Bloomberg News

Dimpledough, Netflix, Beyonce, AK: Intellectual Property

October 12, 2011

(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Wilson Sporting Goods item in top section.)

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Dimpledough Inc., one of 15 companies sued for patent infringement by a U.K. company that specialized in credit-card design, said it shouldn’t be among the defendants.

Serverside Group Ltd., based in London, sued in federal court in Delaware in June, claiming Dimpledough and the other companies infringed two patents relate to computerized card production. In dispute are patents 7,931,199, issued April 26, and 7,946,490, issued May 24.

In a statement yesterday, Independence, Ohio-based Dimpledough said that the scope of the suit “cannot include Dimpledough’s gift card technology offerings or any of its other products and services.”

“Customization techniques have been used across many industry verticals for years, several vendors provide card customization, and we are confident that our technology is proprietary and also very different from what Serverside patented,” the company said.

In its suit, Serverside seeks money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees, and an order barring infringement.

The case is Serverside Group Ltd. v. CIP Card Group- Minnesota Inc., 1:11-cv-00559-PD, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Wilson Claims Textured Football Lace Patent Infringed

Amer Sports Oyj’s Wilson Sporting Goods unit sued a competitor for patent infringement.

PSI 91 Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts, is accused of infringing patent 7,867,116, issued Jan. 11. According to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Chicago, PSI 91 sells balls with lacing that falls within the scope of the patent.

The patent covers footballs with lacing that has an exposed pebbled surface, intended to make the balls easier to grip. PSI sells “Under Armour” footballs with textured laces, according to the company website.

Wilson, based in Chicago, asked the court for an order barring further infringement of the patent, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Claiming the infringement is “willful and deliberate,” Wilson asked the court to triple the damages to punish PSI 91 for its actions.

PSI 91 didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Wilson is represented by Jeffery A. Key of Key & Associates of Chicago.

The case is Wilson Sporting Goods v. PSI 91 Inc., 1:11-cv- 07150, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Netflix Abandons Qwikster Shortly After Seeking Trademark

Less than one month after it filed two applications to register “Qwikster” as trademarks, movie-rental service Netflix Inc. said it abandoned plans to start the business unit that would bear the names.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, said Sept. 18 it would split off its by-mail video-rental service, to be named Qwikster, while it would keep the video-on-demand business under the Netflix name.

At that time, Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said the DVD and streaming operations “are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.”

The company’s three trademark applications were filed Sept. 29, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Consumers complained about the company’s plans, and in an Oct. 10 blog posting, Netflix said it was abandoning plans for the separate division.

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password in other words, no Qwikster,” the company said.

A third application to register Qwikster is pending, according to the patent office database. It was filed Sept. 20 by Manhattan Entrepreneurs Group LLC of New York.

Manhattan Entrepreneurs said it, too, would use the term for rental of video recordings, and also for video-on-demand services and for clothing.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Beyonce’s ‘Countdown’ Said to Contain Plagiarized Choreography

Beyonce Knowles’ newest music video contains plagiarized dance moves, a Belgian choreographer claimed, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker said the “Countdown” video, directed by Adria Petty, contains dance moves that are taken from a piece she choreographed for Thierry De Mey’s 1997 film “Rosas Danst Rosas,” the Guardian reported.

Petty has said some of the choreography in the video contains references to some German modern-dance performances, according to the Guardian.

De Keersmaeker’s work itself contains references to earlier choreography, such as Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Apres Midi d’un Faune, the newspaper reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

AK Steel’s Secrets Case Against Defecting Employees Dismissed

AK Steel Holding Corp.’s trade-secrets case against three employees who defected to work for a unit of Essen, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp AG was dismissed by a federal judge in Mobile, Alabama.

AK, based in West Chester Ohio, initially sued the former employees in state court. The suit moved to federal court in April 2010. AK claimed that the former employees -- a senior electrical maintenance manager, a quality coordinator and a senior process engineer -- took proprietary content with them when they moved to the ThyssenKrupp unit in 2009.

U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose disagreed with AK’s contention that what was taken was a trade secret and that the company was harmed by the loss. AK failed to prove it was injured and barring the ex-employees from working for ThyssenKrupp “would disserve the public interest,” she said.

When two of the employees left to work for ThyssenKrupp they “truthfully disclosed to AK their intentions to work for ThyssenKrupp without receiving any objection from AK in return,” DuBose said.

She dismissed all charges against the three employees and ordered each side to pay its own litigation costs.

The case is AK Steel Corp. v. Earley, 1:10-cv-00415-KD-C, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile).

AT&T’s Trade-Secrets Claims Too Broad, Public Knowledge Says

AT&T Co.’s planned $49 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA Inc. lacks sufficient transparency because the companies are claiming that too many elements of the deal are trade secrets, a public interest law group said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission.

Public Knowledge, a Washington-based digital-rights group, said that the parties are claiming “confidentially and highly confidential protection not just for information that would put them at a competitive disadvantage but for information that is merely embarrassing or contrary to the publicly articulated justifications for the proposed merger.”

The U.S. Justice Department sued in federal court in Washington Aug. 31 to block the takeover. Seven states and Puerto Rico joined the suit.

In its letter to the FCC, Public Knowledge said that a trade secret must give its owner an economic advantage over others. The group claims that much of what AT&T has labeled as confidential doesn’t fit this description.

AT&T “ought to bear the burden of demonstrating that each piece of confidential or highly confidential data fits under the scope of a protective order,” Public Knowledge said.

The antitrust case is U.S. v. AT&T Inc., 11-cv-01560, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

IP Moves

Bracewell & Giuliani Adds Foley & Lardner’s Spivey to IP Group

Bracewell & Giuliani LLP hired Jonathan R. Spivey for its intellectual-property practice, the Austin, Texas-based firm said in an e-mailed statement.

Spivey, a litigator, joins from Milwaukee’s Foley & Lardner. After law school, he served as a judicial clerk for H. Robert Mayer, former chief judge at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Before he was a lawyer, Spivey worked as a machine design engineer at Hallmark Cards Inc. He also has served as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Spivey has represented clients in the electro-mechanical, electrical computer technology and software industries, handling patent, copyright, trade secret and unfair-competition disputes.

He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Prairie View A&M University, a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and a master’s degree in intellectual property law from George Washington University.

--With assistance from Ronald Grover in Los Angeles, Cliff Edwards in San Francisco and Sara Forden in Washington. Editor: Stephen Farr

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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