Monday, August 13, 2012

(BN) Apple, Siemens, Rolex, Google: Intellectual Property (1)

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- A witness for Apple Inc. told a jury that a "substantial portion" of consumers that he surveyed confuse Samsung Electronics Co.'s tablet computers and smartphones with Apple products.

In the sixth day of the companies' intellectual property trial in federal court in San Jose, California, Apple used the testimony of a hired expert witness, Kent Van Liere of NERA Economic Consulting, to try to show a likelihood of confusion among consumers, a requirement to demonstrate that Samsung infringes the trademarked look of Apple's devices.

There are a "substantial portion of consumers who are likely to be confused when they see" Samsung's products, who will think that "they are actually seeing an Apple product," Van Liere told the court.

The trial is the first before a U.S. jury in a battle being waged on four continents for dominance in a smartphone market valued by Bloomberg Industries at $219.1 billion. Each company is trying to convince jurors that its rival infringed patents covering designs and technology.

Apple is using the market survey research to try to show the jury that Samsung has copied its devices so closely that a consumer seeing products made by the South Korean company would actually believe them to be made by Apple. Samsung is trying to demonstrate that there is little actual confusion among consumers between its and Apple's products.

Samsung's lawyer William Price elicited testimony from Van Liere that consumers surveyed about tablet computers saw videos of those products and didn't touch them.

"You've been in cafes, where you see people with Apple computers" and see "that big neon Apple on the top of computer?" Price asked. "You can see that pretty easily?"

Van Liere said that he had seen the logo, and that his surveys didn't include the views of Apple products Price asked about. He said he reconstructed only the "allegedly infringing" conditions outlined in Apple's complaint.

Another paid expert witness called by Apple, industrial designer Peter Bressler, told the jury Aug. 6 about data in a report showing that the most common reason some Best Buy Co. customers return Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer is because they thought they had bought the iPad 2.

Bressler, on cross-examination, acknowledged that he was asked during a pretrial deposition in April whether he thought customers purchasing products are confused between Apple and Samsung devices and he said he didn't know.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, countersued and will present claims that Apple is infringing its patents.

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

Samsung, Siemens' Osram Settle Global LED Patent Fight

Samsung Electronics Co. and Siemens AG's Osram unit have reached a global settlement of their patent fights over light- emitting diode technology, according to a filing with a U.S. trade agency.

Financial details weren't made public in the filing dated Aug. 9 with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. The settlement ends a case that Samsung filed against Osram and that was scheduled for trial at the agency on Aug. 13. Osram's case against Samsung went to trial last month, and the judge was expected to release his findings in October.

The settlement agreement covers those cases and "other legal proceedings throughout the world between Samsung and Osram involving LED technology," the filing said. The companies have been fighting in Germany, South Korea and the U.S. over technology that is transforming how lighting works in homes, businesses, cars and electronics.

"We can confirm that we reached a settlement with Samsung," Stefan Schmidt, an Osram spokesman, said in a statement. "Following the agreement, we do not comment on the details of the settlement. Osram feels comfortable with the reached agreement."

LEDs, which reduce power consumption and can last decades, are being used more frequently in products like street lights and commercial lighting. Companies are trying to find ways to lower the cost of the LEDs so they can better compete in the home lighting market against traditional light bulbs or compact fluorescent bulbs.

Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, the world's largest maker of televisions, memory chips and smartphones, is planning to start selling televisions using organic light-emitting diodes in the second half of this year. The OLEDs enable TVs to be as thin as a tablet computer.

Osram is the world's second-largest lighting company, behind Royal Philips Electronics NV, and Munich-based Siemens is considering spinning the company off next year so it can better capture growth in the LED market.

The ITC cases are In the Matter of Light-Emitting Diodes and Products Containing Same, 337-798 and 337-785, both U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.


Rolex Sues Los Angeles Retailer, Says Watches Contain Fake Parts

Rolex Group's Rolex Watch USA sued a Los Angeles-based retailer for trademark infringement.

The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Melrose Jewelers, which sells products through the website, of selling fake versions of the Swiss watchmaker's products. Co-defendant with the company is Krisnan Agarwal, owner of Melrose Jewelers.

