Bloomberg News

Microsoft, Viacom, UAL, Warner Music: Intellectual Property

July 05, 2011

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

July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. were sued for allegedly violating a Louisiana company’s patent covering mapping technology that helps computer users see locations in three dimensions.

Officials of Transcenic Inc. contend in a lawsuit that executives of Google, owner of the world’s biggest search engine, and Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, infringe patents for technology that helps capture 3-D images of map locations.

The companies’ misuse of the mapping technology “has injured Transcenic and Transcenic is entitled to recover damages adequate to compensate for such infringement,” the closely held Lake Charles, Louisiana-based company said July 1 in a suit filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Patents covering computer-mapping software have sparked litigation against Google, Microsoft and other companies in federal courts around the U.S. GeoTag Inc. has filed patent- infringement suits against 300 entities, many of which use mapping technology made by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft or Mountain View, California-based Google to show store locations.

Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesman, couldn’t immediately comment July 1. Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Transcenic argues computer programs such as Google’s Street View and Microsoft’s Streetside allow users to see 3-D images of their destination rather than the traditional birds-eye view of a map grid.

Google’s Street View system also has become a target for lawsuits alleging the company is violating residents’ privacy rights by collecting data from individual Wi-Fi networks. A federal judge in California June 30 said a wiretapping suit over the system could proceed.

Both Google and Microsoft have placed “infringing systems into action or service” and obtain “beneficial use” of those systems, lawyers for Transcenic said in the suit.

The patent-infringement suit also names AOL Inc. and its MapQwest unit as defendants. Sandy Drayton, an AOL spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a phone call for comment on the suit.

The case is Transcenic Inc. v. Google Inc., 11-cv-582, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Apple Gets Mixed Ruling in S3 Chip Patent Case Before ITC

Apple Inc. received a mixed ruling in the patent- infringement case brought by closely held S3 Graphics Co. over a type of chip used to play video games on mobile devices.

Apple violates two S3 patents and was found to not have infringed two others, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge James Gildea said in a notice posted July 1 on the Washington- based agency’s website. The findings are subject to review by the six-member commission, which can block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

S3, whose Texture Compression feature is used in Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation portable gaming systems, claimed Apple was infringing four patents. The Fremont, California-based company’s image compression technology allows for access to encoded large color and 3-D image files to present lifelike animation in video games.

The ITC complaint targets Apple’s Macintosh computer, iPhone, iPad tablet and iPod Touch as well as video games for those devices. Cupertino, California-based Apple makes its products overseas and imports them into the U.S. for sale.

The ITC will decide within 60 days whether it will review the judge’s decision. The case is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1, according to information on the commission’s website.

Apple is involved in more than a dozen patent cases at the ITC, a quasi-judicial trade agency that has become a de facto arbiter for disputes over intellectual property rights.

The commission June 30 ordered a judge to take a second look at a case brought by Eastman Kodak Co. over an image preview feature in mobile phones. The ITC also said in a separate case that Apple wasn’t violating patent claims brought by Taiwanese chip designer Elan Microelectronics Corp. over touch-controlled screens,

The case In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices with Image Processing Systems, 337-724, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Viacom Sued by Connecticut Disc Jockey Over ‘DJ Paulie’ Marks

Viacom Inc. was sued for trademark infringement by a Connecticut disc jockey who objects to names used in connection with a character from MTV’s “Jersey Shore” reality television program.

Paul Lis of South Windsor, Connecticut, began broadcasting as “DJ Paulie” in 1971. He’s also used the name for his own record label, and for public appearances, he said in the complaint filed June 30 in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut.

Lis said as DJ Paulie he was commissioned to write and produce “September Mourn,” the official 9/11 memorial fundraising song for the U.S. Postal Service to benefit the victims’ families. He has several registered U.S. trademarks for the term “DJ Paulie” for disc jockey services.

When Viacom’s MTV Networks began airing the “Jersey Shore” reality show, he said his trademarks were tarnished by the association the public made with a character on the show. He claims “Jersey Shore” shows a “debauched lifestyle suggestive of loose morals, violence, intoxication and liberal profanity,” and says it’s the exact opposite of the reputation he’s “spent decades cultivating.”

From the time the show began to air in late 2009, it had “an immediate negative impact” on his DJPaulie.com website, and “destroyed national advertiser interest” in an Internet radio show he performs, Lis said in his pleadings. He accused Viacom of placing content on the Internet with metatags using the spelling of DJ Paulie to direct traffic to sites associated with one of the “Jersey Shore” characters.

