Luxury Brands, VirnetX, Led Zep: Intellectual Property

Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, which sells Cartier watches and other luxury brands, won a U.K. court order telling Internet providers to block websites selling counterfeit goods, in what a judge said was one of the first cases of its kind in Europe.

Judge Richard Arnold said British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, BT Group Plc and other providers should “block, or at least impede, access” to six sites including www.cartierloveonline.com, which offers what it describes as cheap replicas, according to the 266-page ruling.

The sale of counterfeit and pirated products may be worth as much as $960 billion a year by 2015, according to a 2011 report by Frontier Economics Ltd. cited in the ruling. Arnold said the case was one of the first applications made in Europe for a website-blocking order related to trademark infringement.

David Allen Green, a lawyer representing Open Rights Group, which lobbies to protect digital freedom, criticized the decision, saying it might affect innocent Internet users.

The case is Cartier International AG & Anr v. British Sky Broadcasting Limited & Ors, HC14C01382, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division

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Patents

VirnetX Holding Seeks Rehearing in Apple Private-Network Suit

VirnetX Holding Corp. asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for a hearing before a full panel to reconsider its Sept. 14 decision that struck out a $368.2 million damage award against Apple Inc. for patent infringement.

The company on Oct. 16 sought reinstatement of the damages and the jury’s finding that Apple infringed two patents for virtual private network technology, VirnetX said in a statement.

The appeals court ordered a review of whether Apple’s FaceTime feature infringed two patents. The court agreed that Apple’s VPN on Demand features infringed two other patents.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, based in Cupertino, California, declined to comment after the Sept. 14 decision.

The appeal is VirnetX Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc., 13-1489, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is VirnetX Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc., 10-cv-417, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

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Copyrights

Dish Wins Tentative Ruling Over Fox in AutoHop Ad Removal Case

Dish Network Corp.’s AutoHop service, which lets subscribers watch recorded prime-time television programs with the advertisements taken out, doesn’t infringe Fox Broadcasting Co.’s copyrights, a federal judge said in a tentative decision.

The contested features of Dish’s Hopper digital-video recorder, which also include the ability to automatically record all four major networks’ prime-time programming every night, would be fair use under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in the Sony Betamax case, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said at a hearing Oct. 17 in Los Angeles.

Fox and the other networks have argued that allowing viewers to watch recorded prime-time shows with the ads removed undermines their business model. Dish subscribers can’t watch live prime-time television without the ads, only the ad-free recorded shows the following day.

The judge didn’t issue a final ruling on Dish’s and News Corp.’s Fox unit’s requests to resolve both Fox’s copyright infringement and breach-of-contract claims ahead of a trial scheduled in January.

Annette Hurst, a lawyer for Dish, argued that the streaming functionality of its service was unlike that of Aereo Inc., which the Supreme Court ruled violated broadcasters’ copyrights, because it is not a “public performance” of copyrighted content.

Lawyers for both companies declined to comment on the judge’s tentative decision after the hearing.

The case is Fox Broadcasting Co. v. Dish Network LLC, 12-cv-04529, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Led Zeppelin Members Must Defend Suit in Pennsylvania, for Now

Members of Led Zeppelin and its music publishers, who were sued May 31 for copyright infringement over part of the rock song “Stairway to Heaven,” lost their bid to have the case dismissed or removed to another federal court in California.

Judge Juan R. Sanchez in Philadelphia denied the request, based on new claims in an amended complaint. He gave the musicians and publishers permission to try again in the future.

Band members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were sued by Michael Skidmore as trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust. The musicians, who are British, and the music company defendants argued they lacked sufficient connection to Pennsylvania to justify being sued there and no specific alleged infringing injury occurred there.

The trust claims the late Randy Craig Wolfe, a rock musician who toured under the name Randy California and formed the band Spirit, composed a central musical element of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The defendants can be sued in Pennsylvania because they make “millions of dollars” there by directly targeting the sales of recordings and downloads of the song, according to the amended complaint filed Oct. 8.

The musicians and publishing defendants haven’t filed an answer to the amended complaint.

The publishing defendants are Super Hype Publishing Inc., Warner Music Group Corp., Warner/Chappell Music Inc., Atlantic Recording Corp. and Rhino Entertainment Co., according to court records.

The case is Michael Skidmore as Trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust v. Led Zeppelin, 14-03089, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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