Wednesday, September 12, 2012

(BN) Samsung, Nike, InBev, Apple, Warhol: Intellectual Propert

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co.'s request for a judge to lift a preliminary ban on U.S. sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer was opposed by Apple Inc.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, issued an order temporarily blocking sales of the Tab 10.1 computer in June, almost two months before a jury found Aug. 24 that Samsung infringed six of seven Apple patents at stake in a trial between the two companies and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.

Apple, in a court filing Sept. 10, argued that Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung's effort to lift the ban should be denied because Samsung's appeal of Koh's June order "divests this court of jurisdiction." Koh has set a Sept. 20 hearing to consider Samsung's request.

"Dissolving the injunction only to reinstate it shortly thereafter would cause confusion in the market and is not necessary to prevent irreparable harm" to Samsung, Cupertino, California-based Apple argued in the filing. "Indeed, Samsung admitted that the injunction is not likely to have a significant impact on its business, given that it is already selling a successor to the Galaxy Tab 10.1."

Koh also scheduled a Dec. 6 hearing to consider Apple's request for a permanent U.S. sales ban of eight Samsung smartphone models and the tablet following the jury verdict. Seven of the eight smartphones that Apple seeks to ban are part of Samsung's Galaxy line.

Koh said previously that Apple has indicated it may seek to broaden the scope of Samsung products it wants banned in a permanent injunction. Apple said in an Aug. 27 court filing that Koh should also bar U.S. sales of a version of the tablet that runs on mobile networks, even though that product wasn't covered by the Aug. 24 verdict.

Samsung sought to have the ban on the Tab 10.1 lifted on Aug. 26 after the jury found the device didn't infringe the Apple design patent on which the June 26 court-ordered sales ban was based. The jury instead found that the Tab 10.1 infringed three of Apple's software patents.

Adam Yates, a Samsung spokesman, declined to comment on Apple's filing.

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

New Nike Patent Covers Golf Clubs With Data-Collecting Sensors

Nike Inc. wants to make improving your golf game easier.

The world's largest producer of sporting goods on Sept. 4 received patent 8,257,191 , which covers the use of data- collecting sensors on golf clubs to improve personalization. In one scenario, the analysis of a swing is shown on a display screen embedded on the back of the club's head. That would make getting fit for golf clubs faster and more precise, the company said.

Nike has been integrating digital technology into sports equipment as a way for users to measure and improve results. It also increases the time consumers spend with the brand, which can increase loyalty and sales. The company this year introduced a wristband that tracks daily activity and shoes equipped with sensors that can record such metrics as how high a basketball player jumps during a dunk.

Mary Remuzzi, a spokeswoman for Nike, declined to comment on the patent and when such products might come to market.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based company also received patent 8,258,941, which covers a data collection system that places sensors and transmitters in shoes that automatically track the distance and time of a run or walk. The data would then be shared with the user by sending it to a mobile device or computer.

While golf equipment has become more sophisticated, including balls designed to cater to a player's strengths, fitting is largely a trial-and-error process, Nike said.

Technology covered by this patent would remove that uncertainty by using accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure as many as 100 data points to record such measurements as the angle of the club face, Nike said.

Last month Nike obtained a patent for a computerized radar system that places sensors on soccer balls and other equipment as a way to offer data analysis for team sports. Other products in Nike's digital sport unit include a watch that can track location, distance and heartbeat and a video game workout for Microsoft Corp.'s Kinect for Xbox 360.

For more patent news, click here.


AB InBev's Claim to 'Bud' Name Based on Fraud, Czech Brewer Says

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's claim to the European Union-wide trademark on the word "Bud" for beer and other products is based on a fraud that began more than a century ago, Budejovicky Budvar NP told a European court.

"Anheuser-Busch's claim to the name is based on a fraud that goes back to 1894," Fabienne Fajgenbaum, a lawyer representing Budvar, told a three-judge panel of the EU's second-highest court in Luxembourg yesterday. "When Mr. Busch discovered an extremely interesting beer in the town of Budweis, Czech Republic, he went back to the U.S. and brewed a beer in the way it had been done in the region since the 13th century."

The hearing was part of a fight that started 16 years ago with Anheuser-Busch's bid to get an EU trademark for the name Bud. The EU General Court may have the final say on whether the world's biggest brewer can get the sole rights to the name across the 27-nation bloc.

The EU's top court last year told the lower EU court to re- examine the case after making a number of mistakes in an earlier ruling that upheld Czech competitor Budvar's challenge.

"Budvar had over 100 years to start using the term Bud and it didn't start doing so until 1997," said Verena von Bomhard, a lawyer representing AB InBev. "Bud is certainly not original of our Czech friends."

The EU's trademark agency -- where Anheuser-Busch sought the EU trademark rights in yesterday's case in 1996, 1999 and 2000 -- rejected Budvar's opposition on lack of evidence for its prior rights to the name. The Czech company markets its brew as Budvar in some places with the word Budweiser in smaller print and in others it sells beer as Bud, adding "original Czech."

