Bloomberg News

Apple, Intel, Wal-Mart, SAFA: Intellectual Property

June 27, 2011

(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Adds Apple Inc. item in patent section.)

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. filed a patent lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co. in South Korea, escalating the legal dispute between the two companies regarding designs and technologies used in their best-selling mobile devices.

The maker of the iPhone filed a suit with the Seoul Central District Court on June 22, according to a case record on the court’s website, which doesn’t provide details of Apple’s claims. Online news provider MoneyToday reported that Apple is alleging that Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone copied the iPhone 3 design.

The dispute began in April when Cupertino, California-based Apple sued Samsung in the U.S., claiming the Galaxy products “slavishly” imitated the designs and technologies used for the iPad and iPhone. Samsung, which supplies memory chips for Apple, retaliated with lawsuits in Seoul, Tokyo, Mannheim, Germany and the U.S.

“We will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property,” Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said in an e-mailed statement.

When contacted by Bloomberg News last week, Steve Park, a Seoul-based spokesman for Apple, referred to the company’s earlier statements. The company said on April 18 that Samsung “blatantly” copied its technologies and designs.

Apple’s April 15 complaint claims Samsung is infringing seven patents related to the way Galaxy devices’ touch screens understand user gestures, including selecting, scrolling, pinching and zooming. Samsung is also copying three patents on the design, including the flat black face of the iPhone and iPad, according to Apple.

As part of that suit, Samsung had asked a federal judge in the U.S. to order Apple to turn over samples of Apple’s forthcoming iPads and iPhones. The judge refused that request June 22.

Intel, Rockstar Get Antitrust Approval to Bid for Nortel

Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, and Rockstar Bidco LP won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators to bid for the assets of bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp.

The Federal Trade Commission named the two companies in an e-mailed statement June 24. The bidding process is being reviewed by the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the situation who declined to be identified because the process isn’t public.

Apple Inc. got similar approval June 23 to bid for Nortel’s patents in an auction set for June 27. Nortel, a Canadian phone- equipment maker that filed for bankruptcy in 2009, agreed to sell about 6,000 patents to Google Inc. for $900 million unless a competitor bids more at the auction.

A call to the New York office of game developer Rockstar Games to ask if Rockstar Bidco is a related entity was referred to an e-mail address for press enquiries. No one immediately responded to an e-mail seeking comment.

Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Santa Clara, California-based Intel, declined to comment.

BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion Ltd. and Ericsson AB are also weighing bids, people familiar with those companies’ plans have told Bloomberg News. RPX Corp., a San Francisco-based patent-buying firm, is also considering a bid, Andrew Kent, an attorney for the company, said at a bankruptcy court hearing last month.

Nortel, based in Mississauga, Ontario, on June 16 delayed the auction for a week, citing a “significant level of interest.” Some Nortel auctions have lasted more than 24 hours, with several rounds of bidding. The sales have raised about $3 billion to pay the company’s creditors to date.

The bankruptcy case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Apple Gets Touchscreen Patent Many Observers Say Reaches Far

Apple Inc., the maker of the iPad and iPhone, received a patent on a touchscreen display that many commentators are saying is broad enough to cover other manufacturers’ tablet devices and music players.

Patent 7,966,578, issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office June 21, is for a “portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content,” according to the patent document.

The patented technology enables the device to respond to a single touch or multiple finger contacts. The contact module can determine movement of the point of contact, calculating speed, velocity and/or an acceleration of the point of contact.

A June 22 story in PC World suggests the breadth of the patent “could make things potentially awkward for Apple rivals.” PC Magazine called the patent a “huge blow to rival smartphone makers.” EWeek Europe says it’s a “highly significant patent” for touchscreens in smartphones.

Cupertino, California-based Apple applied for the patent in December 2007, with the assistance of Philadelphia’s Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Wal-Mart Accused of Selling T-Shirts With Infringing Design

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, was sued for copyright infringement by a tattoo artist.

Erik Hilliker of Dover, New Hampshire, claims the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is selling T-shirts with designs that infringe his work. According to the complaint filed June 22 in federal court in Boston, Wal-Mart is selling an “MMA Elite -- Men’s Graphic Compression Tee” that infringes the artist’s “Hilliker Demon 1” design.

