Bloomberg News

Wi-Lan, Microsoft, HTC, Mattel: Intellectual Property

April 09, 2010

Wi-Lan Inc., the Ottawa-based owner of patents for wireless technology, sued Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), the maker of the iPad tablet, and 18 other computer and phone makers, claiming they’re infringing its Bluetooth patents.

The suit, filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas, April 7, seeks unspecified damages for the alleged patent infringement and an order to stop the companies from using the technology.

At issue is patent 5,515,369, which was issued in May 1996.

Bluetooth is used to transmit data and voice between devices like computers and phones without wires.

Dallas-based McKool Smith PC represents Wi-Lan.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman at Cupertino, California- based Apple, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Other defendants include Motorola Inc. and Dell Inc. Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman at Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola and David Frink, a spokesman for Round Rock, Texas- based, said their companies don’t comment on pending litigation.

The case is Wi-Lan Inc. v. Acer Inc., 2:10-cv-124, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

This is the second patent-infringement suit Wi-Lan filed in the past 10 days. On April 1, the company sued Calix Inc. (CALX:US) of Petaluma, California, for infringing two patents.

Calix, a maker of digital subscriber line (DSL) products, is accused of infringing Wi-Lan’s 5,956,323 and 6,763,019 patents, which were issued in December 1999 and July 2004 respectively.

That case was also filed in Texas federal court, also by lawyers from McKool Smith.

That case is Wi-Lan Inc., v. Calix Inc., 2:10-cv-00117, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Microsoft Sues St. Clair Patent-Licensing Firm

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), the world’s largest software maker, sued patent-holder St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants Inc. seeking a ruling that it doesn’t infringe four U.S. patents for computer power-management.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft also alleges the patents, awarded since 1998, aren’t valid and asks a federal judge in Wilmington, Delaware, to stop St. Clair from saying the Microsoft Windows operating system uses the inventions.

As part of consolidated lawsuits filed in the same court last year, Grosse Pointe, Michigan-based St. Clair “clearly identified the Windows Power Manager” as using the technology, Microsoft lawyers (1357L:US) said in court papers.

Microsoft’s complaint, filed yesterday, relates to patent- infringement actions filed by St. Clair in May 2009 against computer makers including Acer Inc. and Dell Inc. (DELL:US); and in September 2009 against Apple Inc. and Toshiba Corp., according to court papers.

In dispute are patents 5,710,929, 5,758,175, 5,892,959 and 6,079,025.

Officials of St. Clair weren’t immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

Microsoft is represented by William J. Marsden Jr., Linhong Zhang, Lauren A. Degnan and Brian T. Racilla of Boston’s Fish & Richardson PC (1357L:US).

The case is Microsoft Corp. v. St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants Inc., 10-CV-282, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

HTC Seeks Patent for Folding Handset With ‘Coplanar’ Displays

HTC Corp. (HTCXF:US), the maker of Google Inc.’s Nexus One Android handset, applied for a patent on a folding handset with two displays and a touch screen.

The Taipei-based company’s 20100087232 application, which was published yesterday in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covers a mobile device with a moving mechanism that permits the two displays to be “substantially coplanar.”

This technology makes it possible for the screens to be stacked or spread, creating a larger surface for the display.

The application was filed in April 2009, with the assistance of the Jianq Chyun Intellectual Property Office of Taipei.

Mattel Seeks Non-Infringement Declaration on PixFusion Patents

Mattel Inc. (MAT:US)’s Fisher Price has asked a federal court to declare it’s not infringing two patents held by a New York company.

El Segundo-based Mattel was sued for patent infringement by PixFusion in federal court in Texas in December 2009, in which it was accused of infringing patents 5,623,587 and 6,351,265, which cover a method of combing electronic images of heads and bodies. Six other defendants were named in that suit, according to court papers.

Earlier, the two companies had discussed licensing arrangements, and counsel for Mattel told PixFusion its products didn’t infringe, according to court papers.

