Bloomberg News

Walt Disney, Piggy Pushers, Dunlop: Intellectual Property (1)

November 11, 2013

Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US) and other movie and TV studios have asked a federal court to dismiss their copyright-infringement case against the file-sharing website Lime Wire LLC and its founder, Mark Gorton, according to a Nov. 7 court filing.

The studios, including Viacom Inc. (VIAB:US), News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox Film and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Entertainment, filed the suit in federal court in New York in February 2012. They claimed a “staggering” amount of infringement took place through the site, and that “millions of users copied billions of files using Lime Wire” without paying anything to copyright owners.

Lime Wire developed peer-to-peer software that let people share digital entertainment files on their computers with other people over the Internet. TV shows such as “South Park” and “Desperate Housewives” and movies including “Avatar” and the “Harry Potter” films were among the material allegedly infringed, according to the filing.

Gorton operates Tower Capital Research LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that trades securities based on mathematical algorithms it developed. “Gorton directed and benefited from Lime Wire’s inducement of infringement,” the entertainment companies said in one of their filings.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in May 2010 found Lime Wire and Gorton liable for inducing infringement of copyrights for recorded music. The site was shut down by an October 2010 court order. Lime Wire settled with the recording industry for $105 million in May 2011 during a trial in Manhattan to determine damages.

No terms for the settlement of the case brought by the studios were disclosed.

The case is Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Lime Wire LLC, 12-cv-00818, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

The earlier case is Arista Records LLC v. Lime Wire LLC, 06-cv-05936, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here.

Patents

Piggy Pushers’ Sock Patent Not Infringed, Appeals Court Rules

A federal appeals court affirmed a lower-court ruling that a patent wasn’t infringed based on its understanding of the difference between a sock and a shoe.

The case, filed in a Michigan federal court in July 2010, was between two makers of footwear for infants. Piggy Pushers of Holland, Michigan, claimed that products made by Skidders Footwear Inc. infringed patent 6,385,779.

The patent covers a sock for a crawling infant. According to the patent, which was issued in May 2002, the sock has a gripper element in both the upper and lower surface that increases friction and makes it possible for a baby to crawl on slippery surfaces.

The product made by New York-based Skidders has a foot-surrounding sock bonded to a rubber outsole. In May 2012 the lower court said there was nothing in the language of the patent that could suggest the inventor meant “sock” to mean anything other than the ordinary definition.

The lower court said the Skidders products had a number of differences from socks, including having a durable outsole, and left- and right-foot designations.

In its Nov. 8 ruling, the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the lower court was correct. Piggy Pushers, the court said, failed to present evidence refuting Skidders’ claim that its product didn’t fit the definition of a sock.

The appeal is Piggy Pushers LLC v. Skidders Footwear LLC, 2013-1107, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

The lower court case is Piggy Pushers LLC v. Skidders Footwear Inc., 1:10-cv-00644, U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids).

Furuno Complaint Against Garmin, Navico to Be Investigated

The U.S. International Trade Commission said Nov. 8 that it will investigate a complaint filed in September by Furuno Electric Co. (6814)

Hygo, Japan-based Furuno said that GPS, navigation and radar devices made by Garmin Ltd., Navico Holdings A/S and Flir Systems Inc.’s Raymarine unit infringe four patents. Furuno is seeking an import ban against all three companies’ devices.

The devices are used in cars, airplanes and ships. The patents cover systems, devices and methods for improving navigation, radar and map displays, according to the complaint.

The Washington-based ITC has the power to exclude the importation of items that infringe U.S. patents. Last week the commission also said that it would investigate a complaint Navico made against Flir fish-finding devices.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Dunlop’s Cleveland Golf Unit Sues Callaway Over Golf Club Name

Dunlop Sports Co. (7825)’s Roger Cleveland Golf unit sued Callaway Golf Co. (ELY:US) for trademark infringement.

The suit, filed in federal court in Santa Ana, California, is related to the use of the phrase “Designed by Roger Cleveland” on some of Callaway’s golf clubs.

