Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Motorola Mobility unit said it made a new offer to settle its patent-infringement disputes with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) over the Xbox gaming system and smartphones. Microsoft questioned whether the offer was serious.
Motorola Mobility offered to pay 33 cents for every phone that uses Microsoft’s ActiveSync software to avoid an import ban by the U.S. International Trade Commission on phones that use the software, Kirk Dailey, vice president of intellectual property for Motorola Mobility, said in an interview yesterday.
The Google unit also lowered its demand for royalties on products that use Microsoft’s Windows operating system, to 50 cents for each unit that uses the industry standard for video compression. The company maintained its request for 2.25 percent of the cost of the Xbox gaming system, Dailey said. Microsoft could be banned from importing the Xbox if it loses an ITC case brought by Motorola Mobility.
“We’re hopeful they’re going to respond positively,” Dailey said. “We should have a response in two weeks.”
A settlement would end tit-for-tat cases the companies brought against each other. Microsoft, which contends all devices that run on Google’s Android operating system use its technology, sought royalties from Motorola Mobility. Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility responded by demanding royalties on the Xbox for use of the company’s Wi-Fi and video-compression technology.
“While we welcome any good faith settlement effort, it’s hard to apply that label to a demand that Microsoft pay royalties to Google far in excess of market rates, that refuses to license all the Microsoft patents infringed by Motorola,” Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property, said in a statement.
The Motorola Mobility offer would increase the amount to be paid on the Xbox because it would extend to controllers as well, Gutierrez said. Microsoft has asserted other patents in district court against Motorola Mobility that aren’t related to ActiveSync.
Motorola Mobility, which Google bought last month, is facing an order that it must remove the ActiveSync feature from its Android phones or the phones will be stopped at the border. The import ban is scheduled to go into effect July 17 unless it is overturned by President Barack Obama on public policy grounds.
The Motorola Mobility case against Microsoft is In the Matter of Gaming and Entertainment Consoles, 337-752 and the Microsoft case against Motorola Mobility is In the Matter of Mobile Devices, Associated Software and Components Thereof, 337-744, both U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).
Etagz Says It Settled Patent Litigation With TV Guide
Etagz Inc., the holder of patents related to product labeling, said it settled an infringement case against TV Guide Magazine LLC.
The publisher of the television guide paid a “confidential amount” to resolve issues tied to the patented technology, Salt Lake City-based Etagz said in a statement yesterday.
Etagz sued TV Guide in federal court in Salt Lake City in March 2010, accusing the company of infringing patents 6,298,332 and 7,703,686.
According to Bloomberg data, Etagz has filed at least 10 other patent-infringement cases against companies including Marvel Entertainment LLC and Skins Global Holdings AG.
In Etagz’s statement, Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jacobson said his company isn’t a “patent troll.”
“We were a productive entity that decided to be more aggressive as infringement took its toll on our bottom line,” Jacobson said. The fact that his company actually produced products covered by its patents “has helped us with the many settlements we have reached.”
Neither TV Guide News nor its legal counsel responded immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the settlement.
The case is Etagz v. Flambeau, 10-cv-00240, U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Salt Lake City).
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Knicks Guard Lin Said to Retain Williams & Connolly as Agent
New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin hired agent Jim Tanner of the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly to represent him in basketball and marketing matters, two people familiar with the situation said.
Roger Montgomery, Lin’s current agent, will work with Tanner on the former Harvard University player’s free agency, said the people, who yesterday asked not to be identified because the agreement isn’t complete.
Montgomery didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment on the arrangement. Tanner was traveling and couldn’t be reached.
Tanner’s clients include San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, Miami Heat forward Shane Battier and Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns, whose president of basketball operations, Lon Babby, was a Williams & Connolly attorney and player agent before joining the National Basketball Association team.
The move comes at an important time for Lin, whose emergence this season could lead to increased endorsements. The 23-year-old, the first Chinese- or Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA, is a restricted free agent.