The California toy company claims that the two patents it’s accused of infringing are invalid. In a complaint filed April 7 in federal court in Manhattan, Mattel asked for a court statement that it’s not infringing and for a declaration of invalidity for both patents.

Additionally, Mattel asked the court to order PixFusion to quit claiming the toy company is infringing.

Mattel is represented by Brian P. Murphy, C. Erik Hawes and F. Teresa Garcia-Reyes of Philadelphia’s Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The case is Fisher Price Inc. v. PixFusion LLC, 1:10-cv- 03009-UA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York Manhattan).

The patent infringement case is PixFusion LLC V. Oddcast Inc., 2:09-cv-00390-TJW, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Trademark

WaMu’s Gone, Yet Bank’s Trademark-Acquisition Work Goes On

Even though Washington Mutual Inc. (WAMUQ:US) was closed by the Office of Thrift Supervision in September 2008, trademark-acquisition work for the Seattle-based bank continues, the Seattle Times reported.

Seattle’s Perkins Cole LLP filed trademark applications this year on behalf of Washington Mutual for “The card that rewards you and your pet” and “Your Pet. Your Card. Perfect Together,” the Times reported.

The bank also is trying to block Lakeland, Florida-based Magnify Credit Union’s application to register “Simplify banking. Magnify life.” as a trademark, claiming it’s too similar to WaMu’s “Simpler banking. More smiles.” phrase, according to the newspaper.

The Times reported that bankruptcy-court records reveal that almost half the $65,575 Perkins Coie billed the bank in January was for IP work, which the bank said in a statement was to “protect and maximize the value of Washington Mutual Inc.’s assets.”

Florida A&M Gets $105,000 After ‘Orgy’ Video Shows School Logo

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University settled a trademark dispute with the Miami-based operator of an adult- oriented Web site, United Press International reported yesterday.

The school had objected to a video posted on RK Netmedia Inc.’s Daredorm.com Web site featuring the school colors and logo with what appeared to be eight students involved in an orgy, according to UPI.

RK Netmedia paid the school $105,000, apologized, and said it would “try to keep the video from further showings,” the wire service reported.

The settlement will be used to pay $15,000 in attorney fees, with the balance used for scholarships for undergraduates at the school, according to UPI.

Copyright

Seed Savers Sued for Infringing ‘Fruit, Berry & Nut Inventory’

Seed Savers Exchange Inc., the largest non-governmental seed bank in the U.S., was sued for copyright infringement by a Michigan writer.

Kent Whealy of Charlevoix, Michigan, is the author of “Fruit, Berry & Nut Inventory,” and registered the copyright for the work in March 1990. He accused the seed-savers’ group of publishing a fourth edition of his work without permission, and for representing that it owned the copyright.

The Decorah, Iowa-based seed-savers group advertised the work in its 2010 catalogue, offering it for sale for $24 and $30, for paperback and hardcover editions, respectively. Whealy says the seed group lists others’ names as authors, and claims the copyright to the work.

This publication is “substantially similar” to Whealy’s work, and infringes his copyright, he said in the complaint he filed yesterday in federal court in Michigan.

He claims he’s suffered damages and “irreparable harm” and asked the court to bar further infringement by the seed- savers group. Additionally, he seeks an award of money damages and the profits the seed-savers’ group realized from its alleged infringement, in addition to attorney fees and litigation costs.

Whealy is represented by Antonio M. Trillo of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC of Milwaukee.

IP Moves

Blank Rome Hires Former Darby & Darby Patent Specialist Lessler

Blank Rome LLP (1219L:US) hired Jay P. Lessler for its IP and technology group, the Philadelphia-based firm said in a statement.

Lessler, who does patent acquisition and litigation, joins from New York’s Darby & Darby PC, which said in mid-March it was closing down. He represents clients with inventions in chemical, pharmaceutical, and computer software technologies, including drug delivery systems, polymer chemistry, semiconductors, preservative systems, nutritional supplements, petrochemicals, cellulose-based products (such as absorbent materials), and organic syntheses.

He has an undergraduate degree in computer science from Columbia University, a master’s degree in chemistry from New York University and a law degree from Fordham University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.


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