Bloomberg News

Samsung, Kimberly-Clark, Whirlpool: Intellectual Property

October 01, 2012

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) can pursue its efforts to rescind a ban on U.S. sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer that’s part of a dispute with Apple Inc., a U.S. appeals court said Sept. 28.

The court said U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, can have jurisdiction to consider whether to lift the ban, which had been imposed before a patent-infringement trial that ended in August. The jury found that Samsung didn’t infringe a design patent that had been the basis for blocking sales in the U.S.

Apple contends the ban should remain in place because the jury found the Galaxy Tab infringed other patents. Koh had refused to act because the ban was on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She said she might permit sales if granted jurisdiction.

An order granting her that authority was posted on the Federal Circuit appeals court’s electronic docket.

The Federal Circuit said it isn’t taking a position on how Koh should decide the issue.

The case is Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-1506, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Whirlpool, LG Electronics Settle Refrigerator Patent Suits

Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest appliance maker, and LG Electronics Inc. (066570) agreed to settle patent-infringement cases over refrigerator icemakers for an undisclosed amount.

The settlement resolves three patent lawsuits filed in federal courts in New Jersey and Delaware, Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool and Seoul-based LG said Sept. 28 in a statement.

“This agreement, which concludes years of patent litigation between LG and Whirlpool, will result in the dismissal” of the cases, the companies said.

A Delaware jury found in 2010 that LG infringed a Whirlpool icemaker patent and awarded $1.78 million in damages. U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet in Wilmington questioned the jury’s calculations and ordered a new trial. Whirlpool had sought more than $22 million in damages.

Last year, Whirlpool said it won a six-month stay of patent litigation over refrigerator technology while it challenged the validity of LG’s patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

One case resolved by the settlement is LG Electronics v. Whirlpool Corp. (WHR:US), 08-cv-234, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Kimberly-Clark Sues First Quality Over Diaper Closure Patent

Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB:US), the Dallas-based maker of paper consumer products, sued a manufacturer of disposable training pants for patent infringement.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 28 in federal court in Green Bay, Wisconsin, First Quality Products Inc. (QPDC:US)’s Baby Products unit infringes patent 8,221,378, which covers a refastenable closure to be used for disposable diapers and training pants. The patent, which was issued in July, was assigned exclusively to Kimberly-Clark on the date the patent issued, according to court papers.

Kimberly-Clark, which makes Depends adult diapers and Pull- Ups training pants, asked the court for an order barring further infringement of its patent, and for awards of money damages and litigation costs.

First Quality, based in McElhattan, Pennsylvania, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc., v. First Quality Baby Products LLC, 1:12-cv-00993, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Green Bay).

Dow Prevails in Weed-Control System Patent Dispute with Bayer

Dow Chemical Co. (DOW:US)’s Dow AgroSciences unit has prevailed in a patent-infringement case brought by Bayer AG (BAYN)’s Bayer CropScience unit.

In a Sept. 27 ruling, U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb said the technology used in Dow’s Enlist Weed Control System doesn’t infringe patent 6,153,401, which covers a mechanism for the genetic manipulation of a plant that will enable it to resist the 2,4-D herbicide.

Bayer had claimed that Dow’s genetically corn and soybean strains genetically manipulated to resist the herbicide infringed the patent, which was issued in November 2000.

Judge Bumb disagreed, saying because the court had accepted the way Dow considered the patent claims, and Bayer hadn’t disputed that the Dow products wouldn’t infringe the patent under those claims, she found no infringement.

The case is Bayer CropScience AG v. Dow AgroSciences LLC, 1:10-cv-01045-RMB-JS, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Urban Outfitters Asks That ‘Navajo’ Trademark Suit Be Relocated

Urban Outfitters Inc. (URBN:US), the lifestyle specialty retailer based in Philadelphia, has asked the court to move a trademark suit from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Philadelphia.

Urban Outfitters was sued in March for trademark infringement by the Navajo Nation, which is the largest Native American tribe in the U.S.

The suit is related to the retailer’s use of “Navajo” with products it sells.

