Bloomberg News

Apple, Samsung, Reddit, DirecTV: Intellectual Property

September 11, 2012

If Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s patent litigation is the “thermonuclear war” over smartphone technology and design that co-founder Steve Jobs pledged to his biographer, Noreen Krall is its field marshal.

Krall has become a familiar sight in courtrooms around the world as Apple’s chief litigation counsel. Her greatest victory came Aug. 24, when a California jury ordered Samsung Electronics Co., the biggest smartphone maker, to pay Apple more than $1 billion for infringing patents related to the iPhone.

“There is no historical precedent for what Noreen Krall is doing,” said John Thorne, who ran Verizon Communications Inc.’s intellectual-property team before joining Kellogg Huber in Washington this year. “Good generalship produces results like Noreen has gotten. She’s mastering big decisions, like which law firms to hire, how to manage resources, how much of Tim Cook’s time to take.”

Krall, 47, and her boss, General Counsel Bruce Sewell, have amassed a team of lawyers from inside Apple and some of the top U.S. law firms to fight Samsung, HTC Corp. (2498) and Google’s Motorola Mobility unit over Google’s Android mobile operating system and the smartphones and tablets that run on it.

Her job includes understanding the patent rules and court procedures in more than three dozen jurisdictions, making sure arguments are consistent, providing feedback and keeping her team motivated. She observes her lawyers’ arguments from benches or public seating in the back of courtrooms, leaving with them at the end of the day.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said Krall and other officials wouldn’t comment for this story.

Krall, a New York native, was trained as an electrical engineer. Two of her daughters are in college pursuing engineering degrees.

Before moving to Apple, Krall spent five years managing Sun Microsystems Inc.’s 14,000 patents as chief intellectual- property counsel.

Krall joined an Apple team that viewed Android device makers as a threat to its core business of selling distinctively designed consumer electronics at a premium price and with industry-leading profit margins.

She is a founding member of a group of female intellectual- property lawyers called the Chipsters that puts on events to share tips on being powerful women and mothers in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

A finalist this year for the annual Global Counsel Award for intellectual-property lawyers, selected by corporation lawyers and law-firm partners, she’s a shoo-in for next year, said Thorne, the former Verizon lawyer.

Apple Asks Seoul Court to Stay Sales Ban on Products in Korea

Apple Inc. asked a Seoul court to put on hold its Aug. 24 order barring sales of some of its smartphones and tablet computers in South Korea.

No timeframe has been set for a decision on Apple’s request, according to Kim Mun Sung, a spokesman for the Seoul Central District Court.

The court ruled last month that Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) infringed each other’s patents, ordering the companies to stop selling some smartphones and tablet computers in South Korea and pay damages. Apple was ordered to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 in Korea.

Apple and Samsung are battling over the smartphone market, estimated by Bloomberg Industries to be worth $219 billion last year, with patent disputes being litigated on four continents.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Advance’s Reddit Told Gay Users’ ‘Gaymers’ Title Infringes Mark

Advance Publication Inc.’s Reddit social-media unit has received a cease-and-desist letter from a trademark owner over the use of the term “Gaymer” in computer games used by a 16,000-member group of gay participants, the Neoseeker.com news website reported.

Chris Vizzini of Atlanta registered the term in March 2008 for use with computer services, online games and games-related social networking, according to Neoseeker.com.

Vizzini said the Gaymer name “is something I worked hard on, way before Reddit was even an idea,” Neoseeker.com reported.

DirectTV (DTV:US) Seeks ‘Grab & Go’ U.S. Trademark for Mobile Services

DirectTV, the largest satellite broadcaster, has applied to register “Grab & Go” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The application, filed Aug. 30 by the El Segundo, California-based company, specifies the term will be used for set-top boxes, telecommunication services that include streaming audio and video, and the provision of entertainment content.

The term has previously been registered by others for a wide range of uses, including containers to pick up hazardous waste spills, sandwiches for on- and off-premises consumption, exercise equipment, plastic food containers for commercial use, kits of emergency supplies, sprayers for pesticides, and parlor games.

Fred Perry, TopShop Settle Dispute Over Laurel-Wreath Trademark

Fred Perry Ltd., the U.K. based-clothier, has settled a trademark dispute with Taveta Investments’ TopShop unit, the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper reported.

TopShop’s use of a laurel wreath image on some of its sweaters bore too strong a resemblance to Fred Perry’s logo, according to the Telegraph.

In settlement of the dispute, Topshop paid litigation costs and legal fees to Fred Perry and agreed not to sell infringing goods in the future, the newspaper reported.

A spokesperson for Fred Perry said the company won’t hesitate to enforce its IP rights, the Telegraph reported.

Alabama Says Cease-And-Desist Letter to Bakery Was a Mistake

The University of Alabama has apologized to a local bakery that was sent a cease-and-desist letter after it started selling cakes and cookies featuring a red letter “A,” the Tuscaloosa News reported.

The school assured the owner of Mary’s Cakes & Bakery of Northport, Alabama, that the letter from its licensing agency -- Forstman Little & Co.’s Collegiate Licensing -- was “not consistent with the protocol we normally follow for local vendors on trademark issues,” the newspaper reported.

The football-powerhouse university said it would work with the bakery “so that she can continue to produce pastries that bear the university’s marks,” according to the newspaper.

During football season the bakery produced cookies with the letter “A,” and also football-shaped cookies and cookie hats with a houndstooth icing pattern like the hat worn by the legendary Alabama football coach, the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

Candy Trademark Infringement Suit Transferred to Boston

A suit against the New England Confectionery Co., maker of Necco Wafers and Squirrel Nut Zippers, was transferred from federal court in Virginia to Boston.

Allied International Corp. of Virginia, an importer of food items, sued the candy company May 12, saying its “Cambridge and Thames” trademarks were infringed by the Revere, Massachusetts- based company. This mark was used for candy produced for Allied by the New England company.

The product, produced by the company known as Necco, was then shipped to discount retailer Dollar General Corp. (DG:US) in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, through whose stores it was sold, according to court papers.

Allied claims that it received orders from Dollar General for 2012 and planned to use the New England company to fill the orders worth about $3.6 million. The company said that when its trucks arrived to pick up the orders, it was told that the candy company had canceled its contract and was dealing directly with Dollar General.

The Virginia company objects to the sale of products it says are made without authorization and sold to Dollar General. Consumers are confused, it said, and the company claims to be damaged.

It asked the court to bar unauthorized use of its name, and for awards of money damages, profits realized through the alleged infringement, and awards of attorney fees, litigation costs, and extra damages of $1 million to punish the New England company.

Necco asked the Virginia court to dismiss the case for lack of proper geographic distribution or to transfer it to a more appropriate venue.

The case was transferred yesterday and assigned to U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro.

The case is Allied International Corp. of Virginia v. New England Confectionery Co, 1:12-cv-11666-JLT, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Pirate Bay Founder Reported to Sweden to Face Prison Sentence

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a founder of Sweden’s Pirate Bay file-sharing service, has been deported from Cambodia, Singapore’s Straits Times reported.

Warg, 27, returns to Sweden where a one-year prison sentence for criminal copyright infringement awaits him, according to the newspaper.

He was arrested in Phnom Penh Aug. 30 and deported yesterday, the Straits Time reported.

Despite the absence of an extradition treaty between Sweden and Cambodia, Cambodian authorities made the decision to expel Warg, who is being escorted back to Sweden by way of Thailand, accompanied by four Swedish officials, according to the newspaper.

For more copyright news, click here.

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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