Tesco, Conair, Latham, Yahoo!: Intellectual Property

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Tesco Corp.’s patent suit against Weatherford International Plc was dismissed by a Houston federal court after the judge found that Tesco’s counsel misrepresented facts about a depiction of the disputed technology.

The two companies both offer oilfield services, and the patent at issue covers a tool used on oil drilling rigs. During the trial, a witness for Tesco revealed that the tool was pictured in a marketing brochure before the Houston-based company applied for the patent.

Counsel for Tesco told the court the image in the brochure wasn’t of the actual tool at issue. Further proceedings revealed that this wasn’t so, according to court papers.

On Aug. 25, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison dismissed the case and told Weatherford to prepare a request for an attorney-fee award. He said he dismissed the case “with great reluctance” because the conduct he found “so troubling is entirely out of character for the attorneys.”

The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means it can’t be refilled.

The case is Tesco Corp. v. Weatherford International Inc., 08-cv-02531, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

For more patent news, click here.


ALS Association Won’t Register ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Trademark

The ALS Association, a charity that aids people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the degenerative disease, has dropped its bid to register “ice bucket challenge” as a U.S. trademark.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Washington-based organization said it was withdrawing the application because of the public’s concerns.

The association filed the application Aug. 22 and said it did so “in good faith as a measure to protect the Ice Bucket Challenge from misuse.”

When the association filed, it said the mark would be used for charitable fundraising.

In recent weeks, business leaders from Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg to Microsoft Corp.’s Satya Nadella have joined the social-media craze and dumped buckets of ice-cold water over themselves to help increase awareness about ALS.

The Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t initiated by the association. Earlier this summer the family of 29-year-old Pete Frates, a former Division I college baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS two years ago, set up the challenge.

The premise is simple: Pour ice water on your head, post the video on social media and call out someone else to accept the challenge within 24 hours or donate to an ALS organization.

Conair Sues Multiple Chinese Companies Over Counterfeit Products

Conair Corp., the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of hair dryers, sued an undisclosed number of Chinese companies for trademark infringement.

According to a complaint filed Aug. 28 in Chicago federal court, the Chinese companies are selling fake Conair products through online stores, some of which incorporate the U.S. company’s marks into their Internet domain names.

Conair said the items are mailed to the U.S. in small quantities to evade detection by customs officials.

The company asked the court to bar further infringement of its marks and to be awarded the offending Internet domain names, as well as money damages.

The names of the defendants were filed under seal.

The case is Conair Corp. v. Partnerships, 14-cv-06670, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Tennessee Megachurch Sued Over ‘Mighty Men of God’ Mark

A religious organization in Florida that offers conferences aimed at helping men be better fathers and husbands sued a Tennessee megachurch for trademark infringement.

Mighty Men of God Inc. sued in federal court in Orlando, Florida, in June, and defendant World Outreach Church of Murfreesboro hasn’t yet responded, according to court filings.

The Florida group registered the phrases “Mighty Men” and “Mighty Men of God” as U.S. trademarks and has offered conferences under those marks in 17 states since 2003, according to court papers.

It claims it’s harmed by the Tennessee church’s use of “Mighty Men USA” as a title for its conferences and has lost financial support because of consumer confusion.

According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, about 8,000 people attend World Outreach Church. The Tennessee-based church didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Mighty Men asked to be awarded the mightymenusa.org Internet domain name used by World Outreach Church, and asked the court to bar any further unauthorized use of its marks.

The case is Mighty Men of God Inc. v. World Outreach Church of Murfreesboro Tennessee, 14-cv-00947. U.S. District Court, Central District of Florida (Orlando).

For more trademark news, click here.


Yahoo’s Flickr Gets Upload of 2.6 Million Copyright-Free Images

A professor at Georgetown University uploaded 2.6 million copyright-free images to Yahoo! Inc.’s Flickr photo-sharing service, the BBC reported.

The pictures come from more than 600 million library book pages and are tagged to be searchable, according to the BBC.

Professor Kalev Leetaru, who wrote the software that enabled the tagging, is a Yahoo fellow at Washington-based Georgetown, according to the BBC.

Leetaru said he anticipates that Wikipedia will “have a national day” of going through the database to find copyright-free images to illustrate its articles, the BBC reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Latham Must Face Malicious-Prosecution Case, Appeals Court Says

A California appeals court reinstated a malicious-prosecution case against Latham & Watkins LLP, saying the Los Angeles law firm knowingly filed a meritless trade-secret case.

California’s Second District Court of Appeal said on Aug. 27 that after the FLIR Systems Inc.’s trade-secret case against former employees was found have been brought in bad faith, the ex-employees unsuccessfully sued Latham, which represented Wilsonville, Oregon-based FLIR.

FLIR had claimed the plan the ex-employees developed for their new venture was its intellectual property, according to court papers.

Latham persuaded the trial court to dismiss the bad-faith case under a California statue barring strategic lawsuits against public participation. The ex-FLIR employees appealed.

The appeals court said the former employees offered enough evidence that they would prevail on malicious prosecution claims and reversed the lower-court ruling.

The appeal is William Parrish v. Latham & Watkins, B244841, Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, Charles Carter

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