Apple Wins Another “i” Lawsuit.

Apple Inc. seems to have the market corned when it comes to trademarks that begin with “i.” The company recently prevailed in a trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of the “iBooks” trademark.


A small New York publishing house, Black Tower Press, filed the lawsuit after Apple announced its new online bookstore. Black Tower alleged that Apple’s use of the term in connection with its e-reader platform violated the publisher’s “iBooks” logo, which was acquired from another publishing house.


U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote disagreed. She first noted that neither Black Tower nor its predecessor registered the trademark. Meanwhile, Apple has held a trademark registration for the term since 1999, when it was used in connection with laptop computers. It obtained further trademark protection to use the term for its e-reader platform in 2010.
Cote further disagreed that Apple’s use of the “iBooks” trademark would lead to customer confusion. “They have offered no evidence that consumers who use Apple’s iBooks software to download ebooks have come to believe that Apple has also entered the publishing business and is the publisher of all of the downloaded books, despite the fact that each book bears the imprint of its actual publisher,” Cote wrote.
Source: Gigaom.com

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Some Samsung Devices Banned.

The Apple-Samsung patent war keeps grinding on with no end in sight.  Samsung’s latest request to continue to ship some older Android devices to the US market was rejected by the Obama administration.

Apple_v_Android

Score a rare win for Apple.

The Samsung devices have been found to violate at least two of Apple’s patents:

It isn’t clear which Samsung products will be banned. However, more recent Samsung devices will not be banned.  Most likely this will only affect lower end models that aren’t that popular anyway.

Normally, the executive branch does not get involved in decisions by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), and even more rarely veto’s an ITC action. But recently the White House vetoed the ITC’s ban on some older iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3G devices after Apple lost to Samsung in a different patent infringement suit.

With the continuing tit-for-tat patent battles that continue to define the strange supplier/supplee relationship, who knows when and how this will finally end.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Ongoing Samsung v. Apple Patent Saga

The epic patent battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple continues to create headlines.  However, Apple’s blockbuster jury award is in jeopardy after Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California determined that jurors erred in calculating damages.

Koh reduced the record $1.05 billion jury award by more than 40 percent and scheduled a new trial to reassess damages. This is a significant victory for Samsung, which will now get another day in court.

A California jury previously determined that Samsung infringed Apple’s patents for its iPhone and iPad devices. At the latest hearing, both sides disputed the amount of damages awarded. In this round, Samsung came out on top, at least on some products.

“The court has identified an impermissible legal theory on which the jury based its award and cannot reasonably calculate the amount of excess while effectuating the intent of the jury,” Koh said in her ruling. The specific issue involved the calculation of damages for the infringement of utility patents. “The jury’s award was apparently based on Samsung’s profits, which is an impermissible type of compensation for utility patent infringement,” Koh explained.

As a result, the two sides must go back to drawing board on 14 of the products covered by the award. The damages on other products will stand. Since a brand new trial will be held, the final damages number could be either higher or lower than the original award.

As this case highlights, many IP cases do not end with a jury verdict. Through post-trial motions and the appeals process, litigants can continue to challenge prior rulings and, in some cases, ultimately prevail.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just advice regarding how best to protect your ideas and your brand, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Another Costly International Trademark Battle for Apple.

After fighting to secure its iPad trademark in China, Apple appears poised to engage in another costly trademark battle overseas. Brazil’s copyright authority recently ruled that the iPhone trademark rights belong to a local company, Gradiente Eletronica SA.

As with many international trademark systems, Brazil awards trademark registration to the first party to file, without taking into account who used the trademark first, or which party is more closely associated with the brand. In this case, Gradiente first applied for a trademark in 2000, six years prior to Apple’s subsequent trademark application and launch of the popular iPhone product.

Gradient was awarded the iPhone trademark in January 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under Brazil’s trademark law, in order to gain exclusive rights, it was required to sell a product making use of the mark within five years.

Gradiente iPhone

In December 2012, the company announced an Android-based smartphone called the “IPHONE Neo One.”

According to Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Apple is now contesting whether Gradient used the brand within the required time frame.

However, in February, the INPI ruled against Apple.  Accordingly, Apple filed suit and is also trying to work out a financial settlement (reports indicate that the two entities are close to a settlement). Either way, it appears that Apple has another costly legal battle on its hands.

How Can I Help?

It can be more difficult to protect trademarks and other IP rights overseas. Therefore, it is imperative to consult with an attorney experienced in foreign intellectual property concerns.

I have developed long-standing, close relationships with firms and experts worldwide to enable me to offer my clients in-depth experience in foreign law.

If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, foreign or domestic, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Apple Registers Trademark for Its Distinctive Store Design

Apple fiercely guards its intellectually property, like all trademark owners should.  So it isn’t surprising that the company recently obtained a trademark registration for the design of its retail stores.

According to the trademark description, Apple seeks to protects its minimalist design and layout, which includes “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade” and, within the store, an “oblong table with stools…set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall.”

While the Apple trademark made headlines, this type of trademark right—known as trade dress—is not unusual. It generally covers the design and shape of the materials in which a product is packaged.  Examples include the layout of a magazine cover and the distinctive shape of a bottle. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a fast-food chain to protect the appearance and décor in its Mexican restaurants.

As with other trademark registrations, trade dress applicants must be able to show not only that the design is distinctive, but also that the average consumer would likely confuse its products with others of similar appearance.

Apple has good reason to want to protect the design of its retail outlets. Locations in the U.S. generated an average of $43.3 million in FY2011. In addition, while the most recent registration only applies in the U.S., counterfeit stores have popped up overseas. As Reuters reports, a counterfeit store that opened in China looked so authentic that employees thought that they were working for Apple.

How Can I Help?

Consistently using a distinctive “look” for your company can be extremely valuable and certainly worthy of protection. For more information about trade dress rights, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mid-Year Recap of the Top IP Cases to Watch for 2013

Overall, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year in intellectual property law. There are several key cases to watch in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent law.

Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delve back into the scope of patentable subject matter, as it applies to medical genetics. The primary question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity.

The result is: genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons: This copyright infringement case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, but a decision will be issued in 2013. The lawsuit addresses the tension between the first-sale doctrine and the Copyright Act’s ban against importing a work without the authority of the copyright owner. While the case involves foreign textbooks made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to impact the larger, million-dollar “gray market” for goods, upon which companies like Costco and eBay rely.

The result: in a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the first-sale doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted works lawfully made abroad.

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo: New technology will continue to test the limits of the Copyright Act in 2013. The Second Circuit is poised to decide whether start-up company, Aereo, has infringed the copyrights of networks, including ABC and Fox Television, by taking broadcast television signals and retransmitting them over the Internet to its subscribers. Because the decision could shake up how consumers get their television, the media and technology industries are closely watching the case.

Currently:  Aereo 2, ABC 0, waiting for the Court to decide.

Apple v. Samsung: The ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung is just one example of the so-called “software patent wars” that dominated 2012. With lawsuits still pending in California and across the globe, the two tech giants will likely continue to dominate legal headlines.

Currently: Bickering back and forth enough to annoy the judge in the case.  Likely not to go to trial this year.  Samsung has asked for a new trial due to problems with the original trial which could make cell phones obsolete before these two get a verdict.

In addition to these cases, there are a number of regulatory changes in the works, most notably the official conversion to a first-to-file patent system under the America Invents Act.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just advice regarding how best to protect your ideas and your brand, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman