Bloomberg News

Apple, Vringo, MIPS, Twitter, AHA: Intellectual Property

November 07, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) told a judge that Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Note 10.1 device infringes its patents, and sought to add the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system to an existing lawsuit against Samsung in California.

Apple made the arguments yesterday to U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in federal court in San Jose. Apple’s bid to expand the lawsuit follows Samsung’s Oct. 1 move to add patent- infringement claims against the iPhone 5 in the same case. Apple won a $1.05 billion jury verdict against Samsung on Aug. 24 in a separate patent case in the same court.

Filings by both companies in their two cases before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh show no letup in their battle on four continents to retain dominance in the $219 billion global smartphone market.

Samsung in August began U.S. sales of the Galaxy Note 10.1, equipped with a stylus -- a feature Apple’s iPad doesn’t offer, and which builds on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5.3, a similarly stylus-equipped smartphone that came out earlier this year. Jelly Bean is Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s latest version of the Android operating system that runs on Samsung mobile devices as well as Google’s Nexus 7 handheld computer, which was released in June.

Koh on Oct. 1 rescinded a ban on U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 that she imposed in June, deciding there were no grounds for keeping the preliminary injunction in place after jurors concluded in their Aug. 24 verdict that Samsung didn’t infringe the Apple design patent that was the basis for the injunction.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, contended the ban should remain in place because the jury found the Galaxy Tab infringed other patents at issue in the case.

Andrew Liao, an Apple attorney, told Grewal yesterday that the Galaxy Nexus is the only phone with Jelly Bean that Apple seeks to add to the patent complaint.

Victoria Maroulis, an attorney for Samsung, said the company wants to add only one product, the iPhone5, to its complaint. Maroulis said Samsung opposes the addition of “stylus products in 17 new devices” to Apple’s claims.

“By adding the stylus, Apple is going to enlarge the case significantly,” she said.

The case in which Apple added the Galaxy Note 10.1 and Jelly Bean operating system is scheduled for trial in 2014.

The case is Apple v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 12- cv-630, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The previous case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Vringo Awarded $30 Million in Trial Against Google, AOL

Vringo Inc. (VRNG:US), owner of technology developed by the Lycos Inc. search engine, said it was awarded about $30 million from Google Inc. and some Google customers, including AOL Inc. (AOL:US), over patented ways to generate advertising revenue.

The companies infringed two patents owned by Vringo, a federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia, decided yesterday. Vringo said it was awarded a 3.5 percent continuing royalty rate on the patents, which expire in 2016.

Vringo claimed Google’s Adsense program, which is also used as the advertising platform for third-party companies and AOL Search Marketplace, infringed the patents. The company had been seeking $493 million, before U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that Vringo couldn’t collect any damages that might have occurred before the suit was filed in September 2011.

“We remain confident that the patents here are invalid, that we did not infringe them, and that we will ultimately win this case,” Google attorney Catherine Lacavera said in a statement.

Google was told to pay $15.9 million, AOL $7.9 million, and IAC Search & Media Inc. $6.6 million, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. Target Corp. (TGT:US) was told to pay $98,800 and Gannett Co. $4,000, the Norfolk-based newspaper said. The companies all use Google’s program to display ads based on search results.

The court dispute is over filtering technology to determine placement of advertisements on search results. Vringo also claimed it was entitled to royalties going as far back as 2004, when Google first implemented its Smart Ads system.

Google, which reported revenue of $11.3 billion in the third quarter, denied infringing the patents and argued they were invalid.

The case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 11-cv-512, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).

Imagination Buys MIPS Following Patent Sale to ARM Group

Imagination Technologies Group Plc (IMG), a U.K. maker of chip technology for phones and tablets, agreed to acquire the operating business of MIPS Technologies Inc. (MIPS:US) to bolster its roster of semiconductor designs and licenses.

Imagination will pay $60 million in cash for the business, which also includes patents and license rights to the MIPS patent portfolio, the Kings Langley, England-based company said in a statement yesterday.

“We have been working closely with MIPS for several years now and have a number of mutual customers and partners,” Imagination Chief Executive Officer Hossein Yassaie said in the statement. “I believe that this transaction will be welcomed by both companies’ customers and the electronics industry.”

