Bloomberg News

Authentic Brands Group, Apple, NetApp: Intellectual Property (1)

November 20, 2013

Authentic Brands Group LLC, a New York-based licensing company, acquired the Elvis Presley intellectual-property assets from Core Media Group Inc.

The rights acquired include photographic imagery, album covers and movie posters, television appearances and music specials, Presley’s name and likeness and the rights to Elvis-themed events, according to a statement. The company said it already owns the Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali brands.

Authentic Brands will own and manage the assets in partnership with the Presley family and Joel Weinshanker, chairman and founder of National Entertainment Collectibles Association Inc. Weinshanker will acquire the rights to the management of Graceland, Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, together with the family and Authentic Brands.

Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Presley died in 1977.

Apple, Registrar Bring in Linguists in Trademark Fight

Apple Inc. and Australia’s Registrar of Trademarks have both turned to linguists to support their arguments in hearings in that nation’s federal court over the registrar’s refusal to register “App Store” as a trademark, ZDNet reported.

The registrar earlier ruled that Apple hasn’t proved its app-selling services were distinct from others, according to ZDNet.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, will bring in survey results and Google Trends data in efforts to show the association the public makes between the company and the term, ZDNet reported.

Australia registered “appstore” as a trademark for San Francisco’s Saleforce.com Inc. (CRM:US) in 2006, before Apple filed its application in 2008, according to ZDNet.

Twenty-First Century Fox Trademark Appeal to Be Heard in Russia

Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA:US)’s appeal of an adverse Russian trademark ruling will be heard Dec. 17 in the Moscow Region’s Federal Arbitration Court, the Russian Legal Information Agency reported.

In July, Russia’s Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals rejected the film company’s argument that registration of the “PoBeGi” trademark should be canceled because the owner -- sports company Begushchy Gorod -- failed to use it, Rapsi reported.

The film company was seeking to register the mark for the Russian adaptation of its “Prison Break” series, known there as “Pobeg,” according to Rapsi.

Counsel for Begushchy Gorod is arguing the brand is being used for city orienteering events and related materials, Rapsi reported.

Student Publication Changes Name of ‘Rear of the Year’ Contest

University of Cambridge’s student-run Cambridge Tab online magazine had to change the name of a contest after it ran afoul of the official “Rear of the Year” trademark holder, the U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported.

To avoid being sued for copyright infringement, Cambridge Tab change the name of its contest to “Best Bums,” according to the Independent.

Tony Edwards, of the official Rear of the Year competition, told the Independent he found it “depressing” that the students didn’t have the imagination to come up with something original.

The official Rear of the Year contest has been run annually since 1976, according to the Independent.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

NetApp Sues Ex-Employees, Nimble Storage Over Trade Secrets

NetApp Inc. (NTAP:US), a provider of data storage and management products and services, sued a competitor and three former employees for trade secret misappropriation.

Nimble Storage Inc., of San Jose, California, is accused of recruiting NetApp employees to obtain that company’s trade secrets. Fifteen percent of Nimble’s workforce and half of its executive staff are former NetApp employees, according to the complaint.

Sunnyvale, California-based NetApp claims that Nimble trades on NetApp’s fame by telling customers that its technology teams include former NetApp employees. The former employees, NetApp said, downloaded confidential company information before they left and brought it with them to Nimble.

In addition to trade secret misappropriation, Nimble and the former NetApp employees are accused of conspiring to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to give Nimble a competitive advantage. The former employees are also accused of violating their employment contracts with NetApp.

Dan Leary, Nimble’s vice president of worldwide marketing, said in an e-mailed statement that his company will investigate NetApp’s claims and “vigorously defend” any that are “false and unsubstantial.”

NetApp asked the court to bar the use of its trade secrets and to grant access to laptops, hard drives, external storage media and Nimble’s computer systems and servers to verify the extent and nature of NetApp materials stored there. The company also asked for money damages.

