CBS, Google, Nestle, Umami, HTC: Intellectual Property
CBS Corp. (CBS) programming returned to Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) in time for the start of the National Football League season, as the companies ended a one-month dispute that blocked service to pay-TV subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Time Warner Cable agreed to pay a significant increase for the right to carry CBS, though still below $2 per subscriber per month, according to people with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the terms are private.
The accord ends a stalemate that left more than 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers without access to shows ranging from “Under the Dome” to U.S. Open tennis. CBS and other TV networks are demanding higher fees for broadcast signals and looking for new ways to sell digital rights. That’s squeezing pay-TV carriers like Time Warner Cable, which also are grappling with competition from Web-based services such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX)
Time Warner Cable will resume carrying local CBS stations and channels such as Smithsonian, CBS Sports and Showtime on its systems, according to a Sept. 2 statement. The deal also covers Showtime Anytime and video-on-demand for stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
Showtime Anytime allows subscribers to view the premium channel anywhere on tablets and mobile phones. Time Warner Cable failed to obtain other out-of-home rights to CBS’s programming, the people said. CBS may later try to sell those rights exclusively to an online player like Google Inc. (GOOG) or Apple Inc., they said.
“While we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started,” Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said in a statement.
Content Owners Ask U.K. ISPs to Collect Digital Piracy Data
Film and music companies are asking British Internet service providers to set up a voluntary procedure for policing illegal downloading that would include the creation of a database of repeat offenders, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.
Although offenders would initially simply receive warning letters from their service providers, possible sanctions could include a deliberate slowing down of their Internet connections, blocked access to certain websites, disconnection from the Internet and prosecution, according to the Guardian.
Under the proposed procedures, service providers -- including BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk -- would be required to keep a list of customers to whom they send warning letters, the newspaper reported.
The content-industry companies are to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron next week to talk about how to combat digital piracy, according to the Guardian.
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Google, Nestle Agree on KitKat as Name for Newest Android System
Google Inc., creator of the world’s most used Internet search engine, has named the newest version of its Android operating system after a chocolate-covered wafer cookie made by Nestle SA (NESN), the BBC reported.
Google has given a dessert-related name for each Android release, with all in alphabetical order: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo (for frozen yogurt), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, according to the BBC.
Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, approved Google’s choice of the new name, with no money changing hands in the process, and will be producing more than 50 million KitKats bearing the Android logo for 19 markets, the BBC reported.
A statue of the Android logo made from KitKats has been installed at Google’s campus in Mountain View, California, according to the BBC.
Umami Burger Can’t Force Name Change for Umami Mia Pizzeria
Umami Restaurant Group LLC, a Los Angeles-based hamburger chain, failed to bar a Texas pizzeria’s use of the term “umami.”
A federal court in Austin, Texas, rejected Umami’s request for a court order requiring Umami Mia Pizzeria LLC to change its name. The court noted that the term “umami” comes from the Japanese language, and is used to describe a so-called fifth taste in addition to sweet, salt, bitter and sour. The term was coined by a Japanese academic in 1908 for this taste, which is described as “meaty or savory.”
Evidence presented at a hearing and in court filings established that a number of restaurants, companies and organizations -- none of them parties to the suit -- also use “umami” in their names, the court said.
In his order, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said that Umami failed to present convincing evidence that consumers would be confused by the similar names. He said that Umami Burger’s market is “young, hip gourmands colloquially known as ‘foodies.’” They are consumers who “invest considerable time and energy in being ‘foodies’ in much the same way young people put great effort into following obscure bands of dubious musicality.”
These consumers, he said, are likely to be familiar with Umami Burger’s brand and not likely to be confused by the pizza restaurant’s name.
Umami Burger doesn’t yet have a presence in Austin, while the pizzeria is already open for business, he said. The pizzeria would lose the effects of its preopening promotion, goodwill and brand awareness if it was forced to change its name, according to the ruling.
The case is Umami Burger Licensing USA LLC v. Umami Mia Pizzeria LLC, 13-cv-00511, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).
U.K. Charity Seeks Trademark for Companies Sharing Surplus Food
FareShare, a U.K.-based charity aimed at redistributing food to the needy, is setting up a special trademark for companies that make all of their surplus available for human consumption, the Food Manufacturer website reported.
Tony Lowe, founder of the charity, said that by December his group hopes to have a pilot program with 12 companies participating, according to Food Manufacturer.
Manufacturers wishing to qualify for the trademark must demonstrate that they have a process through which they identify, capture and offer their surplus for redistribution.
Lowe told the publication that he expects companies will be enthusiastic about qualifying for the program and using the trademark “as a badge of honor.”
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Microsoft Seeks Patent on Parental Control Function for Mobiles
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is spending 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion) to buy Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s handset unit, is seeking a patent on a technology that will give parents control over their children’s mobile devices.
According to application 20130225152, which was published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Aug. 29, parents can use their mobile devices to “quiet” those in the possession of their children.
The application says parents are having to battle to control their children’s use of mobile devices, trying to regulate how much time their offspring spend texting, talking on the phone, watching television and surfing the Internet.
Sometimes parents actually have to step in and “physically separate a device from a child, such as by taking a mobile phone or tablet computer away at bedtime,” the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its filing.
The controlling device has the capacity to communicate with multiple other devices, restricting communication and other functions.
The technology covered by the patent could also be used to halt annoying mobile phone rings and conversations that occur at an event, Microsoft says, by restricting use of the mobile device to a specific location.
Microsoft applied for the patent in December.
New Zealand’s Software Patent Ban May Attract U.S. Companies
New Zealand’s new patent law, which bans software patents, may lead some U.S. companies to move to that country, the New Zealand Herald reported.
After the legislation passed last week, New Zealand’s Institute of IT Professionals has been approached by U.S.-based companies that are looking “very seriously” into relocating because of the new law, Paul Matthews, the institute’s chief executive officer, told the newspaper.
David Lane, president of New Zealand Open Source Society, told the Herald he expected those with resources, incentives and few ethical concerns will test the new law “to see how far it will bend.”
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
HTC Employees Detained as Trade-Secret Breach Investigated
Two product design executives were detained, Huang Mou-hsin, the deputy chief prosecutor at the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office, said Sept. 2. A director and another senior manager in the design and research-and-development divisions were questioned and released on bail. A fifth person working outside the company also is a suspect, said Huang, who declined to comment on the person’s role.
HTC, which peaked in 2011, has plunged 88 percent since then as it lost market share in smartphones to Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) The Taoyuan City, Taiwan-based company has revamped its marketing strategy and shuffled executives to rebuild the brand after its global ranking in smartphones fell to ninth.
“We believe the investigation and detention of HTC’s key R&D executives will have damaging impact on its new model roll-out in the next 6 months,” Richard Ko, an analyst at KGI Securities Co. in Taipei, said in report to clients Sept 2.
HTC, the first maker of phones using software from Google Inc., said its operations aren’t affected and its fourth quarter products are on schedule, according to an e-mailed statement.
The company filed complaints to the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau last month, accusing employees of leaking commercial secrets and using fake receipts to seek reimbursement, Huang said Aug. 31. Investigators searched HTC offices and the employees’ homes on Aug. 30, according to Huang.
“Protecting the company’s proprietary and intellectual properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of every employee,” HTC said in a statement on its website. “The company expects employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and ethics.”
The company didn’t specify what secrets were involved in the alleged breach.
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