According to the complaint, Roger Cleveland founded the Roger Cleveland Golf Co. in 1979. The company owns a number of trademark registrations for “Cleveland” and “Cleveland Golf.”

Cleveland left the company in 1995 and, according to court papers, departed with no rights in or to the Cleveland trademarks. He went to work for rival Callaway, where he is now chief of golf club design.

In July 2013, Callaway began marketing a club bearing Roger Cleveland’s name, the Roger Cleveland Mac Daddy 2. Roger Cleveland Golf said consumers have been confused by Callaway’s use of the name, and that, to no avail, it has sent cease-and-desist notices to Carlsbad, California-based Callaway.

It asked the court to bar Callaway’s use of the Cleveland name, and for awards of money damages, including profits attributable to the alleged infringement, together with attorney fees and litigation costs.

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

The case is Roger Cleveland Golf Co. v. Callaway Golf Co., 8:13-cv-01642, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

‘Famous Jameis’ Trademark Filing Is Made by Alabama Football Fan

An Alabama football fan has applied to register the phrase “Famous Jameis” as a trademark. The phrase has been used to describe Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy favorite.

Mukul Mehra, 40, filed the trademark request on Oct. 24, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Mehra said in a telephone interview he has no connection to Winston, a redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham.

“It’s not necessarily geared toward him,” said Mehra, who has a medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham. “I don’t know what our intent completely is. We haven’t worked all of that out.”

Pamela Deese, a partner at the Washington law firm Arent Fox, said in a telephone interview that Winston probably would be awarded the trademark if he moved to register it.

“We would hope the examiner is savvy enough to recognize that Famous Jameis refers to the potential Heisman Trophy winner,” said Deese, whose clients include Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin. “You can’t register a trademark for somebody else’s name without their permission, which is what happened with Jeremy.”

Mehra said he has contacted a local sports marketing company about producing “Famous Jameis” T-shirts. He also said he’s open to a partnership with Winston or Florida State. “If it’s something they’re interested in using we could potentially market it together,” Mehra said.

The 6-foot-4, 228-pound Winston, at -500, is the favorite at sportsbook.com to win the Heisman Trophy, which is given annually to college football’s best player. A $50 bet would win $10.

Winston has completed 149 of 212 passes for 2,502 yards and 24 touchdowns, fifth in college football’s top level. He’s also thrown six interceptions and run for three touchdowns.

Deese said it would behoove Winston to move quickly on the trademark.

“The longer you wait, the more costly it gets,” she said.

Second AIDS Group Vies for Defunct Charity’s Mark, Blade Says

A second AIDS-related charity has made an offer to buy the trademark of the now-defunct National Association of People with AIDS, the Washington Blade reported.

The Washington-based Community Education Group made an offer to the bankruptcy court buy to buy the trademark rights to six different names, the Blade reported.

The marks include “National HIV Testing Day,” “National Gay Men’s Awareness Day,” “National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, ‘‘Healthy Living Summit’’ and ‘‘AIDS Watch,’’ according to the Blade.

Earlier Health HIV, also based in Washington, offered $3,000 for the rights to just one of the marks, ‘‘National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day,’’ according to the newspaper.

New Yorkers Charged Over Fake Polo, Lacoste Clothes, WABC Says

Six New York residents have been charged with trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy, WABC-TV reported.

They were accused of selling versions of Ralph Loren Corp. (RL:US)’s Polo, Lacoste SA, VF Inc. (VFC:US)’s North Face, and True Religion Apparel Inc.’s clothing with a suggested retail price of more than $13.4 million to smaller distributors, according to the New York-based television station.

The charges followed the seizure of more than 2,000 boxes of counterfeit trademarked clothing from a storage facility in Queens, New York, in July, WABC-TV reported.

New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly told WABC-TV that this counterfeit-clothing operation was of particular importance because of indications that the proceeds went to areas in southern Lebanon that were ‘‘of concern” to the intelligence bureau.

For more trademark 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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