Mastercard, Swiss Copyright, GM: Intellectual Property

July 1 (Bloomberg) -- MasterCard Inc., the Purchase, New York-based credit card company, is seeking a patent on a payment exchange that includes Bitcoin and other non-traditional modes of payment.

According to application 20140172633, published June 19 in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the system is described as a “global shopping cart” with a flexible application programming interface.

Other nontraditional payment forms that can be part of the payment exchange include barter, virtual currency, social media credits, automated clearing house and coupons.

Filters can be included in the exchange system to block payment for pornography, purchase of illegal substances or for illegal acts such as money laundering, terrorism, smuggling and making purchases with stolen credit card numbers, MasterCard said in its application.

New Orleans Snowball Fight Over Patent Ended by Court

A snowball fight among producers of machines and syrups used to create a traditional New Orleans summertime treat has come to an end in a federal appeals court.

SnoWizard Inc.’s patent 7,543,459, for an element in an icemaker, was found to be invalid and unenforceable. The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the invention was offered for sale before the patent application was filed.

While the patent holder argued that his purchase of the parts was for experimental use, the appeals court said that ordering 400 or more of the items covered by the patent from a manufacturer “could hardly qualify as anything other than commercial use.”

The appeals court also affirmed a lower court determination that New Orleans-based SnoWizard didn’t infringe a “Snoball” trademark held by two other companies. SnoWizard prevailed on infringement claims involving four of its trademarks: Cajun Red Hot, White Chocolate & Chops, Mountain Maple and SnowSweet.

SnoWizard did infringe the “orchid cream vanilla” snowball-flavor trademark, the appeals court said, while dismissing claims that SnoWizard infringed six other trademarks and a trade dress claim for a design for a snowball stand.

Additionally, the appeals court said that parties in the case that were opposed to SnoWizard failed to establish either their antitrust claims or civil racketeering.

The cases are Southern Snow Manufacturing v. Snow Wizard Holdings, 14-1043, and 13-1586, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.


Remington Sued Over ‘Lighter, Stronger and Even More Badass’

Cerberus Capital Management LP’s Remington Outdoor unit was sued for trademark infringement by a Georgia firearms manufacturer over its use of the phrase “lighter, stronger and even more badass” in advertisements for its GII AP4 semiautomatic assault rifle.

Daniel Defense Inc. of Black Creek, Georgia, in a lawsuit filed June 24 in federal court in Savannah, said the slogan infringed on phrase “lighter, stronger, better” used to promote its own assault rifle.

Daniel Defense asked for a court order barring further infringement. Remington didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the complaint.

The case is Daniel Defense Inc., v. Remington Outdoor Co., 14-cv-00131, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).

For more trademark news, click here.


Swiss Looking at Copyright Changes Affecting Content Uploading

Proposed changes in Swiss copyright law will ban uploading infringing content through the use of the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website reported.

Under the measure, downloading for personal use will remain legal, and Internet service providers will be required to remove infringing content from their platforms, according to TorrentFreak.

Service providers would be exempted from liability for the illegal actions of their subscribers, TorrentFreak reported.

Only those who persistently flout the law will be identified to rights holders for civil proceedings, according to TorrentFreak.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Convictions, Sentences Upheld for Theft of GM Hybrid Technology

An appeal by former General Motors Co. engineer and her husband of a trade-secret theft conviction has been rejected by a federal appeals court.

Shanshan Du, and her husband Yu Qin were convicted in 2012 of trade-secret misappropriation related to GM’s hybrid-car technology. The secrets at issue were worth more than $40 million to General Motors, prosecutors said in a presentencing memorandum.

They filed notices of their appeals on May 2013, and on June 26, the appeals court said the government presented enough evidence to warrant the convictions and rejected the defendants’ claims of misconduct by the prosecutors. The court said the sentenced were appropriate.

Qin was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing hybrid technology trade secrets from the carmaker to help develop vehicles in China. His wife, who was accused of copying GM’s private information on the motor control of hybrids and providing documents to her husband, was given a year and a day in prison.

The lower court case is U.S. v. Qin, 10-cr-20454, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit). The appeal is USA v. Shanshan Du, 13-1606, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati).

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 Fred Strasser, Charles Carter

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