Articles Tagged with “Intellectual Property”

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Julia Child is a name that’s well known in culinary circles. But, culinary prowess aside, her name is also synonymous with business success. Child is so well known that the very use of her name could be considered an infringement on intellectual property rights. The maker of Thermador ovens has filed a lawsuit fighting for its right to use Child’s name. The case was recently transferred to California because of related lawsuits pending in the state.

Purportedly, BSH Home Appliances Corporation (the maker of Thermador ovens) is using Julia Child’s image and name without obtaining legal permission from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Advertisements released by BSH make reference to Child and her use of Thermador ovens while also presenting the late chef’s image. Some believe this is an infringement on intellectual property rights.
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As many savvy business owners know, competition in the technology market can be fierce. That competition sometimes spills over into the legal realm when companies believe that a former ally has stolen trade secrets and then set up shop as a business rival. Recently, a company which makes products aimed at kids accused Toys R Us Inc. of doing just that. The California-based company Fuhu Inc. brought a lawsuit against the gigantic seller of toys, alleging that it stole trade secrets from the Fuhu-produced tablet marketed for kids which Toys R Us sold in its stores last holiday season.

By January of this year, however, the distribution agreement between the two companies had fizzled, and Fuhu stopped selling its Nabi tablet via Toys R Us. Fuhu alleges that wasn’t the end of matters between the two companies, however. According to the court filing, Fuhu believes that Toys R Us stole some of its trade secrets when it designed a rival kid-centric tablet called Tabeo.
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The iconic technology company Apple may be infringing upon another company’s trademarked icon, or so it seems. SBB, a state-owned railway operator in another nation, claims that Apple’s new iPhone operating system violates the trademarks it holds for a clock icon displaying red and black hands. The latest iPhone operating system just came out, and the software does include the SBB clock icon at issue.

SBB apparently first designed the eye-catching clock design back in 1944. The company reportedly does allow others to use the design, but apparently Apple did not have such an agreement set up ahead of time. An SBB spokesperson indicated that the company is in talks with California-based Apple to establish a license or settlement agreement which would allow the company to continue using the clock icon in its new operating system.
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Most intellectual property lawsuits that hit the headlines seem to involve technological giants like Apple or Samsung. One recent copyright infringement case stemmed from the use of iconic images of the late, great Marilyn Monroe. CMG Worldwide, the intellectual property rights firm which represented Marilyn Monroe LLC, claimed that it owned the rights to the images in question. According to them, two photography studios who had used those images-one in California and one in Oregon-had violated their copyright over the pictures.

CMG originally filed suit in an Indianapolis U.S. District Court, but the case was later moved to federal court in California and consolidated with a similar case. A federal judge initially ruled that since Marilyn Monroe didn’t live in California at the time of her death, CMG and their client did not own rights over publicity in the state. CMG and their client appealed the case, but the appeals court recently upheld the lower court’s decision.
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Two companies — one based in the U.S. and one based outside the country –seem to be engaged in a back-and-forth patent infringement dispute. Mitel Networks initially brought a patent infringement case against California-based Facebook Inc. last April. In its initial lawsuit, the company claimed that Facebook had infringed upon two of Mitel’s patents. Mitel’s lawsuit further alleged that Facebook had failed to respond to communication attempts made by the other company.

That company’s original lawsuit apparently sought infringement damages in whatever amount the court deemed reasonable. Facebook, on the other hand, apparently responded to those infringement charges by making some of their own. The company filed its own patent infringement lawsuit in a U.S. District Court within the state of California, claiming that jurisdiction is appropriate.
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In most work-related breach of contract lawsuits involving alleged trade secrets violations, we typically see companies involved that manufacture things like computer chips, cars or other sophisticated technology. One recent trade secrets case filed in U.S. district court may interest California readers as it involves something that doesn’t seem to fall into the high-tech world at all; the two companies involved in this lawsuit sell organic milk.

Horizon Organic, which is owned by Dean Foods, is one of the largest organic milk suppliers in our country. They recently filed suit against Organic Valley, which is the second biggest supplier of organic milk in the U.S.
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A federal court judge in California has halted sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 so the court can decide whether that device infringes upon Apple’s patent for the iPad. Not surprisingly, Samsung is already appealing the court’s injunction in this patent infringement case. Ironically, the U.S. district judge had actually declined to halt Galaxy 10.1 sales initially until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered her to reconsider her prior decision.

After reconsidering, the U.S. district judge changed her ruling, stating that Samsung may not compete ‘unfairly’ with Apple, and that Samsung may not ‘flood’ the market with infringing products. One technology expert warns that this patent infringement battle is far from over. According to him, both companies are likely in this for the long haul, and the fight could drag on for some time.
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For many pieces of intellectual property, it can be registered with the government in order to protect it. However, with trade secrets, that isn’t the case, resulting in a number of problems for businesses in California and throughout the rest of the country. Trade secrets can only be protected by being kept confidential, which is generally with a NDA, also known as a non-disclosure agreement, or something similar. In many cases, companies find themselves in court fighting the misappropriation of trade secrets, which could be called trade secret litigation, and is something that USA Power recently had to move forward with against PacifiCorp.

After allegedly stealing trade secrets from USA Power, PacifiCorp has been ordered by a state court jury to pay over $131 million in damages. Out of that $131 million, USA Power is receiving contract damages of $18 million and $113 million for unjust enrichment damages. Reportedly, PacifiCorp disagrees with the jury’s verdict and will be actively pursuing any and all options available to them for an appeal.
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In an intellectual property trial that was held between Google and Oracle in California over Android software, the jury found in favor of Google in the second phase of the three-phase trial. Oracle had claimed that Google committed patent infringement by stealing two patents for their Java programming language. All 10 of the jury members made the decision unanimously this month that no patent infringement had occurred.

On May 7, the search engine giant lost the battle in the first phase of the trial when the jury decided that they had indeed infringed on copyrights owned by Oracle. They ruled that Google had infringed copyrights on nine different lines of code when they used similar language to the Java language used by Sun Microsystem.
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After a request for an extension was denied, the highly anticipated California trial between Activision and the two men they fired will begin 29 May. Activision, the company that created the wildly successful “Call of Duty” franchise, is being sued by the two men they fired in 2010. The two men are co-creators of the “Call of Duty” video game. They were accused by Activision of breach of contract and stealing intellectual property for personal gain and then fired.

The men sued Activision for wrongful termination. They are asking for over $1 billion in unpaid royalties, bonuses and punitive damages. Activision has counter-sued them for the alleged breach of contract and intellectual property theft.
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