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Kim Dotcom, Rick Ross, Segway, Adidas, Skechers – the week in IP

Kim Dotcom attending an extradition hearing in New Zealand, Rick Ross failing in a trade mark suit over the phrase "everyday I'm shufflin", Segway suing the makers of Hovertrax, and Adidas claiming Skechers has infringed its trade mark were in the IP headlines in the past week


Kim Dotcom hearing

A court hearing was held in New Zealand today to determine whether Kim Dotcom will be extradited to the US to face charge of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering related to the Megaupload file-sharing website he founded, reports Reuters.

The US has been trying to make Dotcom face charges since raiding his home in 2012 and freezing Megaupload's assets.

Dotcom's lawyer, Ira Rothken, told Reuters: "We feel as though Kim Dotcom ... will not have a fair procedural playing field because he won't have any assets with which to mount a defence for the largest copyright case in history."

In an expert report submitted in the hearing, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig argued that the US does not have a strong enough case.

"An attempt has been made to extract facts from multiple sources and over a wide span of time, to organize a large number of otherwise disconnected facts by using systematic phraseology and to juxtapose phrases in order to create an impression of coherence and substance," said Lessig. "However, the attempt fails to reach its goals and any impression of coherence or substance dissolves under examination."

According to the Guardian, Dotcom sat in a large leather arm chair specially brought in for ergonomic reasons.


Rick Ross case dismissed

A judge in the Southern District of Florida has dismissed a case in which rapper Rick Ross claimed that LMFAO merchandise featuring the phrase "every day I'm shufflin" from its 2010 "Party Rock Anthem" song infringed the copyright of his song Hustlin', which includes the line "every day I'm hustlin".

Lawrence Robins of the law firm Sullivan Worcester was surprised the case got as far as it did. He pointed to Taylor Swift's applications to register trade marks on certain of her lyrics and phrases from her 1989 album as an example of a musician that understands that copyright and trade mark have different ramifications.

"It is basic, black letter copyright law that words and short phrases are not copyrightable subject matter and the court ruled accordingly," said Robins in a blog post. "Furthermore, as discussed in detail in the court's opinion, there have been more than a few prior cases that applied this rule to song lyrics, raising the question of why the Ross team thought this case was different. Ms Swift obviously understood the different treatment accorded short phrases or slogans under trademark and copyright law and, accordingly, sought protection for her phrases as trademarks. Mr Ross relied on copyright instead with predictable results."

The court noted that Ross's phrase was not even that original.

"Moreover, Defendants have set forth unrebutted evidence that the terms 'hustling' or 'hustlin'' have been used in numerous songs prior to Plaintiff's creation of Hustlin' and that at Ieast one song pre-dating Hustlin' has the exact Iyrics 'everyday I'm hustlin'' in it," wrote Judge Kathleen Williams. "Specifically, Dr Munro states that several songs released prior to Hustlin, contain Iyrics such as 'We hustlin' every God damned day,' 'I'm hustlin',' 'I'm Iivin' everyday Iike a hustle', and 'Every day I'm hustlin', every night l'm hustlin'."


Segway gets lawsuit rolling

Electric scooter manufacturer Segway has sued Inventist, claiming its Hovertrax (right) and Solowheel products infringe its patents, reports The Verge.

The website noted that the Hovertrax has been described in the press as a "Segway without a pole".

The lawsuit mentions five patents but in particular US Patent 6,302,230, which relates to the Segway's method of transportation, which includes "balancing vehicles and methods for transporting individuals over ground having a surface that may be irregular". The complaint charges: "Inventist has knowledge of the ‘230 patent or has acted with wilful blindness to its existence."

Investist also has its own patent, and has also been suing competitors. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Investist has sued the Soibatian Corporation, and there is talk of more lawsuits to follow.


Adidas tells Skechers to stop

Adidas has sued Skechers alleging trade mark infringement of its classic Stan Smith sneaker, reports Business Insider.

Adidas says that Skechers' Onix sneaker is a rip-off of the Stan Smith, which is a white shoe with green markings and perforations.

An Adidas spokesperson told Business Insider: "Adidas filed a lawsuit today against Skechers to protect its valuable intellectual property and put an end to a long-term pattern of unlawful conduct by Skechers to sell shoes that infringe Adidas' rights. Adidas will not stand silently while Skechers copies the iconic Stan Smith shoe and uses terms like 'adidas Originals' and 'Stan Smith' as keywords on its website to divert customers looking for authentic adidas shoes. We believe Skechers' unlawful behaviour, which also includes misappropriation of Adidas' SUPERNOVA and Three-Stripe trademarks, needs to stop now."

Last month, Adidas sued Forever 21 ad Central Mills, claiming they violated its three stripes trade mark.

Also on the blog this week:

MARQUES Annual Conference, Vienna 2015: Day 1 round-up

In our news and analysis this week:

Federal Circuit rules laches a viable defence in patent cases

Europe IP news round-up

CJEU provides guidance on shape marks in Kit Kat case

Unitary Patent and UPC: Progress Report (September)

Warner-Lambert still in Swiss-type pain in the UK

WIPO continues push for Marrakesh Treaty ratification

Copyright holders must consider fair use before sending takedown notices - 9th Circuit

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