Microsoft goes on troll
Microsoft filed suit on Wednesday against controversial
patent aggregator Acacia, alleging that it violated a 2010
licensing agreement between the two firms when a number of
Acacia subsidiaries sued Microsoft for patent infringement last
Microsoft’s accusations against Acacia recall a
tactic associated with patent assertion entities (PAEs), namely
use of subsidiaries and shell companies to hide the
identities of the true parties in interest. However, critics
claim that companies
including Microsoft engage in similar practices by investing in
PAEs that then proceed to sue others.
Patent trolls such as Acacia have been
drawing increasing attention from US lawmakers.
some of the most notorious PAEs told Managing IP that they
support many of the proposals aimed at reigning in patent
DC Comics defeats Superman clawback
ruled today that the estate of Superman co-creator Joe
Shuster was not entitled to retake ownership of the copyright
under the termination provisions of the 1976 US Copyright Act.
Section 304(d), allows authors who had transferred their
copyright before 1978 to reclaim the copyright after 35 years,
a right that can be exercised by an heir. The court found that
Shuster’s estate could not exercise the
termination due to a 1992 agreement between the parties in
which the heirs received life pensions in exchange for a
reassignment of the Superman rights. Because the reassignment
took place in 1992, it did not fall within the clawback
provisions of the Copyright Act.
DC fought a similar battle with the estate of the Jerry
Siegel, the other Superman creator, earlier this year. Lawyers
expect an increasing amount of copyright clawback cases,
given the number of influential (and highly profitable) works
created in the 1970s.
Elvis IP portfolio sold
CORE Media Group, the previous owner of Elvis
Presley’s IP rights, announced the
sale of the rights earlier this week to Authentic Brands
Group. The portfolio, controlled through Elvis Presley
Enterprises, includes the copyrights to Presley’s
music, movies, TV appearances and performances, as well as
licensing and merchandising rights and the rights to operate
Graceland. Neither party disclosed the purchase price, though
Elvis Presley Enterprises said that it has $32 million a year
in licensing revenue.
In addition to the rights to Elvis, Authentic Brands also
controls rights for Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali.
China proposes intellectual property
China observers have been closely watching the Third Plenum
of the 18th Party Congress for clues about further economic
One keen-eyed IP lawyer caught a short paragraph in The
Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening
Reforms released by the Party Congress, which expresses
intention to start a specialised IP court.
No timeline has been given for the creation of the court,
though many of the goals set during the Third Plenum are
targeted for a 2020 completion date.
The issue of judicial quality in China often arises among
international rights holders, though the Beijing and Shanghai
courts are well-regarded, with several highly-respected IP
specialists. It is unclear whether a specialised IP court would
have a major effect on the quality of judgments, though there
may be considerable benefit to smaller cities where the courts
tend to have less experience with IP matters.
Starbucks takes down Starbung mark
The Bangkok Post
reports that Starbucks has settled its dispute with Thai
street vendor Damrong Maslee, who has been selling coffee using
the "Starbung" mark. The vendor agreed to change the design of
his logo and rename his shop "Bung’s Tears" (Bung
is the word for brother in Malay). Starbucks had obtained a
court order in 2012 instructing Damong to change the name of
his stand, but he did not comply.
Neither party received compensation under the settlement,
though Starbucks had originally claimed Bt300,000($9,400) in
damages and Bt30,000 a month in legal fees.