 million unauthorized copies of apps and renting computer servers to host websites to store pirated copies, according to court papers. The government seized the website domain names for the apps’ marketplaces.

The prosecution represented “the first counterfeit-apps case” by the Justice Department, Mythili Raman, then acting head of the criminal division, said in a statement in January.

All four defendants -- three Floridians and one Oregon resident -- entered pleas in federal court in Atlanta and face potential prison sentences of five years, fines of as much as to $250,000 and orders to pay restitution. Sentencing is set for July.

One case, which involved three of the four defendants, is U.S. v. Pace, 1:14-cr-00026, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta). The second case is U.S. v. Peters, 1:14-cr-00025, in the same court.

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Tesla Said to Tell Car Owner to Disconnect It From His Computer

A purchaser of a Tesla Motors Inc. electric vehicle told a user forum devoted to Tesla cars that after he modified an Ethernet cable and connected his car to a computer, he got a call from the Palo Alto, California-based company warning him someone was hacking his car, the Gas2 car blog reported.

After the car owner explained that he was the one who had done the alleged hacking, he said Tesla told him such actions would be related to industrial espionage and that he might void his car’s warranty if he continued to do so, according to Gas2.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at Charles Carter, David Glovin

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