Qualcomm, U-Haul, Apple, Google: Intellectual Property

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(Bloomberg) -- How do you say “Qualcomm” in Chinese? That may depend on a Shanghai court battle against the team that beat Apple Inc. in a similar dispute three years ago.

A local company laying claim to Qualcomm Inc.’s Chinese-language brand name, Gao Tong, has enlisted Hejun Vanguard Group, the management consulting firm that helped make Apple pay $60 million in 2012 to use the iPad moniker in China. A trademark suit brought against Qualcomm by Shanghai Gao Tong Semiconductor Co. is slated for a court hearing next month. ‘

The trademark case gives Qualcomm a new headache in the world’s second-largest economy after it was fined $975 million by China’s National Development and Reform Commission last month over antitrust violations. The San Diego-based maker of digital wireless communications equipment said it wouldn’t challenge the ruling, which also imposed conditions on the local royalties it charges on phone sales.

Tina Asmar, a spokeswoman at Qualcomm, declined to comment on the trademark case.

Both the Qualcomm and Shanghai brands use the same two Chinese characters, which translate roughly to “high communications.” Shanghai Gao Tong registered five trademarks containing the characters between August 1992 and January 2004, according to the China Patent Trademark Office’s database.

Shanghai Gao Tong is seeking 100 million yuan ($16 million) in damages, according to its June filing in the Shanghai Higher People’s Court. Qualcomm’s use of the trademark is a form of unfair competition, Li said.

PODS $60.7 Million Infringement Judgment Against U-Haul Affirmed

PODS Inc.’s $60.7 million trademark infringement judgment against U-Haul International Inc. will stand, a federal judge in Florida ruled.

Clearwater, Florida-based PODS, a provider of moving and storage services, sued U-Haul in July 2012, claiming its “PODS” trademark was infringed. PODS, the Florida company claimed, is an acronym for “portable on demand storage,” and U-Haul’s use of the term in its advertising for its U-Box brand constituted unfair competition and would confuse consumers.

The jury agreed and in September 2014 awarded PODS the damages judgment.

Phoenix-based U-Haul asked the judge to reconsider, arguing that the term was generic and not entitled to trademark protection.

On March 11, U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore said the verdict was “not contrary to the great weight of evidence” PODS presented that the mark was distinctive. He denied U-Haul’s request for a new trial and ordered the clerk to enter the final judgment in favor of PODS.

The case is PODS Enterprises Inc. v. U-Haul International Inc., 12-cv-01479, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa).

For more trademark news, click here.


Google Seeks Patent on Wearable Device to Treat Diseases

Google Inc., operator of the world’s most-used search engine, applied for a patent on a wearable device that could be employed to modify or destroy cells that cause illness.

Application 20150065821, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office March 5, covers what the Mountain View, California-based company called nanoparticle phoresis.

The invention includes a wearable device that’s able to direct a magnetic field to specific targets within the blood. The device could be used to treat conditions that previously required hospitalization for treatment, Google said. The company also claimed the magnetic field generated could target only specific cells and wouldn’t cause the death, removal, or modification of healthy cells.

According to the drawings accompanying the patent application, the device would be configured to be worn like a wristwatch.

Google said the gadget could monitor the health of the wearer by measuring such things as blood pressure, pulse rate and skin temperature. The company filed the patent application in September 2013.

Apple Issued Patent on Fuel-Cell System for Mobile Devices

Apple Inc., maker of the iPod and iWatch, received a patent for a fuel-cell system to provide power to mobile devices.

Patent 8,980,491, issued Tuesday to the Cupertino, California-based company, covers a fuel-cell stack that converts fuel into electric power.

Apple said one of the fuel sources for the cell would be sodium borohydride and water. Sodium borohydride is a compound that, under some conditions, can be used to store, release and reabsorb hydrogen.

The application for the patent was filed in August 2010, with the assistance of Park Vaughan Fleming & Dowler LLP of Davis, California.

For more patent news, click here.


Brussels Court Bars 3.4% Copyright Levy for Belgian ISPs

A Brussels court rejected a request by Sabam, the Belgian association of authors, composers and publishers, that Internet service providers in Belgium pay 3.4 percent of their revenue in copyright fees, PC World reported.

In a March 14 ruling, the court ruled that if Internet service providers don’t modify or initiate the content transmitted on their networks, they are not liable for copyright infringement, according to PC World.

The Belgian government opposed Sabam’s request, saying it violated an e-commerce directive from the European Union mandating that its member countries ensure Internet service providers not be liable for the content they transmit, PC World reported.

Sabam said it will appeal the judgment, which it called out of line with four decisions of the European Court of Justice, the magazine reported.

Georgia State Says Copyright Suit Record Need Not Be Reopened

Georgia State University asked a federal court not to re-open the record in a closely watched copyright case in order to check the school’s compliance with a court order.

The school was responding to a request from several publishers of scholarly works who sued George State University in April 2008 over what the publishers said was unauthorized use of their digital content.

In 2014, a federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling on copyright law’s “fair use” provision with regard to the academic publishers’ content, and sent the case back to the lower court for a second look at the infringement claims.

The publishers then filed their request for the record’s reopening, saying the court “must take account of the relevant facts as they currently exist” so it can fashion relief addressing the present situation rather than “conduct that occurred several years ago.”

In its opposition, the school said the publishers were merely recycling old arguments. It said that nothing in the mandate from the federal appeals court suggested nor cited case law require a reopening of the record. The record “was fully developed at trial and is complete,” the school said in its March 13 filing.

The case is Cambridge University Press v. Becker, 08-cv-01425, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta). The appeals court cases are Cambridge University Press v. J. Albert, 12-14676 and 12-15147, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

For more copyright 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