Bose files suit against Beats for patent infringement
Patents / August 2014

PATENTS Hardware   Headphone and speaker maker Bose has filed suit a law suit against Beats, accusing Dr Dere’s company of infringing five patents related to noise-cancelling headphones. The accused products include the Beats Studio and Studio Wireless headphones, and Bose has asked for financial damages and an injunction to ban the sale of infringing Beats products. Bose said in its complaint, lodged with the US District Court in Delaware and with the US International Trade Commission, that it has “suffered and will continue to suffer damages, in an amount yet to be determined, including due to loss of sales, profits, and potential sales that Bose would have made but for Beats’ infringing acts” adding that for almost 50 years, it has “made significant investment in the research, development, engineering, and design of proprietary technologies” used in its products. Its current line of noise-cancelling headphones, for instance, uses inventions protected by at least 22 US patents and 14 pending patent applications.  

Even a hologram of Michael Jackson can launch a lawsuit
Live Events , Patents / April 2014

PATENTS Technology, live events   Ever since the organisers of Coachella created a hologram of Tupac Shakur to perform at the 2012 music festival with (the very much alive) Snoop Dog and Dr Dre, the technology has been back in the spotlight. The late rapper was shot dead in Las Vegas in 1996. But now the impresario Alki David has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts for using hologram technology to produce images of the former King of Pop, Michael Jackson, in a scene from Michael Jackson: One, Cirque’s latest production, infringing exclusive rights that David and FilmOn own in Musion Eyeliner technology. The lawsuit notes that “In 1862, John Pepper and Henry Dircks invented ‘Pepper’s Ghost,’ an illusion technique, which, over the last 150 years, has appeared in movies, concerts, magic shows and amusement park rides” but adds “Today a new incarnation of Pepper’s Ghost exists — Musion Eyeliner technology. Musion Eyeliner uses a patented system to project three-dimensional images virtually indistinguishable from real life bodies.” David has his own shows planned, and is seeking an injunction and damages. Tupac hologram here

Spotify faces patent claim from Nonend
Internet , Patents / September 2012

PATENTS Internet   Dutch technology company Nonend Inventions NV has issued proceedings in the US against Spotify, claiming that the streaming music platform is infringing a number of its patents. In the lawsuit, Nonend, which says it specialises in peer-to-peer and online streaming technology, accuses Spotify of “making, using, offering to sell, and selling streaming music services to users which incorporate methodologies that infringe” it’s intellectual property.  The streaming service is yet to respond to Nonend’s litigation.

Apple wins important victory in patent claim
Internet , Patents / September 2007

PATENT Internet, technology A US judge has overturned a jury’s $1.52 billion award in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Alcatel-Lucent against Microsoft. Ruling that Microsoft had not violated one of the two patents in the case, Judge Rudi Brewster overturned the verdict and indicated that the second patent should be revisited as well (possibly by way of a re-trial). The two patents cover MP3 compression; the underlying technology was co-developed by Bell Labs (now Lucent) and German firm Fraunhofer in the 1990s. Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies in 1995 after a spin-off from parent AT&T and was snapped up by French firm Alcatel in 2006. Microsoft says that it licensed the technology from Fraunhofer for $16 million so that it could support MP3 playback natively in Windows. Alcatel-Lucent argued that a license from Fraunhofer was insufficient and that Microsoft had been infringing on its patents for years.

Patent decision may be critical to download market
Internet , Patents / April 2007

PATENT LAW  Internet A federal jury in the United States has decided that Microsoft infringed on two patents used in the conversion of music to digital MP3 files and has ordered that the computer company must pay $1.52 billion in damages to France’s Alcatel-Lucent SA. The two patents cover the encoding and decoding of audio into the digital MP3 format. Microsoft’s defence was that it had already paid for and licensed the technology (to the tune of $16 million) from Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute, which licenses it to hundreds of companies, including Apple Inc. and RealNetworks Inc. The decision was the first of six cases that will be heard in the U.S. District Court in San Diego. All stem from claims made in 2003 by Lucent Technologies against PC makers Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, its research arm. The next case, which relates to speech coding, is set to go to trial in March or April. Other areas in dispute include video coding on Microsoft’s Xbox game console and Windows user interface.

The rules for patents for computer software examined in Aerotel v Telco (2006)
Internet , Patents / December 2006

PATENTS Internet By Tom Frederikse, Solicitor, Clintons The Court of Appeal has provided a welcome clarification on the extent to which a computer programme (software) is protectable by UK Patent Law: none (*except where the computer program has a “technical effect”). In two appeals heard together, Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd and Re: Macrossan [2006] EWCA Civ 1371, Telco was sued for patent infringement and counter-claimed for revocation of Aerotel’s patent, whilst Mr Macrossan had appealed against his patent application having been refused for “unpatentable” subject-matter. The appeal from Mr Macrossan was dismissed, the appeal from Aerotel was allowed and the Court took this opportunity to examine the patentability of software and business methods. Under UK and EU law, “computer programs” and methods for “doing business” or “performing mental acts” cannot not protected by a patent, but the question of what a computer program or a business method actually is has long been uncertain. The main problem in this area is so many inventions and gadgets use software as a element that the line is vague between what is and is not a “computer program”. The Court likened it to an elephant: “you know it when you see it but you can’t describe it in…

