Articles Posted in Intellectual Property

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blueprintLast week, Public.Resource.Org, through their counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed an action for declaratory judgement against the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, Inc. [SMACNA]. In its complaint, Public.Resource.org asserts that since SMACNA’s copyrighted standards were explicitly incorporated into federal and state law, they have become part of the public domain and are no longer subject to copyright restrictions.

This saga began when Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org began buying copies of privately issued, copyrighted building codes and putting them up online. These codes were incorporated by law into federal and state statutes, so Carl believed that they should be publicly available – a  proposition we agreed with.

When Attributor, an agent for SMACNA, discovered the codes on Public.Resource.Org, they sent a DMCA takedown notice. Public.Resource.Org now seeks a declaratory judgment from the federal courts that it is not infringing. It asserts that since these standards were incorporated by reference into federal law, the manual is now “the law of the United States and compliance with the 1985 manual is mandatory,” and thus is part of federal law – which is not subject to copyright.


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Yesterday, December 6, a Canadian company filed two lawsuits against Apple, alleging that the Cupertino, California, company infringed on several of its patents. One lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, names both Wi-LAN (the Canadian corporation) and Wi-LAN USA (its subsidiary) as the plaintiffs. The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of only the Canadian corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Both lawsuits target Apple products compliant with the Third Generation Partnership Project – Long Term Evolution (“3GPP LTE”) standard, specifically the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPad (3rd Generation).

The Texas lawsuit alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,381,211, entitled “Processing data transmitted and received over a wireless link connecting a central terminal and a subscriber terminal of a wireless telecommunications system” and issued in 2002. Wi-LAN seeks damages and an injunction against Apple for manufacturing and selling 3GPP-complaint products that allegedly infringe on its patented system.

The lawsuit filed in Florida alleges infringement on U.S. Patent No. 8,315,640, entitled “Methods and systems for transmission of multiple modulated signals over wireless networks.” It also alleges that Apple’s products infringe on U.S. Patent No. 8,311,040, entitled “Packing source data packets into transporting packets with fragmentation.” Both patents were filed in 2010 and issued only last month, November 2012.

Complaint in Wi-LAN USA, Inc. v. Apple Inc. (S.D. Fla.)


Tagged: 3gpp, Apple, iPad, iPhone, lte

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Earlier this week, on December 3, Apple was sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for an alleged patent infringement. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a California corporation vaguely named Technology Licensing Company Inc.

According to the complaint, the Technology Licensing Company owns U.S. Patent No. 5,734,862, entitled “System for selectively buffering and displaying relevant frames from interleaving frames associated with respective animation sequences stored in a medium in response to user selection” and issued in 1998. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the inventor of the patent at issue is Charles J. Kulas, a patent attorney and former electrical engineer based out of San Francisco, California.

The complaint does not detail how Apple allegedly infringes on the patent, but it appears to relate to the making and reading of DVDs.


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On November 30, Washington Research Foundation filed a patent infringement lawsuit against ten defendants, including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and HP. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the lawsuit alleges that the technology companies infringe on patents that the plaintiff has the exclusive licensed to use and enforce.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff, Washington Research Foundation, is a nonprofit organization in Washington State that is charged with the review of technology disclosures by the University of Washington and other Washington research institutions. The Foundation is also responsible for seeking and enforcing patents, copyrights, and other applicable legal protections for technology developments by the institutions.

The complaint alleges that University of Washington researcher Edwin A. Suominen developed 14 inventions used in radio frequency technology and Bluetooth® communication systems. Patents for these inventions were issued to Suominen, but the University of Washington owns all right, title, and interest in the patents pursuant to an assignment agreement between the University and Suominen. In turn, the Washington Research Foundation (named plaintiff in this case) owns an exclusive license to these patents.


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On Thursday, November 29, Google was named as the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiff is a Delaware company called CreateAds LLC, which, according to its website, is a tool that allows people to create print ads for any U.K. newspaper or magazine. The company alleges in its complaint that Google’s “Google Sites” product infringes on the patented software that powers the plaintiffs.

