Below is a selection of intellectual property stories
attracting interest 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).
The passport office
A British woman who changed her middle name to
Skywalker has been told her signature infringes
a trade mark.
UK passport officials denied Laura Matthews’
application to renew her passport because she amended her
signature to "L Skywalker", the BBC reported.
The Home Office explained it "will not recognise a change to
a name which is subject to copyright or trademark".
The applicant – whose full name now is Laura
Elizabeth Skywalker Matthews – said she changed her
name by deed poll in 2008 "for a bit of a laugh".
For those who have managed to ignore popular culture for the
past four decades, Luke Skywalker was one of the main
characters in the original Star Wars film trilogy.
Ronaldo aims to score
Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is involved in a trade mark
dispute over his line of underwear.
Danish company JBS Textile Group, the company that
makes his line of CR7 underwear, has sent letters to Rhode
Island fitness enthusiast Christopher Renzi demanding he give
up his trade mark in the US for CR7 because the firm has
"imminent plans" to sell the underwear in the US,
Renzi this week filed a complaint in Rhode Island federal
court seeking declaration that he owns the trade mark. The
filing says JBS has also asked the USPTO to cancel
Renzi’s trade mark.
Renzi registered the mark in 2009 and has included it on
jeans and T-shirts. Renzi says his trade mark is based on his
initials and the day he was born in October.
JBS argued in a filing with the Trademark Trial and
Appeal Board that CR7 was "so
closely tied to the fame and reputation of Cristiano Ronaldo,
that a connection with the soccer player would immediately be
presumed by the general public when encountering"
Renzi’s clothes. CR7 represents
Ronaldo’s initials and shirt number.
Bose v Beats
Bose is suing Beats Electronics for infringing five of its patents
related to noise-cancelling headphones.
The lawsuit comes two months after Apple announced it was
buying Beats for $3 billion.
Bose’s patents relate to its active noise
reduction (ANR) technique. "ANR
is a technique to reduce unwanted noise by introducing a second
sound source that destructively interferes with the unwanted
Bose’s lawyers in a filing with a Delaware
Bose claims that Beats did not
license its technology despite being told it was infringing its
patents. Bose claims that it has lost sales as a result of
Beats using noise-cancelling technology in its Studio and
Studio Wireless headphone range.
Bose has also
complaint with the International Trade
Commission, which means the federal court suit
will be stayed while the ITC case is
The ITC complaint alleges
that Beats, Fugang Electronic of China and PCH International of
Ireland unlawfully import into the US, sell for importation,
and/or sell within the US after importation certain noise
cancelling headphones that infringe the five patents.
All Greek to
The UK Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in a
passing off case over Greek yoghurt, saying that it did not
raise an arguable point of law. The decision brings to an end
two years of
litigation between FAGE, which sells Greek yoghurt
under the Total brand, and rival Chobani.
ruling by three
judges of the Court effectively affirms that "Greek yoghurt"
sold in the UK must be made by a straining process, contain no
additives or preservatives and be made in Greece. The judges
did not record whether they sampled the products under scrutiny
in the case.
Comedian takes on troll
A firm that had filed suit
against various podcasters has complained that a comedian will
not let the case go now it has decided to drop the
Personal Audio sued Adam
Carolla and his podcasting company Lotzi Digitial, along with
other podcast companies How Stuff Works and Togi Net, claiming
they infringed a patent relating to "episodic
The firm dismissed the suits
against the other two companies in May and June, and is unhappy
that Carolla has rejected its offer to dismiss the suit.
Carolla also continues to raise money through FundAnything.com,
which has already raised $450,000 to take on Personal
Personal Audio claims its
decision to drop litigation was a result of it realising
smaller amounts of money were at issue that it had
"When Personal Audio first
began its litigation, it was under the impression that Carolla,
the self-proclaimed largest podcaster in the world, as well as
certain other podcasters, were making significant money from
infringing Personal Audio’s patents," the Texan
explained in a
statement. "After the parties completed discovery,
however, it became clear this was not the case."
The firm’s CEO
Brad Liddle complained about Carolla continuing to raise money.
"Perhaps this is because he feels he can simply get his fans to
fund his future, and now unnecessary, legal expenses. Or
perhaps it relates to how he uses the case as material for his
show," he said. He added: "Adam Carolla’s
assertions that we would destroy podcasting were ludicrous on
sent Ars Technica a
statement saying he'll continue to pursue counter
claims against Personal Audio, seeking to invalidate the patent
"so that Personal Audio cannot sue other podcasters for
infringement of US Patent 8,112,504". He added that his
company Lotzi has already "incurred hundreds of thousands of
dollars in fees and expenses to defend itself" against the
Personal Audio patents.
Foundation has also initiated an
inter partes review process to
get the patent invalidated.
USPTO staff take some "other
A report this week revealed
that the USPTO spent $4.3 million between 2009 and 2013 to
reimburse paralegals for "other time" and paid them nearly
$700,000 in bonuses despite not having much to do.
Department’s inspector general found that
paralegals at the USPTO’s appeal board were paid
more than $5 million, despite the lack of work meaning they
could shop online, catch up on chores, watch television or walk
according to the Washington
The Washington Times quoted
one chief judge in the report as saying: "I almost
don’t blame [paralegals] for
watching TV because, I mean, you’re
sitting around for 800 hours." The judge added that supervisors
not only tolerated this but in one instance admonished an
employee who complained about the lack of work.
One official told investigators it was an open secret that
"other time" was code for "I don’t have to work,
but I’m going to get paid."
USPTO spokesman told the newspaper that the agency is reviewing
the report and plans to issue a formal response within 60 days.
"Many of the OIG’s recommendations for
improvements at the PTAB are already underway or have
been implemented," he said.
Boosting GDP in South Africa
Protecting intellectual property has the potential to
contribute 11% to South Africa’s GDP,
according to the
country’s Department of Trade and
Zodwa Ntuli, the
department’s deputy director-general for corporate
and consumer regulation, said the potential can be achieved if
the laws are enforced correctly, according to The Africa
said creative industries contribute 4.1% to GDP at the
"The potential growth of 11%
GDP is possible if it taken more seriously with incentives and
if strategies are implemented," she said.
The Department of Trade and
Industry received 7,444 patent applications in 2012, with only
8.2% – or 608 patent applications – being
filed by South African residents.
blog posts published this week:
effect of patent trolls on litigation
in the July-August issue of Managing IP
How would you
streamline your IP system?
Guest blog: Patents
in the biopesticide industry revealed
on Managing IP this week (subscription or trial needed for full
Microsoft sues Samsung for breaking IP
exceptions come into force on October 1
Talks on EU trade
mark reforms to begin
precedential decision in CBM review
partner in Michigan
Novak Druce opens
Philadelphia office with new hire
KWM SJ Berwin hires
patent litigator in London
Korea’s patent law helps international
chair of Federal Circuit Advisory Council
Notices placed on
suspected infringing websites
secrets bill introduced in House of
partner in LA from Foley & Lardner
Tool to forecast
trade mark demand launched
What does the IP
profession want from its IP minister?