Friday, May 26, 2006

So it's Not Just Modern Americans that are Litigious. Reuters reports that "Bronte rewrote "Jane Eyre" over libel threat." From the article: "According to the letters, the description upset headmaster Reverend William Carus-Wilson, who wrote to his former pupil Bronte and threatened her with legal action after recognizing himself and his school from her description of Lowood."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interesting Twist in Residual Goodwill Case. The Sacramento Bee reports that "Dispute heats up over use of Lucky." From the article:
More than six years after stripping the Lucky name from its supermarkets -- and watching someone else use it -- Albertson's Inc. is trying to revive the brand itself.

In the latest twist to an increasingly nasty fight that began in Rocklin, a federal judge has blocked Albertson's from converting five of its stores into Lucky stores.
This Has Got to be a First. A company is actually issuing a press release to announce that it has filed trademark applications with the USPTO. From the release: "Unique Pizza and Subs Corporation a Delaware Corporation, has taken a significant step to establish its brand nationally. Trademark applications have been filed for Unique Pizza and Subs' signature line 'Anything But Ordinary.' The line appears in marketing and promotional materials being used nationwide. The line was developed as part of the Delaware Corporation's bold effort to position itself as one of the industry's most successful concepts."
Anyone Remember Whether DeBeers Was Well-Known in 1981? Rapaport News reports that "De Beers to Defend Trademark in NYC." From the article: "[The Defendant] Rosenblatt incorporated DeBeers Diamond Syndicate in the state of Delaware September 10, 1981. In December 2001 he registered nearly three dozen domain names, and filed (as a trademark) in January 2002 the words: DeBeers Diamond Syndicate."
Interesting Case. The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that "Tort Claims of Artist Whose Work Was Used for Lopez Song Held Preempted by Copyright Act." From the article: "However, the judge said, 'Sony obtained a license to use Laws’s recording itself. Sony was not imitating "Very Special" as Laws might have sung it. Rather, it used a portion of "Very Special" as sung by Debra Laws. … [W]e think it is clear that federal copyright law preempts a claim alleging misappropriation of one’s voice when the entirety of the allegedly misappropriated vocal performance is contained within a copyrighted medium.'"
Dish Network is Getting Hammered... reports in"EchoStar Copyright Setback." From the article: "In a unanimous ruling, the three judges of the appeals court late Tuesday hammered EchoStar for its lack of compliance and "pattern" and 'practice' of 'violating the Act in everyway imaginable' and says the Copyright Act instructs that when such practices are found, a court 'shall order a permanent injunction' barring the secondary transmission by the satellite carrier. It is unclear when an injunction might be ordered."
I Certainly Hope There's More to it Than That... The AP reports that "Ludacris denies infringing song." From the article: "At issue in the trial are the words 'like that,' which Sachs said were repeated more than 80 times in each song. Ludacris testified that he believes the words are repeated fewer than 80 times in his song." has more on the case here.
No! Don't Take My DVR... Reuters reports that "TiVo says ruling will not affect EchoStar case." From the article: "Separately, TiVo said it has asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to halt sales of EchoStar products that infringed its patent, recall its existing DVRs and disable the DVR functionality in most of the infringing units already placed with customers."
Here We Go Again. Reuters reports that "Cablevision sued over planned digital service." From the article: "The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, says Cablevision would run afoul of copyright law with its plan to allow subscribers to store and play back TV programs through computer servers controlled by the cable TV operator."

Friday, May 19, 2006

A New Form of Consumer Complaint? The AP reports that "U.S. Agency Re-Examines Patent." From the article: "The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is re-examining Inc.'s patent for 'one-click' online shopping at the request of a New Zealand actor who says he's upset over slow book delivery."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Betamax 2.0? Reuters reports that "Record labels sue XM over portable device." From the article: "While the labels are asserting the device has transformed radio broadcasts into a download service, XM said the device does not allow consumers to transfer recorded content. XM also said that content recorded from radio broadcasts like XM's is not on demand, in contrast to the content people buy from online music stores like Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes service." The AP has more. Full disclosure: my firm represents XM on unrelated matters.
Interesting New ITC Case. Reuters reports that "Apple suit seen hurting Creative in long run." From the article: "Creative Technology Ltd., the world's number-two MP3 player maker, whose Nomad and Zen players compete with Apple Computer Inc.'s market-leading iPod, filed patent complaints against Apple in federal court and with a U.S. trade agency on Monday." This BusinessWeek Online article from August 2005 gives more background on the patent at issue.

Monday, May 15, 2006

You Can Almost Hear the Patent Lawyers Across the Country Firing Up Their Word Processors. So how many "client updates" do you think the average company will receive? Reuters reports that "US high court sets aside eBay patent ruling." From the article:
The high court unanimously reversed an appeals court ruling in favor of MercExchange, a developer of e-commerce technology that sued eBay for patent infringement, saying an appeals court had failed to apply the proper legal test in deciding whether MercExchange should be granted an injunction barring eBay from using its technology.

However, the justices also rejected a crucial argument advanced by eBay, and embraced by a U.S. District Court that handled the case, that companies lose some of their right to an injunction if they have agreed to license out their technology or are not using it to make a product themselves.

The AP has more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Companies Should Choose Their Trademarks Wisely. The AP reports that "Court allows Galileo name for satellite." From the article:
In addition, the court said that "in choosing the Galileo name to designate their brands, products and services, the plaintiff could not ignore that they were inspired by the first name of the famous Italian mathematician, physician and astronomer, one of the largest personalities in European scientific culture."

The plaintiffs "exposed themselves to the risk" of a trademark dispute, the court concluded.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Potentially Interesting Interaction with the Trademark Laws. What happens when the trademark is owned by someone that was not an original member of the band? Reuters reports that "Supremes' Wilson aims to knock out the knockoffs." From the article:
The singer wants once and for all to protect the legacies -- and livelihoods -- of the Supremes, Platters and other legendary groups from their knockoff counterparts. To date, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and North Dakota have passed into law the Truth in Music Advertising Act that Wilson promotes as chairwoman of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame's artist board.

The act stipulates that if a performer was not part of the original recording group, that person is prohibited from booking and performing concerts and club appearances under that name. Authorities can issue fines of up to $50,000.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Interesting Choice. Reuters reports that "Apple Computer wins trademark dispute vs Beatles." From the article: "The trial in the High Court's usually staid courtrooms was marked by the incongruous playing of the disco hit 'Le Freak' by the Apple Corps legal team, who were demonstrating the iTunes software for the judge." The AP has more.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Crackberry Can't Catch a Break. reports that "RIM put on patent defensive again by Visto.": "Visto filed the suit immediately after a victory in a patent case in Texas federal court over mobile email service provider Seven Networks." Didn't Visto invest in NTP, or something along those lines?