Bloomberg News

Google, Pier 1, Time Warner, Apple: Intellectual Property (1)

November 08, 2013

By Victoria Slind-Flor

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit is seeking a patent on a technology covering the use of an electronic neck tattoo as microphone for a mobile electronic device.

According to application 20130297301, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office on Nov. 7, the electronic skin tattoo can include an embedded microphone, a transceiver for enabling wireless communication with the mobile device and a power supply configured to receive energizing signals from a personal area network associated with the device.

The tattoo would be placed near a user’s throat. It could be applied with adhesive to either humans or animals, or could be embedded in a band or collar, according to the application.

The application was filed in May 2012.

Pier 1 Wins Infringement Case Over Prepaid Gift Card Patents

Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR:US), the Fort Worth, Texas-based retail chain, didn’t infringe two patents for prepaid gift cards owned by Alexsam Inc., a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, without issuing an opinion, affirmed a lower court finding that Pier 1 didn’t infringe patents 6,000,608 and 6,189,787.

Closely held Alexsam’s patents cover systems to activate and recharge stored-value cards. The Texas-based patent-licensing company has claimed it’s entitled to royalties on every gift card sold. It has sued several retailers in addition to Pier 1.

The company has had mixed success trying to enforce the two patents. On June 18 a jury in Marshall, Texas, said Gap Inc. didn’t infringe the patents. Barnes & Noble Inc. won a non-infringement ruling from a different Marshall jury on June 7 in a case in which Alexsam sought more than $72 million.

In May, retailers including Best Buy Co. (BBY:US) and J.C. Penney Co. (JCP:US) lost a court bid to invalidate the patents.

Pier 1’s appeal is Alexsam Inc. v. Pier 1 Imports Inc., 13-1003, 13-1026, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Alexsam v. Shell Oil Co., 2:08-cv-00015, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Time Warner Unit Tells Park Districts to Change Train Ride Name

Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US)’s Warner Brothers unit sent cease-and-desist letters to Chicago-area park districts telling them they can’t use the name “Santa’s Polar Express” for their Christmas train rides for children, Chicago’s WSL-TV reported.

The film company claims the use of the name infringed IP rights related to the “Polar Express” movie released nine years ago, according to WSL-TV.

The Clarendon Hills Park District said it wasn’t willing to pay a licensing fee and will change the name of its train ride to “Santa Train,” WSL-TV reported.

The district also will look for something to read to the children aboard the train other than of the “Polar Express” book on which the film was based, according to the television station, according to WSL-TV.

For more trademark news, click here.

Vietnam Vets’ Tour Group Sues Travel Company for Infringement

A Texas nonprofit organization that operates tours of Vietnam for veterans of the Vietnam War and their families sued a Virginia travel company.

Military Historical Tours Inc., of Woodridge, Virginia, is accused of making unauthorized use of the phrase “Vietnam Battlefield Tours.” Until 2005, the company focused primarily on trips for World War II and Korean War veterans and their families, according to the complaint filed Oct. 31 in federal court in San Antonio.

Vietnam Battlefield Tours of San Antonio was set up as a nonprofit in 2005 by a group of Vietnam War veterans. The organization submitted a trademark application in December 2012 and registered “Vietnam Battlefield Tours” in August.

In August 2010, Military Historical Tours submitted an application to register that same term as a trademark, according to court papers. The Texas company said it opposed the application, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected in proceedings that concluded in March 2012.

Vietnam Battlefield Tours claims that even after the adverse ruling from the patent office, the Virginia company has continued to use the term without authorization in magazine ads. These ads target the same market as Vietnam Battlefield Tours, the company said in its pleadings.

The public is confused by the name similarity and the Virginia company is attempting to piggyback on the fame of Vietnam Battlefield Tours, according to court papers.

The Texas company asked the court to bar Military Historical Tours’ use of the mark, and for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees. Alleging that the infringement is intentional, Vietnam asked that the damages be tripled to punish the Virginia company for its actions.

Military Historical Tours didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Vietnam Battlefield Tours v. Military Historical Tours Inc., 13-cv-00995, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio).

