Intellectual Property News - October 2009

Apple to fight Nokia patent infringement claims – October 28, 2009

According to Cupertino’s SEC 10-K annual report filing, Apple will defend itself against Nokia’s patent infringement suit that was filed in the Delaware US District Court. Apple states that “The Company’s response to the complaint is not yet due,” and that "The Company intends to defend the case vigorously.” In the 30 page complaint filed by Nokia, it claims that “By refusing to compensate Nokia for its patented technologies, Apple is attempting to get a 'free ride' on the billions of dollars that Nokia has invested in research and development to provide the public with the wireless communications it enjoys today.” The statement also mentions that it has negotiated patent licenses with “approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors.’

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US opines that China should enforce stricter copyright laws – October 28, 2009

Speaking at an Intellectual Property Law forum held in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, Gary Locke, the US Commerce Secretary stated that China should adopt stricter copyright and trademark rules and boost penalties for intellectual property theft. He also stated that China should focus on creating more “homegrown entrepreneurs,” and that despite efforts made by China to deal with the issue “American companies in fields as diverse as technology, entertainment and pharmaceuticals still lose billions every year in China from intellectual property theft.” 

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“Redskins” trademark controversy gains support from legal experts & social justice advocates – October 27, 2009

The controversy behind the “Redskins National Football League” has now gained support from legal experts, child psychologists and social justice advocates. An amicus brief to the plaintiff’s petition based on scholarly evidence told the court that there was “extensive and pervasive” public harm caused by the continued used of Indian mascots in professional sports. The brief went on to state that “Social science research shows that the use of ethnic slurs like ‘redskin’ perpetuates harmful stereotypes and leads to discrimination.” According to legal experts and historians the word “redskins” was also used by the U.S. Government as a way to refer to bounties it placed on scalped Indian heads. 

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Prometheus Laboratories Inc. granted patent – October 22, 2009

Prometheus Laboratories Inc. was granted a patent entitled “Genes Involved in Intestinal Inflammatory Diseases and Use Thereof.’ The said patent covers genes useful in the detection of inflammatory diseases, including NOD2 (also known as CARD15) gene mutations which are associated with susceptibility to Crohn’s disease. Henry Pan, chief scientific and medical officer of Prometheus said that “NOD2 gene mutations have been demonstrated to play an important role in the development of Crohn's disease, an inflammatory condition of the digestive tract that can lead to a variety of symptoms and often takes years to diagnose.”

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High Court rules that sales of digital back issues infringes copyright – October 22, 2009

Freelance celebrity photographer, Alan Grisbrook claimed that the sale to researchers of digital replicas of newspaper pages that featured his photographs was a breach of his copyright. The high court approved. In its ruling, the high court said that “Mr Grisbrook says in his evidence that he has no wish to prevent MGN from archiving full copies of newspapers either in hard copy or in electronic form. What he objects to is its attempt to make commercial use of the database."

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$1 Million Maori art trademark in trademark battle – October 22, 2009

Creative New Zealand (CNZ) the owner of the "toi iho" brand say it never delivered on its promise of increasing sales of Maori art and a difficult decision to scrap it had to be made. CNZ will start informing 243 artists and retailers they have three months to wind down their use of the mark “toi iho” before it becomes defunct. Te Waka Toi, CNZ's Maori arts board, created the mark in 2002 using just over $1 million of public funding.

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Illumina counter sues Life-Technologies – October 15, 2009

Illumina and its Solexa subsidiary filed a countersuit against Life Technologies and its subsidiary Applied Biosystems in response to the DNA sequencing patent infringement lawsuit that was filed on September 21, 2009. Illumina and Solexa have denied all of the allegations of patent infringement. Jay Flatley, President and CEO of Illumina, said in a statement that “While we strongly prefer to compete in the marketplace rather than in the courtroom, we are determined to protect our position in the market so that our customers can continue to benefit from the technological advances Illumina has brought to the field of DNA sequencing. We also stand ready to assert our patent rights in court whenever necessary.”

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Cell phone’s musical ringtone does not infringe copyright – October 15, 2009

A federal court rejected the argument that that a cell phone’s musical ringtone which sounded in a public place infringes the copyright in the tone. It ruled that “When a ringtone plays on a cellular telephone, even when that occurs in public, the user is exempt from copyright liability, and [the cellular carrier] is not liable either secondarily or directly.” The decision makes it clear that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright. Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act exempts public performances undertaken "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage.”

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$570,000 awarded in Fairfield trademark infringement case – October 12, 2009

An amount of $570,000 was awarded to Karin Seruga, the owner of a Fairfield bakery-supply business in trademark infringement case. The competitor, Richard Zinn is Karin Seruga’s ex-husband. They used to jointly run Excelsior, a seller of bagel and bakery equipment. The company was dissolved in 1995, two years before their divorce. New Jersey U.S. District Court Chief Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. wrote in his opinion that “This court recognizes that this dispute is essentially between bitter ex-spouses, with each feeling that they are the wronged party.” However, denying that her divorce had anything to do with the case, Karin Seruga stated that “This is strictly business. It’s strictly about the trademark, infringement of the trademark, who has the right to use the trademark. That’s all it’s about from beginning to end.” 

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iiNet fires back in Copyright infringement case – October 8, 2009

iiNet’s lawyer, Richard Cobden, SC, called the movie studios’ claims of tens of thousands of copyright infringements over its network “highly exaggerated and” and “out of kilter.” Entertainment companies such as Hollywood studios Paramount and Warner Bros have accused the iiNet of authorizing copyright infringements by not cutting off accounts of users who repeatedly downloaded illegal copies of films and TV programs through file-sharing software such as BitTorrent.

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Twitter defends itself in Patent Infringement Lawsuit against TechRadium –October 6, 2009

In its first counter attach against Tech Radium, San Francisco based Twitter stated that the three patents belonging to TechRadium involving emergency alerting technology don’t encompass Twitter’s microblogging service. In the court filing Twitter “demands a trial by jury on all issues” and in a counterclaim, urged to invalidate TechRadium’s patents. The patents that TechRadium owns are concerned with the Immediate Response Information System that claims to “simultaneously deliver uniform, reliable and verifiable emergency messages to an unlimited number of contacts within seconds, across all means and devices of communication.”

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Adidas “We Not Me” Advertising Campaign faces trademark lawsuit – October 5, 2009

A federal trademark and copyright lawsuit has been filed against Adidas AG and the NBA Store by the Drinnon Law Firm for use of the company’s “We Not Me” trademark. Stephen Drinnon states that the media campaign gained pace after Mr. Bobosky, the owner of the trademark “We Not Me” notified Adidas of his rights in the trademark. Drinnon states "Companies like Adidas go to great lengths to protect their own ingenuity and intellectual property, yet they've chosen to trample on Mr. Bobosky's protected property rights. Adidas is a powerful second-comer that has taken everything he tried to build. Mr. Bobosky's words are now wrongly perceived as something that Adidas owns." 

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