Bloomberg News

Apple, Trader Joe’s, Johnson Controls: Intellectual Property (1)

May 08, 2013

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), the maker of the iPad and iPhone, applied for a patent on a battery aimed at using space within a mobile device more efficiently.

Application 20130108907, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office May 2, covers curved battery cells for portable electronic devices.

Apple said in the application that a curved battery pack can use the area outside of the rectangular space ordinarily reserved for such an energy source. A curved battery could occupy space that is “curved, rounded, or irregularly shaped,” the Cupertino, California-based company said. That could allow designs for devices to diverge from the standard rectangular configuration.

The curve would be formed by applying a pressure of at least 0.13 kilogram-force per square millimeter to the layers of a battery cell at a temperature of 85 degrees Celsius (185 Fahrenheit) according to the application.

Apple applied for the patent in October 2011.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Trader Joe’s Sues Canadian Grocer for Reselling Goods

Trader Joe’s Co., a supermarket chain with more than 390 locations, sued a Canadian grocer for trademark infringement for allegedly reselling its branded goods without authorization.

According to the complaint filed May 1 in federal court in Seattle, Michael Normal Hallatt, who does business as Pirate Joe’s and Transilvania Trading, buys Trader Joe’s branded products multiple times a week from legitimate retail outlets, transports them across the border to Canada and sells them “at significantly higher prices.”

Hallatt’s Vancouver-based store also advertises that it sells Trader Joe’s products and provides customers with shopping bags from the chain, the South Pasadena, California-based company claims. Trader Joe’s also claimed that Hallatt’s piratejoes.ca website features elements of its trade dress.

The public gets the false impression that Hallatt’s store is affiliated with the chain, Trader Joe’s said. The California chain also claims that its branded goods sold in Hallatt’s store may not be governed by the company’s “stringent quality-control standards.” Trader Joe’s says it is aware of at least one customer who became ill after consuming frozen food bought from Hallatt’s store.

The higher prices charged in the Canadian store are harmful to Trader Joe’s name, damaging its reputation “for offering high-quality, affordable groceries,” according to the complaint.

The company asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs and an order barring further infringement, including unauthorized resale of its products. Additionally, Trader Joe’s asked for an order for the destruction of all infringing promotional material and the removal of all Trader Joe’s trademarks from PirateJoes.ca.

Hallatt told the Vancouver Province newspaper that he hasn’t broken any laws and that his right to resell the products is stronger than the chain’s right to protect its brands.

The case is Trader Joe’s Co. v. Hallatt, 2:13-cv-00768, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

YouTube Said to Plan $1.99 Subscription Channels in Coming Weeks

Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s YouTube will offer paid subscription channels during the next few weeks, people with knowledge of the matter said, expanding the choices for television viewers beyond traditional pay-TV packages.

Each channel will cost about $1.99 a month, with some variety in price, said one of the people, who sought anonymity because the plans aren’t public. The platform will help programming partners generate revenue beyond advertising and one-time rentals of movies and TV shows, YouTube said May 6 in an e-mailed statement.

“We’re looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube,” the company wrote, without discussing specifics.

With paid YouTube channels, Mountain View, California-based Google would join Netflix Inc. (NFLX:US), Hulu LLC and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US) in offering an online alternative to traditional pay TV. Fees could provide YouTube and its suppliers with a supplement to advertising revenue to help pay for more expensive productions and broaden options for viewers outside of cable or satellite services.

Google has been stepping up efforts to boost the unit’s revenue beyond advertising. YouTube’s video-rental service includes titles from Viacom Inc. (VIAB:US)’s Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US), for a typical price of $3.99.

The company also has built a state-of-the-art production facility near Venice, California, and is spending $100 million on grants ranging from few hundred thousand to a few million dollars to filmmakers and artists.

YouTube’s most popular fare is still typified by the young- adult goofing of channels like “Smosh” and comedian Ryan Higa. By contrast, Netflix and Amazon have been bidding up traditional TV content such as “Breaking Bad” and “Downton Abbey,” while expanding into original programming with shows such as “Orange Is the New Black,” produced by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF:US)

Gawker Sued by ‘Dr. Phil’ Production Company Over Te’o Story

Gawker Media LLC, owner of the Deadspin sports blog, was sued for copyright infringement for posting an episode of the “Dr. Phil Show” about the “fake girlfriend” hoax perpetrated against former Notre Dame University linebacker Manti Te’o.

