Tuesday, July 31, 2012

(BN) Apple, Keyboard Cat, Anonymous: Intellectual Property

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- A lawyer for Apple Inc. told a jury that Samsung Electronics Co. decided it would rather copy the iPhone maker's technology than "beat Apple fairly in the marketplace."

"As we all know, it's easier to copy than to innovate," Harold McElhinny, Apple's lawyer, said yesterday during his opening statement at a trial in federal court in San Jose, California.

McElhinny showed jurors a slide of Samsung's mobile phones from 2006 with physical keyboards and squared corners, and another of its phones from 2010 with rounded edges and a glass touch-screen. Samsung arrived at the newer design only after Apple founder Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, the lawyer said.

Jurors will decide each company's claims that its rival infringed patents covering designs and technology for mobile devices, with potential damage awards reaching billions of dollars. The case is the first U.S. jury trial of a battle being fought on four continents for dominance of a smartphone market that Bloomberg Industries said was $219.1 billion last year.

Samsung's lawyer, Charles K. Verhoeven, disputed Apple's claims that it's copying, pointing to patents from before the iPhone's release by companies including LG that show a rectangular shape and a glass screen.

Samsung's lawyer said the iPhone was an "inspiring" product that created competition.

"Being inspired by a good product and seeking to make even better products is called competition," Verhoeven said. "It's not copying and it's not infringing. Everybody does it in the commercial marketplace."

He said Apple was, in fact, inspired by Sony Corp., pointing to e-mails among members of Apple's design team discussing how the iPhone's original design compared to a Sony design.

Apple's demand for $2.5 billion in damages is based on claims Samsung copied the iPhone and iPad. Apple also wants to make permanent a preliminary ban it won on U.S. sales of a Samsung tablet computer, and extend the ban to Samsung smartphones.

Samsung countersued and will present claims that Apple is infringing two patents covering mobile-technology standards and three utility patents. Samsung is demanding royalties of as much as 2.4 percent for each device sold, according to a court filing.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

LogMeIn to Face Revived Patent Suit by 01 Communique Laboratory

LogMeIn Inc. must face a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by 01 Communique Laboratory Inc., a U.S. appeals court ruled yesterday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a trial judge erred in his interpretation of a patent owned by 01 Communique and vacated a ruling that LogMeIn didn't infringe the patent. The case was sent back to the lower court for further proceedings.

The appeals court, which specializes in patent law, sided with 01 Communique on how the patented invention works. 01 Communique filed the lawsuit in 2010, claiming Woburn, Massachusetts-based LogMeIn infringed patent 6,928,479, which is related to a method of providing remote access to a desktop computer. 01 Communique, based in Mississauga, Ontario, runs the "I'm InTouch" remote-access service.

The appeal turned on the question of whether the intermediary between a personal computer and a remote computer must be on a single server, as claimed by LogMeIn, or if it could be on multiple server computers.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia, had said the patent was limited to products on a single server, while LogMeIn's software uses multiple servers.

The Federal Circuit said the patent wasn't limited to a single server, and ruled instead it could comprise "one or more computers."

"We're feeling this is a step in the right direction," Brian Stringer, 01 Communique's chief financial officer, said in a telephone interview.

The company spent more than $30 million to develop its product, and serves mostly small and medium-sized companies, he said. A suit against Citrix Systems Inc. over the same patent has been on hold while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office took a second look at it. Stringer said the examiner upheld the patent, and Citrix is challenging that decision.

In a statement, LogMeIn said it "continues to believe that it has strong defenses to the claims made by 01 Communique and intends to vigorously defend against these claims."

The case is 01 Communique Laboratory Inc. v. LogMeIn Inc., 2011-1403, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is 01 Communique Laboratory Inc. v. LogMeIn Inc., 10-cv-1007, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

For more patent news, click here.


'Keyboard Cat' Video Maker, Clothing Company Settle Dispute

The maker of the "Keyboard Cat" video that has been viewed almost 26 million times on Google Inc.'s YouTube video- sharing website settled a copyright infringement suit against a Chicago-based clothing maker.

Charles Schmidt of Spokane, Washington, sued SkinnyCorp LLC's Threadless unit in June 2011 for putting images of the keyboard cat on T-shirts and cases for Apple Inc.'s iPhones without authorization.

Schmidt said in his filing that he has licensed the images and sections of the video to companies including Microsoft Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Nokia Oyj. The video is also being used to promote pistachio nuts, according to court papers.

Additionally, he sells merchandise through Redwood City, California's Zazzle Inc., including T-shirts, bumper stickers and mugs. Schmidt told the court he was harmed by the unauthorized Threadless products and sought an order barring further infringement.

Schmidt also asked for an order for seizure and destruction of all infringing products and promotional materials, and for money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

He was represented by Caitlin A. Bellum and Katherine Hendricks of Hendricks & Lewis PLLC of Seattle.

Bellum said in an e-mail yesterday that the parties have entered into a mutually agreeable settlement and that no details will be disclosed. The Threadless website yesterday didn't have any Keyboard Cat items for sale.

The case is Schmidt v. SkinnyCorp LLC, 11-cv-00236, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington (Spokane).

For more copyright news, click here.


Anonymous Says It Will Take Action on Trademark Registration

The hacker group Anonymous said it will take action against Early Flicker, a Paris-based T-shirt company that registered the online activists' symbol as a trademark.

The registration, through France's Institute National de la Propriete Industrielle, covers wide range of uses, including clothing, objects made from leather, kitchen utensils, shopping bags, umbrellas, dog collars and ski boots. Early Flicker sells its merchandise on EBay Inc.'s French-language auction site.

In addition to the symbol -- a headless man in a business suit encircled by a laurel wreath -- the application also covers the Anonymous slogan: "We are Legion. We do not Forgive. We do not Forget. Expect us."

In a video posted on Google Inc.'s YouTube video-sharing site, Anonymous said it will take down any business Early Flicker has on the Internet and won't stop until the registration is revoked and it gets a public apology.

The name of Anonymous "will not be the whore of the world," according to the video.

Electronic Arts Fails to Win Dismissal of Infringement Claims

Electronic Arts Inc., the video-game maker, failed to persuade a federal court to dismiss trademark clams brought by a defense contractor.

Electronic Arts sued in January seeking a judicial declaration that it didn't infringe Bell Helicopter trademarks held by Textron Inc. by including images of the aircraft in one of its games.

In a response filed in May, Textron accused Redwood City, California-based Electronic Arts of trademark infringement.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said July 15 that Textron presented arguments "sufficient to establish plausible disputes" about actual consumer confusion resulting from the inclusion of the helicopters in the Battlefield 3 game.

The judge said that while consumers aren't likely to think that Textron is in the video game business, the game could lead consumers to believe the company "is somehow behind" Battlefield 3.

A disclaimer on the game's packaging that the depiction of any weapon or vehicle in the game didn't indicate sponsorship or endorsement by the item's manufacturer wasn't sufficient, the judge said.

"Plausibly, the disclaimer might not be seen by teenage users, for example, anxious to rip open the package and play the game," he said.

He also dismissed the argument that Electronic Arts's depiction of the helicopters necessarily fell under trademark law's fair-use exemption.

The case is Electronic Arts Inc. v. Textron Inc., 12- cv-00118, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).


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