Wednesday, September 12, 2012

(BN) Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Costco: Intellectual Property

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Inc., the world's largest online retailer, persuaded a federal court in San Francisco to dismiss a suit brought by a patent owner from Menlo Park, California.

OIP Technologies Inc. sued the Seattle-based retailer March 12, claiming its patent 7,970,713 was infringed. The patent, which was issued in June 2011, covers a method and apparatus for automatic pricing in electronic commerce. Although the application was filed in 2000, it took 11 years for the patent to be issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to court papers, Amazon was in discussions with OIP's predecessor in 2001 over acquisition of the company and the technology covered by the patent. OIP claims that instead of buying the company or taking a license to the technology, Amazon interviewed two of the company's engineers about the technology and offered each a job.

OIP said in its complaint that the software system Amazon uses through its website infringed the patent. It asked the court for money damages to compensate for what it said was unauthorized use of its technology, together with litigation costs and attorney fees.

In his Sept. 11 order, U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen dismissed OIP's case. He said that the technology at issue wasn't patentable, under U.S. patent law, because it was "directed toward the abstract idea of price optimization, which is a fundamental economic principle" that belongs in the public domain.

The case is OIP Technologies Inc., v. Inc., 3:12-cv-01233-EMC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For more patent news, click here.


Porn Producer Agrees to Stop Selling 'Ben & Cherry's' Films

The seller of adult films with titles and packages based on Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. flavors agreed to pull them from the market.

Rodax Distributors Inc., which does business as Caballero Video, agreed Nov. 11 to a court order barring it from selling its "Ben & Cherry's" series of 10 DVDs with titles including "Peanut Butter D-Cups" and "Boston Cream Thigh" while a trademark suit is under way.

The order requires Caballero to recall the DVDs and to destroy all products, labels and marketing materials that infringe on Ben & Jerry's trademarks.

Ben & Jerry's, a unit of London-based Unilever NV, sued Caballero in federal court in New York Sept. 5, claiming the DVDs and packaging violated its trademarks. The packaging featured images of naked men and women against backgrounds that copy the design of Ben & Jerry's ice cream containers such as grazing cows and fluffy white clouds, the company said in its complaint.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan issued a temporary restraining order against Caballero on Sept. 6.

The case is Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. v. Rodax Distributors Inc., 12-CV-6734, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Costco Sued by Stanley Furniture Over 'MyHaven' Trademark

Costco Wholesale Corp., the membership warehouse chain based in Issaquah, Washington, was sued for trademark infringement by a furniture manufacturer.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 10 in federal court in North Carolina, Stanley Furniture Co. accused Costco of selling furniture under a "My Haven" label. High Point, North Carolina-based Stanley says this infringes its "MyHaven" mark it has used since 2006.

Including in the complaint are photos Stanley says are of allegedly infringing packaging and furniture sold in Costco stores. The furniture company claims that the "My Haven" furniture sold at Costco has "virtually duplicated numerous non-functional features" of furniture Stanley created.

Customers are confused about the "source, sponsorship, approval or certification" of the "My Haven" items sold at Costco, Stanley claims, and are likely to assume falsely that the North Carolina company is the source.

Stanley said it has suffered harm from Costco's actions, and asked the court to bar further infringement, and for awards of triple the profits realized from the sale of the allegedly infringing merchandise. Additionally, the North Carolina company seeks money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

Costco didn't respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit. The warehouse chain's supplier is co- defendant with Costco.

The case is Stanley Furniture Co. v. Whalen Furniture Manufacturing, 1:12-cv-01007-TRDS-JEP, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.

Deccan Chronicle Puts Up Trademarks as Security in IDBI Loan

Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd., a newspaper publisher in Secunderabad, India, has mortgaged the trademarks of all four of its publications, the Times of India reported.

The trademarks as associated with the "Deccan Chronicle," "Asian Age," "Andhra Bhoomi" and the "Financial Chronicle," the newspaper reported.

The company entered into the loan agreement that uses the trademarks for security in March 2011, according to the Times of India.

The lender, Mumbai-based IDBI Bank Ltd. has the option of selling the trademarks, within 15 days of a default on a loan for which the marks are security, the newspaper reported.

Botswanans Dispute Ownership of Zebra Mark Used by Soccer Team

Botswana's Registrar of Companies held a hearing Sept. 10 in the dispute between the registered owner of the "Zebra" trademark and the country's national soccer team, that is nicknamed "the Zebras," the MmegiOnline Botswanan news website reported.

Tumisang Keitseng, the trademark owner, said she created the mark to market Botswana for tourism purposes, not to promote the team, according to MmegiOnline.

The team's logo was designed by Ludo Kemoeng, who said that while he permitted Keitseng to use the image on T-shirts and bandanas, it was created to create solidarity among supporters of the national team, MmegiOnline reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Akorn Sued by Fera Over Drug Supply Agreement, Trade Secrets

Fera Pharmaceuticals LLC, a provider of anti-infective ophthalmic medicines, sued business partner Akorn Inc., seeking more than $100 million in damages for contract violations and misuse of trade secrets.

Fera alleges Akorn, of Lake Forest, Illinois, in 2009 agreed to make Fera products for seven years, "failed to perform its duties," and sought to acquire Locust Valley, New York-based Fera's trade secrets and make at least two products itself, according to papers filed yesterday in New York state Supreme Court.

"Akorn's violation of the Commercial Manufacturing Supply agreement caused Fera substantial economic harm," and Akorn should pay compensatory damages, Fera said in court papers.

Fera seeks a jury trial and unspecified punitive damages.

Akorn's chief financial officer, Tim Dick, didn't immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Fera Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Akorn Inc., 653184/2012, New York state Supreme Court, County of New York (Manhattan).