Articles Posted in October, 2012

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On Monday, Apple filed an Ex parte application for discovery against Motorola Mobility (‘Motorola’) to defend against the Google subsidiary’s patent claims in Germany. Motorola’s claims allege that Apple’s iPhone and iPad wireless devices infringe two of the company’s European patents.

One central Apple legal defense to Motorola’s European patent claims is that the telecommunications hardware maker would not offer it fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (‘FRAND’) licensing terms over the wireless patents in dispute, “in violation of German and European antitrust laws.”

FRAND contract disputes also remain an issue in the companies’ U.S. patent lawsuits. In Wisconsin, for example, Apple declared today that Motorola’s essential wireless patents are worth, at most, only one dollar per iPhone.

Motorola’s European patents at issue involve:

  • EP 1 010 336 (the ‘336 patent) — Method for Performing a Countdown Function During a Mobile-Originated Transfer for a Packet Radio System
  • EP 1 053 613 (the ‘613 patent) — Method and System for Generating a Complex Pseudonoise Sequence for Processing a Code Division Multiple Access Signal

The relief sought by Apple under 28 U.S. § 1782 is commonly used when parties litigating abroad can assist foreign courts with relevant information in dispute, the request is reasonable and narrowly tailored, no foreign prohibition exists against the request, and no foreign prohibition exists against the request.


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Last Friday, Intercarrier Communications LLC (“ICC”), a Texas limited liability company, filed lawsuits against at least thirteen different technology companies, including Apple Inc. Other defendants include the makers of such popular apps as TextNow and PingChat! (by Enflick), Viber, WhatsApp, and Glympse. The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which seems on its face unusual for a Texas company.

In its suit against Apple, ICC alleges that Apple Messages and FaceTime products for iOS and OS X infringe on a patent it owns, U.S. Patent No. 6,985,748. According to its description, that patent is entitled “Inter-carrier Messaging Service Providing Phone Number Only Experience” and was invented by Chris Knotts. All of Knotts’s registered patents are related to inter-carrier messaging. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, ICC registered with the Secretary of State on April 23, 2012.

Complaint in Intercarrier Communications LLC v. Apple Inc.


Posted in: Laws, Patent

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On Monday, in the shadow of then-Hurricane (now-Superstorm) Sandy, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a case involving the applicability of U.S. copyright law to copies of works created and legally acquired abroad and subsequently imported into the United States.

In the case, Supap Kirtsaeng, a college student from Thailand studying in the United States, launched a small online business selling textbooks. His family in Thailand bought foreign edition textbooks printed by Wiley Asia and mailed them to Kirtsaeng. Kirtsaeng then sold the textbooks online on sites such as eBay.com and reimbursed his family for the costs of purchase and shipping, retaining the remaining profits from the sale.

John Wiley & Sons subsequently sued Kirtsaeng in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition under New York state law. As to the copyright claim, the district court judge determined that the language in 17 U.S.C. § 109(a), known as the “first sale doctrine,” does not include copyrighted goods manufactured abroad.


Posted in: Copyright, Laws

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As Hurricane Sandy moves toward New Jersey and Delaware, we thought it might be useful to pull some resources for those folks living in the projected path of the storm, as we did last year for Hurricane Irene. We hope that everyone in the area has found safe shelter and has all the necessities to weather the storm.

Federal Resources

Hurricane Resource Center– from Ready.gov – Resources and steps to take to protect yourself, your family and property.

The National Flood Insurance Program

NOAA – National Hurricane Center

U.S. Coast Guard


Posted in: Legal Research

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Image credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Apple published a roundabout apology today (see below) after losing an appeal in the British courts over a lawsuit claiming that some Samsung tablets infringed the registered design of the Cupertino, California, company’s iPad.

The publication notice was made to comply with an earlier July 18, 2012, ruling by a lower court requiring Apple to publish, at its own expense, a link and explanation to the judgment rendered by HHJ Birss QC on July 9, 2012.

The apology listed below was issued after an iPad-toting British judge upheld a lower court finding that three different Samsung tablet computers “do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 000181607-0001.”

The phrase ‘registered design’ refers to a legal status conferred by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office for “grant[ing] exclusive rights in the look and appearance of your product.”

Sir Robin Jacob, who wrote the judgment for the panel of three British Court of Appeal judges who heard and decided the case, candidly disclosed that he has an Apple iPad (“I own one”).


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United States v. White, US 7th Cir. (10/26/12)

Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

White created a website to advance white supremacy and included a statement that “everyone associated with the Matt Hale trial has deserved assassination for a long time.” The site also included information related to the foreperson of the jury that convicted Hale, a white supremacist, of criminally soliciting harm to a federal judge. Although a jury convicted him of soliciting the commission of a violent federal crime against a juror, 18 U.S.C. 373, the district court held that the government failed to present sufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to conclude that White was guilty of criminal solicitation, and that White’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. The Seventh Circuit reinstated the conviction and remanded for sentencing. A rational jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that, based on the contents of the website, its readership, and other contextual factors, White intentionally solicited a violent crime against Juror A by posting Juror A’s personal information on his website. Criminal solicitation is not protected by the First Amendment.

