Bloomberg News

Nokia, Marvell, UMG, Nirma, Mondelez: Intellectual Property (1)

September 24, 2013

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the Finnish company selling its handset business to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), won a mixed ruling in the first round of its U.S. patent-infringement fight against Taiwanese phone maker HTC Corp. (2498)

HTC violated two Nokia patent rights, while no infringement was found on another patent, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice posted yesterday on the Washington agency’s website. The judge’s findings are subject to a review by the six-member commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents and is scheduled to make a final decision by Jan. 23.

The judge found that HTC violated Nokia’s patents for a way to remove errors in radio signals and another for a process to deal with different radio frequencies. No violation was found on a third Nokia patent for a way to transmit data from a computer to a mobile phone, which Google Inc. (GOOG:US) helped Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC challenge.

Nokia had long been the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones before losing its 14-year title to Samsung Electronics Co. in 2011. It has sought to use patent licensing to recoup some of the money it spent on phone innovations. Those patents will stay with Nokia after it sells its handset business and licenses its technology to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion.

Espoo, Finland-based Nokia had accused HTC of infringing nine patents related to mobile phones when it filed the complaint in May 2012.

While Pender found that a domestic industry existed in the U.S. to be violated in the first two Nokia patents, he ruled that there was none regarding the patent claim targeting Android.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablet Computers, 337-847, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Marvell Fails to Overturn $1.2 Billion Verdict

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL:US) failed to overturn a $1.17 billion verdict it lost last year to Carnegie Mellon University after a judge said it deserved to pay for deliberately infringing patents for hard-disk drives.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh yesterday denied Marvell’s request for a new trial on either liability or damages, and agreed with Carnegie Mellon’s argument that the jury’s award should be increased because it found willful infringement. The judge said she would issue a further opinion later. The verdict was the fourth-biggest patent decision in U.S. history, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The jury said Marvell intentionally infringed two Carnegie Mellon patents for a way to more accurately detect data from computer hard-disk drives. The university claimed Marvell knew of its inventions and intentionally incorporated the technology in its chips for computers and mobile phones for more than a decade.

“There was adequate evidence upon which a reasonable jury could properly find a verdict in favor of CMU,” the judge said on infringement. She also rejected Marvell’s invalidity arguments and said the damage award, while large, isn’t disproportionate since it was based on more than $10.3 billion in Marvell sales.

Fischer also upheld the finding that Marvell knew about the university patents and went ahead with its designs anyway. The company’s “bad facts and even worse litigation strategy were fatal to its cause,” the judge said.

“At one point in trial, the court observed two out of Marvell’s three experts sound asleep for a period of time,” the judge said. “In all likelihood, the jury made the same observation.”

The judge has yet to rule on Marvell’s argument that the university took too long to file the suit, which could lower the damage award, or on Carnegie Mellon’s request for either an order blocking further use of its inventions or a payment schedule for future royalties.

In a Sept. 5 regulatory filing, Marvell said it doesn’t believe a material loss is probable, and that “there are strong grounds for appeal.”

The case is Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group Ltd., 09cv290, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh).

CalTech Sues OmniVision Over Patents for Phone-Camera Sensors

California Institute of Technology sued imaging-chip maker OmniVision Technologies Inc. (OVTI:US) for allegedly infringing patents covering sensors used in cameras contained in mobile devices.

OmniVision, based in Santa Clara, California, knowingly infringed eight patents, some of which had previously been covered by license agreements, according to the complaint filed Sept. 20 in federal court in Delaware.

The Pasadena, California-based university asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs, as well as an order barring further infringement. CalTech said OmniVision’s infringing sensors are included in products made by Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Dell Inc. (DELL:US), neither of which are parties to the suit.

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

The case is California Institute of Technology v. OmniVision Technologies Inc., 1:13-cv-01589-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

UMG Takedown Requests Halt ‘Charming Charlie’ Tumblr Postings

Universal Music Group Inc.’s takedown requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are “increasing every hour,” according to a user of Yahoo! Inc.’s Tumblr microblogging site.