Peteski Productions Inc., which owns the copyright to the show, filed a complaint May 6 in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, claiming Deadspin copied and used two episodes of the program in which host Phil McGraw conducted an exclusive interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who said he created a fictitious girlfriend for Te’o.

The “Dr. Phil Show” coverage consisted of two segments, with the first on Jan. 31 promising that Tuiasosopo might recreate the phone voice he used in the hoax in the second on Feb. 1, according to the complaint.

Deadspin posted the video of the second show before it had aired to more than 98 percent of its audience, Texas-based Peteski said in its complaint. As a result, ratings for that episode of the Dr. Phil Show “declined substantially.”

Gawker “received substantial benefits from its infringement,” while the production company got nothing, Peteski said. Peteski is seeking money damages, including punitive damages.

Gawker, based in New York, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit.

Te’o, a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, was drafted last month by the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League.

The case is Peteski Productions Inc. v. Gawker Media LLC, 5:13-cv-00046, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Texarkana).

Dotcom Accused of Crimes Nonexistent Under U.S. Law, Lawyers Say

The U.S. is accusing Kim Dotcom, the founder of the cloud- storage service Megaupload.com, of crimes that don’t exist under American law, his lawyers said.

Dotcom, 39, was indicted in January last year in Virginia on charges of racketeering, money laundering, copyright infringement and wire fraud. The Internet entrepreneur is scheduled in August to face an extradition hearing to the U.S. from New Zealand, where he is a resident.

“The United States has charged Kim Dotcom with criminal liability for the acts of his Megaupload cloud storage users, a form of secondary copyright infringement,” according to a statement from Dotcom’s attorneys. “But no criminal statute for secondary copyright infringement exists.”

The statement and a white paper from Dotcom’s lawyers Robert Amsterdam and Ira Rothken were released to coincide with a meeting yesterday in Auckland of attorneys general from the U.S., Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand.

Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, and his counterparts are also scheduled to meet with the Strategic Alliance Group. The group comprises the five countries’ federal policing agencies: the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Australian Federal Police, the U.K. Serious Organised Crime Agency, the New Zealand Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The attorneys general and agencies will discuss the Megaupload case, according to Michael Gillies Smith, a spokesman for Dotcom.

The U.S. accused Dotcom of running the website to profit from piracy and is fighting Megaupload’s attempt to have the Virginia case thrown out.

Dotcom and Megaupload were indicted in Virginia because they leased servers in the state. MacBride has said that was enough to go ahead with a seizure of Megaupload’s servers and Dotcom’s assets.

The U.S. attack on Megaupload and Dotcom is largely influenced by the Motion Picture Association of America, which is headed by former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and is a major campaign contributor to the Democratic party, Amsterdam and Rothken wrote in their report.

The New Zealand case is between Kim Dotcom and Attorney General. CIV2012-404-001928. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland). The U.S. case is U.S. v. Dotcom, 12-cr-00003, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Johnson Controls Argues Contract Data Is Protected Trade Secret

Johnson Controls Inc. asked Minnesota’s Supreme Court to overturn a lower court finding that the company was subject to state public disclosure laws because of its work overseeing a school construction project.

Timberjay Newspapers sought details of a contract between Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls and a subcontractor. The Minnesota Court of Appeals said in October that the company was performing a government function and subject to the mandated- disclosure law. Johnson Controls, which claims the information is a protected trade secret, appealed to the state high court.

Arguments in the case were heard by the justices May 6 at Roseville High School with 600 students in attendance.

The newspaper was represented by Mark A. Afinson of Minneapolis. Johnson Controls’ counsel was Todd A. Wind of Fredrikson & Byron PA, also of Minneapolis.

Wind argued that the lower court erred and characterized its ruling as based on a “presumption that data is open to the world.”

Afinson said the appeals court’s decision was “not some new departure in Minnesota law” and was “appropriately premised” on a court ruling from 10 years earlier.

The case is Helmberger v. Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI:US), A12-0327, State of Minnesota Supreme Court.

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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