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Patent lawsuit spike, Maltesers dispute, Google/Foxconn patent deal, Pfizer’s India criticism – the week in IP

An unusual amount of US patent infringement lawsuits, Mars suing Hershey’s for trade mark infringement over its Malteser product, Foxconn selling communication technology patents to Google, and Quentin Tarantino’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Gawker Media being dismissed were among the stories hitting the headlines in the past week

The two biggest stories this week were the Supreme Court oral arguments in the closely-watched ABC v Aereo copyright case and the Federal Circuit’s opinion in Apple v Motorola released yesterday. You can read our analysis of the Aereo hearing and see our Storify post rounding up the best reactions from the internet here. Watch out on for analysis of the Apple opinion next week.

To celebrate World IP Day, Managing IP interviewed WIPO Director General Francis Gurry here and published a quiz about IP in Movies here.

Below is a selection of intellectual property stories attracting attention on the internet in the past week that were not covered on (see the bottom of this blog post for the top stories published by Managing IP this week).


Panic filing

This week saw an unusual amount of US patent infringement lawsuits filed. There were almost 180 on April 23 alone, more than five times the daily average, according to the Patently O blog.

The reason? It appears to be a proposed amendment to Senate patent reform circulated last weekend that included a clause for retroactive application that named April 24 as the effective date of the fee shifting provisions.

maltesers.jpg The lighter way to enjoy IP disputes

Mars is suing Hershey’s for trade mark infringement over the US confectionary maker’s Malteser product. Mars says the brand is too close to its Maltesers brand.

Mars contends in its complaint that Hershey has “tricked customers in the United States into buying fake Malteser candy instead of real Mars’ Maltesers candy. Hershey’s conduct is irreparably injuring and hampering Mars’ ability to sell Maltesers candy in the United States.”

Hersey’s acquired the trade mark in 1998 from a Dutch company that had bought it from the original registrant Leaf Corp. Leaf was given the mark more than 30 years after Mars started selling Maltesers. Mars settled with Leaf over the mark in 1994.

Mars said Hersey’s has maintained the Malteser mark for the sole purpose of pushing Maltesers out of the market in favour of the Hershey’s brand Whoppers, which are also chocolate covered malt balls.

Google buys Foxconn patents

Taiwan-based Foxconn, which puts together gadgets for companies including Apple, has sold some of its communication technology patents to Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. No details of the number of patents or the price paid for them were given.

The Journal said Foxconn has been quietly growing its patent portfolio. It has applied for 128,400 patents and has been granted more than 64,300 patents world-wide.

Foxconn sold head-mounted display technology patents to Google for an unspecified amount last year, and was one of the top 20 US patent owners in 2013, said the Journal.

Tarantino lawsuit dismissed

Movie director Quentin Tarantino’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Gawker Media for linking to a story that published the screenplay for unmade movie The Hateful Eight has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Gawker’s motion to dismiss the suit was granted by US District Court Judge John Walter. However, he gave Tarantino’s legal team until May 1 to amend and re-file the contributory copyright complaint.

Tarantino sued the media company in January after it posted links to third-party websites hosting the script.

Tarantino initially said he would no longer make the movie because it had been leaked. However, he held a public reading of it last weekend and has said he is still working on the script.

india20flag.jpg Pfizer slams India’s “destructive IP policy”

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer has written a letter to the Indian ambassador to the US complaining about the country’s intellectual property rights regime, according to The Economic Times.

In a letter to S Jaishankar, the firm urged India to “shift from using destructive IP policy as an access strategy”. Pfizer said a number of regulatory and legal challenges have “frayed relations between the India government and global pharmaceutical firms”.

old-leghumper.jpg Dogfight over “Leg Humper”

Two US brewers are squaring up over the rights to the “Leg Humper” name. Ohio-based Thirsty Dog Brewing Company sells its "Old Leghumper," in bottles with a label depicting a dog looking up at legs of three women. The firm has had a trade mark on the beer name for more than 15 years.

Arizona-based Sleepy Dog Brewery, established in 2009, started selling a beer called “Leg Humper” also featuring a label depicting a dog between a woman’s legs.

In a trade mark lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday, Thirsty Dog's lawyers said Sleepy Dog willfully and intentionally copied Thirsty Dog’s “Old Leghumper”.

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

US patent lawyers offer blunt criticism of Supreme Court and Federal Circuit

Guest post: Sherry Knowles responds to USPTO comments on new Myriad guidelines

Euromoney LMG Europe Women in Business Law Awards 2014 – shortlist announced

Trade Marks in Ethiopia: 23 June deadline and other requirements

New York City government to launch .nyc gTLD next month

SCOTUS questions why Aereo should not be considered a cable company

Hong Kong court sustains sufficiency attack on patent

Trade mark registrations underscore financial sector rebound

UK Treasury defends Patent Box against Commission threat

Proskauer adds chair of life sciences patent practice

FRAND dispute makes list of China’s top IP cases

SCOTUS preview: The lawyers behind ABC v Aereo

SCOTUS preview: Amicus briefs divided over legality of Aereo

POM Wonderful case an example of greater SCOTUS interest in trade marks

From the blog:

Fordham IP Conference 2014: Day 1 highlights

Guest post: An open letter to Abraham Lincoln from David Kappos

IP courts: the next step in China’s IP evolution?

World IP Day interview part 1: WIPO Director General Francis Gurry

World IP Day 2014 quiz

Download your copy of our Europe IP Focus

Score sheet: Aereo and FilmOn X versus the broadcasters

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

A Foss Patents blog post revealed that Mr Justice Marcus Smith handed down his judgment in Optis v Apple on May 10
Witnesses during a committee hearing criticised proposals to increase some fees by as much as 400%
Sources say they are likely to hire external counsel that can create a lasting first impression but will likely turn their backs on lawyers who have nothing new to offer
Varuni Paranavitane, of counsel at Finnegan, examines recent decisions by US and UK courts to demonstrate the proof of infringement that was required
The Federal Circuit will also narrow its investigation into Judge Newman to focus on whether her failure to cooperate constitutes misconduct
The management board will send three names to the Council of the EU for a final decision
Sources say a decision by the IP High Court will make it easier for rights owners to fight infringement
Seán Kelly asked the European Commission how it intends to ensure the EUIPO executive director vote, due tomorrow, will be fair and transparent
Counsel from BMW and Finnegan explain how they got an NPE to sign a covenant agreeing not to sue the automaker ever again
The blue checkmark could be a good tool, but it’s unclear how widespread its adoption will be, say in-house sources