Bloomberg News

Richemont, McDonald’s, Crown, Singtel: Intellectual Property

September 28, 2011

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

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA’s Cartier unit was compensated by Chinese companies following a trademark infringement ruling by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The suit was related to Foshan Mingkuyn Ceramics Co.’s and Kingsyomna Ceramic Co’s ceramic products sold in Shanghai containing Cartier trademarks without authorization, according to the newspaper.

The marks were also used in ads and brochures for the ceramic products, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Cartier was awarded 500,000 Chinese yuan ($78,000) and the court ruled that the Cartier marks were entitled to protection and deliberately infringed, the newspaper reported.

McDonald’s Asks USPTO to Refuse ‘Jus’ Mac’ Trademark Application

McDonald’s Corp.’s opposition to a Texas restaurant’s trademark application must receive an answer by Oct. 3, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Oakbrook, Illinois-based restaurant chain is attempting to block an application filed in December 2010 by a restaurant from Houston, Texas, to register “Jus’ Mac” as a trademark.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, said that 15 of its trademarks could be affected negatively if the Houston-based restaurant is permitted to register “Jus’ Mac.” Additionally, McDonald’s said it’s used “other ‘Mc’ and ‘Mac’ formative trademarks” that have caused consumers to associate it with trademarks “distinguished by the ‘Mac’ formative.”

Potential purchasers, upon seeing the Houston restaurant’s ‘Jus’ Mac” mark used with restaurant services, are likely to make the mistaken assumption that some affiliation exists between the two entities, McDonald’s argued in its filing. This would tarnish the McDonald’s marks, the chain contends.

McDonald’s is represented in this action by Robert E. Browne, John A. Cullis, Lawrence E. James Jr. and Kathleen E. Blouin of Chicago’s Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP.

Crown Halts U.K. Trademark Application After Crown Bingo Objects

Crown Ltd.’s Crown Casino unit has abandoned its attempt to register its trademark in the U.K. following objections from the U.K.’s Crown Bingo, EGaming Review reported.

The Australian company, the largest casino operator in the southern hemisphere, sought to register the mark for “the provision of gaming and casino services over a global computer network,” according to EGaming Review.

Crown Bingo, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said it would continue to oppose any attempt by the Australian company to use its brand in the U.K., the magazine reported.

“We’ve spent many millions on building the Crown brand in the U.K. and we don’t see why Crown Casino should benefit from that,” Ian Erskine, Crown Bingo’s operations director told EGaming Review.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Rights Registry Loses Healy to Copyright Clearance Center

The former executive director-designate at an entity set up to compensate copyright owners under an infringement suit against Google Inc. has left to join the Copyright Clearance Center.

Michael Healy was to head the Book Rights Registry, set up as part of a settlement of the 2005 copyright infringement suit the Authors Guild filed against Google over its book- digitization project.

That settlement was rejected in March by U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who said it was unfair to authors. The court was told Sept. 15 that progress is being made in new settlement discussions.

Healy is to become the executive director of author and publisher relations for the Danvers, Massachusetts-based CCC, according to an e-mailed company statement. He will develop new products in service to the author and publisher communities, addressing such issues as e-book rights, so-called “orphan works” and digital rights for other pre-existing works.

Before he was with the Book Rights Registry, he was executive director at the Book Industry Study Group, established 30 years ago to improve the efficiency of the U.S. book- publishing industry. He has also serves as editorial director at Nielsen BookData and electronic publisher ProQuest LLC’s Chadwyck-Healey unit.

CCC is a 33-year-old global rights broker for books, journals, newspapers, magazines, images, blogs and ebooks.

Singtel Optus Football Broadcast Copyright Case Hearing Set

Subscribers to Singapore Telecom Ltd.’s Optus unit’s TV Now service will be able to watch the Australian Football League’s grand finals matches this coming weekend despite the league’s copyright infringement suit, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The court hearing on the suit filed by the AFL, together with the National Rugby League and broadcast partner Telstra Corp. is set for December 19, the newspaper reported.

