Bloomberg News

Apple, Tory, Restoration Hardware: Intellectual Property

October 04, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s billion-dollar trial victory in August was tainted by the jury foreman’s failure to disclose a lawsuit and his personal bankruptcy, Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) said in a request to a judge for the verdict to be thrown out.

Samsung said foreman Velvin Hogan was asked during jury selection whether he’d been involved in lawsuits and didn’t tell the judge that he had filed for bankruptcy in 1993 and had been sued by his former employer, Seagate Technology Inc.

Samsung has a “substantial strategic relationship” with Seagate and the lawyer who filed the complaint against Hogan is married to an attorney who works for the firm that represented Samsung in the trial against Apple, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in a filing yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California.

“Mr. Hogan’s failure to disclose the Seagate suit raises issues of bias that Samsung should have been allowed to explore,” Samsung said in its request for a new trial. The company also said Hogan’s public statements after the verdict suggest he failed to answer the court’s questions “truthfully” to “secure a seat on the jury.”

Hogan, in a phone interview Oct. 2, denied that there was any misconduct, saying the court instructions for potential jurors required disclosure of any litigation they were involved in within the last 10 years -- and that the 1993 bankruptcy and related litigation involving Seagate fell well outside that time range.

“I answered every question the judge asked me” and Samsung “had every opportunity to question me,” Hogan said. He added that he’s surprised Samsung didn’t know about the history it’s now citing given the relationship the lawyer Samsung refers to in its filing has with another lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, the firm representing the company.

Hogan said Samsung’s filing has him wondering whether the Korean company “let me in the jury just to have an excuse for a new trial if it didn’t go in their favor.”

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment on Samsung’s filing.

Adam Yates, a spokesman in the U.S. for Samsung, didn’t immediately return an e-mail, sent after regular business hours, seeking a response to Hogan’s comments.

The nine-member panel reached a unanimous verdict in three days of deliberations following the trial. The jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion after finding that Samsung infringed six of seven patents at issue. Apple is using the verdict to seek a permanent U.S. sales ban on eight Samsung smartphones and a tablet computer.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Tory Burch Sues Glasses Manufacturer for Trademark Infringement

Tory Burch LLC, a closely held designer of high-end women’s clothing and accessories, sued an eyewear manufacturer for trademark infringement.

In the complaint filed Oct. 3 in federal court in Manhattan, Burch accuses Creative Eyewear Inc. of making fake version of her sunglasses. She said the glasses use unauthorized reproductions of her logo, which is a registered U.S. trademark.

She claims the infringement is deliberate, and aimed at piggybacking on the goodwill associated with her brand. The public is likely to be confused and assume falsely that the glasses manufactured by Creative Eyewear are actually her products, she said in the complaint.

The designer also objects to Creative Eyewear’s application to register a logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office she says resembles hers.

Burch asked the court to bar further infringement, and for an order for the recall and destruction of all infringing products and promotional materials. Additionally, she seeks an award of profits Creative Eyewear achieved through its alleged infringement, together with money damages and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

She also asked the court to declare that the application Creative Eyewear filed to register its logo as a trademark be declared invalid.

Creative Eyewear, based in Ridgewood, New York, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Tory Burch LLC v. Creative Eyewear Inc., 1:12- cv-07422, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Restoration Hardware Allegedly Infringed ‘Navy Chair’ Trademark

Catterton Partners’ Restoration Hardware unit, a retail chain specializing in late 19th and early 20th century home furnishings, was sued for trademark infringement by a 68-year- old Pennsylvania furniture maker.

The suit, filed Oct. 1 in federal court in San Jose, California, accuses Restoration Hardware of making knockoff versions of what Emeco Industries Inc. calls its “iconic Navy chair.” The chair, which the furniture maker says has won design awards and is in many museums’ permanent collections, is allegedly infringed by Restoration Hardware’s “Naval Chair,” “Navy armchair” and “Navy counter stools.”

All are featured in the Corte Madera, California-based unit’s Fall 2012 catalog, according to court papers. The Emeco chair was originally commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II, is manufactured in 77 steps, is built to last for 150 years, and retails for about $450, the company said.

Restoration’s $129 knockoffs are made in China and are of inferior quality, Emeco claims. The Pennsylvania-based company says it is so strongly identified with the Navy chair that it uses its outline as the company’s official logo.

The California company’s sale of knockoffs will harm the market for the originals, Emeco claims, and cause customers to think Emeco provided them to Restoration Hardware.

Emeco said in its pleadings it sent Restoration a cease- and-desist letter in September, and in response, the California company removed reference to “Navy chair” in its website description of the chairs that it continued to sell despite the letter.

The chair company asked the court to bar Restoration Hardware’s use of “Navy Chair” or “Naval” in connection with its furniture, and for a ban on the importation, sale and promotion of knockoffs. Additionally, the chair company seeks an order for the destruction of all infringing products and promotional material, together with awards of money damages, including profits derived from the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Claiming the infringement is deliberate, Emeco asked for additional damages aimed at punishing Restoration Hardware for its actions.

Restoration Hardware didn’t respond immediately to an e- mailed request for comment. The company said in a Sept. 9 regulatory filing that it intends to raise $150 million in an initial public offering.

The case is Emeco Industries Inc. v. Restoration Hardware Inc., 5:12-cv-05072-PSG, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

California Gets $200,000 U.S. Grant to Fight IP Crime

California received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department to assist state law enforcement officials in the fight against intellectual property crime, according to a statement from the office of California’s attorney general.

The grant will be used to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes and to develop training programs for California law-enforcement officials and prosecutors to improve the investigation and prosecution of intellectual property theft.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said in the statement that technology has enabled the movement of IP theft from physical markets to computers and the Internet. Infringers generate revenue from the sale of pirated goods and from website advertising that takes advantage of Internet traffic to websites from which the merchandise is sold, according to the statement.

Given that traditional law-enforcement jurisdictions don’t exist on the Internet, it has “grown increasingly difficult” to determine which agencies are responsible for investigating Internet-based IP crime, according to the statement.

Harris said that California’s economy “thrives” on the intellectual property of artists, creators, inventors, authors, software designers, engineers and others.

“It is critical that we protect their creations from theft, misappropriation and counterfeiting,” she said.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Becker & Poliakoff Expands IP and Emerging Technologies Group

Becker & Poliakoff PA hired Richard C. Litman for its intellectual property and emerging technologies practice group, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based firm said in a statement.

Litman, founding shareholder of the Litman Law firm of Manassas, Virginia, brought five additional patent lawyers, one trademark lawyer and six patent agents with him to his new firm.

He does patent-related licensing and commercialization work, in addition to university and research-institute technology transfer work.

Litman has an undergraduate degree from Union College, a master’s degree in forensic sciences from Antioch University, a law degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in patent and trade-regulation law from George Washington University.

McDermott Hires Patent Litigator Mashhood Rassam From Fenwick

McDermott Will & Emery LLP hired Mashhood Rassam for its IP litigation group, the Chicago-based firm said in a statement.

Rassam, who previously practiced at Mountain View, California’s Fenwick & West LLP, has represented clients in patent disputes in federal district and appellate courts. His clients’ technologies have included software, e-commerce and internet-related technologies, and semiconductor design and fabrication.

He has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and a law degree from the University of Chicago.

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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