Bloomberg News

Apple, TOM, Flynt, Freddie Mercury: Intellectual Property (1)

July 09, 2013

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), the maker of the iPad and iPhone, has applied for a patent on a technology that would make earbud speakers work regardless of how deeply they are inserted into the user’s ear.

Application 20130170656, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office July 4, covers an electronic device and headset with speaker-seal evaluation capabilities.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said in the application that poor seals between the earbud and the user’s ear can negatively affect the quality of what the user hears. Both noise cancellation and volume levels can be less than satisfactory if the ear bud is inserted incorrectly.

The technology outlined in the application would include seal quality measurements made using impedance measurements. A current-sensing resistor would measure the current to the speaker.

Apple applied for the patent in February 2013.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

TOM, BinckBank Infringe Euronext Trademark Rights, Court Says

The Order Machine, the Dutch alternative trading system that is 25 percent owned by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., infringed NYSE Euronext trademark rights by using AEX-Index ticker symbols, a Dutch court said.

TOM and online broker BinckBank NV (BINCK), based in Amsterdam, have to remove all AEX-ticker symbols, used to indicate options based on NYSE Euronext’s benchmark AEX-Index for Dutch stocks, from their websites within four weeks, The Hague District Court said in a preliminary ruling yesterday.

Euronext’s market share of index options has fallen by 30 percent since TOM and BinckBank began offering options based on the AEX-Index on Jan. 21, the exchange owner told the judges at a hearing, according to the ruling. TOM, whose owners include Nasdaq, BinckBank and ABN Amro Clearing Bank, has said it expects to take as much as 40 percent of the Dutch options market by the end of the year.

“It is now firmly stated that the AEX-Index and its related symbols are valid trademarks from NYSE Euronext (NYX:US) that cannot simply be copied by third parties,” James Dunseath, a London-based spokesman for NYSE Euronext, said in an e-mail.

The court didn’t rule on Euronext’s objections against TOM’s use of other ticker symbols, saying there was no pressing interest. Euronext has already filed for a case on the merits at the court in The Hague, according to the ruling.

“It’s good news to know we can use the AEX in the product description and that it must be removed only in the ticker symbol,” TOM Chief Executive Officer Willem Meijer said by telephone. “We have four weeks to adjust our ticker symbols and are investigating now the IT impact for our customers.”

TOM and BinckBank have to put a notice on their website saying there is no trading in NYSE Liffe (Euronext) options based on the AEX on TOM’s platform, and that these options are not tradeable via BinckBank or its Alex unit, the court said. They will have to pay 25,000 euros ($32,167) for each day they fail to meet the court’s order, to a maximum of 1 million euros.

‘Hustler’ Publisher Larry Flynt Says Younger Brother Infringes

Publisher Larry Flynt sued his younger brother for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed July 3 in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida, Jimmy R. Flynt and his Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts-Naples LLC are accused of infringing trademarks belonging to his older brother.

Larry Flynt, publisher of the adult magazine “Hustler,” objects to his brother’s use of the Flynt name on his shop, which sells sexually oriented merchandise. He said in court papers that his dispute with his brother and other members of his brother’s family is ongoing and that he has successfully filed trademark suits against his relatives in the past.

He said “despite two prior court decisions prohibiting Jimmy and his sons from using the Flynt marks, Jimmy has willfully and deliberately infringed” by promoting a new Florida store as “Flynt Sexy Gifts” without using his full name of any disclaimer.

Jimmy Flynt is accused of trying to piggyback his business ventures on the fame and goodwill associated with his brother’s trademarks. His actions have tarnished the Flynt trademarks, Larry Flynt said in the complaint.

He seeks a court order barring his younger brother’s use of the Flynt name in connection with the sale or distribution of adult-themed goods, and for the destruction of all infringing products and promotional material. Larry Flynt also asked for awards of attorney fees, litigation costs, and money damages, and asked that the damages award be tripled and extra damages added to punish Jimmy Flynt for his actions.

Jimmy Flynt didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail sent through his Flyntsexygifts.com website seeking comment.

