Alibaba, Taylor Swift Lyrics, UNM: Intellectual Property

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(Bloomberg) -- China eased away from a confrontation with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., saying last week’s report criticizing the e-commerce company for failing to root out counterfeit goods didn’t have “judicial effect.”

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s billionaire chairman, on Friday met Zhang Mao, chief of State Administration for Industry and Commerce, or SAIC, promising to step up anti-piracy spending, according to a statement on the regulator’s website.

“We will actively cooperate with the government and increase investment to strengthen our existing anti-counterfeit team,” Ma said, according to the SAIC statement. “We’ll enhance daily online and offline inspection and spot-check to solve the problem with the authorities together.”

The meeting may mark an easing of tensions between the company and the government. The SAIC issued a “white paper” this week that accused Alibaba of allowing merchants to operate without required licenses, to run unauthorized stores that co-opt famous brands and to sell fake wine and handbags. Alibaba employees took bribes, and the company didn’t fix flaws in customer feedback and internal credit-scoring systems, SAIC said.

The SAIC now says the report is essentially a meeting memo without “judicial effect,” according to a separate statement from the regulator. The government said earlier that the SAIC meeting that prompted the report happened in July, but that publication was delayed to this week to avoid affecting Alibaba’s $25 billion initial public offering in September.

Zhang on Friday said Alibaba has an important role in e-commerce and increasing job and entrepreneurship opportunities, according to the SAIC. Alibaba pledged to enhance communication with the government to strengthen marketplace management, according to the statement.

Alibaba had earlier said government inspectors applied standards inconsistently and didn’t give merchants enough time to respond to accusations.

Alibaba has worked to get rid of counterfeits as it expands internationally, saying it removed 90 million listings for products that breached intellectual-property rights before its IPO. The crackdown is part of Alibaba’s effort to build its reputation after becoming Asia’s largest technology company.

Singer Taylor Swift Seeks to Register Song Lyrics as Trademarks

Country singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has filed a flurry of applications to register song lyrics as trademarks.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Swift filed three applications each to register “Nice to Meet You, Where Have You Been?” and “Could Show You Incredible Things.” She also submitted three for “’Cause We Never Go out of Style” and 16 each for “This Sick Beat” and “Party Like It’s 1989.”

The Grammy Award-winning musician said in her applications that she plans to use the marks for a wide range of goods and services, including home decor, paper products, bags and handbags, clothing, toys and Christmas ornaments.

Swift has also submitted 18 applications to register her initials and one for “SwiftStakes,” which she said in her filing would be used for arranging and conducting contests and sweepstakes.

Chubby Noodle Takes on Fat Noodle in Restaurant Trademark Fight

A San Francisco restaurant specializing in Asian-style noodle dishes filed a trademark suit in federal court in San Jose, California, against a yet-to-be-opened competitor, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Noodles Raw Catering LLC, which operates two “Chubby Noodle” restaurants in San Francisco, has accused Saison Group LLC of choosing the name “Fat Noodle” for its forthcoming Chinese restaurant in order to confuse customers into thinking mistakenly that the two are affiliated, according to the newspaper.

Chubby Noodle operators also complain that the bowl-of-noodles logo chosen for Fat Noodle is too similar to the logo -- which shows chopsticks lifting noodles from a bowl -- for Chubby Noodle, the Chronicle reported.

Saison Group told the Chronicle that the “Fat Noodle” name was conceived in 2008, long before Chubby Noodle existed and claimed that Chubby Noodle was actually “trying to use our good name and press to enhance their own,” according to the Chronicle.

The case is Noodles Raw Catering LLC v. Saison Group LLC, 5:15-cv-00316, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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Gilead Wins Second Look at Indian Solvadi Patent Application

In a victory for Gilead Sciences Inc., a ruling by India’s regulators to reject a patent for the Foster City, California-based pharmaceutical company’s $1,000-a-pill Solvadi Hepatitis C treatment has been set aside by the Delhi High Court, the Mint newspaper reported.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher said the patent office “generously took assistance” from material provided by opponents to the patent, and it remains to be seen whether this adversely affected the handling of Gilead’s patent application, according to the Mint.

Vikas Ayuja of the AIDS service organization Delhi Network of Positive People, one of the groups that had opposed issuance of the patent, said that when the application goes back to the Indian patent office for reconsideration, his is one of four organizations that will oppose the granting of the patent, the Mint reported.

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Music Companies, Websites Form Copyright Association in China

In efforts to combat online piracy, music companies and websites in China that offer music have formed the Online Music Copyright Association, China Radio International’s English-language website reported.

The group has published two documents, an “Anti-Piracy Declaration” and its “Self-Discipline Convention,” CRI reported.

Music companies that are members of the organization will notify the group about any pirated music within the system, and website-operator members say they’ll take down any unauthorized music or music lacking the proper copyright, according to CRI.

A report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry trade group ranks China as the 21st largest music market in the world, with more than 400,000 online music consumers, CRI reported.

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

University Seeks Changes to New Mexico’s Public Records Act

New Mexico State University is seeking legislation that would add exemptions to that state’s Inspection of Public Records Act, the Clovis, New Mexico, News Journal reported.

The exemptions would bar disclosure of confidential information about job applicants, some law enforcement records and the identification of those who are accused of civil rights violations or file civil rights complaints, according to the News Journal.

Impetus for the change to the law was the withdrawal of several candidates for athletic director once they knew their names would be disclosed, University President Garrey Carruthers, a former New Mexico governor, told the newspaper.

He said such disclosure requirements have “a very dampening effect” on getting a pool of candidates together for some jobs connected to the school, according to the News Journal.

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