Lin, who went undrafted, was cut by his first two NBA teams before signing with the Knicks on Dec. 27. He invigorated the team after joining the starting lineup on Feb. 6, fueling sales of merchandise and tickets, driving television ratings and helping the team’s parent company,Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG:US), to end a seven-week stalemate with Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US) that kept the provider’s 2.8 million subscribers in the New York area from seeing the Knicks.
Ticket prices to games at Madison Square Garden tripled as fans got caught up in “Linsanity,” a phrase coined to encompass the excitement surrounding the player. Lin has filed a trademark application for the term with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Coca-Cola Co. added courtside advertisements in Chinese at the sports venue to capitalize on Lin’s appeal.
Anheuser-Busch Follows Area Code Applications With Airport Codes
Anheuser-Busch/InBev BV (ABI), maker of Budweiser and Michelob beers, has filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register 42 different three-letter airport codes as trademarks, according to the BeerPulse.com news website.
Last year, the brewer filed applications to register 14 telephone area codes as marks, and those marks haven’t yet been registered, according to BeerPulse.com.
Other pending trademark applications for the brewer that give a hint of forthcoming sports promotion are “hockey tickets for life” and “football tickets for life,” BeerPulse.com reported.
Among the cities whose airport codes Anheuser-Busch is seeking to trademark are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix and New Orleans, according to the beer news website.
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Electronic Frontier Foundation Asks to Enter Wi-Fi Case
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital-rights advocacy group, asked a federal judge for permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief in a copyright case brought by a maker of adult films.
In its proposed brief, EFF argues it’s unfair to sue someone whose Internet connection was used by someone else to download the film. The foundation asked that the case, filed March 27 in federal court in Manhattan, be dismissed.
Liberty Media Holdings LLC, the Las Vegas-based filmmaker, has said that the defendant was liable because he knew the roommate was making unauthorized downloads, including Liberty’s film, “Corbin Fisher’s Down on the Farm.”
EFF says that under this theory, anyone who offers wireless access such as a cafe, school or library could be held liable. The foundation released a statement saying if the argument stands, “public access to the Internet would be sharply reduced because of liability fears.”
Open wireless access “is a public good we should support,” Corynne McSherry, the foundation’s intellectual property director, said in an EFF statement.
In a June 20 court filing, Liberty Media said that EFF is improperly expanding the legal issues and as a non-party, “should not be permitted to insert itself into this litigation in order to promote its own agenda.”
The case is Liberty Media Holding LLC v. Tabora, 12- cv-02234, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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IP-Related Trade Issues
EU’s Ungeheuer Says Singapore FTA Talks to Conclude by End-July
The European Union and Singapore will conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement by the end of July, said Marc Ungeheuer, ambassador and head of the EU’s delegation to the city state.
The discussions are in their “final stages,” with issues regarding financial services, legal services, intellectual property rights, investment and rules of origin still to be resolved, Ungeheuer told reporters in Singapore yesterday.
The European bloc has sought to boost trade and investment ties with the world’s fastest-growing region as a protracted sovereign-debt crisis hurts growth at home. The EU will officially start discussions on trade with Vietnam next week and is in preparatory talks with Indonesia for a partnership agreement before negotiations, he said.
“Singapore will be a very important stepping stone,” Ungeheuer said. “We really want to have a core group of bilateral FTAs and come finally, when the time is right, to an EU-Asean FTA.”
Merchandise trade between the European bloc and the 10- member Association of Southeast Asian Nations amounted to 161.7 billion euros ($205 billion) in 2011, increasing 9.2 percent from the previous year, even as the region’s debt turmoil hurt confidence, he said in a briefing.
Inward foreign direct investment stock from Asean into the EU was 71.9 billion euros in 2010, and Singapore accounts for more than 90 percent of the Southeast Asian FDI stock, according to the EU-Singapore Trade & Investment 2012 report released yesterday.
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