Bloomberg News

InterDigital, MGA Entertainment, TiVo: Intellectual Property (1)

June 10, 2013

InterDigital Inc. (IDCC:US)’s patent-infringement case against LG Electronics Inc. (066570) over mobile-phone technology was revived by a U.S. appeals court that said a trade agency shouldn’t have dismissed the case to have it instead be decided in arbitration.

There is “no plausible argument” that the dispute arose under an earlier patent-licensing agreement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said in an opinion posted on its website June 7. The court remanded the case for further proceedings.

The case is InterDigital Communications v. ITC, 12-1628, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

TiVo Plunges After Getting Less Than Predicted in Settlement

TiVo Inc. plunged the most in three years after settling a patent dispute with Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Motorola Mobility unit, Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO:US) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC:US) for $490 million -- less than analysts had estimated.

TiVo announced the amount June 7, saying it brought the total from awards and settlements related to the use of TiVo’s digital-video-recorder technology to about $1.6 billion. As part of the agreement, Cisco and Google will enter into a patent-licensing deal with TiVo. The San Jose, California-based company also approved a $200 million stock-buyback plan.

Analysts had been projecting a larger settlement, and TiVo had said in an October court filing that it might be entitled to “billions of dollars” from Motorola Mobility, based on the number of television set-top boxes it supplied to Time Warner Cable.

TiVo shares fell 19 percent to $11.10 at the close June 7 in New York, marking the biggest one-day drop since May 2010. The plunge more than erased TiVo’s 8.3 percent gain the previous day when news of the settlement first emerged.

The agreement averts a trial and eliminates some final holdouts in TiVo’s efforts to get DVR makers to license its technology. TiVo, which created the DVR market only to see competitors grab more customers, has collected more than $1 billion in patent royalties from Dish Network Corp. (DISH:US), AT&T Inc. (T:US) and Verizon Communications Inc. TiVo has waged more than nine years of litigation to get compensation for its inventions.

Cisco, based near TiVo in San Jose, said in a regulatory filing that it will be paying $294 million of the total and taking a charge this quarter of 3 cents a share.

Mountain View, California’s Google inherited the case when it bought Motorola Mobility last year.

Motorola Mobility is “pleased that all parties involved have reached an agreement to resolve pending litigation,” William Moss, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail last week.

The cases are Motorola Mobility Inc. v. TiVo Inc., 11-cv-00053; and TiVo Inc. (TIVO:US) v. Cisco Systems Inc., 12-cv-00311, both U.S. District Court, Eastern District in Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Australia Appeals Court Allows Local Use of Winnebago Brand Name

A Knott Investments Pty unit will be allowed to continue using the Winnebago brand name in Australia as long as it’s distinguishable from the U.S. maker of motor homes, an appeals court ruled.

A three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney overturned a lower court ruling June 7 that had barred Knott from using the name associated with Winnebago Industries Inc. (WGO:US)

Knott, based in Emu Plains, New South Wales, began manufacturing recreational vehicles and selling them under the Winnebago name, either in 1978 according to Knott founder Bruce Binns, or 1982 according to Winnebago. The U.S. company, which first complained of the use of its name in 1991, sued to stop Knott from using the name in 2010, after the Australian company said it had spent 25 years building its business and reputation.

“It would be unjust to ignore these matters and to require Knott to cease to use its name and logos,” Federal Court Justice James Allsop wrote in last week’s ruling.

It should be made clear in advertising and on vehicles that the Australian model is separate from the U.S. one, Allsop ruled.

Ian Jackman, Sydney-based lawyer for Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Binns founded Knott in 1967 as a landholding company that acquired properties for recreational vehicle factories in Australia. The manufacturing company, Freeway Camper Co. failed and was wound up in 1977, trial judge Lindsay Foster wrote in July, when ruling in favor of the U.S. company.

Knott applied for, and received, registration of the Winnebago name as a trademark in Australia in 1997, according to Foster’s ruling.