ARM Holdings Plc (ARM) said yesterday that it’s a leading member of a group that has agreed to pay MIPS $350 million for 580 patents and patent applications for chip designs and related technology. MIPS, based in Sunnyvale, California, was said to have hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US) to find a buyer for its business in April, people with knowledge of the decision said at the time.

Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF:US) acted as the financial adviser to Imagination, the bank said in a separate statement.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademarks

Hamptons Chef Tourondel Settles Lawsuit by BLT Restaurant

Celebrity chef Laurent Tourondel settled a lawsuit filed by his former employer, BLT Restaurant Group LLC, which claimed he violated its trademarks with his new restaurant in New York’s Hamptons.

The complaint brought by BLT was dismissed because of an agreement between the parties to end the suit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger said in a Nov. 5 filing in federal court in New York. No details of the deal were provided.

BLT said in the complaint filed in August 2010 that Tourondel and his partner, Michael Cinque, had opened a restaurant, LT Burger, in the Hamptons village of Sag Harbor that “mimics plaintiff’s well-known line of restaurants.” Tourondel had been executive chef of BLT.

BLT claimed that menu items such as its Grandma’s Treat milkshake had been copied by LT Burger. LT Burger also has a restaurant in Manhattan’s Bryant Park.

The case is BLT Restaurant Group LLC v. Tourondel, 10-6488, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Wolf Appliance Says American Range Infringes Trademark

Wolf Appliance Inc., the maker of high-end ranges that cost as much as $8,000, sued a competitor for trademark infringement over the red knobs on Wolf stoves.

American Range Corp. of Pacoima, California, is accused of using red knobs on its stoves that infringe Wolf’s trademark, which it registered in 2008. Wolf said American Range has displayed infringing ranges and range-top products at industry trade shows and on its website.

The use of red knobs confuses the public and may cause loss of market share and damage to Wolf’s goodwill, the Madison, Wisconsin-based company said in its pleadings.

It asked the court to bar further infringement of its marks, and to order American Range to destroy all infringing products and promotional materials.

American Range didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Wolf Appliance Inc. v. American Range Corp., 12-cv-00800, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Seattle Artist Dismisses Infringement Suit Against Twitter

An artist who creates photos of miniature figures with life-sized food items has dismissed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Twitter Inc.

Christopher Boffoli, a Seattle resident, sued Twitter in federal court in Seattle Sept. 10. He said that photos in his “Disparity Series” were copied and distributed through Twitter’s short message service without his permission.

He claimed in court papers that even though he filed takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Twitter failed to remove the offending images. The company did acknowledge receiving his infringement notices, Boffoli said.

The artist said he was harmed by Twitter’s failure to act, and asked for a court order barring further infringement and mandating the destruction of all copies of his work made under Twitter’s control. He also sought awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

In an Oct. 25 filing, Boffoli dismissed the suit. He said Twitter never filed a response.

The Twitter listing where Boffoli said his photos were displayed without permission now contains the notice that “the image has been removed in response to a report from the copyright holder.”

The case is Boffoli v. Twitter Inc., 12-cv-01534, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

AHA Respond to SSI Group’s Suit, Files Infringement Complaint

The American Hospital Association, a Washington-based advocacy group for the health-care industry, sued a provider of health-care claims processing for copyright infringement.

In the suit filed Nov. 4 in federal court in Chicago, the AHA accused SSI Group Inc. of Mobile, Alabama of infringing copyrights related to its Data Specifications Manual, which is used to create billing forms.

According to court papers, SSI violated a license with the AHA for use of the manual. Although SSI had an agreement that permitted it to print hard copies of the manual, the hospital group said that the Alabama company exceeded the terms of its license by making unauthorized derivative works. SSI’s ClickOn Billing software contains infringing content, AHA claimed.

The hospital group and SSI tried to resolve the issue since May, AHA said. SSI sued in federal court in Mobile Oct. 29, seeking a declaration it didn’t infringe the hospital group’s copyrights.

AHA said that while it had “hoped and intended” to reach an accord with SSI, the Alabama company’s “race to the courthouse” gave it no choice except to file the suit.

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

The case against the Alabama company is American Hospital Association v. SSI Group Inc., 12-cv-08833, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

The case against the hospital association is SSI Group Inc. v. American Hospital Association, 12-cv-00684, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile).

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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