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Apple and Google drop litigation, top US copyright suit filer revealed, Samsung/Rockstar dispute continues – the week in IP



Michael Loney


Apple and Google dropping all patent litigation against each other, an erotic movie studio filing more than a third of US copyright lawsuits, a German court ruling Jesus Christ does not own copyright on a 1975 book, Samsung failing to have a Rockstar lawsuit dismissed in Texas, and the Senate trying to mark-up a patent reform bill for a sixth time were among the intellectual property stories hitting the headlines in the past week

The Managing IP team was busy producing a daily newsletter at the INTA annual meeting in Hong Kong in the past week. You can download the newsletters here.

Below is a selection of intellectual property stories attracting attention on the internet 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).

Calling a truce

Apple and Google on Friday announced they have called a cease fire on all patent litigation between the two firms. According to Bloomberg, the two companies have filed about 20 lawsuits against each other in the US and Europe.

A joint statement revealed the agreement also includes some collaboration on reform, but also stressed the limits of the deal.

"Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," said a joint statement from the firms. "Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross licence."

Google inherited a lot of patent litigation cases when it bought Motorola Mobility, including a portfolio of about 17,000 patents, for $12 billion in 2012. Google in January agreed a deal to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion, but will keep most of the patents.

A copyright troll?

A website for erotic movies has been revealed as the biggest filer of copyright litigation in the US. A New Yorker article this week revealed that the owners of website X-art had filed more than 1,300 copyright infringement lawsuits in the past year – accounting for more than a third of all US copyright infringement lawsuits.

Colette and Brigham Field, owners of Malibu Media, hit back at a falling subscriber base by suing people they accused of stealing their movies on the internet. The company now averages more than three suits a day. The article revealed that defendants have included an elderly women and a former lieutenant governor. Malibu Media identifies its litigation target by IP address firstly, which can lead to confusion over the particular person infringing copyright.

Some people quoted in the article compare the lawsuits to an "extortion scheme". However, one judge is quoted as defending the suits as legitimate copyright enforcement. "Malibu [Media] is not what has been referred to … as a 'copyright troll,’" Michael Baylson, a US district judge, wrote. "Rather, Malibu is an actual producer of adult films and owns valid copyrights."

Jesus denied copyright

A German court has ruled that Jesus Christ does not hold copyright for works published in his name, according to The Guardian.

A regional court in Frankfurt this week ruled that Helen Schucman should be regarded as the legal author of a book that she claimed Jesus dictated to her in a series of dreams. New Christian Endeavour Academy had published extracts from A Course in Miracles, published in 1975, on its website. The association believed that it could do this because Schucman, who died in 1981, did not consider herself the author of the work. A ruling in a New York court in 2003 declared the work was in the public domain.

"For many there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth is the author of the course and that copyright law therefore doesn't apply to his work," the academy said.

However, the US-based Foundation for Inner Peace believed it inherited the copyright for the book and disagreed with its publication by the Germany-based New Christian Endeavour Academy. The German court agreed, arguing that authorship is not determined by an author’s mental state but by the "actual process of creation".

Samsung/Rockstar suit continues

Samsung failed this week in its efforts to convince the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit by Rockstar.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap decided that a subsidiary of Rockstar had standing to sue. He also ruled against Samsung’s argument that one of the seven charges of patent infringement should be dismissed on the grounds of unpatentability.

Rockstar, a consortium backed by Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, filed the suits in Texas last October against seven companies, including Samsung and HTC.

6TH time lucky for reform?

The mark-up of Senator Patrick Leahy’s Patent Transparency and Improvements Act has been scheduled for a sixth time. Discussion over the patent reform bill is scheduled for Thursday May 22.

Observers could be forgiven for being sceptical. The mark-up of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee has been delayed five times already. The issue of fee shifting has been a particularly big sticking point. The most-recent delay of the mark-up came after the US Supreme Court announced two decisions changing the interpretation of when a patent case is so exceptional that fees can be shifted. This raised hopes that reform could now proceed.

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

Software developers concerned about Oracle v Google

US Federal Circuit rules Dolly the Sheep ineligible for patent protection

Interview: Amy Yang of Procter & Gamble

USPTO wants to lower most trademark filing fees

Brand owners diverting from the script

Latin America inching towards the Madrid Protocol

How luxury culture will shape the law

US courts in "disarray" over irreparable harm

Develop your online enforcement strategy

India goes "scientific" to improve Registry

INTA and HKIPD sign MoU

China IP - the government perspective

Concern over plain packs

New gTLDs discussed at INTA Annual Meeting

Mexico off to a good start with Madrid

Digital Asia: is your brand Internet-ready?

Work with authorities in China to prosecute IP crimes

Interview: Helen Xu, Jaguar Land Rover

INTA Annual Meeting to return to Asia in 2020

Protecting Trademarks "Hong Kong-style"

Africa gears up for Madrid System

Japan looks to provide protection for non-traditional marks

Looking for the wow factor in designs

INTA and QBPC sign cooperation agreement

Profile: Mei-lan Stark, INTA President

What Asia’s rise means for brands

Interview: António Campinos, president of OHIM

Big trademark changes taking place in Canada and Asia

Interview: Candy Tan Avance of Sweetyet

WTO appoints plain pack panelists

China’s new Trademark Law improves brand protection

Interview: Etienne Sanz de Acedo, INTA’s CEO

From the blog:

Time to widen the debate

What’s different about INTA this year?

US patent litigation up 12.4%, with trolls the top 10 plaintiffs

Is the next big Chinese brand coming?

Did SCOTUS clear the way for patent reform? Don’t hold your breath

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@KellyIPllp Well done to all at the firm!

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