Wealth of Ideas Blog

Attorney Drops Defamation Lawsuit Over “Stupid Patent”

Each month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) bestows its “Stupid Patent of the Month” award on a newly issued patent the group deems unworthy. In April of this year, EFF gave the “Stupid Patent of the Month” award to U.S. Patent No. 9,013,334 “Notification systems and methods that permit change of quantity for delivery and/or pickup of goods and/or services.”

Scott Horstemeyer, a patent attorney and the inventor of the ‘334 patent, failed to see any humor in the award, so he filed a defamation lawsuit against EFF claiming that the article announcing the award was full of “false, malicious and defamatory remarks made under pretext of ‘reporting.’” However, after some correspondence with EFF, Mr. Horstemeyer withdrew his lawsuit.

Another Lyric Infringement Lawsuit Pops Up

Mark Halper claims that he wrote a song in 1984 called "Don't Throw Our Love Away," and the song begins with the phrase "stay with me." Halpers claims in a lawsuit he just filed that his copyrighted lyrics are infringed by Sam Smith’s "Stay With Me."

Music-based copyright claims are tricky. Some are totally rejected by the jury, while some have resulted in significant awards. George Harrison was sued for copyright infringement for “My Sweet Lord,” claiming that the melody infringed the hit song “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons. After dragging through the courts for several years, Harrison ended up paying out $587,000. It helps, of course, if the song claiming to be infringed is well known. Halper only has a demo he made in 1986.

Google's Cash for Gold Offer

Google has announced that if you send the company your patent, they may offer to buy it. It is pretty obvious what Google is doing. They are looking for patents that could be asserted against them, and hoping to buy them up for pennies on the dollar.

If you send your patent to Google, and it makes you an offer, decline the offer and immediately contact a technology licensing firm - like General Patent - to find out what the patent is really worth.

U.S. Federal Court Judge: Oops! My Bad.

U.S. Federal District Court Judge Marsha Pechman has some egg on her face. She recently admitted that she dismissed an antivirus patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft in error. She dismissed the case, file by CAP Co., with prejudice after only some of the claims were resolved.

She meant to dismiss most of CAP’s claim of indirect and willful infringement, but instead dismissed the entire lawsuit. It is one thing for a judge’s ruling to be overturned by an appellate court, but another for a judge to overturn her own ruling.

Pork Roll Controversy Is Not a Lot of Bologna

To the uninformed, it may appear that not much is going on in Trenton, New Jersey, other than the state legislature looking for ways to close the budget gap. Truth be told, Trenton is home to not one, not two, but three Pork Roll Festivals because one of Trenton’s claims to fame is that the Pork Roll was invented in 1856 by Trentonian John Taylor.

A beef broke out between two competing pork roll festivals. It developed into a food fight when the organizer of the "Trenton Pork Roll Festival 2015" received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer for the "Official 2nd Annual Pork Roll Festival." It appears that T.C. Nelson and Scott Miller were once partners in the Trenton Pork Roll Festival, but they had a parting of the ways and each set up his own Pork Roll Festival.

Whose Empire Is It?

Twentieth Century Fox Television has filed a lawsuit asking that it be allowed to continue to use “Empire” as the title of one of its television dramas. This all started when a record label, Empire Distribution, sent letters to Fox demanding that it pay them $8 million for the use of the term “Empire.” Empire Distribution, an actual record label, claims that the company portrayed in the television drama is “functioning as a record label in the real world.”

You do not have to have gone to law school to see the fatal flaw in Empire Distribution’s claim of trademark infringement. Empire Distribution applied for the trademark “Empire” but its initial application was rejected, and the application was made after “Empire” premiered! Until Empire Distribution actually secures a trademark for “Empire” it will have to live with a television record label that uses its name. The lesson here: Apply for a trademark before someone else tries to use your brand. 

Defendant Apologizes to the Jury

Last month, a Wisconsin jury ruled that Blackhawk Network, a provider of prepaid gift cards, digital products and other telecom products, had infringed two claims of a patent held by InComm, a prepaid product and transaction services company. To Blackhawk’s credit, they took their medicine, and rather than blaming someone else, apologized to the jury for infringement of the InComm patent. However –  we are still trying to figure this out – Blackhawk claimed that it is “not a technology company.” It did agree to remove (we assume they will have to hire a programming firm to do this for them) the infringing source code from its platform.

Amazon Takes a Unique Defense to Patent Infringement

When you last signed up for something online, and you were supposed to read all the Terms and Conditions and then click “Agree,” how many of you actually read the whole thing? How about maybe never? Well, Amazon must have relied on that.

Amazon’s defense against a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Appistry Inc. is that back in 2011, an employee at Appistry clicked that he or she “agreed” with Amazon’s Terms and Conditions that include “During and after the Term, you will not assert, nor will you authorize, assist, or encourage any third party to assert, against us or any of our affiliates, customers, vendors, business partners, or licensors, any patent infringement or other intellectual property infringement claim regarding any Service Offerings you have used.”

No Blurred Lines in This Decision

In addition with having to decide what to do with Kanye West, the music industry has also been astir over the issue of if “Blurred Lines” infringes the copyright on Marvin Gayes’ 1977 “Got to Give It Up.” A U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles decided that Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams had committed trademark infringement and ordered them to pay the Gaye estate $7.3 million.

Upon receiving a favorable verdict on the infringement issue, the Gaye family immediately asked the court for an injunction barring the performance of, or the sale of recordings of, “Blurred Lines” since Thicke and Pharrel are not paying royalties for use of the Gaye family’s copyrighted material.

Guess Who Won This Lawsuit?

Gucci has been accusing Guess of trademark infringement for several years, and a Paris judge just settled the argument. The court ruled that Guess is NOT infringing a Gucci trademark, Guess is NOT counterfeiting Gucci products, and there is NO unfair competition between the two luxury brands.

Gucci’s request for 55 million in Euros (about $65 million) was denied, and Gucci was ordered to pay Guess’s legal costs of about $34,000. Ouch. But it gets worse. The court also nullified Gucci’s three-G trademark. Double ouch! Gucci is Italian for “What’s up? or “What’s new?” Triple ouch.