The case is NetApp Inc. v. Nimble Storage Inc., 13-cv-05058, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Patents

Silicon Valley Invents Way Around Washington Gridlock on Patents

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM:US), two California technology companies on opposite sides of a Washington debate over U.S. patent law, may soon take their fight closer to home.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is pushing forward with plans to open a fully operational satellite office in San Jose, after congressional budget cuts put them on hold earlier this year. The work-around came about after San Jose city officials pledged free rent and California donated $500,000.

The permanent office, which may open by the end of next year, will be where West Coast inventors submit applications to get legal protection for their ideas. It will also serve as a hub where companies -- even startups -- can bring their positions on patent law directly to the administration without a cross-country flight.

“It will mean an easier and clearer channel of communication both ways -- from the PTO to the public and from the public to the PTO,” said Michelle Lee, a former Google executive who’s now director of the Silicon Valley office.

The agency’s temporary location, at an office in Menlo Park, houses Lee and nine administrative law judges who hear arguments about the validity of issued patents. With a permanent space, the patent office plans to have a total staff of more than 80, with 20 judges and 60 patent examiners.

A key role in the patent office is in helping develop administration policy on intellectual property. The technology industry is split on proposals before Congress that could change the rules for patent litigation. Mountain View, California-based Google is backing the proposals. Qualcomm, based at the southern end of the state in San Diego, says some of the ideas being considered could curtail innovation, particularly by startups.

Both companies are funding lobbying groups that are trying to influence Congress. Smaller companies in Silicon Valley don’t always have that option. Lee said the local office has already held roundtable discussions about policy regarding patents on software.

Apple Asks Jury to Use Common Sense in Samsung Damages Trial

An Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) lawyer told jurors common sense would lead them to conclude Samsung Electronics Co. should pay $380 million for infringement of some of the iPhone-maker’s patents.

William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP gave his closing argument yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California, where Apple won a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung last year. His client is attempting to recoup most of the $410.5 million, or 39 percent, of the award that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh cut in March.

Jurors should apply their “collective judgment” to the companies’ actions to “focus on what they actually did in the real world” and not “what they could’ve done,” Lee said.

While Samsung is “telling you these patents are narrow and insignificant,” historical documents tell the truth, said Lee, who was on Apple’s legal team last year. “Documents don’t lie.”

William C. Price of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, an attorney for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, has argued that jurors should award Cupertino, California-based Apple $52 million, which he called “not a trivial sum.”

“Apple has tried to mischaracterize these patents so they are the iPhone,” Price told the jury today. “These patents are very narrow.”

An appeals court in Washington ruled Nov. 18 that Apple can seek a ban on sales of some Samsung products found to infringe patents covering smartphone features, such as multitouch technology, that were at issue in the 2012 trial. The company can’t block Samsung products for infringing patented designs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.

A decision on damages will conclude the first U.S. case between the two companies over claims they are copying each other’s features in their global battle for dominance of the smartphone market.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyrights

Copyright Industry Adds $1 Trillion to U.S. GDP, Report Says

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a Washington-based trade group, released the results of a study indicating that the value added by copyright industries to the U.S. gross domestic product exceeded $1 trillion in 2012, accounting for almost 6.5 percent of the nation’s economy.

The industries employ almost 11.1 million workers, or 8.4 percent of the U.S workforce, according to the report. Those workers receive average annual compensation of $75,926, 18 percent more than the U.S. average.

According to the report, sales of U.S. copyright sectors in overseas markets amounted to $142 billion in 2012, exceeding foreign sales of aerospace exports, U.S. agricultural exports, food, and pharmaceuticals and medicines.

Members of the International Intellectual Property Association include the Association of American Publishers, Business Software Alliance, Entertainment Software Association, Independent Film & Television Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, National Music Publishers’ Association, and Recording Industry Association of America.

Russia Copyright Control Agency to Oversee Collection Societies

The Russian government plans to start a new copyright agency to control two of the country’s societies that collect copyright fees, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Proposal for the agency, which will be structured along the lines of the Russian patent agency, came from Russia’s Economic Development Ministry, the entertainment-industry publication reported.

Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, who heads one of the country’s collecting societies, will choose the head of the new agency, according to Hollywood Reporter.

One goal of the new agency is adding more transparency to the operations of the collecting societies, the newspaper reported.

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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