The case is Larry C. Flynt v. Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts-Naples LLC, 2:13-cv-00493-JES-UAM, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Fort Myers).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Freddy Mercury Gorilla Removed From U.K. Art Trail

A gorilla sculpture that is part of a public art trail in the U.K.’s Norwich was removed following a complaint from the estate of the late Freddy Mercury that the gorilla’s painted-on suit infringed a copyright, the BBC reported.

Mik Richardson, an artist from Norfolk who painted the gorilla, said he didn’t exactly copy the late performer’s suit, and altered it enough “so that it’s fan art,” according to the BBC.

The art trail has 53 life-sized and 67 baby gorillas, all painted by local artists and displayed on the streets as the “Go Go Gorillas” art trail, the BBC reported.

Event organizers told the BBC they were disappointed that the gorilla was removed as it was one of the most popular, and had hoped to reap the benefit of the statue’s popularity when all the gorillas are auctioned off to benefit several charities.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Solar Cell Researcher Enters Plea in Chinese Trade Secrets Case

A researcher for an unnamed Pennsylvania company has pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to trade secrets for the production of lead-free glass for solar cells.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Tung Pham, 48, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and agreed that the court could take into consideration the trade-secret theft charges when calculating his sentence.

Pham researched the manufacturing of lead-free glass for solar cells for a company identified as Company A. He was accused of transferring information about his research to a startup Chinese company where he planned to work in the future.

The wire fraud charges flow from a series of e-mails between Pham and his future employer involving the creation of a fake employment contract he could use to show Company A and be released from his non-compete agreement, the government said in its statement.

At the July 2 hearing at which he entered his plea, Phan said for the record that he hadn’t shared any company information.

The sentencing hearing for Phan is set for Nov. 6. He faces a potential maximum sentence of 140 years in prison.

The case is U.S. v. Tung Pham, 2:11-cv-00722-AB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Spying Accusations Shadow U.S. Cybersecurity Talks With China

The first meeting of a U.S.-China cybersecurity group in Washington yesterday came amid accusations that the Chinese government is responsible for hacking American companies and disclosures that the U.S. conducts broad international spying operations.

The U.S.-China cyberworking group allows civilian and military officials from both nations to discuss international rules for cyberspace, raise concerns and set the tone for future bilateral talks, said a State Department official who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.

The official made no mention of whether American and Chinese officials would discuss former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose revelations about NSA spying programs last month have overshadowed U.S. claims that China is waging a cyber-espionage campaign.

Chinese officials have demanded an explanation for Snowden’s allegation that the U.S. has hacked computers in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009.

U.S. representatives at the meeting will raise issues such as “cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information for economic gain,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.

President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to confront China with accusations that it is behind a campaign to hack into U.S. agencies and corporations to steal trade secrets and potentially disrupt computer networks operating banks, power grids and telecommunications networks.

Secretary of State John Kerry and State Councilor Yang Jiechi announced formation of the cyber working group in April as part of the larger strategic security dialogue the two countries hold every year.

The group is seen as an important mechanism in the broader effort to build cooperation and manage key differences between the U.S. and China, the State Department official said. issues.

The Pentagon in May accused the Chinese military for the first time of intruding into U.S. computers to steal sensitive data. Army General Keith Alexander, who heads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, has called the hacking of U.S. trade secrets the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

China maintains that it’s a victim of hacking and opposes such activities.

Exxon Claiming Pegasus Pipeline Inspection Data Is Trade Secret

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US) asked the federal agency that regulates oil and gas pipelines not to release inspection data to Arkansas officials on a pipeline that ruptured in March, dumping Canadian oil sands and bitumen in a neighborhood near Little Rock, the Dallas Business Journal reported.

The Irving, Texas-based oil company is claiming the data is a trade secret and has asked the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration not to release it, according to the publication.

The 22-foot rupture was on the Pegasus Pipeline, which carries tar sands oil to refineries in Nederland, Texas, the publication reported.

Carl Weimer, executive director of the watchdog group Pipeline Safety Trust, said companies usually are reluctant to release this information to regulatory agencies, according to the Journal.

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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