Paul DelVecchio Jr., a performer on “Jersey Shore,” promotes himself on the show as a disc jockey under the name “DJ Pauly” and “DJ Pauly D.” according to court papers. Lis said he’s harmed by this, and by applications DelVecchio has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register “DJ Pauly D” as a trademark.

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

Lis claims he’s suffered damage to a $2 million business investment and asked the court for an order barring the use of the names “DJ Paulie” and “DJ Pauly” or similar names by Viacom and other defendants, including DelVecchio himself.

Additionally, he seeks awards of money damages, extra damages to punish the defendants for their actions, and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

Lis is represented by Jose Rojas of the Rojas Law Firm of Hartford.

The case is Paul Lis DJ Paulie Broadcasting LLC v. Paul DelVecchio Jr., 3:11-cv-01057-AWT, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (Hartford).

Warner Music Withdraws ‘Digger’ Application After Complaint

Warner Music Group Corp.’s Warner Music Australasia application has withdrawn its application to register “The Diggers” as an Australian trademark, Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper reported.

Australia’s Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon had objected, saying it was “inappropriate” for the music company to register a mark associated with those who had served in his nation’s military, according to the Herald Sun.

Tony Harlow, managing director of Warner Music Australasia told the Herald Sun his company backed down on its application to register the name -- together with the image of a saluting soldier -- for an album project.

“The project will not proceed without such protection,” Harlow said and the newspaper reported.

UAL Wins U.K. Trademark Dispute with Bangladeshi Air Carrier

United Continental Holdings Inc.’s United Airlines won a U.K. trademark dispute with a Bangladeshi air carrier, Aviation International News Online reported.

A U.K. court said in a June 24 ruling that United Airways (BD) Ltd. of Bangladesh infringed the Chicago-based carrier’s trademarks and must change its name and repaint its aircraft, according to AIN.

United Airways was also ordered to place notice on its website -- www.uabdl.com -- that it infringed the United Airlines trademarks, AIN reported.

In addition to London, the Bangladeshi airline serves international destinations also served by United, including, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Jeddah and Bangkok, according to AIN.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Stephens Media’s Righthaven Blames Former In-House Counsel

In Stephens Media Group’s copyright suit against the Democratic Underground, counsel for the company that says it has the right to pursue infringement actions against those who post stories from Stephens’ newspapers, has now blamed some of its problems with the case on “former in house counsel.”

In a June 14 ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt said that Righthaven LLC, the named plaintiff in the case, didn’t have standing because it didn’t truly own the copyright it was trying to enforce.

Judge Hunt then gave Righthaven two weeks to show why it shouldn’t be sanctioned “for this flagrant misrepresentation” about its ownership of the Stephens copyrights.

In a June 29 filing with the court, Righthaven said its in- house counsel “failed to consider” copyright law’s requirement that an enforcer have a direct pecuniary interest in the case. Righthaven said in a footnote that two of the lawyers originally associated with the case “are no longer employed by Righthaven.”

In May, Righthaven added Dale Cendali of Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis LLP to its outside legal team.

Cendali may be best known for her successful representation of Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher Scholastic Corp. in a trademark case. She also represented the Associated Press in the copyright-infringement case involving the photo of President Obama against artist Shepard Fairey.

When she was with Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers LLP, she represented the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in a trademark suit involving the name of the late Martha Graham. Cendali moved from O’Melveny to Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis in March 2009.

The case against the Democratic Underground is Righthaven LLC v. Democratic Underground LLC, 2:10-cv-01356-RLH-GWF, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Olivo Leaves Ward & Olivo for New Contingent-Fee Patent Practice

John W. Olivo, a founding partner of Ward & Olivo of Marshall, Texas, has begun his own independent contingent-fee patent practice, according to a firm statement.

His Olivo Patent Group and Olivo Law Group will represent plaintiffs in patent-infringement actions, in partnership with Birmingham, Alabama’s Heninger Garrison Davis LLC.

Olivo previously practiced at the now-defunct New York IP specialty firm of Pennie & Edmonds. Before he was a lawyer, Olivo was an electrical engineer with RCA Astro-Electronics.

He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Lafayette College and a law degree from New York Law School.

--With assistance from Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware and Susan Decker in Washington. Editors: Glenn Holdcraft, Mary Romano

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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