Co-defendant with the retailer are two T-shirt manufacturers who share the same address in Commerce, California. Hilliker claims the manufacturers downloaded the image from his website and used it to create unauthorized derivative works.

He asked the court to order the seizure of all infringing merchandise under Wal-Mart and the manufacturers’ control, and a ban on all further infringement. Additionally, he requested awards of money damages, profits derived from the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Wal-Mart didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Hilliker is represented by Matthew Saunders and Keith Toms of Saunders & Silverstein LLP of Amesbury, Massachusetts.

The case is Erik Hilliker v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 1:11-cv- 11125-DJC, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Despite Accidental Viral Marketing, Mansbach Remains Anti-Pirate

The author of Amazon.com’s top-selling book on parenting and No. 2 book overall told CNet News that the accidental marketing campaign created by viral distribution of a pre- publication PDF of his book notwithstanding, he still can’t support what he calls “pirating.”

Adam Mansbach, the author of “Go the F*** to Sleep,” said that after he saw the PDF being distributed, he tried to send out cease-and-desist letters, according to CNet News.

He tried to halt individuals from sharing the PDF on their pages at Facebook Inc.’s social media site and told CNet News that when he asked them to take the book down, the response from those who posted it was “OK, if you want, but 300 people asked me where I could get the book.”

Mansbach said it took him and his publisher -- New York’s Akashik Books -- about a week to realize that in this case, the viral sharing of the PDF helped rather than hurt sales of the book, according to CNet News.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

SAFA Gets Control of Bafana Bafana Name for 5 Million Rand

The South African Football Association and Stanton Woodrush (Pty) Ltd. have come to agreement over the rights to the “Bafana Bafana” name for the senior men’s national soccer team, SAFA said in a statement June 24.

The trademarks will be transferred to SAFA for a payment of 5 million rand ($724,000) payable over a year. Stanton Woodrush will have no interest in the name or any associated trademark rights.

Previously, South Africa’s Minister of Sports Fikile Mbaluala advised the team to find a new name because all the revenue associated with the nickname was going to Stanton Woodrush instead of the team.

The company registered the mark in 1993 because at that time SAFA’s leadership was reluctant to use a potentially derogatory word that meant “boys” with the team.

Stanton Woodrush said in the statement that “the team and the brand are inextricably linked and they are indivisible in the sense that they have one identity. The brand without the team and the team without the brand would significantly dilute the goodwill which is entrenched through their association.”

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

Paul Weiss Hires Two Patent Litigators From Weil Gotshal

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP hired two patent litigators from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, the New York-based firm said in a statement.

The two new hires are Nicholas Groombridge and David J. Ball Jr.

Groombridge was co-chairman of the patent litigation practice at New York-based Weil Gotshal. He’s represented clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, consumer product, specialty chemical, automotive part, financial services, GPS receiver and medical device industries.

He received his law degree from the University of London and has practiced in New York since 1989.

Ball has represented clients in the computer, media and semiconductor industries in patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation, and related tort and contract disputes.

Before he was in private practice, he served as an assistant solicitor in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1996 to 1998, where he argued patent appeals at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Before he was a lawyer, he was a judicial clerk to Judge Randall Rader of that court.

Ball has also served an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division for the District of Columbia from 1999-2003.

He has an undergraduate degree in electric engineering from the University of Alabama, and a master’s degree in engineering and a law school degree from the University of Texas.

Volpe & Koenig Hires IP Counsel Donald James Cox Jr.

Volpe & Koenig PC hired Donald James Cox Jr., the Philadelphia-based IP specialty firm said in a statement.

Cox, who previously was a sole practitioner, has represented clients in the e-commerce, computer hardware/software, telecommunications, data compression, bio- medical and mechanical-device industries. Before he was a lawyer, Cox served in the U.S. Air Force, where he was the integration engineering chief for the Worldwide Military Command and Control Information System Program.

He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University and a law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.

--With assistance from Jun Yang in Seoul, Hugo Miller in Toronto and Sara Forden in Washington. Editors: Glenn Holdcraft, Peter Blumberg

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: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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