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Apple opts out of new IV fund, four governments protest .wine, USPTO has record week, Google fights to get Glass trade mark – the week in IP



Michael Loney


The investors in Intellectual Ventures’ new patent acquisition fund, China approving Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s devices business with conditions, four countries requesting ICANN reconsider the .wine gTLD, the EC president visiting OHIM, and Google’s attempt to get a trade mark on the word glass were among the stories hitting the headlines this week

Below is a selection of intellectual property stories attracting attention on the internet in the past week that were not covered on www.managingip.com (see the bottom of this blog post for the top stories published by Managing IP this week).


Apple shuts off IV

Reuters today revealed that Microsoft and Sony will invest in Intellectual Ventures’ latest acquisition fund but Apple and Intel will not take part, despite having previously invested with the patent buyer.

Sources told Reuters that IV is ramping up its patent acquisitions after a lull while it looked for new acquisitions.

IV has acquired about 70,000 patents since it was formed in 2000. It has raised about $6 billion in that time and revealed last year it is seeking to raise $3 billion more. Microsoft, Sony, Apple and Intel have invested in previous IV funds.


China’s conditions

China this week gave conditional approval to Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business. But the country’s Ministry of Commerce is requiring the two firms to make promises on fair patent use because of fears Microsoft will be too aggressive about patent enforcement.

China is one of the last markets to approve the deal, announced last September. It is the largest market for smartphones and the largest producer of them. Regulators are concerned Microsoft, which claims its patents cover certain technologies found in Android, will try to increase its market share by raising its licensing fees to very high levels. More than 80% of Chinese smartphones run Android.

As part of the approval of the deal, Microsoft has agreed not to use its so-called "fundamental patents" to seek to ban Android device makers nor increase its patent licensing fees. Nokia has also agreed to license its fundamental patent fairly to vendors.


.wine not fine

Four governments have become the first to file requests for reconsideration with ICANN since the process was established in 1999. France, Span, the UK and the European Commission have formally appealed ICANN allowing the .wine and .vin gTLD applications to proceed.

Three applications for .wine and one application for .vin had been frozen since an ICANN meeting in Beijing last year at which the Government Advisory Committee asked for more time to consider them.

The opponents of the gTLDs are demanding special protection to geographic indicators such as Champagne. In contrast, the US sent a letter to the ICANN board in January urging the delegation of .wine and .vin to proceed.


Google’s heart for Glass

Google’s attempt to get a trade mark for the word "glass" got a lot of attention this week. The technology company has a trade mark on the term "Google Glass" but its attempts to get a trade mark on the single word have been less successful.

In a letter to Google last September, a USPTO examiner raised two objections: the mark would create a likelihood of confusion about the source of Google’s product; the word glass is merely descriptive of a feature or material complement of the product.

Unperturbed, Google’s lawyers Anne Peck and Katie Krajeck of Cooley on March 20 submitted a 1,928-page letter contesting the examiner’s conclusions. Some 1,900 pages of which were excerpts of news articles about Google Glass that the company hoped proved there was no likelihood of confusion because of the link between the producer and product. The letter also disputed the descriptive point because the frame and display components of Google Glass are not even made of glass but titanium and plastic.

Some companies may be opposed to Google’s attempts to get a trade mark on the word glass. For example, Border Stylo has filed an opposition of notice. It has developed a browser extension called "Write on Glass". Google has filed a petition to cancel Border Stylo’s trade mark.


USPTO’s record week

The USPTO set a new record in March when it issued more than 6,000 utility patents in a single week, according to the Patently O blog. However, the issuance figure for the first three months of the year is down on the same period in 2013.


Barroso drops in on OHIM

José Manuel Durão Barroso, president of the European Commission, visited the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante on April 10.

The visit was focused on the work of OHIM, the largest EU agency. Barroso met staff from across OHIM’s departments, including those who work in its multi-lingual trade mark and design registration operations. He was also briefed on OHIM’s research work and studies, as well as its projects inside and outside the EU.

Barroso unveiled a commemorative plaque at the construction site of OHIM´s new wing to mark the office’s 20th anniversary. Afterwards, he met Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.


Managing IP published the following stories this week, available to subscribers and trialists:

Brand owner concerns grow over .sucks gTLD

Katrina Burchell goes back to private practice

Singapore proposes new website blocking system

Fee-shifting dispute delays Leahy bill markup for fourth time

Euromoney LMG Americas Women in Business Law Awards 2014 – shortlist announced

How brand owners can make best use of the ITC

New trade mark partner for Venner Shipley

SIPO releases new draft of service invention regulations

Should compulsory licensing regulations for music be overhauled?

UK IP Bill ready for Royal Assent

Why the Partnership for American Innovation is needed – Kappos

From the blog:

Guest post: What would Scottish independence mean for patents?

In defence of the USPTO’s Myriad guidelines

Trade mark publication trends: Boom and BUSTT

From FRAND to the IP crisis, Fordham hits the hot topics

Keeping up with China

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