The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 5,535,320, is entitled “Method of Generating a Visual Design” and was issued in 1996 to its inventors, Clive H. Gay and Henri W. Frencken. According to the complaint, Clive Gay’s company CreateAds is built upon the software described in the patent. The complaint alleges that Google Sites’ “template-based visual design generation products and services” infringe on the plaintiff’s patent.

Complaint in CreateAds LLC v. Google Inc.


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Last Thursday, November 29, a foreign corporation called Arendi filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Delaware. Arendi, organized under the laws of Luxembourg, alleges in its complaint that nearly all of Apple’s products infringe on three patents owned by the plaintiff:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7,917,843: “Method, system and computer readable medium for addressing handling from a computer program”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,496,854: “Method, system and computer readable medium for addressing handling from a computer program”

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Massachusetts company Lexington Luminance LLC (“Lexington”) filed a lawsuit against Google, Inc. yesterday, November 29, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. It its complaint, Lexington alleges that Google’s Nexus 7 and other similar products infringe on a patent the company owns.

According to the complaint, the patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851, is entitled “Semiconductor Light-Emitting Device and Method for Manufacturing Same” and was issued to Lexington in 2005.

A Massachusetts business entity search reveals that the registered agent of Lexington is Tien Yang Wang, the inventor of the patent at issue. Organized in July 2012, the business has stated as its purpose “Technology Research and Development.”


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Apple acquired partial European trademark rights to the word “lightning” from motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson’s intellectual property unit, H-D Michigan, LLC, according to public filings with the European Union’s trademark and design unit (see below), and a blog post by Patently Apple.

Apple uses the term Lightning to describe its proprietary connection interface for iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTouch devices that were introduced starting in September 2012.

The trademark update, however, currently applies only in the EU, although it seems likely that Apple and H-D also negotiated for the transfer of certain U.S. trademark rights to the word mark.

The H-D unit filed a trademark registration on January 1, 1995, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “motorcycles and structural parts therefore,” and was awarded trademark registration by the USPTO for the word mark nearly 2.5 years later on June 3, 1997.


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Samsung’s lawyers want a copy of Apple’s patent licensing agreement with HTC, according to emails filed in federal court on Friday (highlighted below).

After a federal jury returned a $1.05 billion verdict for Apple in August — just one of the two companies’ hotly contested global patent disputes — U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh scheduled a December 6 hearing date on Apple’s request for an injunction prohibiting the sale of reportedly infringing Samsung products.

Samsung, however, is trying to lessen the severity of any injunctive relief sought by Apple, since the Cupertino company and competing mobile device marker HTC just settled their own patent litigation.


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On Friday, a California company called Innovative Automation LLC filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the complaint alleges that Apple’s iCloud product infringes on a patent owned by Innovative Automation.

The first patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 7,174,362, is entitled “Method and System for Supplying Products from Pre-Stored Digital Data in Response to Demands Transmitted via Computer Network” and was issued in 2007. Innovative Automation claims that Apple’s iCloud product and service infringes on this patent in the way that it duplicates digital data.

The complaint also alleges that iCloud infringes on a second patent owned by the plaintiff—U.S. Patent No. 7,392,283, entitled “Method and System for Supplying Products from Pre-Stored Digital Data in Response to Demands Transmitted Via Computer Network” and issued in 2008. According to the complaint, Apple’s iCloud product and service infringes on this patent for the same reason as its other patent.

According to a business search through the California Secretary of State, the company Innovative Automation was created in 2011 and is based in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. Its registered agent is Sungil Lee, who is CEO of an education software company called Innovative Knowledge, Inc. Lee is also named as the inventor of both patents at issue in this case.

As the blog Patently Apple points out, “this plaintiff has filed a similar lawsuit against Amazon within the last 24 hours claiming that their Kindle and distribution service “Cloud Player” violates the very same patents used against Apple.”


Tagged: Apple, icloud, patent