Telstra, which paid 153 million Australian dollars ($152 million) for an exclusive right to broadcast AFL matches and which is negotiating a license with the NRL, objects to an Optus service allowing customers to record and watch free-to-air television on their mobile phones or computers, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Optus is arguing that its service operates legitimately under Australian copyright law permitting customer recording of programming for time-shifting purposes, according to the newspaper.

After Beating of Copyright Staff, Six Arrested in Nigerian Raid

Six people were arrested, and pirated CDs and books as well as duplicating materials worth more than 8.5 million Nigerian naira ($54,000), were seized in a raid conducted by the Nigerian Copyright Commission in Engu, Nigeria, the Sun News On-Line newspaper reported.

The raid followed an attack on the commission in which staff members were beaten and injured seriously by “hoodlums mixed up with pirates,” Augustine Alewo Amodu, who heads enforcement for the commission, told the Sun News.

Piracy in Nigeria “has eaten deep into the fabric of this nation, affecting the economy of this country,” Amodu said, the Sun News reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-ASC Employee Pleads Guilty To Stealing Trade Secrets

A former employee of American Superconductor Corp. has pleaded guilty in an Austrian court to charges of trade secret theft, Boston Business Journal reported.

The ex-employee acknowledged passing Devans, Massachusetts- based ASC’s proprietary information to China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co., the target of ASC’s corporate-espionage legal filings in China, according to Boston Business Journal.

The technology at issue is related to upgrades for Sinovel’s 1.5 megawatt wind turbines, according to the newspaper.

The 28-year-old engineer was sentenced to one year in jail, two years probation and ordered to pay ASC $270,000 in damages, Boston Business Journal reported.

Patents

New York Resident Patents Apparatus for Building Better Snowman

A resident of Melville, New York, received a patent for what may be the ultimate snowman.

Patent 8,011,991, issued Sept. 6 to Ignacio Marc Asperas, covers an “apparatus for facilitating the construction of a snow man/woman.”

According to the patent, the apparatus is a spherical body to which snow can be adhered. The sphere can have a negative static charge to which positively charged dry snow particles are likely to adhere.

“Sounds really patentable, doesn’t it?” Asperas says in his patent.

The sphere can contain a van der Graaf electrostatic generator “that can be built as small as a soda can,” according to the patent.

The generator would need a control to regulate the charge because “it would not do to zap little kiddies,” Asperas said. “I am sure it would not harm them, but I am thinking of greedy product liability attorneys,” he said.

He applied for his patent in January 2006. No outside counsel is listed on the patent.

This is the second patent Asperas has received that is related to snowmen. In September 2007 he received patent 7,264,531, which is for a “method and apparatus for facilitating the construction of a snow man/woman.”

In that patent he said it “is not a joke patent. It’s completely serious and is a serious undertaking to obtain a patent.” That patent doesn’t mention the use of an electrostatic generator.

HTC Bid to Block Apple Imports of IPhone, IPad Gets U.S. Review

HTC Corp.’s patent infringement complaint seeking to block U.S. imports of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and Mac computers will be investigated by a trade agency.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington said yesterday it would consider the complaint, according to a notice on its website. Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC, Asia’s second-biggest maker of smartphones, filed the case last month against Cupertino, California-based Apple.

ITC investigations typically take 15 to 18 months to complete.

For more patent news, click here.

IP Moves

McDermott Adds Two Patent Practitioners to IP Practice Group

McDermott Will & Emery LLP hired two patent specialists, Lin Deng and Victoria Friedman, for its IP practice, the Chicago-based firm said in an e-mailed statement.

Deng, who joined from New York’s Kenyon & Kenyon, represented China’s Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. in a 2008 patent dispute involving tire treads, according to Bloomberg data. She has done patent acquisition work for clients in the semiconductor, telecommunications, electronics, automobile and computer hardware and software industries. She has also done patent acquisition work.

She has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Dalian Maritime University, and masters’ degrees in law from both Peking University and George Washington University.

Friedman, who does patent and trademark acquisition and licensing, previously practiced at Valauskas Corder LLC and Mayer Brown LLP, both of Chicago.

She has an undergraduate degree from DePaul University and a law degree from John Marshall Law School.

--With the assistance of Bob Van Voris in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Don Jeffrey in New York. Editors: Mary Romano, Fred Strasser

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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