The biggest news to break this week was the CJEU ruling in the Svennsson case that the 2001 EU Copyright Directive does not prevent websites from hyperlinking to freely available content. Managing IP covered the story here (subscription or trial needed), and also collected together the best of the reaction from Twitter in a Storify page here.
Another story that attracted a lot of attention, although with less wide-reaching consequences, was the fuss over a comedian setting up a Dumb Starbucks store, which we covered in this post.
Below are a selection of other stories that caught the eye this week.
EU rules on unregistered design rights
The Court of Justice of the EU handed down a ruling on unregistered design rights on Thursday (a day when most IP lawyers were busy considering the implications of the same Court’s decision on hyperlinks in the Svensson case). In Gautzsch/Münchener Boulevard, the Court dealt with an an unregistered Community design and an allegedly infringing design of similar garden gazebos. On the issue of what constituted disclosure, it said that national courts had some flexibility to decide, judging the facts of the case, but confirmed that disclosure could take place outside the EU.
The Court was asked what procedural rules apply to issues such as estoppel, burden of proof and the statute of limitation, which are not addressed in the Community Design Regulation. The Court said that the rules of the national court hearing the case would apply. Hogan Lovells has published a note on the ruling.
All talk, no action
Talks between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung’s head of its mobile business JK Shin about a patent lawsuit have reportedly failed to reach any agreement. The two were asked by a court to try mediation before a scheduled trial in March over smartphone models including the Galaxy 4 and Note 2, and a counterclaim regarding Apple’s iPhone 5.
The lack of any progress was not very surprising. Cook and Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-Hyun met in 2012 to talk about a different dispute but also got nowhere. A California jury went on to find that Samsung infringed on a series of Apple patents (a different set to that being disputed now) with the South Korean firm ordered to pay $930 million in damages.
It was also revealed this week that Apple had made some strident criticism of patent trolls. In an FTC filing the firm revealed it had been the subject of 92 lawsuits by patent-assertion entities in the past three years, more than any other company. Apple noted that it had rarely lost these cases on their merits, but the fact it has to bear its legal fees is “the lifeblood of the patent assertion industry”.
“Indeed, the opening line of many negotiations is some form of, ‘What we’re asking for is less than it will cost you to litigate this case to judgment,’” said the filing. “It should come as no surprise, then, that despite its success in litigating the merits, for business purposes Apple has agreed to a settlement in 51 of the 57 closed cases.”
Patent troll trims staff
Patent troll Intellectual Ventures revealed this week that it had cut 5% of its global workforce. The firm said the move was part of a restructure that “is a combination of head count and operational improvements”. Intellectual Ventures had more than 800 employees before the layoffs were announced. Most of the staff reductions involved attorneys and engineers working for its patent acquisitions funds, according to reports.
HTC and Nokia put down swords
Nokia and HTC have settled all pending patent litigation between them, and entered into a patent and technology collaboration agreement. The news was announced last Friday after this column had been published. HTC will make payments to Nokia and the collaboration will involve HTC's LTE patent portfolio. The companies will also explore future technology collaboration opportunities.
"We are very pleased to have reached a settlement and collaboration agreement with HTC, which is a long-standing licensee for Nokia's standards essential patents," said Paul Melin, chief intellectual property officer at Nokia. "This agreement validates Nokia's implementation patents and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities."
One observer noted the deal confirms Nokia’s ability to monetize its IP portfolio following the pending sale of its handset business to Microsoft. Forbes estimates Nokia’s licensing business accounts for about 13% of its value.
“I Will” settle
A dispute between Under Armour and Nike over the “I Will” slogan has been settled. A Baltimore district court judge dismissed the complaint this week, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Under Armour wanted to stop Nike using the slogan and demanded damages. Nike had begun a series of social media ads with the phrase, including “I will finish what I started” and “I will sweat while they sleep”.
Under Armour described the phrase as one of its “cornerstone symbols” Nike argued that it has been in common use by others, including athletic companies, for years and “is at best a weak and diluted phrase”.
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