news to break this week was the controversial Ninth Circuit
decision in Garcia v Google, which has sent the copyright
community into shock and dismay.
You can read our round-up of the decision here and view our Spotify story collecting
some of the best reactions from social media here.
It was also a high-profile week at the Supreme Court, with two
related patent cases being argued.
You can read our preview of the arguments for Octane v Icon and
Highmark v Allcare here, as well as our debriefing of the
comments and questions from the Supreme Court judges here (subscribers and triallists only
for both of those links).
Below are a selection of other stories that caught the eye this
Anti-troll bills pile
A new bill aimed at curbing patent trolls sending misleading
demand letters was introduced in the Senate this week. This
brings the number of bills introduced in the House
and Senate aimed at trolls to 12.
The latest bill, The Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act,
was introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill and Jay
Rockefeller, both Democrats. The EFF summed up the bill’s
provisions by saying it would:
• Require that demand letters contain certain basic
information, such as a description of the patent at issue, a
description of the product or service that allegedly infringes
it, the names and contact information for the patent's owners,
and disclosures of ongoing re-examinations or litigations
involving that patent.
• Define certain egregious behaviours as an illegal
unfair or deceptive practice, such as sending letters
threatening litigation without a real intent to file litigation
or sending letters that lack a reasonable basis in the
• Explicitly give state attorneys general the power
to target similar bad behaviour in their own states.
• Allow the Federal Trade Commission to enforce these
rules by levying penalties of $16,000 per each violation.
The onus is on the Senate to pass a bill following the House in
December passing the Innovation Act. This week 42 state
attorneys general also sent a letter to the Senate committee
leadership urging it to pass a bill and suggesting four
amendments to legislation. In addition, Oregon on Wednesday became the second state to pass anti-troll
legislation after Vermont last year.
You can bet on Betty
Betty Boop was back in court this week. Following her
starring role in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
three years ago, when the court got into a muddle over aesthetic
functionality, the cartoon character has now popped up in
the High Court in London, writes James Nurton.
The trade mark dispute between Hearst and AVELA concerned Betty
Boop merchandise, and involved various national and Community
trade marks for the name of the 1930s character and her image.
Following a lengthy discussion of the history of the dispute
and the legal issues, Mr Justice Birss concluded that there was
trade mark infringement and passing off.
Betty has at least one more starring role to come, though. A
separate claim in this dispute, involving copyright
infringement, is due to be heard in January 2015.
Candy trademark application crushed
The maker of the Candy Crush Saga app withdrew its
application for a US trade mark on the word "candy" on Monday.
King.com announced it would withdraw the application following
a spate of negative publicity from the video game industry,
with many developers criticising the mark for being too
generic, writes Alli Pyrah.
the years, the word has featured in video game titles such as
BulletCandy, Candyz and Tiny Toon Adventures: Dizzy's Candy
King’s efforts to secure exclusive use of the word
candy prompted a bitter open letter from a developer called
Albert Ransom, maker of the CandySwipe game. Ransom accused
King of asking the USPTO to cancel his 2010 trade mark, which
he claimed was registered two years before Candy Crush Saga
The move also inspired some game developers to launch a
competition called Candy Jam. The requirements were to produce
a game with "candy" in the title.
In a statement to kotaku.com, King said: "King
has withdrawn its trademark application for Candy in the US,
which we applied for in February 2013 before we acquired the
early rights to Candy Crusher.
"Each market that King operates in is different with regard to
IP. We feel that having the rights to Candy Crusher is the best
option for protecting Candy Crush in the US market. This does
not affect our EU trademark for Candy and we continue to take
all appropriate steps to protect our IP."
IPCom’s $2 billion rejection
A German court today rejected IPCom’s €1.57
billion ($2.15 billion) claim for patent infringement
against Apple. A Mannheim court also rejected a similar lawsuit
that IPCom filed against HTC. The patents in both cases
described technology for granting mobile phones access to
According to the FOSS Patents blog, the court concluded
that Apple and HTC did not infringe a certain IPCom patent
family by implementing the 3G/UMTS standard. IPCom bought the
patents in 2007 from Robert Bosch, a German car parts
Simpsons actor’s baseball character ruled
The Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria has won a copyright dispute with fellow actor
Craig Bierko over a baseball announcer character.
Azaria – who voices characters in The Simpsons
including Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy –
debuted his baseball character in a Funny or Die Video called
Jim Brockmire, a Legend in the Booth in 2010. He filed a suit
in 2012 after Bierko claimed to have first voiced the baseball
announcer character, and was threatening legal action.
The two had exchanged
impressions of a baseball announcer character for years, with
Azaria calling Bierko in 1997 to discuss possibly using the
voice for a project. In that instance Bierko requested that
Azaria not use the voice.
US District Judge Gary Feess ruled that Azaria’s
character qualifies as fixed in a tangible medium and original.
The judge said Azaria had expressed particular details such as
Brockmire’s relationship and volatile
"It is therefore like those character driven movies where
audiences watch more for the character – Tarzan,
Superman, Sherlock Holmes, or James Bond – than the
story," wrote the judge. "For these reasons, the Court finds
that Jim Brockmire is sufficiently distinct to warrant
copyright protection." In contrast Feess said
Bierko’s depiction of his character was "extremely