Budvar claims so-called appellation of origin or geographic-indication rights, an EU protection for products associated with a certain region, arguing its beer comes from Ceske Budejovice, which is called Budweis in German. Anheuser- Busch, founded by a German-born immigrant to the U.S., Adolphus Busch, said it started using the Budweiser trademark in 1876, 19 years before Budvar was formed.

The cases are: T-225/06 RENV, T-255/06 RENV, T-257/06 RENV, T-309/06 RENV, Budějovický Budvar v. OHMI - Anheuser-Busch.

Apple Accuses Polish Grocery Website of Trademark Infringement

Apple Inc. filed a complaint with the Polish patent office, accusing an online grocery website of trademark infringement, the Montreal Gazette reported.

The Cupertino, California-based company objects to the alleged use of the apple icon's inclusion in the store's logo, according to the newspaper.

An executive for the accused store -- -- called the infringement allegation "ludicrous," the Gazette reported.

According to the newspaper, no hearing date has been set for the dispute.

For more trademark news, click here.


Copyright Elements Tossed Out in Velvet Underground Banana Suit

The Velvet Underground, a pop band from the 1960s, has no "realistic prospect of injury" from the owner of copyrights to a number of the late Andy Warhol's works, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled.

The dispute between the band and the estate is related to a cover Warhol designed for the 1966 album "The Velvet Underground and Nico," which featured a banana and the artist's signature.

Even after the band broke up, it continued to use the banana design, according to court papers, and licensed it for a variety of consumer goods, from t-shirts to key chains and pillowcases. The copyright owner, the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc., also licensed the banana design, and in 2009, told the band its use of the cover design infringed the copyright.

The band responded, claiming that the design had acquired what is known under U.S. copyright law as "secondary meaning" associated with the Velvet Underground. It, in turn, objected to the foundation's licensing of the image for use with iPhone and iPad cases and sleeves.

A suit was then filed by the band in January, seeking a declaration that the foundation had no copyright in the design, and accused it of infringing the Velvet Underground trademarks.

The parties then signed an agreement in which the foundation agreed not to sue the band for copyright infringement. Afterward, the foundation asked the court to dismiss the case.

In her Sept. 7 order, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said there was no controversy over the copyright, and dismissed Velvet Underground's request for a non-infringement declaration. The band's trademark infringement allegations against the foundation remain alive.

The case is The Velvet Underground v. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc., 1:12-cv-00201-AJN, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Minnesota Song Downloader Loses Appeal, Again Owes $222,000

A Minnesota woman accused by the music industry of illegally downloading songs was ordered to pay $222,000 in damages after an appeals court overturned a lower-court ruling that had reduced the amount.

The St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals said in a Sept. 11 opinion that the record companies, which appealed the district court's decision to assess $54,000 in damages against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, were entitled to the larger amount. The case has been tried before three juries.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis in July 2011 reduced the third jury's $1.5 million damage award to $54,000, or $2,250 for each of 24 recordings infringed. The music labels appealed to reinstate the first jury's award of $222,000. The U.S. also appealed, to defend the assessment of damage awards under the federal Copyright Act.

"The evidence against Thomas-Rasset demonstrates an aggravated case of willful infringement by an individual consumer who acted to download and distribute copyrighted recordings," the court said. "We conclude that the record companies are entitled to the remedies that they seek on appeal."

"We are pleased with the appellate court's decision and look forward to putting this case behind us," the Recording Industry Association of America, the record companies' trade group, said in an e-mailed statement.

Thomas-Rasset was sued in 2006 and accused of downloading 1,702 songs without authorization from the file-sharing website Kazaa and making them available for free to other computer users. For the case, the judge approved a sample of 24 songs to reduce the time and expense of researching copyrights.

Andrew Mohraz, a lawyer for Thomas-Rasset, didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Three juries reached verdicts in favor of the record companies. The judge granted a second trial after the first because of an improper jury instruction. A third trial was set after the record companies refused to accept the judge's reduction of the jury's $1.92 million award in the second trial.

The Minnesota suit was brought by labels owned by the world's four largest recording companies, Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment, Access Industries Holdings Inc.'s Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group and Citigroup Inc.'s EMI Group.

The appeals case is Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, 11-2820, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (St. Louis). The lower-court case is Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset, 06-01497, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.

Bible College Acknowledges Making Unauthorized Textbook Copies

An Australian Bible college admitted in that country's federal court that it made at least 1,900 unauthorized copies of textbooks produced by smallPrint Australia and removed the branding information, the Australian newspaper reported.

Although TBM Training Pty Ltd. of Melbourne, which offers ministry and theology courses through the Total Bible Ministry, acknowledges removing copyright information from the texts, it denied allegations that it substituted its own brand, according to the newspaper.

In a court filing, the school said its staff thought because it wasn't charging students for the copies, it didn't infringe anyone's copyright, the Australian reported.

SmallPrint General Manager John Loveday, which filed the case against the college, told the Australian that this kind of copyright infringement had become more common in Australia and that his company had sued several other educational institutions for similar actions.

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