Qualcomm, Red Bull, Ratner, Fracking: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese regulators fined Qualcomm Inc. $975 million and set patent licensing rates for its mobile-phone chip technology after finding the U.S. company guilty of antitrust violations.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued a decision that Qualcomm violated its anti-monopoly law, the San Diego-based company said in a statement Monday. Qualcomm said it won’t challenge the ruling.

The agreement ends an investigation that lasted more than a year and hurt Qualcomm’s ability to collect licensing revenue in China, the largest mobile-phone market, where some handset makers have delayed royalty payments or paid less than they owe.

Qualcomm, whose chips run most of the world’s phones that can access the Internet, gets the majority of its profit from patent-licensing fees related to its ownership of technology fundamental to cellular-phone systems.

The result of the investigation may also provide a guide on how to proceed for non-Chinese companies facing regulatory scrutiny in that nation. Microsoft Corp. and Symantec Corp. also have been the target of Chinese government investigations, fueling concern that the world’s second-largest economy is using such inquiries to boost its native enterprises.

Qualcomm has collected more than $30 billion in royalties in the past five years.

Last year, the company said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission also is looking at its licensing division regarding fair and reasonable commitments, while the European Commission is examining rebates or financial incentives related to Qualcomm’s baseband chip business.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Red Bull Claims ‘Old Ox Brewery’ Registration Raises Red Flag

Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian energy-drink maker, filed notice with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that it opposes a registration for “Old Ox Brewery.”

In its Jan. 28 filing, Red Bull said the public is likely to be confused should the Auburn, Virginia-based brewery be allowed to register its name as a trademark. Consumers would potentially assume falsely that an affiliation exists between the two entities, Red Bull said.

Filmmaker Brett Ratner Sues Over Beverly Hills Whiskey Mark

Filmmaker Brett Ratner, who is planning to start producing premium whiskey, sued a Kentucky distillery in a trademark dispute.

Ratner, who said he will license his brand to London-based Diageo Plc, plans to name his whiskey for his Hilhaven Lodge, a home in Beverly Hills, California, previously owned by Ingrid Bergman.

Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc. has filed objections to his trademark applications, according to court papers, claiming the public would be confused by the similarity of the names.

In a letter from counsel for Heaven Hill included with the court filing, the Bardstown, Kentucky-based distillery claimed to be the largest independent family-owned and operated distilled spirits company in the U.S. The company produces high-end Bourbon selling for as much as $160 a bottle.

In a complaint filed Feb. 5 in federal court in Los Angeles, Ratner is seeking a judicial declaration that his proposed “Hilhaven Lodge” and “The Hilhaven” marks won’t infringe. Additionally, he asked the court for attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is Ratner v. Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., 2:15-cv-00849, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

KickassTorrents Loses One Domain Name, Resurfaces With Another

KickassTorrents, operator of the kickass.so website, which visitors can use to download content using the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, lost its domain name, TorrentFreak reported.

The site, which was registered in Somalia, is now listed as banned, according to TorrentFreak, a website that reports on online copyright issues.

TorrentFreak reported that Kickass has moved domains several times in the past several years.

The team operating the site told TorrentFreak it has re-emerged, operating as Kickass.to, which yesterday was still operating and offering such films as “The Theory of Everything” and “Dumb and Dumber” for download.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Virginia County’s Supervisors Call for Fracking Disclosure

The governing body of an eastern Virginia county is considering a resolution mandating disclosure of all the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, TriCities.com reported.

The Washington County Board of Supervisors seeks to have all chemicals used in this process of oil and gas exploration listed, “including those for which trade secret protection is requested,” according to the news website.

Tricities.com reported that the Virginia Oil & Gas Association has also called for the disclosure of fracking chemicals.

Lawsuits

Marathon Patent Group Sues Apple in Germany Over ICloud Service

Marathon Patent Group Inc., a patent monetization company based in Alexandria, Virginia, said in a statement that it sued Apple Inc. for patent infringement in Germany.

In the suit, Marathon’s TLI Communications unit accuses Cupertino, California-based Apple of infringing European patent 0 814 611 B1. The patent is related to Apple’s iCloud Internet service, according to the statement.

In the past year, Marathon units have sued a range of companies representing many industries. Among its targets are Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., Subaru of America Inc., Nissan North America Inc., Suzuki Motor of America Inc., Twitter Inc., Tibco Software Inc., Netflix Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Lexmark International Inc. and Xerox Corp.

According to U.S. federal case docketing information, so far in 2015, only one patent-infringement suit has been filed by a Marathon unit -- Selene Communication Technologies LLC, which sued Trend Micro Inc. on Jan. 20.

Apple is one of the companies sued for patent infringement by Marathon’s Vantage Point Technology between Oct. 3 and Dec. 23 in 2014. Microsoft Corp., Broadcom Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Marvell Semiconductor Inc. are among those defendants.

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 David Glovin

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