Apple settle with Creative over patent use in iPods
Patents / September 2006

PATENTS Technology Apple have agreed to pay Creative Technology $100 million to settle a digital music patent dispute between the two companies with Apple now licensing the technology owned by Creative, allowing them to continue manufacturing iPods. Under the settlement Creative will also now be allowed to produce accessories for iPods, giving it access to a far larger number of consumers than it could have reach with its Zen and Nomad digital music players. Creative’s share price surged 38% after the news, although the long-term competitiveness of their players vs Apple’s is still somewhat uncertain. Added comment from FiveEight magazine

Europe and US to fight global battle against counterfeit goods
Copyright , Patents , Trade Mark / July 2006

COPYRIGHT / PATENTS / TRADE MARK All areas European and US creative industries have welcomed a new joint EU and US strategy launched by US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and EU Industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen in Vienna aimed at fighting the soaring global trade in counterfeit and pirate goods. The US President George W. Bush and Commission President José Manuel Barroso will endorse the strategy at the EU-US Summit in Vienna. The industries from many sectors stressed the enormity of the counterfeiting and piracy problem, estimated to be worth 360 billion euros a year: In 2005 film piracy in China was calculated at $2.7 billion and in the US at $3 billion. Music piracy in the UK alone was valued at £414 million last year and in China $400 million – china has a 90% piracy rate.  Overall it is estimated that 5 – 7 % of the global economy is based on counterfeit and pirated goods which can endanger consumer safety, erodes the competitiveness of legitimate businesses, fund crime and undermine the livelihood of workers in innovative and creative industries. The IFPI add that the “June 20th announcement of a joint EU-US strategy and…

Skype faces patent threat
Patents / July 2006

PATENTS Telecommunications The Skype system for making free telephone calls over the internet is being threatened in a new patent suit from Net2phone. The Skype service, which is growing at a rate of 150,000 new subscribers each day, is facing a lawsuit in the USA saying the Skype has violated Net2phone’s VoIP (voice over internet protocol) patents. Skype is now owned by eBay. The Observer 11 June 2006.

Apple face new patent claim
Internet , Patents / May 2006

PATENTS Internet More fun for Apple (computers)! Added to the trade mark claim from Apple Corp, M&C Tech report that Inc. has filed a counterclaim against the computer company alleging that Apple’s iTunes Music Store, iTunes software, iPods, and Apple QuickTime applications for infringing on four of Burst`s 10 U.S. patents. The Santa Rosa based developer of fast streaming media technologies filed the counterclaim in the San Francisco Federal District Court in response to a suit filed by Apple back in January of this year. Apple sought a declaration that Burst`s patents are invalid and Apple does not infringe on them; Burst’s counterclaim appears to be and either/and/or: Either Apple pay royalty fees for the infringing products and/or an injunction against further infringement. Burst won a settlement in a similar dispute with Microsoft in March 2005 with the PC giant paying Burst $60 million for a non-exclusive license for Burst’s patents. In Burst’s new April 17th filing to the federal district court, it alleges that Apple has infringed on its patents 4,963,995; 5,995,705; 5,057,932 and 5,164,839 that were filed from 1990 to 1992, claiming Apple’s success is crucial on the audio and video-on-demand media delivery solutions. The patents include specific apparatus or methods developed by Burst on…

France shows law-makers how not to intervene in technology issues
Copyright , Patents / May 2006

PATENTS, COPYRIGHT Technology ARTICLE LINK: by Professor Michael Geist . In our second link to articles by Professor Michael Geist, here Professor Giest examines the recent legislative moves in France to ensure there is interoperability between digital products – in effect Apple will have to open up its technology and software to allow competitors make compatible devices: Because of this iTunes have threatened to pull out of the French market because of a law promoting ‘state sponsored piracy’. Geist argues that the “intersection between law and technology is particularly challenging when legislators seek to regulate or tinker with technology. Businesses may fear overregulation and a global rush to match the French parliament’s recent foray into mandated compatibility, but a sound policy designed to protect competition and consumer rights is in everyone’s best interests”

Crackberry addicts face their darkest hour as patent war moves towards a conclusion
Patents / March 2006

PATENT LAW Technology Blackberry addicts are facing their darkest fears as Blackberry manufacturers, Research in Motion (RIM) try to overturn a court decision they lost five years ago to NTP who hold a patent which NTP say (and a court upheld) had been infringed in the Blackberry hand held mobile/computer device. RIM received good news last week when the US Patent Office ruled that the patent owned by NTP was not relevant to RIM’s invention and should be cancelled. But simultaneously on the 24 th February the US District Court in Richmond, Virginia, will decide whether NTP’s 2003 injunction against RIM should stand. RIM are contesting the injunction not least because they believe that in the event of a decision against RIM, NTOP could be fully compensated by financial recompense. A tentative £235 million settlement between the parties failed and the US Supreme Court has refused to intervene, leaving the decision to the District Court (Judge James Spencer). ADDENDUM: Judge Spencer has now issued his judgement (24th February 2006) and has not ordered the immediate shut down of RIM’s service although he did not accept that the Blackbery service was a ‘vital telecommunications service’.  The judge expressed disapointment that BTP and…

