Intellectual Property News - July 2009

Trademark applications indicate potential Harry Potter ride names – July 29, 2009

Warner Bros. Entertainment filed a number of applications that appear to be for fun rides, restaurants and shops that will be a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The rides are named “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” “Flight of the Hippogriff” and “Dragon Challenge.” The applications that have been filed for retail shops include names such as “Dervish and Banges,” “Honeydukes,” “Ollivanders,” “Zonko's” and “Owl Post.”

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BU student being sued for illegally downloading music – July 28, 2009

Four major record labels – SONY BMG Entertainment, Arists Records LLC, Warner Bros. Records Inc. and UMG Recodings Inc. have sued Joel Tenenbaum, for using the peer-to-peer network KaZaA to infringe copyrights on 30 songs they own. This is the second such dispute to go on trial. A recording industry spokeswoman, Cara Duckworth, stated that “This is an individual who has admitted to egregious peer-to-peer use, and instead of accepting responsibility for his actions and settling in a reasonable manner, he’s chosen to wage a protracted legal battle.” The record companies state that Tenenbaum might have actually downloaded more than 800 songs. Tenenbaum could be charged $150,000 for each willful infringement, totaling the damages to $4.5 million if proved guilty. 

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38 Claims declared invalid in Blackboard patent infringement suit – July 27, 2009

For the second time during the course of the three year law suit between Blackboard Inc. and Desire2Learn Inc., drawbacks have been found in Blackboard’s patent claims. 38 claims of Blackboard Inc.’s patent have been declared invalid by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Defining the term “user,” the Appellate Court stated that, "The [patent] makes clear that the word 'user' refers to a flesh-and-blood person and not an electronic representation of that person." This lawsuit was initiated by Blackboard Inc. in the year 2006. Blackboard Inc. had claimed infringement of its patent that covers an Internet-based method for providing educational software.

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China keen on fighting against copyright infringement – July 24, 2009

Mainly known for its counterfeiting and copyright violations, China is striving to promote and protect its intellectual property rights. Counterfeit goods can be easily bought in places such as the Silk Street Market in Beijing, either openly or beneath the counter. An intellectual property expert Edouard Schmitt zur Hohe stated that "In Shenzhen, for example, there is an identical market Luohu and when Wu Yi (former Chinese politician) went down, she wasn't happy with it and within 24 hours all counterfeits were gone. So if the Chinese government really wants to make a move, it will."

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New technology being developed by Dish Network Corp. to avoid patent infringement – July 21, 2009

Dish Network Corp., the second-biggest U.S. satellite-television provider stated that it was developing “potential” design around technology to avoid infringing on a patent of TiVo Inc. The company is trying to stop a federal judge from ordering a shutdown of its service. In a letter written to U.S. District Judge David Folsom, Dish Network and EchoStar Corp. stated that they have “identified” options to avoid infringement. 

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Katy Perry withdraws trademark suit against fashion designer– July 20, 2009

In an unexpected turnout of events, just an hour before the case was due to be heard by a judge in Canberra, pop star Katy Perry decided to withdraw the trademark case she had initiated against the Australian fashion designer who shares her name. Katie Perry, the fashion designer was recently ordered by the singer’s lawyers to cease trading and withdraw her application to use the name on all her goods. Fashion designer Katie Perry says, "I went to sleep last night worrying about this case and whether I was going to lose my business and now all that has changed. Physically and mentally it's taken a huge toll. I've learnt a lot of lessons through this - mostly to stick to my guns. I still have to work tonight but I think I'll find time for a glass of champagne as well."

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Trademark dispute over the mark “Palazzo” – July 15, 2009

Palazzo Design Corp. of Houston that manufactures clothing items was sued by Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Palazzo hotel casino over the right to use the mark “Palazzo.” This suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. Attorneys Deanna Forbush and Lyssa Anderson of Fox Rothschild LLP, a Las Vegas law firm stated that “Like many hotels and resorts, the properties contain gift shops and souvenir shops, which sell items which have the hotel names on them. This is done primarily to advertise the Venetian and Palazzo properties.”

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Five Patent Applications feature Bill Gates’ name – July 14, 2009

Five patent applications featured the name of the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Nathan Myhrvold, the ex- Microsoft CTO and Bill Gates have applied for patents that describe a fleet of specially equipped vessels to be deployed in a hurricane’s path- vessels that are capable of altering the surface temperature of the ocean by mixing in colder water from greater depths. This would in turn reduce the heat-driven condensation that gives rise to hurricanes. These applications were filed by Searete which is associated with Intellectual Ventures, a Washington based company formed by former Microsoft executives.

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Anti Piracy victory for Symantec Corporation - July 13, 2009

Symantec Corporation, the global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions, won $18.6 million in damages in cases brought against two distributors selling counterfeit Symantec software. V-Micro Inc. was ordered to pay $9.7 million and Higher Model Computer LLC was ordered to pay $8.9 million to Symantec. The judgment against V-Micro Inc., a New Jersey based organization, was delivered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, while the judgment against Higher Model Computer LLC, a Connecticut based organization, was delivered by the United States District Court for the Central District of California Western Division in Los Angeles. Joy Cartun, senior director, Symantec Legal Department stated that “The size of these judgments reflects the scope of these two particular operations and the number of unsuspecting users that were put at risk for acquiring fraudulent software from these distributors.”

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Royalty Agreement between Webcasters & Copyright owners – July 7, 2009

A fight that threatened the business of internet radio companies was finally resolved by the parties deciding to enter into a 10 year royalty agreement. The dispute was between internet radio companies like Pandora Media Inc. and SoundExchange – a non profit group for music labels, copyright holders and artists. Members of SoundExchange include music companies like the Warner Music Group Corp., Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment to name a few. Online radio companies will now have to pay a per-song royalty or 25% of U.S. revenue, whichever is greater for music which they stream. While this agreement has been opposed by online radio stations, SoundExchange Executive Director John Simon stated that “it appeals the music industry as it allows artists and copyright holders to benefit as Webcasting grows.”

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Apple, Sony and Nintendo face patent infringement suit – July 6, 2009

Shared Memory Graphics LLC has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, Sony and Nintendo for allegedly infringing on its U.S. Patent No. 5,712,664 involving technology used in the iPhone, Wii and PS2. The patent in issue describes a “shared memory graphics accelerator system.” Apple is accused of infringing on the patent by using the related technology in the iPhone and iPod touch. Both the products utilize Power VR MBX Lite systems, which allegedly combine on-chip and off-chip frame-buffer memory technology protected by the patent claims. Shared Memory Graphics LLC recently received the right to the patent from Alliance Semiconductor.

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Twitter seeking to trademark the term “Tweet” – July 5, 2009

Twitter is seeking to trademark the term “Tweet.” Biz Stone, the co-founder and Creative Director of Twitter mentioned the reasons for taking the above action on his blog post. "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, In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. However, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important."

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European Court of First Instance approves “Dr NO” trademark – July 1, 2009

The European Court of First Instance approved “Dr NO” trademark in favor of the German media group, Mission Productions. This ruling brings the eight year legal battle to an end and allows Mission Productions to register the name across the European Union. Danjaq was opposing the registration of the trademark because it owns the rights to the James Bond franchise and the name was used in the title of the first film in the series. It was held that the essential function of a trademark was commercial recognition, whereas Danjaq's use was artistic and not commercial.

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