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Toyota, China, Intellectual Ventures, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola – the week in IP



Michael Loney


Toyota sharing hydrogen car patents, China aiming to double patent applications, a judge saying IV cannot be called a troll, Google takedown notices increasing 75%, Apple being granted bendable iPhone patents, and Coca-Cola seeking to trade mark hashtags were among the intellectual property stories hitting the headlines this week

Toyota’s "unconventional collaboration"

 Japanese car maker Toyota this week announced it will share free of charge almost 6,000 of its patents covering hydrogen fuel cell technology, reports the BBC.

Toyota made the announcement at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it also showcased its Mirai hydrogen-driven car (right).

The patents cover fuel cell stacks, high-pressure hydrogen tanks, software control systems and industrial processes for generating and supplying gas.

Bob Carter, senior vice-president of automotive operations at Toyota, said in a statement that "unconventional collaboration" was needed to launch the first generation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

"When good ideas are shared, great things can happen," he said.

This move follows Tesla last year sharing its patent portfolio with those "acting in good faith".



China doubles up

China is planning to double the country’s number of patent applications in the next five years, according to the South China Morning Post.

The newspaper reported that the number of patent applications is expected to reach 14 per 10,000 habitants by 2020, compared with six this year and four in 2013.

The country has prioritised improving its agricultural technologies, especially in grain production.



Don’t call IV a troll

Judge Leonard Stark has declared that lawyers for Symantec cannot refer to Intellectual Venture as a "patent troll" during the two companies’ District of Delaware trial beginning this month, reports the AmLaw Litigation Daily.

In a court order, Judge Stark granted Intellectual Ventures request to preclude argument and evidence disparaging its business model and practices, such as referencing purported "woodshedding", but said Symantec can present argument and evidence that Intellectual Ventures does not practice the patents in suit because it is relevant to damages.

The order is similar to one Judge Lucy Koh gave last year in the GPNE v Apple trial banning the use of the term "patent troll". Judge Koh gave a more colourful list of banned phrases, however, including "pirate", "bounty hunter", "privateer", "bandit", "shakedown", and "playing the lawsuit lottery".


Google takedown requests up 75%

The number of DMCA takedown requests that Google received last year was up 75% on 2013, reports piracy new site TorrentFreak.

The technology company received 345 million requests in 2014, according to TorrentFreak’s analysis of all of Google weekly reports for DMCA takedown notices.

The sites hosting the content that received the most takedown notices were Rapidgator, Uploaded and 4shared. UK music trade group BPI requested the most takedowns, with 60 million requested links to be taken down.


Bendable iPhone on the way?

The USPTO this week granted Apple a patent on a bendable iPhone, reports The Telegraph.

The patent covers "a flexible electronic device" that may include "a flexible display, a flexible housing and one or more flexible internal components".

The Telegraph reported that the patent application was originally submitted in 2011. It added that Apple was granted similar patents for flexible displays in October 2014 and February 2013.

This is not the first time bendable iPhones have been in the news. When it released the iPhone 6 Plus last year there were a number of complaints about the handset bending when being carried in pockets.

Coke seeks hashtag trade marks

Soft drink company Coca-Cola wants to trade mark two Twitter hashtags – #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke.

Managing IP recently published an IP Clinic on whether you should try to trade mark a Twitter hashtag.



Also on the blog this week:

Unhappy new year for the US patent market?

Now is the time to prepare for the Unitary Patent and UPC

Guest post: ASIPI’s anniversary marked in style

The year in damages in the US


In our news and analysis this week:

Unitary Patent fees should be at low end of scale – CIPA President

Q&A: Catriona Hammer, CIPA president and senior IP counsel, GE Healthcare

PTAB allows first contested claim amendment

Interview: Sarah Deutsch, Verizon

Covington adds China partner

Alice provides "substantial boost" to PTAB CBM reviews

What US companies need to know about European patent reform

Data: A busy month for district court rulings on 101

New INTA president Evans outlines goals for 2015

Record PTAB year ends with 1,681 petitions filed

New Israeli IP firm launched

Holah joins Bird & Bird

India releases first draft of National IP Rights Policy

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