Articles Posted in Patent Law

On Sept. 8, a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California denied Apple’s request for a retrial in its case against Samsung. A jury awarded Apple a verdict of more than $119 million, but the original complaint requested $2 billion. Following the May verdict, Apple argued that it was unfair for the judge to allow Samsung to make arguments to the jury based on allegedly false information. However, the judge ruled that the information provided to the jury was not untrue.

The judge also denied Apple’s request that she enter a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in the intellectual property case. However, the judge reportedly agreed to award supplemental damages to Apple to compensate the company for additional sales Samsung made after the jury reached a verdict. Apple is also entitled to prejudgment interest because the company was not able to use the $119 million it would have had if the patents had not been supposedly infringed.

This decision will not end Apple’s legal disputes against Samsung. In August, a judge denied an injunction prohibiting Samsung from selling its Galaxy S III smartphone despite the infringement of Apple’s patents because the company was unable to establish that customers purchased the smartphone because of the infringement. Apple intends to appeal that ruling. The company also filed a motion requesting damages to compensate the company for Samsung’s ongoing patent infringement by continuing to sell the Galaxy S III.

The name of a business helps California consumers identify the source of products or services they like. Some people or companies want to cash in on a business’s success by muscling in on that name or trademark. Trademark infringement litigation often occurs when individuals or businesses offering like products also have the same or similar names.

What may have started out as a quirky gathering of comic book fans has evolved into a well-known West Coast event. Comic-Con in San Diego has attracted comic book lovers nationwide and the celebrities who bring those characters to life on TV and in films. Devoted fans circulate the convention often dressed like their favorite comic-book characters.

Comic-Con’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. The organizers of San Diego’s Comic-Con convention are not pleased an event in Utah is called Salt Lake Comic Con. A recently-filed trademark infringement lawsuit accuses the Salt Lake event’s founders of profiting off the California convention’s name.

California businesses can reduce risks of infringement claims long before a product is available to the public. You don’t want another business making profits off your company’s patents, so it’s wise to make sure you aren’t poaching off anyone else’s intellectual property. Remaining blissfully unaware of a competitor’s patent won’t help – purposeful or accidental ignorance is not a defense.

A new lawsuit against California-based Beats Electronics LLC by home entertainment retailer Bose Corporation mentions several patent infringement allegations. What you don’t see in reports is a time line for Beats alleged infringement upon Bose technology patents for noise-control headphones. The lawsuit mentions the patents in the new Bose QuietComfort20 headphones were also employed in Beats Studio Wireless and Beats Studio headphones.

Beats is in transition. The company, co-founded by record producer Jimmy Iovine and rap giant Dr. Dre, is in the process of being sold for $3 billion to Apple Inc., a deal Fortune reported would be finalized sometime this fall. The lawsuit was filed just days after Apple announced handsome increases in third-quarter share revenue and sales.

“What’s in a name?” has a very different meaning for California fans of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet than it does to U.S. Patent Office officials. However, the question remained the same as the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board considered words identifying a professional football team. This isn’t the first time the board stripped the Washington Redskins of its trademarks for using a word increasingly perceived as offensive.

The board’s 1999 ruling to cancel the team’s federal trademarks was overturned on appeal in 2003 for several reasons, including “insufficient evidence” that the name “Redskins” was disparaging when trademarks were issued. Three years later, a new case with different Native American plaintiffs was filed. This time, the evidence was considerable.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board reviewed testimony from linguists, published works, clips of movies and historical evidence that Native Americans – at the time the trademarks were granted – were insulted and offended. The plaintiffs’ legal counsel is just as confident the trademarks will stay banned as the team’s attorneys are that the board’s decision will be, once again, overturned.

Los Angeles consumers may not spend a lot time thinking about how everyday products are made as long as they serve their purpose. After all, one light bulb doesn’t seem all that different from another. However, for businesses that design and manufacture unglamorous necessities, product differences determine whether or not the company succeeds.

American Power Conversion Corp. has been ordered to pay $10.7 million to a company that makes a certain kind of plugstrips. Plugstrips are those boxy plug-ins used to connect several electrical devices to the same outlet. The California natives who own Server Technology Inc. claimed American Power Conversion copied their work and infringed on two Server patents.

The argument was over two models of power distribution devices sold by American Power Conversion, the AP7900 and AP8900. Server’s plugstrips can be mounted vertically and contain a digital register marking the flow of electrical current. A federal jury agreed unanimously with the plaintiff’s claim that American Power duplicated Server’s patented products.

Few businesses have the global reach and revenue of companies like Apple and Samsung. When the smartphone titans recently clashed in a California court, Apple attorneys argued for a $2.2 billion judgment, claiming Samsung’s competing smartphones contained copies of Apple’s patented functions and features. Samsung countered Apple’s patent claims were misplaced.

This isn’t the first time the smartphone makers have tangled in a courtroom. Samsung now owns the lion’s share of the global smartphone market, with 31 percent of worldwide business. After owning 27 percent of the market, Apple’s share dipped to 15 percent over the last three years. The jury in the intellectual property case awarded Apple $119.6 million.

The judgment added up to a fraction of Apple’s damage request and was depleted further by $158,400. The jury decided to deduct the money because Apple infringed upon a Samsung patent with the rollout of iPhone 4s and 5s. Legal observers believe that Apple is walking away from the court fight with just enough to pay the legal bills.

One way to make a profit from an invention is to license its use to others. Universities in California and across the U.S. collect royalties from license holders for patents generated by research.

Universities have been allowed to own patents derived from federal research since 1980. Surveys by the Association of University of Technology Managers indicated universities pocketed about $2 billion every year through patent licensing.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison sued Intel over the use of a technology patent in 2009. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in the infringement litigation. The same technology prompted another university lawsuit, this time against Apple Inc.

Other than operating in a constant state of paranoia, how do California start-up companies keep a lid on confidential information? When company secrets leak, it can take an enormous and expensive legal effort to undo the damage. Beefing up security will minimize the chance of intellectual property theft.

The majority of a vulnerable start-up’s value may be its intellectual property. Patent, copyright or trademark infringement can devastate a business, before it has a chance to take root and grow.

Understand which assets require guarding and have protection under intellectual property laws. Patent defense is often a high-priority business concern. Patents keep others from manufacturing, copying or selling unique inventions, including a product or process to make a product.

The government that creates laws to protect the patent rights of Los Angeles residents and businesses is accused of infringing upon them. A recent report said that some small companies have charged the U.S. government with patent infringement and some businesses are building cases.

Intellectual property laws don’t apply to the federal government the same way they do to individuals or California companies. It sounds antiquated to hear “sovereign immunity” used in a nation that’s never been under a monarch’s rule, but our government enjoys a great deal of leeway and protection by invoking the power of legal immunity.

Does that mean a patent infringement case against the U.S. government is useless? “Sometimes” may not be a definitive answer, but it is a truthful one. The government may take patents in the same way they claim land under eminent domain, provided the patent owner receives compensation.

Los Angeles businesses know about trolls, which are nothing like imaginary trolls defeated by magic passwords or correct answers to trick questions. In the competitive world of business, doing battle with a troll takes time, legal advice and money – none of which small and new companies usually have in ample supply.

Patent trolls are the names given to companies that own idled patents and feast off of licensing fees and patent infringement settlements and damages. The practice is considered unsavory, since patent trolls often accumulate and sit on undeveloped patents. Troll companies profit from patents only by enforcing them.

The founder of California’s FindTheBest.com, a website network that matches consumers with high-quality items, is in a patent battle that’s become personal. The owner is willing to pay $1 million out of pocket to fend off Lumen View Technology’s attempts to cash in on his business.