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Patent litigation, .sucks, Vice Media, TTAB, Blackberry, Typo – the week in IP



Michael Loney


The sunrise period for .sucks being extended, the latest patent litigation statistics, a trade mark case featuring Vice versus Virtue, the TTAB cancelling a colour mark, and Blackberry settling with Typo were in the IP headlines in the past week

.delayed

The sunrise period for .sucks has been extended to June 19. It was supposed to end on May 29.

In a statement on the www.registry.sucks website, Vox Populi said: "Even though the launch of the new dotSucks domain names has received overwhelming media and market attention, we have discovered that far too many intellectual property lawyers, company executives and brand owners were unaware of the registry, the availability of its names or the Trademark Clearinghouse.

"This was a concern that led us over the last weeks to pay closer attention to the ability of the trademark holders to make a timely and informed decision about registering their marks or not."

Last month, the House judiciary committee held a hearing on ICANN’s performance as well as the .sucks gTLD. This followed ICANN’s requests to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) to investigate what it called Vox Populi’s predatory pricing for the .sucks gTLD. Representative Darrell Issa opened the session by referring to .sucks as "legalised extortion".

Vox Populi has started an aggressive campaign to publicise the launch of .sucks. It sparked considerable discussion at INTA’s annual meeting in San Diego where it roamed the streets with an "INTA.sucks" mobile billboard. Vox Populi representatives also handed out .sucks condoms and t-shirts outside the convention centre and had a much-visited booth inside it.

For the sunrise period, Vox Populi placed an MSRP of $2,499 on what it considers premium domains, many of which contain trade marks. However, unlike most other gTLDs where the price drops in the general availability phase, these domains are placed in what Vox Populi terms the "market premium" list, where the price stays up even after sunrise ends.

"We have set the price at how we think they will be valued on the market," Vox Populi CEO John Berard told Managing IP.

However, two gTLDS that did go on general availability this week were .adult and .porn.



"Piping hot" litigation data

The Patently-O blog published an interesting chart this week in response to PwC’s recent patent litigation report. The consulting company reported a 13% drop in patent litigation in 2014, but the data was for the 2014 fiscal year ending with September 2014.

Jason Rantanen in a Patently-O blog post provided updated charts on patent litigation filings and pending patent cases "for those who like their data piping hot", based off Lex Machina’s search engine. This revealed that pending district court litigation has plateaued in the past few months.

However, after a dip in 2014, filings from the first six months of 2015 are up again. "If the current trend holds, FY 2015 will see about as many district court patent case filings as 2013," said Rantanen.



Vice v Virtue

Vice is squaring off against virtue in a trade mark fight, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which claims the names involved in the case may make it the "Best Trademark Lawsuit Ever".

Vice Media sued Virtue Marketing in a Georgia federal court this week.

Vice owns an in-house creative, advertising and marketing agency called Virtue, named to play off a virtue being the opposite of a vice.

Vice wants Virtue Marketing to change its name, and sent a cease-and-desist letter in January. The lawsuit says Virtue "filed two United States trade mark application in bad faith" since then. Second and third letters were sent in February and April.


 

No blue for you

The TTAB has cancelled the registration of the colour "blue" for Nu-Calgon because of a lack of the substantial exclusivity required for acquired distinctiveness, reports The TTABlog.

The mark was obtained in December 2010. RTX Scientific petitioned for cancellation, saying the mark lacked the acquired distinctiveness because the "blue design is widely used by a variety of manufacturers in the HVAC industry for both identical and a variety of products".

The TTABlog noted that at least six other companies were offering blue "cleaning preparations for air conditioning or refrigeration coils" at the time the registration issued. "In other words, Respondent's mark is not distinctive," said the Board.



Blackberry settles with Typo

Blackberry has settled its patent dispute with Typo Products, reports Reuters.

Typo, co-founded by US TV presenter Ryan Seacrest, was sued by Blackberry over its smartphone keyboards, which Blackberry said infringed its patents. Under the settlement, Typo will not sell keyboards for smartphones and other devices with screens that are smaller than 7.9 inches but can sell keyboards for larger devices. .

A US district court in February sanctioned Typo for violating an injunction barring it from selling a keyboard case for the iPhone.



Also on the blog this week:

Is there life in Ultramercial yet?

Anti-counterfeiting: handle with care

Confidential information and cybersecurity

Share your views on the Unitary Patent and UPC

Guest blog: China and the first-to-file exception


In our news and analysis this week:

Is it time to revise the EPC?

Intellectual Ventures II files third and fourth lawsuits of 2015

US PATENT Act moves out of Senate Judiciary Committee

Ukraine drops WTO tobacco case

A new approach to combating counterfeits in Turkey

Americas Women in Business Law Awards: 2015 winners

Unitary Patent and UPC: a progress report

PTAB data: Apple regains top spot for filing in May

Australian study calls into doubt benefits of second-tier patents

Reed Smith adds six attorneys in three US offices

UK appellate court weighs in on Swiss-type claims

European IP boutiques merge

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