Apple-Samsung, Google, Etsy Marks: Intellectual Property

Updated on

(Bloomberg) -- A partial court win Monday for Apple Inc. gives the U.S. tech company more leverage for an ultimate agreement it may seek with Samsung Electronics Inc. to end a fight over mobile phones that began under Steve Jobs, who said the South Korean company copied his designs.

Samsung used patented designs and two features of the Apple iPhone in older models of its devices, a U.S. appeals court ruled in upholding about $548 million in damages for the Cupertino, California-based company.

The court said the iPhone’s appearance that Apple sought to protect is as much about function as beauty, and isn’t eligible for perpetual coverage under U.S. trademark law. That could strip about $382 million from the original judgment.

The two smartphone makers have ended their global patent battles except for the issue decided Monday and a second case, also before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Adam Yates, a spokesman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“We are pleased the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal confirmed Samsung blatantly copied Apple products,” Josh Rosenstock, an Apple spokesman, said in a statement.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 14-1335, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11-cv-1846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Ohio University Professor Patents Solar Panel Wind Deflector

A professor at Ohio’s Youngstown State University received a patent on an invention that can potentially reduce the weight of solar panels and prevent wind damage.

Patent 9,003,739 covers a solar panel wind deflector. According to the patent, rooftop-mounted solar panels are typically placed at a 30-degree angle to the top of a flat roof, where their shape and thickness can create problems when the wind blows. These problems include lift, drag, movement, noise, and increased resistance that can, in time, cause the panels to become unstable and even pull loose from their mountings.

The wind deflector has a curved convex surface configured to meet the wind before aerodynamic forces hit the panel. The deflector can take the shape of a parabola, according to the patent.

The university said in a statement Monday that the deflector can help resolve “one of the biggest issues facing the solar panel industry today.” The invention will make the installation of roof panels safer and more economical, the school said.

The application for the patent, which was filed in June 2012, was handled by Fay Sharpe LLP of Cleveland, Ohio.

For more patent news, click here.


Google Wins Court Bid to Avoid Copyright Law ‘Swiss Cheese’

Google Inc., joined by broadcasters and free-speech advocates, beat back an actress’s bid to block her appearance in a controversial online video and avoided a ruling it warned would make “Swiss cheese” of copyright law.

Cindy Lee Garcia was “bamboozled” into appearing in an anti-Muslim film which stoked violent protests when it was made public in 2012, a federal appeals court ruled. Nevertheless, the court declined to block the video while her lawsuit proceeds.

Garcia said she should be granted an injunction because of her independent copyright interest in her performance in “Innocence of Muslims.” Google warned that such a ruling would upend the entertainment industry. The court agreed.

“Garcia’s theory can be likened to ‘copyright cherry-picking,’ which would enable any contributor from a costume designer down to an extra or best boy to claim copyright in random bits and pieces of a unitary motion picture,” U.S. Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the majority.

The decision by the San Francisco-based court reversed an earlier holding in Garcia’s favor. That ruling triggered an outcry by Internet companies including Netflix Inc. and Twitter Inc., who joined in Google’s case.

Garcia had sued Google after the Mountain View, California-based company refused to take down the 14-minute clip showing a fictional attack by Muslims on a Christian family. The video sparked riots in the Middle East and caused an Egyptian cleric to call for everyone involved in the movie to be killed.

Cris Armenta, an attorney for Garcia, didn’t immediately reply to voice-mail or e-mail requests for comment on the ruling. Google’s media relations department also didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Garcia v. Google Inc., 12-57302, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

AAA Says Car Owners Don’t See Vehicles as ‘Computing Devices’

The American Automobile Association, the motor club with more than 55 million motorists in the U.S. and Canada, weighed in on the U.S. Copyright Office’s “Proposed Exemptions to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies.”

In its comments to the copyright office, the auto club countered arguments by automobile and farm machinery makers opposing the exemptions. Those groups have claimed that owners of their vehicles don’t own the software that underlies their operating systems.

They say that lifting the prohibition on anti-circumvention measures would open the door to piracy and undercut the intellectual property rights of the companies and their suppliers.

The motor club said that its members don’t view their cars as “computing devices.” Leaving the anti-circumvention measures in place would deny motorists the opportunity “to continue to enjoy the rights they have long been accustomed to” and would prevent them from customizing their cars.

This would “make unlawful a ‘grease monkey’ tinkering under the hood on a Saturday afternoon.”

Earlier, the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said in comments it submitted to the Copyright Office that the anti-circumvention measures of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as applied to vehicle control systems would have a chilling effect on research into vehicle safety systems and deprive consumers of information about their vehicles.

These choices could affect the privacy and safety of vehicle users, EFF said, and the “veil of secrecy” might make it possible for a manufacturer to deny that any error exists within a vehicle control system.

For more copyright news, click here.


Disney, NFL, Chanel Marks Allegedly Infringed on Etsy Website

Walt Disney Co., the National Football League, Louis Vuitton, Chanel SA and Michael Kors are among the companies whose trademarks are allegedly infringed by users of Etsy Inc.’s website, according to a May 13 complaint filed in Brooklyn, New York, federal court.

Investors filed a proposed class action against the Brooklyn-based company and its executives after an analyst said that more than 5 percent of about 40 million listings may be counterfeit or otherwise infringe well-known brands.

The complaint quoted Gil Luria, an equity analyst at Wedbush Securities who said Etsy was becoming “a go-to destination for counterfeits.”

The investors accused Etsy executives of being “personally motivated” to make false statements or omissions “to personally benefit from the sale of Etsy securities from their personal portfolios.”

In their complaint, the investors said they are seeking to have their case declared a class action, and for money damages for all shareholders who bought securities in Etsy from April 16 to May 10.

Sara Cohen, a spokeswoman for Etsy, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Saleh Altayyar v. Etsy Inc., 1:15-cv-02785, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

For more trademark 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 Joe Schneider, Andrew Dunn