Copyright

Apple Sends Apple-Tracker.com Operator DMCA Takedown Notice

The operator of a website that tracked the availability the newest iPhones and iPads nearest to a searcher’s zip code has disabled it following the receipt of an infringement notice from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)

Mordy Tikotzky halted his Apple-Tracker.com web application after he was sent a takedown request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

He said in a statement on his website that he was “really not interested in picking a fight with Apple.”

According to the DMCA notice, which Tikotzky posted on his site, he was accused of scraping data from the Apple.com website.

The letter, sent by Ryan Bricker of Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, says that Cupertino, California-based Apple’s terms of use for the website bars the use of “any ‘deep-link,’ ‘page-scrape,’ ‘robot,’ ‘spider’ or other automatic device, program, algorithm or methodology, or any similar or equivalent manual process, to access, acquire, copy or monitor any portion of the site or any content.”

Photographer Seeks Interest, Doubling Amount Stemtech Must Pay

Stemtech Health Sciences Inc., a nutritional-product company, was ordered to pay a New York photographer $1.6 million for unauthorized use of one of his images, and may also have to pay more than $1.8 million in prejudgment interest.

Andrew Paul Leonard, a photographer specializing in microphotography, sued the San Clemente, California-based company in federal court in Delaware in February 2008. He accused Stemtech of using one of his images beyond the scope of its license. He said he was partly paid for the licensed use of the image and received no payment for the unauthorized use.

The image was used for at least 18 months on a number of Stemtech websites without Leonard’s permission, he said.

The jury found that his work was original, that he owned the copyright and that it was used without his permission by Stemtech and its distributors. Stemtech intentionally induced its independent distributors to use the image and profited from the unauthorized use, the jury said.

On Oct. 18, counsel for the photographer requested that the court award him prejudgment interest of $1.86 million, which would bring the total award to about $3.46 million. Stemtech protested, saying in a filing that day that the photographer failed to provide evidence of why he was entitled to interest.

Although U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark denied the interest request, he gave the photographer until today to make a filing to justify the interest award.

The case is Leonard v. Stemtech Health Sciences Inc., 08-cv-00076, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Societe Generale Sues Ex-Employee for Trade-Secret Theft

Societe Generale SA (GLE), the French banking and financial services company, sued a former commodities researcher and his wife for trade-secret misappropriation.

The complaint, filed in New York state court on Oct. 28, claimed that before he left Society Generale to join Morgan Stanley (MS:US), Jeremy Friesen e-mailed its proprietary information to his wife, Shefali Kumar Friesen.

Among the items Paris-based Societe Generale claims were stolen are computer code “underlying two extremely valuable quantitative models,” and a document describing the research analysis behind the creation of one of the company’s commodity index products.

Friesen, who had worked in Societe Generale’s Hong Kong office, moved to New York in April, according to court papers. He submitted a resignation letter to Society Generale on Oct. 4 and joined Morgan Stanley, which isn’t a party to the suit.

Before he left, he sent a number of e-mails to his wife, attempting to get past Societe Generale’s firewall, the company said in the complaint. In addition to the research tools, he is accused of sending his wife a spreadsheet with information for more than 2,000 contacts and a draft of an unpublished Societe General commodities-research publication.

His former employer said in its pleadings that Friesen acknowledged sending the company’s documents to his wife’s personal e-mail, and did so in an effort to sidestep company policies that bar employees from sending Societe Generale documents from their corporate e-mail accounts to their personal e-mail address.

Societe Generale asked the court to bar the use of its trade secrets by the Friesens, and to order the return of its confidential material. Additionally, the company asked for an order for the inspection of all of the Friesens’ computer equipment, and awards of attorney fees, litigation costs and money damages, including extra damages to punish the Friesens for their actions.

The company also asked that it be awarded the back pay and relocation expenses it paid Friesen during the periods of his alleged disloyalty.

The Friesens are represented by New York’s Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP, which didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Societe Generale v. Friesen, 653761/2013, New York Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).


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Companies Mentioned

  • PIR
    (Pier 1 Imports Inc)
    • $14.95 USD
    • -0.11
    • -0.74%
  • BBY
    (Best Buy Co Inc)
    • $29.17 USD
    • -0.56
    • -1.92%
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