The blogger’s “This Charming Charlie” site presented a mash-up of images from Charles M. Schultz’s “Peanuts” comic strip and music from the now-defunct ’80s rock band The Smiths.

Lauren LoPrete, the graphic designer who created “This Charming Charlie,” is herself a music producer, running the Loglady label, she said on her Tumblr site.

In her most recent Charming Charlie post, LoPrete said simply “I know it’s over.”

The fight may not be completely over. LoPrete later responded to a query from the Motherboard tech news website, saying she had received a “flood of offers” from lawyers specializing in Internet law who said they are willing to take on her representation pro bono and challenge UMG’s takedown requests.

BBC, Welsh Music Group Go to Copyright Tribunal Over Royalties

A dispute over fees paid to Welsh musicians, publishers and composers by the British Broadcasting Corp. will be handled by a copyright tribunal, the BBC reported.

Eos, the agency representing the Welsh music interests, is seeking an increase in annual royalty payments from 120,000 British pounds ($193,000) to 1.5 million pounds, according to the BBC.

The Welsh group was formed after the British performing rights society reduced its royalty payments in 2007, causing some affected Welsh-language musicians to lose as much as 85 percent of their income, the BBC reported.

The BBC said it has given Eos an interim annual license fee as well as 35,000 pounds for it to use for legal representation before the tribunal.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

Nirma Fails to Block Nirmal’s Indian Trademark Registration

Nirma Ltd., a maker of detergents and industrial products from Ahmedabad, India, has lost its bid to block Indian trademark registrations by Nirmal Industrial Controls Pvt. Ltd. of Mumbai, according to the Times of India.

Nirma had registered “Nirma” as a trademark for a range of categories including metal goods, the newspaper reported.

After Nirma blocked Nirmal’s registrations, the Mumbai-based company asked India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board to remove the Nirma registration for metal goods, according to the Times.

The board found that Nirma wasn’t using the mark for this class of goods, accused the company of “excessive monopolistic problems, and canceled the Nirma mark for metal goods, while leaving it in place for other categories, the newspaper reported.

Cadbury Loses Bid to Block Whittaker’s ‘Berry Forest’ Mark

Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ:US)’s Cadbury unit lost its bid to block a trademark registration by its New Zealand rival Whittaker’s, Fairfax New Zealand News website reported.

Cadbury had claimed Whittaker’s ‘‘Berry Forest’ trademark for a chocolate bar was too close to its ‘‘Black Forest” mark, also used for chocolate, according to the news website.

The mark used by Whittaker’s -- founded 117 years ago by a former Cadbury’s apprentice -- called to mind a forest of berries, while the Cadbury name had the association of black forest cake, the trademark examiner found and Fairfax News Zealand News reported.

The examiner said the two marks differed sufficiently visually, aurally and conceptually to allow the Whittaker’s trademark registration to go forward, according to Fairfax News New Zealand.

Harper Lee’s ‘Mockingbird’ Trademark Opposed by Alabama Museum

Harper Lee, author of the iconic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” has until Sept. 28 to respond to objections filed to her application to register the book’s name as a trademark for clothing.

Lee filed her application to register the mark in September 2012, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The objection was filed by the Monroe County Heritage Museum Inc. of Monroeville, Alabama.

The museum has a site in a courtroom in the Old Monroe County Courthouse specifically devoted to Lee’s novel. That courtroom is the setting for the trial that is the heart of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” According to the museum, the courtroom was “carefully recreated on a Hollywood sound stage” for the trial scenes in the 1962 film based on the novel.

The museum said its gift shop sells items related to the novel, including “ dozens of custom items available ONLY in Monroeville.”

Harper Lee’s copyright suit against her former literary agent for allegedly depriving her of royalties from her novel about racial issues in Alabama was dismissed Sept. 11.

Lee agreed to terminate the suit against her former agent, Samuel Pinkus, and other defendants, according to a federal court filing in Manhattan. No details of the agreement were disclosed.

For more trademark news, click here.

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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