“Ours is a family-owned business that has been trading as Winnebago since we first acquired the business name in Australia in 1978,” Ben Binns, director of Knott’s Winnebago (Australia) unit, wrote in an August e-mail announcing the appeal. “We truly believed we were able to use the Winnebago name in Australia given the written agreement we had.”

The case is between Knott Investments Pty. and Winnebago Industries Inc. NSD1417/2012. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

MGA Entertainment Sued Over Use of Type Font in Broadcast Ads

MGA Entertainment Inc., the Van Nuys, California-based maker of the Bratz, Lalaloopsy and Moxie Girlz dolls, was sued for copyright infringement by a Wisconsin-based type house.

Font Diner Inc. of Eau Clair, Wisconsin, claims MGA is using some of its software and fonts without authorization in its broadcast advertising.

According to the complaint filed June 4 in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the type house said that while MGA took a basic license to use its Country Fair Picnic family of fonts, that license didn’t cover use in broadcast media. Specifically, Font Diner claims that Chowderhead, which is one of the Country Fair Picnic fonts, was used in television ads for its Lalaloopsy product line.

MGA’s alleged infringement continues, despite the company’s having been put on notice that its use of Chowderhead in broadcast ads is unauthorized, the type house claims.

Font Diner said it is harmed by MGA’s actions and has lost revenue. It asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs, and for orders barring further infringement and for the seizure of all infringing content in MGA’s possession.

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

The case is Font Diner Inc. v. MGA Entertainment Inc., 1:13-cv-03203-BMC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

Baltimore Man Ordered to Forfeit $4 Million in Copyright Case

A Baltimore resident received an 87-month prison sentence and must forfeit $4 million in a criminal copyright case.

Naveed Sheikh, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement in November. He had reproduced and distributed more than 1,000 commercial software programs without authorization, according to a statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The $4 million forfeiture is the value of the infringed content, the FBI said. He sold them through multiple websites.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE:US) and Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) are among the companies whose products were infringed.

The case is USA v. Sheikh, 1:10-cr-00713-RBD, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore).

N.Z. Revenue Minister Quits Amid Inquiry Into Leaked Spy Report

New Zealand Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has resigned from the role after failing to adequately respond to a leak inquiry related to the nation’s spy agency, Prime Minister John Key said.

Dunne, who is the sole parliamentary member from the United Future Party, will remain in parliament and vote with the government on motions of confidence and other issues, Key told reporters in Wellington today. Dunne has been a parliamentarian since 1984.

Key released the findings June 7 covering an inquiry into how an external review of the Government Communications & Security Bureau’s spying activities had been leaked to the media. The review was sparked by revelations that the GCSB had spied on Kim Dotcom, founder of the cloud-storage service Megaupload.com that the U.S. shut down on copyright infringement charges.

Dunne was identified as having frequent contact with the reporter who obtained the report, including 86 e-mail exchanges, in the two weeks prior to the leak, according to Key. Dunne declined to fully disclose the content of his e-mails, Key said.

“He’s told me categorically he didn’t leak the report,” Key said at a news conference. “I want to believe him but the problem is unfortunately the inquiry doesn’t rule him out and I can’t dismiss the possibility that he has.”

Dunne refused to comply with Key’s directive that all ministers assist the inquiry, and chose the course of resignation, Key said. Some of his communications with the reporter were inappropriate in that they discussed the GCSB, he said.

Key said the National Party-led government doesn’t need Dunne’s vote to continue to govern.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Australian Football League Sweeps Headquarters for Bugs

The head of the Australian Football League acknowledged it has its headquarters searched for listening devices during broadcast-rights negotiation periods, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Andrew Demetriou, the league’s chief executive officer, told ABC the aim was the avoidance of industrial espionage.

He said the league “absolutely” suspected people had tried in the past to bug AFL House, the league’s headquarters, according to ABC.

Demetriou declined to disclose to ABC whether such devices had ever been found or who the league suspected might try to get unauthorized access to its confidential information.

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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Companies Mentioned

  • IDCC
    (InterDigital Inc/PA)
    • $43.31 USD
    • 1.60
    • 3.69%
  • GOOG
    (Google Inc)
    • $520.84 USD
    • 9.67
    • 1.86%
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