Thursday, January 03, 2013

(BN) InterDigital, Tiffany, Amazon, GM: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) InterDigital Inc. (IDCC) said it filed a new patent-infringement complaint against Huawei Technologies Co., ZTE Corp. (000063) and Samsung Electronics Co., (005930) claiming they are using its technology related to the latest mobile-phone standards.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, builds on one that InterDigital lodged against Huawei, ZTE and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) in 2011, which is scheduled for a hearing in February.

InterDigital claims Huawei, ZTE, Samsung and Nokia products including mobile phones, USB sticks, laptop computers and components infringe as many as seven of its patents. It's seeking an order that would prevent imports of the products into the U.S. The company said it filed a companion lawsuit in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, seeking cash compensation for the unauthorized use of its inventions.

"While the vast majority of our dozens of licensees recognize our contributions and choose to license our portfolio based on discussions alone, in some cases we're forced to resort to legal action," Lawrence Shay, president of InterDigital's patent holding units, said in a statement.

Earlier yesterday, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based InterDigital announced it had extended a patent license with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) to ensure it covers 4G technology.

Huawei and ZTE are China's two largest makers of phone equipment. Both are based in Shenzhen, China. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, is the world's largest maker of mobile phones.

The first patent case against Huawei prompted the Chinese company to file an antitrust complaint with European Union regulators. Huawei claims InterDigital has made "unreasonable and discriminatory demands" for licensing fees.

For more patent news, click here.


Tiffany Keeps Exclusive Rights to Peretti Jewelry After Deal

Tiffany & Co. (TIF), the luxury jeweler whose profit has trailed analysts' estimates for four straight quarters, reached an agreement to continue selling jewelry by Elsa Peretti, which accounts for about 10 percent of its sales.

Peretti will receive a one-time payment of $47 million and royalties as part of the 20-year licensing contract, the New York-based company said yesterday in a filing. Tiffany has been Peretti's sole licensee since 1974.

The accord allows Tiffany to retain exclusive rights to Peretti's designs, which include pieces such as "Diamonds by the Yard" and iconic heart- and bean-shaped pendants. Tiffany, the world's second-largest luxury jeweler, recorded revenue of $3.64 billion in its fiscal 2011.

Tiffany, the second-largest largest luxury jewelry maker, said last year that failing to reach an agreement with Peretti may "adversely" affect earnings. Peretti expressed interest in ending her accord with Tiffany, and the two sides were discussing a phased wind-down of sales of the designer's products as an alternative to buying her trademarks.

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA is the world's largest luxury jewelry maker.

Amazon Wins Dismissal of Apple's App Store False-Ad Claim Inc. (AMZN) won dismissal of Apple Inc.'s claim that the online retailer's use of the term "app store" for Android device software is false advertising.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, yesterday granted Amazon's request to throw out one claim in Apple's lawsuit alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition over the Amazon Appstore for Android, a service begun in March that sells applications for the Kindle Fire and devices running Google Inc. (GOOG)'s Android software.

Apple is seeking a court order to block Amazon from using the term. Amazon has argued the words are a generic term that Apple doesn't have exclusive rights to use. A trial is scheduled for Aug. 19.

The iPhone maker, which started its APP STORE in 2008, said Amazon's use of the term was false advertising because it deceives customers into believing that Amazon's service has the qualities of Apple's applications store, Hamilton said in her ruling. Apple maintained this could divert its revenue to Amazon.

Apple hasn't shown that Amazon's advertising attempt to mimic Apple's, failed to show that Amazon made any false statement, and presented no evidence that customers were misled by Amazon's use of the term, Hamilton said.

She ruled only on Amazon's request to eliminate the false advertising claim.

In 2008, Apple applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to register APP STORE, according to the order. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) opposed the registration, saying the term is generic. Last year the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board put an opposition proceeding on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit before Hamilton.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment on the ruling. A call to Seattle-based Amazon's media line seeking comment on the ruling wasn't immediately returned.

The case is Apple Inc. (AAPL) v. Inc., 11-01327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Nestle's KitKat's Shape Ruled Entitled to European Protection

The shape of Nestle SA (NESN)'s KitKat chocolate bar is entitled to protection, European trademark regulators ruled and Food Product Design reported.

The shape had originally been registered in 2006, and challenged by Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ)'s Cadbury unit, according to Food Product Design.

Nestle then argued successfully that it had used the design for so long that the public accepted the shape as an indicator of origin, Food Product Design reported.

Cadbury hasn't yet indicated whether it will appeal this ruling, according to Food Product Design.

For more trademark news, click here.


Doe Defendant Granted Right to Seek Identity of Company Official

A federal judge in Los Angeles has granted an unnamed defendant's request to find out the identity of the alleged head of a company suing him for copyright infringement.

In a Dec. 26 order, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright gave a John Doe defendant the right to take discovery in efforts to find out who is the actual principal of Ingenuity 13 LLC, a provider of adult-themed videos.

In a Dec. 18 filing, counsel for the unnamed defendant told the court that it's possible that the alleged head of the company may have been named as such in legal papers without his knowledge or consent.

According to a letter included with that filing, an Alan Cooper of Minnesota is a caretaker for a property in that state owned by a Chicago attorney. In the letter, Cooper says he was told by the attorney that if anyone contacted him about various corporations, he was to let the attorney know.

Cooper said he'd learned that someone with his name was listed as the principle for a company pursuing numerous copyright suits, and that the firm that filed those suits had an office address with the lawyer for whom he worked as a caretaker.

The caretaker wants the court to determine whether his name is being used without his knowledge and against his will.

Wright granted the discovery request and at the same time put a stay on the plaintiff's request for the identity of the John Doe defendant.

The case is Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe, 2:12-cv-08333- ODW-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Business Aviation Trade Group Head Says GM Needs Private Planes

The head of a trade group representing individuals and companies that use private aircraft is arguing that General Motors Co. (GM) needs to be able to have its own private planes as a way of preventing industrial spying, Forbes magazine reported.

In an opinion piece in the magazine, Ed Bolen of the National Business Aviation Association said that GM needs to be able to use private planes so that employees can meet and discuss proprietary information "in a secure environment and without fear of industrial espionage."

The automaker was barred from using private planes as part of the 2009 government subsidy and that restriction has now been lifted, according to Forbes.

Bolen said in his Forbes piece that studies have repeatedly shown that using a business airplane "is a sign of a well- managed company" and that such companies "outperform those without aircraft."

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