Bloomberg News

Apple, Samsung, Adidas, Dotcom: Intellectual Property

March 08, 2013

Apple Inc. asked a U.S. appeals court to reinstate patent-infringement claims it filed against Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Motorola Mobility unit over touch-screen technology used in mobile phones.

“This is Apple’s first touch-screen patent,” Apple lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz of San Francisco’s Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington yesterday. The patent was for “a key invention and it drove the iPhone phenomenon and later the iPad. It claims something that no one had ever done.”

Apple is appealing a U.S. International Trade Commission decision over transparent screens that can sense multiple touches in different locations, enabling users to operate a mobile phone by touching or swiping its screen. Motorola Mobility persuaded the agency to rule that Apple’s patent 7,663,607 was invalid and its patent 7,812,828 wasn’t infringed.

Commission lawyer Megan Valentine defended the agency’s decision, saying the Apple multitouch invention was very similar to earlier technology, including patent 7,372,455 which was issued to an Israeli company in 2008, and a Sony Corp. paper for a product called SmartSkin.

“The algorithms are nearly identical in the two patents,” she told the panel. She also defended the commission’s finding that the commercial success of the iPhone wasn’t proof of the uniqueness of the patented invention.

Motorola Mobility lawyer David Nelson of Quinn Emanuel in Chicago said the two patents “describe that same sensing device.” He also urged the court to uphold the finding of non- infringement, saying the judge’s interpretation of that patent was correct.

In its filings with the court, Apple said figuring out how a device with a transparent screen could accurately detect multiple touches was a “head-scratcher.” Apple said Motorola Mobility tried and failed to develop its own useful touchscreen.

“The moment Apple unveiled its invention, we all know what happened,” Rosenkranz told the court. Cupertino, California- based Apple has claimed other handset makers copied the iPhone and has filed patent-infringement lawsuits around the world.

Motorola Mobility, in its filing, called Apple’s description of its inventive process as “equal parts fiction, hyperbole, and litigation-inspired hindsight.”

The ITC in Washington has the power to block imports of products that violate U.S. patents. Since most smartphones are made in Asia, the trade agency has become a central front as handset manufacturers use patent litigation as part of an overall effort to increase their own market share.

The case is Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) v. ITC, 12-1338, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The ITC case is In the Matter of Mobile Devices and Related Software, 337-750, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Apple Decision in Complaint by Samsung Delayed by Trade Agency

A final decision in Samsung Electronics Co.’s patent- infringement case against Apple Inc. was delayed by the U.S. International Trade Commission until next week.

The commission set a new target date of March 13 without explaining the reason for the delay in a notice posted on its website. The agency must decide whether Apple infringes four Samsung patents and, if so, whether the appropriate remedy would be to limit U.S. imports of the iPhone and iPad tablet computer.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Seeks Patent on Paid Profile System

Facebook Inc. (FB:US)’s Mark Zuckerberg calls the technology covered by a recently published patent application “Paid Profile Personalization.” The Menlo Park, California-based company’s chief executive officer is the lead named inventor on patent application 20130030987.

According to the application, the user of a social-media network could pay to “select one or more social networking objects” to replace advertisements. The user could be billed on a recurring basis for this service.

Yesterday, Facebook announced a revamp of its News Feed feature to include bigger photos, sorting by topics and a more consistent design across devices as the world’s most popular social network ramps up efforts to make money from content.

Slowing revenue growth and a slump in the stock after the market debut have ratcheted up pressure on Facebook to find new ways to generate sales.

Zuckerberg applied for the patent in July 2011, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Adidas Wins South African Trademark Case Involving Shoe Stripes

Adidas AG (ADS), the German maker of athletic shoes, persuaded an appeals court in South Africa to order Castellina Investments Ltd.’s Pepkor Group to stop selling shoes that infringe the Adidas three-stripe trademark, South Africa’s Business Day reported.

The court also ordered Pepkor either to remove the stripes from the shoes or to surrender them to Herzogenaurach, Germany- based Adidas, according to Business Day.

The ruling overturned a lower court determination of non- infringement, Business Day reported.

