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iFone win, Lego image dispute, Hitler copyright controversy, new patent troll study – the week in IP



Michael Loney


Mexico’s intellectual property office ruling in favour of iFone, Lego asking the UK government to remove images, German legal scholars debating whether Mein Kampf should be studied or suppressed when its copyright expires and a study claiming patent trolls restrict venture capital investment were among the intellectual property stories hitting the headlines in the past 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).

iFone wins in Mexico

Mexico’s intellectual property office has ruled in favour of a small domestic firm over its rights to the "iFone" name. The office said Apple’s advertisements for the iPhone have encroached on the trade mark because they were phonetically identical.

The iFone name was registered by a firm of the same name in 2003 to cover telephone services for businesses and call centres. The iPhone name was registered by Apple in 2007.

Mexico's Institute for Intellectual Property said several mobile phone carriers must pay a fine of about $104,000 and stop using iPhone as a promotional name for their calling plans.

Apple is not specifically covered by the ruling because it only provides handsets and not calling services. Apple had previously argued that iFone’s trade mark had lapsed.


Lego wants independence from Scottish debate

Toy maker Lego has asked the UK government to remove images of Lego figures in a press release that explained to Scottish voters how they could spend money they would save by voting against independence from the UK.

The list of " 12 things that £1,400 UK Dividend could buy" was originally illustrated with Lego figures. But Lego said it had not granted permission for the images to be used.

"We have requested that the images are removed due to our neutral political stance. We are a children's toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios – some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company," said the firm.

Mein Kampf expiry causing controversy

German legal scholars are debating whether Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf should be studied or suppressed when the copyright on it expires at the end of 2015 – 70 years after Hitler’s death.

No legal versions of the book have been published in Germany since 1945. The free state of Bavaria owns the publication rights on the book.

Munich’s Institute of Contemporary Studies had been allowed permission to publish a scholarly edition of the book. Work on which began in 2010 but government funding for it stopped in 2013.


Trolls restrict venture capital, claims study

Venture capital investment in the US "would have likely been $21.772 billion higher over the course of five years but for litigation brought by frequent litigators", according to a new study by Catherine Tucker, a professor of marketing at MIT’s Sloan School of Business.

The study, called "The Effect of Patent Litigation and Patent Assertion Entities on Entrepreneurial Activity", looked at the relation between levels of patent litigation and venture capital investment. It found that VC investment initially increased with the number of litigated patents but reaches a "tipping point" where further increases in the number of patents litigated are associated with decreased VC investment.

"This appears strongest for technology patents, and negligible for products such as pharmaceuticals," said the report.

Tucker said frequent patent litigators serve as a proxy for patent assertion entity litigation. A frequent patent litigator is defined as an entity that has filed 20 or more patent lawsuits.


RPX’s bid for Freedom

Patent risk management firm RPX is in talks to buy litigation data provider PatentFreedom, according to Reuters. PatentFreedom tracks the behaviour of patent owners.

Reuters said Daniel McCurdy would join RPX as part of the deal. McCurdy is also CEO of Allied Security Trust, a competitor of RPX. AST is a non-profit firm backed by Google, Oracle and other technology companies.



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

Rader to leave Federal Circuit

Governments must do more to tackle counterfeits – Unilever head

Italy sets out EU presidency priorities

EIP adds patent partner

Marks waiting to break sound barrier in Canada

What US IP owners need to know about the UPC

Supreme Court rules POM Wonderful can sue Coca-Cola for false advertising

Rambus and Qualcomm sign patent licence agreement

Lookalikes latest

Ireland paves the EU way on plain packaging

The options for alternative patent licensing compared

Euromoney Legal Media Group Australasia Women in Business Law Awards 2014 – Shortlist announced

BakerHostetler adds trade mark partner in California

From the blog:

Football World Cup quiz

Outstanding achievement award – Tian Lipu, former commissioner of SIPO

Who are the most influential people in IP this year?

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