In October, the Navajo Nation sent Urban Outfitters a cease-and-desist letter objecting to the use of the word “Navajo” on underwear and the sale of a flask wrapped in what was described as “Navajo Print Fabric.” The Navajo Nation complained that the use of the word on underwear offended the tribe’s spiritual beliefs about modesty, and calling a flask “Navajo” was insensitive, given the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol on the reservation.

Other items to which the Navajo Nation objected included an “Unknown Techno Navajo Quilt Oversized Crop Tee” and a “Truly Madly Deeply Navajo Print Tunic,” according to court papers.

In a Sept. 30 court filing, Urban Outfitters argues that the New Mexico court is inconvenient for everyone, even including the Navajo Nation, which is headquartered in Window Rock, Arizona, according to the tribe’s website.

The filing also notes that 75 percent of the docket for the New Mexico court is comprised of criminal matters, and that this makes the court the third-busiest in the nation in that regard. As a result, delays in the handling of civil matters are more likely, according to court filings.

Additionally, Urban Outfitters said that the court in Philadelphia is “particularly well-versed in intellectual property matters,” hearing 200 such cases for a 12-month period ending June 30, 2011.

Urban Outfitters also argued that the Navajo Nation has previously released a statement commending the retailer for removing the Navajo name from its online marketing and products, and accused the plaintiff of “reneging on their public representation that they were committed to avoiding what is now this lawsuit.”

The case is Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters Inc., 1:12- cv-00195, U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico (Albuquerque).

Amazon.com Seeks Dismissal of Apple’s False Advertising Claim

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US), the world’s largest online retailer, has asked a federal court in Oakland, California, to reject Apple Inc.’s claim that its use of “AppStore” constitutes false advertising.

Cupertino, California-based Apple sued Amazon in March 2011, and asked for a preliminary court order barring the online retailer’s use of “Appstore,” pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

Apple, whose top-selling product is the iPhone, claimed it would be irreparably harmed because the value of its own App Store will be eroded as consumers confuse the two services.

In its Sept. 26 court filing, Amazon said “AppStore” is part of the name of its “Amazon Appstore for Android” and the only claim Amazon makes about the nature and characteristics of the Amazon Appstore is that it contains thousands of apps and that they have been tested to perform on its Kindle Fire portable device.

Apple didn’t contend that these claims are false, Amazon argued. A claim for false advertising requires a false statement of fact about the nature, characteristics, or quality of the seller’s product, Amazon said, arguing that none of those allegations can validly be made about its use of “Amazon Appstore for Android.”

Amazon claims Apple is trying to turn its trademark- infringement claims into a false advertising case, and says in its filing that trademark infringement and false advertising are “distinct types of wrongful conduct.” Apple shouldn’t be allowed to “piggyback on its trademark infringement claim,” Amazon said.

Instead, “from its inception, this has been a simple trademark case,” Amazon says, and asked the court to dismiss the false advertising claims in the suit.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc., 11-01327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

AF Holdings Sues Single Defendant for BitTorrent Film Sharing

AF Holdings LLC, a maker of adult films, sued a single defendant for infringing the copyright to one of its videos.

According to the suit filed Sept. 27 in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, the film was infringed through the use of the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol. In recent months many copyright infringement cases have been filed by makers of adult films, generally listing as many as several hundred unidentified defendants.

In this case, although a name is listed for a defendant, the complaint doesn’t list a specific place of residence. Instead, AF Holdings alleges that the defendant “may be found” in the Massachusetts federal judicial district, or the action that gives rise to the claims in the case occurred there.

AF does give the defendant’s Internet protocol address, which is a unique series of numbers separated by dots.

The alleged illegal downloading was observed by AF in April 2011, the film company says in its pleadings. AF also says the defendant used BitTorrent to share the film with others. Because of this, AF is also accusing the defendant of civil conspiracy.

The film company asked the court to order a halt to the alleged infringement, and for the seizure of all infringing content under the defendant’s control. Additionally, AF seeks money damages, and awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.

AF said that if the defendant didn’t do the illegal file sharing, and instead simply permitted it to take place on his computer, then he is accused of negligence and is still liable for illegal actions performed on his computer.

The case is AF Holdings V. Maxime St. Louis, 4:12-cv-11797- TSH, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Worcester).

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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