Bloomberg News

Apple, Microsoft, Asics, RedTube: Intellectual Property (1)

December 30, 2013

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) is again seeking to ban sales in the U.S. of Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) products that were at issue in the companies’ first patent trial in California and are now no longer on the market.

The iPhone-maker asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose on Dec. 26 to bar sales of more than 20 models of smartphones and tablets, such as the Galaxy S 4G and Galaxy Tab 10.1, that a jury last year found to infringe Apple’s patents. After Koh rejected Apple’s bid for a sales ban on the infringing Samsung devices after the 2012 verdict, a federal appeals court on Nov. 18 cleared the way for the iPhone maker to pursue an injunction targeting some of its rival’s products.

“Samsung’s claim that it has discontinued selling the particular models found to infringe or design around Apple’s patents in no way diminishes Apple’s need for injunctive relief,” Apple argued in a court filing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said that Apple could tailor its request to focus on infringement of 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, according to the opinion.

The world’s top two smartphone makers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on claims of copying each other’s features in a global battle to dominate the market.

Adam Yates, a spokesman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, declined to comment on Apple’s request. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has another case against Samsung going to trial in March over newer models, including Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Should Koh, who is presiding over the case, impose a ban on the older models, Apple might argue that newer phones are the same products with new names.

The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The appeals court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 13-1129, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Microsoft’s Nokia Deal Said to Face China Limits on Patent Fees

Chinese mobile-phone makers asked regulators to make sure Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s 5.44 billion euro ($7.5 billion) bid to take over Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s handset business doesn’t result in higher patent fees on wireless technology, said two government officials with knowledge of the matter.

Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. (000063) asked China’s Ministry of Commerce to set conditions on the deal making sure Microsoft doesn’t raise patent licensing fees afterward, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The ministry is conducting an anti-monopoly review of the deal.

Microsoft and Nokia announced the planned transaction in September as the two seek to join forces in the smartphone market, where both have failed to gain traction amid the dominance of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices running Google Inc.’s Android platform. Microsoft won European Union approval for the bid on Dec. 4, and regulators said they would monitor Nokia’s licensing practices.

David Dai, a spokesman for Shenzhen-based ZTE, declined to comment. Huang Man, a Shenzhen-based spokeswoman for Huawei, and Joanna Li, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Microsoft, said they didn’t immediately have information available on the matter. Calls to the commerce ministry’s press office weren’t immediately answered.

While Samsung and Apple dominate global smartphone shipments, Chinese vendors make up four of the top seven producers worldwide, market researcher IDC reported in October.

Samsung had a 31 percent share of the market in the third quarter. Apple accounted for 13 percent, according to IDC. Huawei ranked third with 4.8 percent, and Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) was fourth with 4.7 percent, IDC reported. The fifth-place producer was South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc., followed closely by two more Chinese companies: the Coolpad brand of China Wireless Technologies Ltd. and then ZTE, according to IDC.

AmerisourceBergen Sues FFF Enterprises for Patent Infringement

AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC:US) sued a California competitor accusing it of infringing a patent for a system for pharmaceutical management and tracking.

Both companies provide pharmaceutical services. FFF Enterprises Inc., of Temecula, California, is accused of infringing AmersourceBergen’s U.S. patent 8,285,607.

According to the complaint filed by the Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania-based company, FFF Enterprises’ Verified Cabinet and Verified Inventory Program infringe the patent, which was issued in October 2012.

AmerisourceBergen said it’s harmed by FFF Enterprises’ actions and asked the federal court in Sherman, Texas, to bar infringing activities by the California company. AmerisourceBergen also seeks awards of money damages and litigation costs.

FFF Enterprises didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group Inc. v. FFF Enterprises, 13-cv-00755, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Sherman).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Asics Files Second Suit Over Olympic Athlete’s Shoe Contract

Asics Corp. (7936)’s Asics America group filed another trademark lawsuit stemming from a dispute over shoes worn by Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.

Asics of Hyogo, Japan, has a contract with Burroughs, who won a wrestling gold medal in the London Olympic Games in 2012, according to the complaint filed Dec. 23 in federal court in Santa Ana, California. Burroughs agreed to endorse Asics products, and the Japanese company holds rights to use the athlete’s name, image and likeness to promote its clothing and line of shoes, the company said.

Columbus, Ohio-based Lutte Licensing Group, which represents athletes and athletic brands related to mixed martial arts, claimed that Asics was interfering with its relationship with Burroughs. Asics then filed the initial suit in the same federal court. The case was settled in February, permitting Burroughs to endorse Asics shoes without interference from Lutte, according to court papers.

In July, the Japanese company began a marketing campaign for Burroughs signature wrestling shoes, “JB Elite.” Lutte then began its own campaign for a Jordan Burroughs signature wrestling shoe that looks like the Asics shoe, the company said in its complaint.

After being sent a cease-and-desist letter by counsel for Asics, Lutte continued to market its Burroughs wrestling shoe, including through Facebook Inc. (FB:US)’s social media site, Asics claims.

Lutte didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail sent through its Facebook page seeking comment on the suit.

Asics asked the court to bar Lutte from marketing and selling its version of Burroughs’s shoe, and for awards of money damages, including profits Lutte derived from the alleged infringement. The company also asked for awards of extra damages to punish Lutte for its actions and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is Asics America Corp. v. Lutte Licensing Group LLC, 8:13-cv-01993, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana). The earlier case is Asics America Corp. v. Lutte Licensing Group LLC, 12-cv-00592, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

RedTube Wins Order from German Court Against Piracy Suit Threats

RedTube.com, a European website that offers streaming video of adult content, won a court order barring a Bavarian law firm from sending out copyright-infringement demand letters to the website’s users, the anti-copyright news website TorrentFreak reported.

Alex Taylor, vice president of RedTube, told TorrentFreak the decision by the Regional Court of Hamburg was a victory for his company and for “every person who visits streaming websites.”

The letters were sent by Urmann & Collegen Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH on behalf of a Swiss company, Archive AG, which has been ordered to halt the letter sending, TorrentFreak reported.

RedTube told TorrentFreak that it refused to hand over user information to third parties.

Pub Owner Sued in Limerick Court Over Royalty Payments, License

Owners of an Irish pub were sued in Limerick Circuit Court for copyright infringement, Ireland’s Limerick Leader reported.

The Irish Music Rights Organization filed the lawsuit claiming that Bourke’s Bar, on Limerick’s Catherine Street, lacks a license permitting the performance of live and recorded music and has failed to pay more than 4,000 Euros ($5,500) in royalties, according to the newspaper.

The pub’s license was revoked in May for not paying royalties, according to the Leader.

Counsel for the pub owners told the court his clients disputed the amount the rights group said was owed and sought a delay in the court proceedings to prepare a defense to the charges, the Leader 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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