Bloomberg News

Nintendo, Sony, Agent Provocateur: Intellectual Property (1)

August 16, 2013

Nintendo Co. won a 50 percent reduction of the $30.2 million in damages a jury awarded to a former Sony Corp. (6758) employee who claimed the company’s 3DS game and video player infringed his 3-D technology patent.

“The jury’s damages award was at least twice as large as the amount a reasonable jury could have awarded based on the evidence presented at trial and thereby must have involved the degree of excessive speculation that shocks the judicial conscience,” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said in a decision Aug. 14.

The judge gave plaintiff Seijiro Tomita and his company the choice of accepting $15.1 million in damages or undertaking a new trial on damages.

Tomita, who worked for Sony for almost 30 years before quitting in 2002, sued Nintendo in June 2011. That year Nintendo, the world’s biggest video-game console maker, introduced the 3DS, which allows users to see 3-D images without special glasses.

In dispute is patent 7,417,664, which was issued in August 2008 and covers a form of a stereoscopic image picking up and display system.

Joe Diamante, a lawyer for Tomita, didn’t immediately respond to a call to his office after regular business hours seeking comment on the judge’s ruling.

“Nintendo will appeal the jury’s verdict and reduced damages award,” Charlie Scibetta, senior director of Nintendo of America’s corporate communications, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Tomita Technologies USA LLC v. Nintendo Co. (7974), 11-cv-04256, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Sony Seeks Patent on Camera Button With Biometric Sensors

Sony Corp.’s Sony Mobile Communications unit has applied for a patent on a camera button that can read and communicate the user’s vital signs.

Application 20130182144 covers a camera button with integrated sensors. The Japanese technology company said it would be used in a mobile communications device, and the sensors could detect and communicate body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level and skin conductance.

In addition to potential medical uses, the technology could be used to make the tagging of photos and movies more personal, Sony said.

A Swedish inventor is listed on the application, which was filed in November, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Weyerhaeuser Sues Louisiana-Pacific Over ‘Solidguard’

Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY:US), the Federal Way, Washington-based forest-products company, sued competitor Louisiana-Pacific Corp. for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 13 in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, is related to Weyerhaeuser’s “Strandguard” trademark, used with its zinc-borate-treated laminated strand lumber.

Weyerhaeuser objects to Louisiana-Pacific’s use of “Solidguard” for its laminated strand lumber. The public is likely to be confused and suffer injury as a result, according to the complaint.

The company sent Nashville-based Louisiana-Pacific a cease-and-desist letter and received in response a letter rejecting the demand, according to court papers.

Weyerhaeuser asked the court to bar Louisiana-Pacific’s use of “Solidguard” or similar names, for an order for the recall and destruction of all allegedly infringing promotional material, and awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

The company said that in light of Louisiana-Pacific’s alleged “deception of consumers and violation of Weyerhaeuser’s rights,” it requested extra damages to punish the Tennessee-based company for its actions.

Louisiana Pacific didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit.

The case is Weyerhaeuser NR Co. v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp. (LPX:US), 13-cv-00805, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville).

Red Bull Says Redwell Name Acceptable for Non-Energy Drinks

Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian maker of the similarly named energy drink, said there is no trademark dispute with a small U.K. craft brewery, the Just-Drinks beverage-industry newsletter reported.

Redwell Brewing had said it received a cease-and-desist letter from Red Bull demanding it change its name because of an alleged similarity to the energy drink’s name, according to Just-Drinks.

Red Bull said in a statement to Just-Drinks that the company has no problems with Redwell’s name, as long as it’s not used for energy drinks.

Redwell director Mike Baxter told Just-Drinks he hadn’t heard of a resolution and all the brewery had was the original cease-and-desist letter.

USPTO Seeks Nominations to Trademark Public Advisory Committee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is looking for potential nominees for its Trademark Public Advisory Committee, according to a government statement published in the Federal Register Aug. 13.

Applicants should have “substantial backgrounds and achievement in finance, management, labor relations, science, technology and office automation,” according to the statement.

Appointment to the committee of federally registered lobbyists is to be “discouraged,” the government said.

Applications for the post should be submitted to the USPTO by Sept. 30.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Agent Provocateur Sues Reality Show Star Over Bikini Design

Agent Provocateur Ltd., a London-based clothing company, sued a British reality television personality for allegedly knocking off one of the company’s swimsuit designs, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.

The company claims that Kimberly Garner’s “Monaco” two-piece bathing suit is an unauthorized copy of its “Mazzy” bikini, saying it had evidence of Garner buying a “Mazzy” suit before her design came out, according to the Daily Mail.

Garner, who appeared on the British television program “Made in Chelsea,” told the newspaper that several designers have come out with bikinis with extra straps similar to Agent Provocateur’s and there are many “extremely similar” swimsuits presently available on the market.

She said she has been designing clothing since childhood, and that she will defend her Kimberly London designs in court, according to the Daily Mail.

Georgia Lawyer Seeks Secret Filings in Downloading Case

A Georgia lawyer representing a maker of adult films has asked a federal court to seal future filings in the dispute, according to an Aug. 13 court filing.

The underlying lawsuit alleges a Georgia resident used the BitTorrent protocol to download and share some of AF Holdings’ films without authorization.

In his petition to seal future filings, Jacques Nazaire of Kennesaw, Georgia, said that the case has generated “much unneeded attention” on the Internet. He filed as exhibits a number of such articles and said that they have “created an embarrassment, misleading characterizations and perhaps an unsafe environment for plaintiff’s counsel and third parties.”

Nazaire told the court that he wasn’t criticizing the authors of the press releases and postings and realized that they were “meant to be humorous and not spiteful.”

Nevertheless, he argued, “those not familiar with this case may misinterpret said postings.” This could lead to “anger by those not quite familiar with the case,” he said.

Nazaire said in a May 9 filing that the court shouldn’t give deference to a ruling in similar case in a California federal court. California has “different laws than Georgia, a different governor than Georgia, a different legislative body than Georgia, different business needs than Georgia and different views than Georgia,” and a decision in a California court “cannot serve as a mandate for Georgia,” he said.

He argued that just as California’s legalization of same-sex marriage doesn’t make similar marriages legal in Georgia, if Georgia attorneys were required to follow the order by a California court, they would be negatively affected.

In that case the judge awarded the defendant about $22,500 in litigation costs and attorney fees after AF dismissed the case. He said that AF’s conduct in the case made a strong argument for awarding attorney fees as a deterrent to plaintiffs who filed cases to generate revenue through coerced settlements and suits rather than to protect copyrighted works.

That case is AF Holdings LLC v. Doe, 12-02396, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco). The Georgia case is AF Holdings LLC v. Patel, 12-cv-00262, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Gainesville).

For more copyright news, click here.

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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Companies Mentioned

  • WY
    (Weyerhaeuser Co)
    • $36.19 USD
    • 0.89
    • 2.46%
  • LPX
    (Louisiana-Pacific Corp)
    • $16.68 USD
    • 0.22
    • 1.32%
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