Industrial Espionage, Seahawks: Intellectual Property

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(Bloomberg) -- France is considering making industrial espionage a criminal offense as part of a broader tightening of security in the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks.

Following changes by a parliamentary committee, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron’s bill now includes a phrase that the law should be used as “a powerful and efficient weapon” to protect industrial, intellectual and scientific assets. The bill will be debated in the National Assembly starting Monday.

The “business secrecy” articles were introduced just days after attacks in Paris left 17 people dead at the headquarters of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere. Prime Minister Manuel Valls is now promising more money, staff and laws to improve security.

“Any infringement, deliberate or otherwise, of business secrets is a breach of civil law,” according to the proposal. “If circumstances justify on grounds of damages, courts can order the seizure of assets of the suspect, the freezing of bank accounts.”

The article wasn’t part of Macron’s legislation when it was originally presented in December with measures intended to bolster growth. Those included easing restrictions on Sunday shopping, shaking up professions like notaries and removing the threat of prison for employers who breach labor laws.

Any publication or revelation of business information deemed a “secret” will be considered a crime under the proposal.

Businesses themselves will be able to identify information they consider secret, although the article does make a provision to protect whistle-blowers and journalists.

Offenders will face as many as three years in jail and fines of 375,000 euros ($436,000) if found guilty of revealing secrets. If the breach is meant to “undermine France’s sovereignty, security or crucial economic interests,” offenders may face seven years in jail and a fine of 750,000 euros ($852,000).


Rhianna Gets U.K. Court to Halt Sale of Shirts Bearing her Image

Pop singer Rhianna has prevailed in a trademark suit with Arcadia Group Ltd.’s Topshop unit, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

The dispute involved a T-shirt bearing the singer’s image based on an image belonging to an independent photographer who licensed his photo to Topshop, according to the Guardian.

Despite the license, a U.K. court found that the singer’s rights were infringed because she didn’t have the ability to control the use of her image.

The court, which issued an order halting the shirts’ sale, said the goodwill associated with Rhianna was damaged because the t-shirts gave the impression they were endorsed by the singer, the Guardian reported.

Seahawks Seek to Register ‘12’ as Patriots’ Blount Wins Mark

The Seattle Seahawks National Football League team, which will meet the New England Patriots in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl game, is seeking to register the number 12 and the word “boom” as trademarks, according to USA Today.

The team previously ran into trouble with Texas A&M University over the use of the phrase “12th man,” which the Texas school had already registered as a trademark, according to the newspaper.

That dispute was settled with the team taking a license to use the phrase and paying the university a fee, according to USA Today.

So far, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected two Seahawks applications to register the number, so the team is now seeking to register the number 12 on the front of a football jersey as a trademark, according to the newspaper.

The request comes as LaGarrette Blount, a running back on the Patriots, has registered “Blount Force Trauma” as a trademark, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The term was registered Jan. 6.

Blount plans to use the mark for T-shirts, the registration said. The term was first used in commerce in January 2014.

For more trademark news, click here.


GoPro Inc. Gets U.S. Patent on Design for New Camera

GoPro Inc., the San Mateo, California-based maker of wearable and mountable cameras, received a U.S patent on a new camera design.

Patent D721,395, issued Jan. 20, is a design patent and does not address the functionality of the camera. According to diagrams accompanying the patent, the camera is rectangular in shape with rounded edges.

GoPro applied for the patent in September 2012, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Blue Calypso Seeks Lifting of Stay, Defendants Want It in Place

Blue Calypso Inc., a Dallas-based creator of mobile-device apps used for shopping and social advocacy, said Wednesday it has asked a federal court in Texas to lift a stay on Covered Business Method Review patent cases it filed against Groupon Inc., Yelp Inc., Foursquare Labs Inc. and IZEA Inc.,

The parties had jointly agreed to the stay pending decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeals Board of the disputed patents. Blue Calypso filed its request for a lifting of the stay Jan. 9, following the appeal board’s Dec. 16 written decision. In that decision, the board allowed as patentable at least one claim of a disputed patent asserted against the defendant companies.

The defendant companies have asked that the stay be kept in place, saying that Blue Calypso is appealing the patent office’s findings of invalidity of other patent claims at issue. They said the most efficient way to resolve the dispute is through a motion to dismiss the “few remaining claims.”

The case is Blue Calypso v. Groupon, 6:12-cv-00486, 6:13-cv-00375 and 6:13-cv-00456, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For more patent news, click here.


College Claims 3D Copies of Michelangelo Statues Infringe

A South Dakota resident who took photos of two statues by Michelangelo and used them to print three-dimensional models of the works has run afoul of a local college to whom the statues were given in the 1970s, the 3D printing news website reported.

Augustana College, based in Sioux Falls, told model maker Jerry Fisher that the model he made of Michelangelo’s “David” statue was potentially infringing copyrights, according to

One of the statues is on the college campus, and the other is in a Sioux Falls city park, so Fisher went to the city with the argument that the statues are in the public domain, reported.

After the city also told Fisher his models infringed copyrights, Washington-based Public Knowledge, a public interest group focused on freedom of expression, weighed in, saying his work didn’t infringe and classifying the college’s infringement claims as “bullying,” according to

For more copyright news, click here.

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 David Glovin, Joe Schneider