Pepkor, which operates Pep Stores and Ackermans in South Africa, had argued that the patterns of four stripes on its shoes were a mere embellishment, and that Adidas’s trademark registration covered only a three-stripe pattern, according to Business Day.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Dotcom’s Prosecutors Urged by Court to Cooperate in N.Z. Lawsuit

Kim Dotcom’s prosecutors in New Zealand must cooperate with the indicted Internet entrepreneur’s lawyers to expedite his lawsuit over illegal wiretaps and a police raid on his home, an appeal court said.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand in Auckland yesterday affirmed a lower court decision that Dotcom can sue the Government Communications Security Bureau, New Zealand’s spy agency, for illegally intercepting his communications before last year’s police raid on his mansion in an Auckland suburb and the seizure of his equipment.

The judges said prosecutors ignored proper procedures in filing the appeal before a decision was made on compensation, referred to as a Baigent claim, according to yesterday’s ruling. Dotcom was indicted in what was dubbed a “Mega Conspiracy” by U.S. prosecutors, who accused his Megaupload.com website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files.

“We urge the parties to cooperate,” the judges wrote in the ruling. Prosecutors “should have asked the chief judge to determine the position in relation to the police Baigent claim before this appeal,” they said.

Dotcom, 39, faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment, with the U.S. seeking his extradition for a trial in Virginia. An extradition hearing in New Zealand is scheduled for August.

“We look forward to holding GCSB spy org accountable,” Dotcom’s lawyer Ira Rothken said on Twitter. “Doing so will not only protect @KimDotcom’s rights but the rights of all NZ residents.”

The case is Between Kim Dotcom and Attorney General. CIV2012-404-001928. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland).

ASMP Weighs In on ‘Orphan Works,’ Endorses PLUS Registry System

The American Society of Media Photographers, a Philadelphia-based trade group of photojournalists and other photographers, submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office with respect to what are known as “orphan works.”

An “orphan work” is a work for which the owner of its copyright can’t be located.

ASMP said in its comments that it joins with the National Press Photographers Association in endorsing a licensing system that uses standardized language and a machine-readable coding architecture. The system, known as the Picture Licensing Universal System, has been endorsed by a wide range of image creators and users.

Among the organizations that are members of the PLUS advisory council are the Association of American Publishers, the Japan Photographers Union, the Newspaper Association of America and the White House News Photographers Association.

ASMP said in its submission to the Copyright Office that two keys to minimizing or eliminating entirely the existence of orphan works are “persistent attribution and registries.”

For the system to be of value in a digital environment, the attribution must remain attached to the images as they make their way “through the channels of usage and distribution,” ASMP said.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

USDA Seeks Comments on Sharing of Information on GM Organisms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Services is considering new regulations that would make it easier to share information about genetically engineered organisms with state and tribal authorities, even when it comes under the heading of “confidential business information” or trade secrets.

In a notice published in the Federal Register, the USDA said that entities that are introducing genetically engineered organisms have typically claimed a wide range of information be designated as confidential.

These include the genes, the gene donor, production details, the organism’s observable characteristics, the location of the introduction of the organism, the purpose of the environmental release, proposed procedures and confinement methods, and mitigation measures to prevent dissemination.

State and tribal officials may need to know some of these details to coordinate responses in the event of local emergencies such as a hurricane or tornado, or accidental release of the organism because of damage to the confinement facility.

“In these events, state and tribal government officials in proximity to the area of concern may be better prepared to respond to this situation if they already have knowledge of the regulated article, the location of the site, and the identities of the personnel responsible for the site,” the USDA said.

Because such information is often designated a trade secret, and the Animal and Plant Inspection Service is barred from sharing it, “participation of the state or tribes may be hampered,” according to the USDA notice.

As a method for safeguarding this information, the USDA said that if it is to be retained by state and tribal authorities, only paper copies would be authorized. The agency said that although it’s looking at a variety of electronic options, “providing a new and separate secure system was not likely to be economically viable” for the inspection service.

The FDA is seeking comments on the proposed regulations from all interested parties, including the public. They must be received by April 29, according to the notice.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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