American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, US 6th Cir. (10/25/12)

Communications Law, Constitutional Law

American Freedom Defense Initiative is a nonprofit corporation that wanted to place an advertisement on the side of city buses in Michigan. The advertisement read: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers! RefugefromIslam.com”. Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), refused to display the advertisement. AFDI sued, claiming a First Amendment violation. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, holding that plaintiffs likely could show that SMART’s decision was arbitrary. The Sixth Circuit reversed. SMART’s policy prohibits: political or political campaign advertising; advertising promoting the sale of alcohol or tobacco; advertising that is false, misleading, or deceptive; advertising that is clearly defamatory or likely to hold up to scorn or ridicule any person or group of persons; and advertising that is obscene or pornographic; or in advocacy of imminent lawlessness or unlawful violent action. The restrictions, which concern a nonpublic forum are reasonable, viewpoint-neutral limits that do not deny AFDI’s First Amendment rights. The injunction would cause substantial harm to others, compelling SMART to post on its buses messages that have strong potential to alienate people and decrease ridership; the public interest would not be served by this preliminary injunction.


Posted in: Legal News

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Yesterday, WhitServe LLC filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging infringement of a patent WhitServe owns. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the lawsuit

The patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,921,139, is described as a “System for sequentially opening and displaying files in a directory.” Invented by Wesley W. Whitmyer, Jr.—sole member of WhitServe LLC according to a business search for the Connecticut company—the patent was filed December 1, 2006.

The allegedly infringing Apple products include Mac OS X Leopard, Mac OS X Lion, and Mac OS X Mountain Lion. According to the complaint, Apple introduced the “Quick Look” feature into its operating system with the release of Mac OS X Leopard on October 26, 2007—nearly one year after the patent at issue was filed. The complaint describes the Quick Look feature as allowing a user to “instantly preview almost any file, and even play media files, without opening an application.”

After detailing 37 ways in which Quick Look infringes on the plaintiff’s patent, the complaint asks for injunctive relief as well as damages for harm suffered.

Unlike many patent lawsuits against the technology giants like Apple, this suit stands out as being by the actual inventor of the patent at issue, rather than merely a patent holding company. Whether the merits of the suit will pan out for the plaintiff remains to be seen.


Tagged: Apple, lawsuit, os x, patent

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According to a new infringement lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court (read it below), the Google Wallet app violates a Canadian resident’s U.S. patent.

Plaintiff Peter Sprogis holds U.S. Patent No. 7,298,271 for a “Method and apparatus for providing awards using transponders.” The ‘271 patent abstract describes a customer loyalty program using ‘electronic data storage elements’ (EDSE) like RFID tages can be used to encourage customer loyalty by offering coupons or loyalty points for visiting a business.

Sprogis accuses Google of infringing at least nine claims listed in his patent.

The plaintiff’s claims appear to paint a wide swath over Google’s app. Google Wallet enables Android phone users to securely store credit and debit card information on their mobile devices to shop locally as well as online.


Tagged: Google, mobile, patent

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Facebook, online advertising agency adSage, and a web-based wholesaler of Chinese goods are named as defendants in a new class-action trademark lawsuit  accusing them of enabling the placement of, or placing ads for, counterfeit NFL apparel on the social network. (read it below)

Inkies Sports, Inc. d/b/a Krystal’s NFL Shoppe, a New Mexico-based retail store that only sells “officially licensed NFL merchandise” filed suit. Krystal’s charges that a litany of ads on its Facebook page offer competing, counterfeit merchandise at prices that can be 80% – 90% below the MSRP of an authentic, officially licensed NFL jersey.

But should Facebook and advertising agencies be held accountable for alleged wrongdoings of third party advertisers accused of hawking cheaper counterfeit goods? Prior case law suggests not.

Two years ago a federal appeals court held that eBay was not liable to Tiffany, Inc. for trademark infringement or dilution by offering Tiffany goods for sale that third parties listed for sale. It sent the case back to a lower court to further examine Tiffany’s false advertising claim, and determine whether extrinsic evidence showed that advertisements misled or confused consumers about Tiffany products offered for sale. The U.S. District Court ultimately ruled that eBay was not liable for false advertising, since it failed to obtain survey data showing that a substantial portion of consumers were misled.


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Apple was hit with a patent infringement lawsuit (read it below) over Siri, the Cupertino, California company’s computer voice search-and-speak technology inside newer iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. The twist in this case, however, is that patent holder Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute isn’t the one suing.

Instead, the plaintiff is Dynamic Advances, LLC, a Tyler, Texas-based company created last year by patent monetizer Erich Spangenberg. The LLC’s members and officers include the Spangenberg Family Foundation and Techdev Holdings.

Spangenberg is known for his sue first, ask questions later approach to patent litigation.

A lawsuit filed Friday in a New York federal court confirms that Dynamic Advances, LLC is a non-practicing entity (NPE) allegedly holding an exclusive license to sue, enforce, and monetize Rennselaer’s patent portfolio:

Dynamic Advances facilitates Rennselaer’s goal of commercializing its patented inventions to the benefit of the general public, and to further Rennselaer’s mission to apply science to the common purposes of life.

Pleadings in the case docket do not currently include a copy of any alleged exclusive patent license agreement between Rennselaer and Dynamic Advances.

The patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 7,177,798 for a “Natural language interface using constrained intermediate dictionary of results.” The USPTO awarded the patent in 2007.