Bloomberg News

Samsung, Google, Nike, Golden Balls: Intellectual Property (1)

May 03, 2013

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), which is battling Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) for dominance in the smartphone market, filed an application for a technology that permits the turning of a “page” in an e-book.

Application 20130104017, published yesterday in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covers a method and apparatus for displaying an e-book in a terminal. According to the patent, an opened page would be modified based on the position of a pointer.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, filed the application in October.

Apple received a U.S. design patent on a display screen with a page-turning function in November. Patent D670,713 covers the ornamental design for a display with an animated graphic user interface.

The Cupertino, California-based company filed its patent application in December 2011, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Google Seeks Patent on Identification of Problematic E-Mail

Google Inc. (GOOG:US), creator of the most-used Internet search engine, filed an application for a patent on a technology aimed at identifying e-mails that may violate a company policy or leak company secrets.

Application 20130110748, published yesterday in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covers “methods and systems for identifying problematic phrases in an electronic document, such as an e-mail.”

According to the application, a phrase in the text of the message is compared against a database of phrases previously determined to be problematic. If there is a match between the phrases, the user is alerted by an online message.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said in the application that employees often knowingly or unknowingly will, in e-mails, discuss actions that could “that could potentially lead to violations of company policy, such as a confidentiality policy, or run afoul of the law.”

The application was filed in August.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Nike Responds to Under Armour Suit, Says ‘I Will’ Is Weak Mark

Nike Inc. (NKE:US), the Beaverton, Oregon-based sporting-goods manufacturer, responded to a lawsuit by Under Armour Inc. by describing its disputed “I Will” trademark as “weak and diluted.”

Under Armour sued Feb. 21 in federal court in Baltimore, where it’s based, accusing Nike of infringing the “I Will” trademark. According to court papers, Under Armour used the mark since at least 1998 in connection with “hundreds of products and in advertising.”

The company objected to promotional content on a Nike page on Facebook Inc.’s social media site featuring images of athletes and phrases that included “I will protect my home court” and “I will finish what I started.”

Under Armour claims that Nike’s use of this phrase creates confusion in the marketplace and causes consumers to believe falsely that an affiliation exists between the two companies.

It sought orders barring Nike’s use of “I will,” the destruction of any allegedly infringing content and promotional material, and corrective advertising. Additionally, the company requested awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages, and requested that the damages be tripled to punish Nike for its actions.

In its April 29 response, Nike said that the phrase “I will” used in combination with other words “is and has been in common use by others, including in connection with athletic apparel and products.” Under Armour’s mark is “at best a weak and diluted phrase,” Nike said.

Nike said that Under Armour bought some of the rights to trademark from others in 2012, and that those are limited to certain classes of products. Under Armour and the mark owner “have acquiesced in, and failed to adequately police the many non-party users” of the phrase, Nike claims.

The Oregon company asked the court for a declaration that it didn’t infringe the Under Armour mark and that the mark is invalid. Nike requested that the mark’s registration be canceled.

The case is Under Armour Inc. (UA:US) v. Nike Inc., 13-cv-00571, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore).

‘Golden Balls’ Trademark Fight Goes to European Court of Justice

A U.K. couple who operate a clothing company has taken its battle over the “Golden Balls” trademark to the European Court of Justice, the Brent & Kilburn Times reported.

Their fight is with professional soccer’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, which awards the “Ballon d’Or” -- Golden Ball -- award to its outstanding players, according to the newspapers.

To date, the couple has spent more than 100,000 pounds ($155,000) fighting FIFA’s claim that their underwear label infringes its trademark, according to the Times.

They told the newspaper they weren’t going to walk away and surrender to FIFA’s demands just because the league had more money, the Times reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Canadian Head Shop Raid Yields Allegedly Infringing Merchandise

A chain of tobacco shops in Winnipeg, Ontario, that bills itself as “the dopest head shop in the prairies” was raided by local and federal police in search of merchandise that infringed copyrights, the Canada.com news website reported.

Merchandise seized at “The Joint” included paraphernalia with images of characters from cartoons and video games, according to Canada.com.

The seized merchandise represented 75 percent of the shops’ stock, and was in plain view, Canada.com reported.

Appeals Court Sanctions Tilmon’s Widow in Music Copyright Case

A U.S. appeals court sanctioned the widow of a member of a 1970s rhythm and blues singing group for filing a frivolous appeal in a copyright lawsuit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said May 1 that a lower court correctly determined that Janyce H. Tilmon-Jones lacked standing to file an appeal in a copyright suit involving the song “You’re Getting a Little Too Smart,” written by her late husband Abrim Tilmon Jr.” She hadn’t shown she was “strongly affected” by the judgment in the case and also failed to show that the default judgments against the infringer were obtained by fraud, the court said.

The court characterized the conduct of the widow and her counsel as “objectively and patently meritless and a waste of judicial resources.” The appeal was frivolous and sanctions were appropriate, the court said.

The appeals court granted the motion for attorney fees and court costs by the plaintiff in the underlying copyright case, Bridgeport Music Inc. of Southfield, Michigan.

The case is Bridgeport Music Inc., v. Smith, 12-01523, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Frontier Scientific Employee Didn’t Take Secrets, Court Says

A federal court in Utah found that a former employee of Frontier Scientific Inc. didn’t steal company secrets.

Prabhu Prasad Mohapatra did plead guilty to one count of unlawful access to a protected computer. He was sentenced to time served and required to pay $3,435.25 in restitution.

Frontier Scientific, based in Logan, Utah, makes compounds used in scientific research and porphyrins, which are organic compounds that help form substances in the body.

Mohapatra was accused of e-mailing recipes for some of Frontier Scientific’s products to a relative in India. The case was filed in December 2011.

The court said that the evidence the government presented failed to meet the requirements for a trade secret. Public source material existed for the alleged trade secrets, the court said.

The case is U.S. v. Mohapatra, 11-cr-00132, U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Salt Lake City).

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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