According to court papers, Melrose is accused of selling watches that are comprised of elements that are not genuine Rolex parts and, in some cases, inner mechanical workings that may be as much as 35 years old.

The website is "overwhelmingly dominated by pictures of Rolex watches," and its "latest news" section includes only Rolex news and press released, according to the complaint.

The Swiss watch company said that it is unable to enforce or maintain "quality control standards on the non- genuine/counterfeit Rolex products" it accused Melrose Jewelers of selling. Consumers are confused into thinking they are receiving genuine Rolex watched and this harms the company, Rolex claims.

It asked the court to order the Los Angeles jeweler to quit promoting and selling the fakes, and to quit using the Rolex name in connection with any goods or services it did not authorize. Rolex also asked for an order mandating the destruction of all infringing products and promotional material, and for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

Agarwal said in an e-mail that his company sells used authentic Rolex watches and his company "will vehemently defend itself in court regarding allegations of selling counterfeit parts." He said, "If you put aftermarket rims on a Ford Mustang, it doesn't mean it's not a Ford Mustang."

Rolex is represented by Crag S. Summers and Matthew Scott Bellinger of Knobbe Martens Olson Bear LLP of Irvine, California.

The case is Rolex Watch USA Inc. v. Krishan Agarwal, 2:12- cv-06400-MMM-MRW, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Medieval Times Claims Pirate's Dinner Adventures Infringes

Medieval Times U.S.A. Inc., which offers a dinner theater program with jousting knights, sued a competitor for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 7 in federal court in Orlando, Florida, Irving, Texas-based Medieval Times claims Pirate's Dinner Adventure Inc. is offering a copycat version under the 'Camelot Knights Dinner Adventure' title.

Pirate's Dinner Adventure of Orlando operates two dinner theater adventures in Buena Park, California, and Orlando, cities where Medieval Times also has facilities, according to the complaint. Medieval Times said the Pirate-themed company sent out a statement in mid-July saying it has a new dinner show known as Camelot Knights.

The setting, program, menu, and structure of the Camelot Knights program copies and infringes Medieval Times' trade dress, the Texas company said in its pleadings. Trade dress is protected under U.S. trademark law.

The company also mentioned in the complaint that the Camelot Knights program is receiving "the lowest possible rating" on the consumer-ranking website. Medieval Times said it's harmed by Pirate's Dinner Adventure's actions, that the public is confused and that it is losing sales and profits from the alleged infringement.

It asked the court to bar further infringement of its trade dress, and for awards of money damages, including extra damages to punish Pirate's Dinner Adventures for its actions. It also asked for Pirate's Dinner Adventures profits derived from the alleged infringement and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

Pirate's Dinner Adventures didn't respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Medieval Times U.S.A. Inc. v. Pirate's Dinner Adventure Inc., 6:12-cv-01212-ACC-TBS, U.S. Districe Court, Middle District of Florida (Orlando).

For more trademark news, click here.


Google to Factor Infringement Claims Into Search Results Ranking

Google Inc., creator of the world's most used Internet search engine, said it will take the number of infringement claims against a particular website into consideration when ranking search requests.

The claims have to be valid, the Mountain View, California- based company said in a statement posted on its website Aug. 10. The aim of the change is to help users more easily find legitimate sources of the content they seek such streamed television programs or music.

Google said the pace of copyright claims it receives has increased over the years, with the company already seeing more this year than in all of 2009. In the 30 days preceding Aug. 10, Google said it received copyright removal notices for 4.3 million URLs, which are the addresses that take users to a particular website.

Virginian Pleads Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement

A resident of Annandale, Virginia, pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria.

Quynh Trong Nguyen, 36, sold more than $2.3 million worth of infringing software, according to the prosecutor's statement. Much of the software was sold through websites Nguyen operated. Among the programs he sold were fake versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Office, Autodesk Inc.'s AudoCAD, and Adobe System Inc.'s Acrobat.

Nguyen agreed to forfeit more than $650,000 in seized liquid assets, the government said.

His plea agreement was entered in federal court in Alexandria on August 9, according to court records. Sentencing is set for November 9.

The case is USA v. Nguyen, 1:12-cr-00175-LMB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

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