Bloomberg News

Wi-Lan, ITV, Motorola Mobility, Sea World: Intellectual Property

October 24, 2013

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) won a patent-infringement trial in which Wi-Lan Inc. was seeking $248 million from the iPhone maker over an invention for wireless technology used in mobile devices.

Apple didn’t infringe a patent for technology used in wireless networking, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, decided yesterday. The jury, which deliberated for just over an hour, also said the two patent claims were invalid.

Wi-Lan said it was reviewing its options, and that it “does not believe previous license agreements signed related to the patents are negatively impacted by this decision.” Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on the verdict.

Wi-Lan relies on royalty payments for all of its sales. Justin Kew, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, called the case “pivotal” because an agreement with Cupertino, California-based Apple might eliminate much of the company’s litigation costs that have led to quarterly losses.

Wi-Lan reported a loss of $762,000 in the second quarter on revenue of $19.9 million, with litigation expenses accounting for much of its costs.

Apple argued that it uses chips made by Qualcomm Inc., which doesn’t use the Wi-Lan technology. Mark Scarsi of Millbank Tweed in Los Angeles told the jury that Wi-Lan valued the patent at $4.3 million in 2006 and now wants a big payout by demanding a cut from every iPhone sold.

Apple is “slinging mud” because it needs the technology and knows it has to take a license to the patent, Sam Baxter of McKool Smith in Marshall, representing Wi-Lan, told the jury.

The Ottawa-based company reached agreements with HTC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Novatel Wireless Inc. in the days before the trial for undisclosed terms. That left Apple the sole defendant.

BlackBerry Ltd. settled its fight with Wi-Lan, as did Alcatel-Lucent.

The case is Wi-Lan Inc. (WIN) v. HTC Corp., 11-cv-00068, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademarks

Motorola Mobility Application Hints at New Android Phone Name

An application published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may give hints about the name under which an Android-powered mobile phone may be sold.

Motorola Trademark Holdings LLC filed an application Oct. 14 to register “Moto G” as a trademark. The company said in the application that it intends to use the mark for mobile phones, smartphones and such accessories as battery chargers, adapters and removable covers.

Mountain View, California-based Google Inc. acquired Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. in 2012. At that time, Google said in a statement it would run the acquisition as a separate business, and that Motorola Mobility would remain an Android licensee.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

TVCatchup Barred From Some Streaming, Ordered to Pay Damages

TVCatchup Ltd., a London-based television streaming service, will be barred from offering streaming content from some U.K. broadcasters’ digital channels, the English High Court has ruled.

The ruling stems from a copyright-infringement suit brought by ITV Plc (ITV), owner of the U.K.’s most-watched commercial TV station, and the U.K.’s Channel 4 and Channel 5. In 2011, the U.K. court sought guidance from the European Union’s top court, the EU Court of Justice, about whether content owners and broadcasters had the right to prevent unauthorized streaming of their content.

In March the EU court ruled that content owners and broadcasters do have that right under the copyright rules of the European Union.

The case then came back to the U.K., where the High Court of Justice then issued a ruling specifically banning some actions by TVCatchup.

The U.K. court said that while streaming of the digital channels was barred, a discrepancy between U.K. and EU law meant that TVCatchup could continue to stream the non-digital content from ITV, and Channels 4 and 5.

It was “not possible” to interpret sections of U.K. copyright law to make them compatible with EU copyright directives, the court said. It did order TVCatchup to pay damages for past acts of infringement, with that amount to be determined by the court.

The streaming service was ordered to present financial information to the court by Nov. 4, and must also publish the court’s ruling on its websites. Other than publishing that order, TVCatchup is ordered to “avoid any further comment or discussion” of the ruling on its websites, according to the ruling.

The case is ITV Broadcasting LTD. V. TVCatchup Ltd., HC10C01057, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

Wild Games’ Copyright Claim Brings Down Negative Review Video

Wild Games Studio, a Canadian developer of computer games, demanded that a review of its “Day One Garry’s Incident” game be removed from Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s YouTube video-sharing site on the grounds that its copyrights were infringed, according to the Raw Story news website.

John Bain’s video review, which called the game “astonishingly bad,” was taken down because Bain’s YouTube Channel contains advertising, and Bain had no right to make money from the review that featured the game, a Wild Games spokesman told Raw Story.

The review was taken down and then Bain posted a second video claiming Wild Games was misusing copyright law to protect itself from a negative review, according to Raw Story.

Bain, who reviews games under the name “Raw Biscuit,” said U.S. copyright law’s fair use provision should protect him from copyright claims he says were aimed only at censoring him, Raw Story reported.

Wild Games didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Bain’s reported remarks.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Sea World’s Killer Whale Protocols a Trade Secret, OSHA Says

Sea World Entertainment Inc. (SEAS:US)’s safety protocols for interaction between trainers and killer whales are a trade secret, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission told a federal judge, the Associated Press reported.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the AP had filed sought details of the protocols that were adopted after a Sea World trainer was killed in February 2010 while interactive with Tilikum, a six-ton killer whale.

Commission officials told the court that they feared they would be held liable if they released the protocols, saying that under federal law, employees of a government agency could face as long as a year in prison for wrongful revelation of trade secrets, according to the AP.

Although in August a federal judge rejected Sea World’s claims the protocols were a trade secret and had ordered the commission to release them, the commission has refused to comply, the AP reported.

Counsel for Idaho Hospitals Seek Protection for Documents

Lawyers representing two Boise, Idaho-based hospitals in an antitrust suit claim that hundreds of documents in the case are trade secrets and requested that they be shielded from public disclosure, the Idaho Statesman newspaper reported.

Included on this list are noncompetition agreements doctors signed with St. Luke’s Health System, e-mails comparing fees charged at that hospital with those charged by St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and financial terms related to the integration of several medical practice groups, according to the newspaper.

While U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has ruled that trade secrets need not be disclosed, he said that counsel for the parties must present compelling reasons to keep these secret, the Statesman reported.

The suit is related to St. Luke’s purchase of the Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa, Idaho, with the Federal Trade Commission and St. Alphonsus alleging the purchase will give St. Luke’s an unfair competitive advantage and raise the cost of health care, according to the Statesman.

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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