Bloomberg News

Apple, Ravensburger, General Mills: Intellectual Property

November 20, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), the maker of the iPad and iPod, has received a U.S. patent on virtual page turning.

Patent D670,713, which was issued Nov. 13, is a design patent.

According to the patent, the design covers the appearance of the animated images as they sequentially transition between the images. Cupertino, California-based Apple says the process by which one image transitions to another isn’t part of the claimed design.

Application for the patent was filed in December, with the assistance of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox PLLC of Washington.

Samsung Gets Review of Loss in Trade Case Against Apple

Samsung Electronics Co. will get another chance to persuade a U.S. trade agency that Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad infringe its patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it will review “in its entirety” the Sept. 14 findings that cleared Apple of claims it violated four Samsung patents. Notice of the decision was posted on the agency’s website.

DOJ, FTC Team Up to Offer Public Workshop on Patent Assertion

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are holding a joint public workshop to explore the effects of what it calls “patent assertion entity activities” on innovation, competition and antitrust enforcement and policy.”

The Dec. 10 workshop will look at the economic and legal implications of the patent assertion entity activity, as distinct from the “non-practicing entity” activity on such areas as developing and transferring technology.

The Justice Department and the trade commission are soliciting comments on these issues from the public both before the workshop and until March 10. Comments can be submitted to http://ATR.LPS-PAEPublicComments@usdoj.gov.

The event is free at the trade commission’s satellite office in Washington.

Among the participants are Peter Detkin, the vice chairman of Intellectual Ventures; Scott Burt, vice president and chief intellectual property counsel at Mosaid Technologies Inc. (MBTHF:US); and Sarah Guichard, vice president of patents and standards strategy, Research in Motion.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademarks

Australia Blocks Honduran Call for WTO to Probe Tobacco Packages

Australia blocked a request by Honduras for World Trade Organization judges to investigate the legality of an Australian law that prohibits the display of tobacco companies’ logos, labels and trademarks.

Honduras challenged the Australian ban on April 4, saying it violates global rules on intellectual property. The Geneva- based WTO agreed on Sept. 28 to examine a similar Ukrainian complaint against the plain-packaging rules. Australia won’t be able to block a second Honduran request for judges to rule.

Beginning Dec. 1, cigarettes in Australia will have to be sold in dark brown packets, with no symbols or images and the same font for all brands. Global tobacco companies on Aug. 15 lost a legal to challenge to the law, the first requiring cigarettes to be sold in uniform packages, after Australia’s top court ruled the government didn’t benefit from the removal of trademarks.

Philip Morris International Inc. (PM:US), Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (IMT), British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) and Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914) had claimed the government illegally seized their intellectual property by barring the display of trademarks.

Smoking kills 15,000 Australians annually and costs about A$31 billion ($32 billion) in yearly health and workplace expenses, the government says. With 15 percent of the population age 14 or over smoking daily, it’s the country’s top drug and a preventable health issue, Australian officials say.

Honduras and Ukraine say the law is based on insufficient scientific evidence and that the plain-packaging rules will unnecessarily restrict trade because Australia’s public-health goal can be met by other means.

The Dominican Republic said on Nov. 9 said it will also ask the WTO to investigate its complaint against the Australian plain-packaging law in its first challenge at the trade arbiter. The request will be included on the Dispute Settlement Body’s Dec. 17 agenda, the Dominican Republic said in a statement.

“These unprecedented measures will undermine the Dominican Republic’s tobacco industry, in particular its premium cigar sector,” according to the statement. “By prescribing standardized plain packaging, the tobacco market will be driven towards commoditization, with declining prices, and increasing - - rather than falling -- consumption and illicit trade.”

Ravensburger Says ‘Memory’ Apps Infringe Its European Trademarks

Ravensburger AG, a German game company, has informed Apple Inc. that applications sold in the Cupertino, California-based company’s App Store with “Memory” in their names infringe its European trademarks, the Gamasutra game-industry news website reported.

“Memory” is one of the board games Ravensburger sells, Gamasutra reported.

Darren Murtha, one of the developers of the “Preschool Memory Match” application told Gamasutra he had to remove his game from sale in 43 countries because of the Ravensburger objection.

He said he would change the name of the app in those countries and release a new version of the application in 2012, Gamasutra reported.

General Mills Bests Indian Dairy Co-Op in ‘Trix’ Trademark Fight

General Mills Inc. (GIS:US), the U.S. cereal giant, won a trademark dispute in India against a dairy cooperative, India’s Economic Times reported.

The dispute involved the “Trix” trademark originally registered in India in 1977 by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, and used through 1987 for a chocolate bar, according to the Economic Times.

General Mills India Pvt. Ltd. filed an application to register “Trix” -- used in the U.S. for its fruit-flavored cereal. In July India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board directed that country’s registrar of trademarks to cancel the dairy cooperative’s right to the trademark.

The dairy cooperative filed an appeal, and the Gujarat High Court said there was no merit in its petition and affirmed the cancellation of the mark.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

THQ Sued Over Use of Fighter’s Tattoo in UFC Computer Game

THQ Inc. (THQI:US), makers of the Company of Heroes and Darksider computer games, was sued for copyright infringement by an Arizona tattoo artist.

According to the complaint filed Nov. 16 in federal court in Phoenix, a lion tattoo placed on the right ribcage of martial arts competitor Carlos Condit is infringed in THQ’s “UFC Undisputed 3” game. The game includes images of a number of Ultimate Fighting Challenge contenders.

The game features a computer-generated depiction of Condit, which includes “an exact reproduction of the lion tattoo,” tattoo artist Chris Escobedo said in his pleadings.

Escobedo claims a website associated with the game also displays an unauthorized copy of the tattoo.

He claims he is harmed by the Agoura Hills, California- based company’s actions and that his exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the image are infringed.

Escobedo says the infringement is “willful, intentional” and in disregard of his own rights.

He asked the court for an award of all profit attributed to the alleged infringement, and money damages.

Agoura Hills, California-based THQ didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Escobedo said in a statement that even if THQ had asked, he wouldn’t have agreed to the recreation of the tattoo by an animator.

The case is Christopher Escobedo v. THQ Inc., 2:12-cv- 02470-JAT, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ambassador to Canada Says No Industrial Espionage by Chinese

China’s ambassador to Canada, Zhang Junsai, denied Chinese companies are involved in industrial espionage and called for anyone who believed otherwise to provide proof, Agence France- Presse reported.

Speaking on a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio program, Zhang said that those who made such allegations were falling into a “Cold War mentality,” according to AFP.

The ambassador claimed that even the U.S. couldn’t provide evidence of Chinese industrial espionage, AFP reported.

He was making reference to conclusions made by a panel from the U.S. House of Representatives that several Chinese telecom companies were enough of a security threat that they shouldn’t be allowed to enter into U.S. contracts or acquire U.S. companies, according to the news service.

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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