VF Laser, U-Haul, Apple, ‘Left Shark’: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) -- VF Corp., the Greensboro, North Carolina-based clothing and sporting goods company, settled a patent suit brought by a laser technology firm.

RevoLaze LLC of Westlake, Ohio, sued in federal court in Cleveland in August, claiming VF infringed six patents related to the use of lasers to mark fabrics.

The laser company accused VF of selling infringing products through its own websites and through retailers such as Nordstrom Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp.

In a Feb. 18 court filing, the parties agreed to dismiss the case and that each should bear its own costs. No other details were disclosed in the court filing.

In a Feb. 19 statement, RevoLaze said a dispute with VF before the U.S. International Trade Commission was also settled and the financial terms of the settlement were confidential.

The case is RevoLaze LLC v. VF Corp. 14-cv-01820, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland).

National Oilwell Varco’s Infringement Case Against Omron Fails

National Oilwell Varco Inc., a Houston-based oil field services company, failed in its patent suit against Omron Corp.’s Omron Oilfield & Marine unit

The suit, filed in federal court in Austin, Texas, in August 2012, alleged that Houston’s Omron infringed patent 5,474,142, related to automatic drilling-rig control systems.

In a Feb. 16 order, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said National Oilwell Varco failed to prove it owned the patent at issue. The judge also said that the patent was invalid and the Omron system didn’t infringe.

The case is National Oilwell Varco LP V. Omron Oilfield & Marine Inc., 12-cv-00773, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

U-Haul Bubble-Wrap Boy Found Not to Infringe Hummel Figure

Amerco’s U-Haul rental unit didn’t infringe copyrights relating to a ceramic figurine designed by the late Berta Hummel, a federal court in Massachusetts ruled.

In a suit filed in November 2013, Boston Copyright Associates, holder of the U.S. rights to the Hummel figures, sued Reno, Nevada-based U-Haul, claiming that the image of a boy on a bubble-wrap product sold by the rental company infringed copyrights to a particular statue.

At issue was the Hummel “Hansl” image of a boy wearing traditional Bavarian dress and holding a fishing pole. In her Feb. 17 ruling, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said that while there are some similarities between the packaging image and the Hummel figure, the styles are different.

She characterized the Hummel as whimsical, while the boy on the bubble-wrap packaging “exhibits a sense of formality that is contrary to Hummel’s expressive, whimsical style.”

The judge ruled that as a matter of law, “the two images lack substantial similarity” and dismissed the complaint upon U-Haul’s request.

The case is Boston Copyright Associates Ltd. v. U-Haul International Inc., 13-cv-12826, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Apple Gets Employee-Poaching Case Moved to Boston Federal Court

Apple Inc. got a lawsuit accusing it of poaching employees from a battery maker moved from Massachusetts state court into federal court.

A123 Systems LLC of Livonia, Michigan, sued Apple Feb. 6 in Middlesex County Superior Court, claiming that the iPhone maker “embarked on an aggressive campaign” to lure away key A123 employees. The employees -- some scientists with doctoral degrees -- had access to the battery company’s confidential information and had signed nondisclosure agreements, according to court papers.

The battery company claimed in its pleadings that it has had to shut down several projects for lack of employees with sufficient scientific expertise to replace those who left to join Apple. A123 asked the court to bar the ex-employees from working for a direct competitor for one year, to order them not to disclose the battery company’s proprietary information, and to tell Apple not to hire any more people from the A123 Venture Technologies division.

Additionally, A123 asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Without addressing the claims made in the Middlesex complaint, Apple argued in a Feb. 17 filing that the dispute didn’t belong in state court. The Cupertino, California-based company pointed out that it’s not based in Massachusetts and neither is A123. Additionally, the five ex-A123 employees whose departure is at issue are all California residents.

A123 filed a request Feb. 18 in federal court for a temporary order barring the ex-employees from violating their confidentiality agreements, and to keep them from soliciting other A123 employees.

The case is A123 Systems LLC v. Apple Inc., 15-cv-10438, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Trademark

Katy Perry Seeks More Protection for Super Bowl ‘Left Shark’

Pop singer Katy Perry has filed an application to register “Left Shark” as a trademark, according to a Feb. 6 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

She has also filed three separate applications to register three different shark-shaped logos, as well as applications for “drunk shark,” “right shark” and “basking shark.”

Earlier, counsel for Perry sent a cease-and-desist demand to 3-D printing service Shapeways Inc., demanding that a model of the so-called left shark used by Perry in her Super Bowl halftime show be taken down. She claimed that the model infringed her copyrights.

For more trademark news, click here.

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, Joe Schneider

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