Intellectual Property News - August 2009

IBM applies for Patent for Twitter & Facebook Remote Control – August 31, 2009

IBM filed a patent application for a new technology that allows services like Twitter & Facebook to be managed with a television remote control. IBM said that “"One of the joys of watching television is discussing with one's friends the juicy bits of a favorite show or the latest television program.” The patent documents filed with the USPTO states that the system “allows a viewer to autoblog about currently experienced media programming in real-time without having to resort to direct interaction with a computer to perform the autoblogging.” The documents further reveal that “These blog communications may be accomplished without the viewer having to leave the broadcast receiver of the television.”

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Mininova.org loses copyright ruling – August 26, 2009

Mininova.org, the archive site of BitTorrent has been ordered by a Dutch court to purge its directory of trackers linking to copyrighted files within 30 days or face fines. Eric Dubbelboer, the co-founder of Mininova stated that they were considering an appeal and stated that “We are obviously not satisfied with this ruling. The result of this ruling for Mininova is that we have to reevaluate our business operations. At this time, we cannot determine what this will actually entail or imply. We will have to examine the verdict thoroughly first. We are considering to appeal this judgment.”

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Verizon Communications Inc. & AT&T sued for patent infringement – August 26, 2009

Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T have been sued by TiVo Inc. for patent infringement. Verizon claims that the “time warp” patent used in their DVR systems have been infringed along with two other patents. TiVo is seeking damages for past infringement and an order stopping the infringement. Thomas Rogers, TiVo’s chief executive officer said that “Attempts were made to reach a commercial arrangement. They were not reached. We believe we are being caused irreparable harm and that harm increases everyday this doesn’t cease. We need to stop their continued unauthorized use of our intellectual property.” 

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USPTO refuses to register “Tweet” – August 24, 2009

The USPTO refused to trademark “Tweet” citing in its decision that all the companies that use “tweet” in their titles, suggesting that the a trademark of the root word would add to confusion. Last month, writing in a blog, company co-founder Biz Stone wrote "We have applied to trademark tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of 'going after' the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter." Twitter has the chance to appeal the rejection and has promised not to lord it over those companies if the trademark is approved.

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“Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer sued for copyright infringement – August 21, 2009

Jordan Scott has sued “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer for copyright infringement. The law suit has been filed in a federal court in California. The works in question are Scott’s “The Nocturne” and Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn,” the fourth book in her vampire series. Scott’s lawsuit stated that both the books that have been published in 2008 show similarities in plot lines, characters and language. Meyer’s publishers, the Hachette Book Group, called the lawsuit a "publicity stunt to further Ms Scott's career," and said it expected the court would dismiss it.

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Establishment of the WIPO Arbitration & Mediation Center in Singapore – August 19, 2009

The Singapore Office of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) will officially open in January 2010 after an agreement signed between Mr. Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs. Mr. Shanmugam stated that “Singapore is honored to be chosen as the location for the WIPO Center in the Asia Pacific Region. The expansion of WIPO’s presence here bears testimony to Singapore’s commitment to the protection of intellectual assets and our support of WIPO’s efforts to develop the international IP regime. WIPO’s decision to set up its WIPO Center office in Maxwell Chambers, a dedicated facility for international dispute resolution, augments our efforts to develop Singapore as a venue of choice for international arbitration and mediation in Asia.” 

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Twitter faces patent infringement suit – August 17, 2009

Twitter has been sued for patent infringement by TechRadium, a Texas based company in the emergency mass-notification field. Techradium filed the law suit on August 5, 2009 in a Texas federal court. Shawn Staples, the attorney for TechRadium stated that when the Company began seeing promotional materials and news accounts of companies, school districts and local governments using or considering adopting the micro-blogging service as their emergency notification system, they stood up and took notice of Twitter. He said “Honestly, that’s what got us the attention of Twitter, We don’t really give a damn about social networking. TechRadium is concerned that it developed these patents by extending a lot of time and money and is protecting its market.”

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Copyright protection extends to court filings – August 10, 2009

Pinsent Masons, a US lawyer and an Intellectual Property Law expert has claimed that copyright is violated when courts pass legal submissions on to a commercial publisher. He stated that an exemption in UK copyright law would be likely to protect such publication of writs over here. He claims that the US courts’ behavior does not take into account the amount of hours of work put into submissions. A letter written to the California’s Chief Justice and Administrative Director of Courts by Edmond Connor, demanded that they stop passing submissions to legal publishers like LexisNexis and Westlaw.

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Carolina Hurricanes sue Hip-Hop artist for trademark infringement – August 10, 2009

Tyrone Banks, a Raleigh hip-hop artist has been accused of trademark infringement by the Carolina Hurricanes. Banks produced a song promoting the franchise which has led to a lawsuit alleging that the team’s trademarks have been violated. The lawsuit accuses Banks of misusing trademarks by referring to the tune as "the official Carolina Hurricanes song" and wearing a Hurricanes jersey in promotional material. The federal lawsuit states that the Hurricanes had sent Banks a cease-and-desist notice in February and that Banks had responded by removing the term “official” or “anthem” from his website and had also included disclaimers. But reports claim that Banks was still seen wearing a Hurricanes jersey in promotional material which amounted to unauthorized use of the team’s trademarks. 

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David Kappos appointed as the USPTO Director – August 7, 2009

David Kappos was appointed as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. U.S Commerce Secretary Gary Locke stated that “We are grateful to the Senate for its swift confirmation of David Kappos to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It’s no secret that the agency currently faces significant and persistent challenges, but David is the right person to meet them and carry out my top priority for the USPTO -- dramatically reducing the unacceptably long time it takes to process patent applications.”

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“Catcher in the Rye” copyright fight continues – August 6, 2009

Lawyers for The New York Times Co., The Associated Press, Gannett Co. Inc. and Tribune Co. continued to fight the copyright infringement case in support of the publication of Fredrik Colting’s “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.” They urged that a copyright infringement claim – especially one that may be invalid – was no justification for banning the book. The lawyers argued that they "fiercely believe that the availability of a preliminary injunction under the copyright law cannot trump the prerogatives of the First Amendment, and that a book banning of at least arguably transformative work cannot be countenanced."

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Cordance Corp. accuses Amazon.com of patent infringement – August 4, 2009

Cordance Corp. has accused Amazon.com of infringing three patents which further the “one-click transactions” on the Internet. Amazon.com is currently the world’s largest online retailer. Cordance is seeking royalties based on an estimated $2.7 billion in sales since 2006 from online transactions. Lynn H. Pasahow, Amazon’s lawyer told jurors in his initial presentation that “We don’t think we infringe” and went on to say that the product-ordering invention by Cordance’s Drummond Reed involves two clicks of a computer mouse and not one. Amazon was sued in 2006 for infringing two Cordance patents for customer feedback on the internet. 

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Lawrence T-shirt vendor held for infringing KU trademarks – August 3, 2009

Lawrence T-shirt vendor Larry Sinks, the owner of Joe-College has been ordered to pay $127,000 for selling T-shirts that “willfully infringed” upon the trademarks of the University of Kansas. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson declined to find Larry Sinks and his business in contempt as urged by KU. KU had pleaded the court to impose a number of “coercive sanctions” on Joe-College and Sinks, which included triple the profits they made from selling the offending apparel, attorney’s fees of $1.26 million and costs of $110,614. KU claimed that Sinks and his shop openly defied the court by continuing to display and sell the infringing clothing after the jury verdict.

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