EFF challenge ‘dangerous’ patent precedent
Internet , Patents / March 2006

PATENT LAW Technology, internet The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court asking justices to overturn a court ruling in a patent case with ‘dangerous implications for free speech and consumers’ rights’. The Public Patent Foundation, the American Library Association, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the Special Library Association joined EFF on the brief. At issue is a case involving online auctioneer eBay and a company called MercExchange. Last year, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that eBay violated MercExchange’s online auction patents and that eBay could be permanently enjoined, or prohibited, from using the patented technology. But as part of the ruling, the court came to a perilous conclusion, holding that patentees who prove their case have a right to permanent injunctions under all but “exceptional circumstances,” like a major public health crisis. This radical rule created an “automatic injunction” standard that ignored the traditional balancing and discretion used by judges to consider how such a decision might affect other public interests–including free speech online. The EFF suggest the lower court’s ruling stems in part from a misperception that patents are just like other forms of property, with the…

Singapore ’s Creative asserts its patent against Apple
Internet , Patents / January 2006

PATENT LAW Technology, internet Creative, the Singapore based electronics company has threatened to enforce its US patent against Apple – Creative says that the patent is a key part of Apple’s iPod software. Apple has 23 million iPods in the last year and Creative 8 million. Creative applied for a US patent in January 2001 and the patent was awarded in August 2005. The patent governs the mechanism for finding songs on a MP3 player. In a similar action, NTP which holds patents allegedly used in the hand held Blackberry device (which is a mobile phone come computer come e-mailer) has won an interim judgment in the US District Court ( Richmond, Virginia) against BlackBerry’s manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM). RIM had sought to delay the case and (willingly) enforce a $450 million (£260 million) settlement with NTP. NTP are seeking are new resolution including and injunctive relief against RIM to prevent the sale of BlackBerries. Source The Times 9th December 2005 and

The Royal Society of Arts launches Adelphi Charter
Copyright , Patents , Trade Mark / December 2005

COPYRIGHT, TRADE MARKS, PATENTS All areas The UK-based Royal Society for Arts (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufacture, and Commerce – the RSA) has released their Adelphi Charter which outlines how the international community could and should change domestic and international intellectual property laws to better serve the public interest.  In particular, the Adelphi Charter calls for a better balance between rights protection and the public domain, since the RSA suggests that the current schemes overly favour the protection of rights.  The Charter lays out a “public interest” test that governments should have to meet before creating or extending intellectual property rights.  The proposed test includes a presumption against creating new areas of intellectual property protection, extending existing privileges or extending the duration of rights, unless those seeking the change can establish though rigorous analysis and proof that the change will promote basic rights and economic well-being.  The Charter also calls for extensive public consultation regarding changes to intellectual property laws.  The charter recognises that creative effort should be rewarded but at the same time states that the laws breadth, scope and term over the last 30 years has resulted in a modern intellectual property regime which is radically out…

EU proposes harmonisation of criminal sanctions for infringements

COPYRIGHT, TRADE MARKS, PATENTS, DESIGN RIGHTS Record Labels, Music Publishers, Film and Television, Internet The European Commission has adopted proposals to form a new directive which will align criminal law in the European Community in relation to the use of criminal sanctions for copyright infringement. The proposals will extend to at least commercial piracy. The directive is aimed at allowing Community wide co-operation in the investigation and prosecution of piracy and counterfeiting. The Commission argues that counterfeiting and piracy are so lucrative, and carry such light penalties relative to other forms of trafficking, that they are attracting investment from criminal organisations. The Commission says the directive is being aimed particularly at organised counterfeiters and faked goods that are dangerous to public health and safety, with minimum prison terms of four years being mandated for these offenses. Individual countries will have the option to impose harsher terms when the directive is translated into national law. See:

Debate on the protection of software by patents vs copyright
Copyright , Patents / April 2005

COPYRIGHT & PATENTS Technology “Once upon a time, we intellectual property lawyers got to live peacefully in our ivory towers. Now it seems that intellectual property policy issues have become fraught with partisan rhetoric. Most open-source promoters are against software patents. Most corporate spokesmen side with patents, period, whether they cover software or not. But it is worth looking beyond the rhetoric” Microsoft are busy patenting their software and for a very interesting discussion of the relative merits of protecting software by the monopoly protection of patent law or by the more ‘flexible’ protection of copyright see the very useful article “the Fuzzy Software Patent Debate Rages On” by US Attorney Heather J Meeker at

RIAA Faces Action For Alleged Infringement of Patents
Internet , Patents / October 2004

PATENT LAW Record Labels, Internet The Recording Industry of America, the trade body which represent the US recording industry has been accused of patent infringement by Altnet Inc, a Californian firm. Also in the firing line are several RIAA partners that make anti-piracy software including Overpeer Inc., Loudeye Corp. and Media Sentry Inc. Altnet filed the lawsuit in a Los Angeles district court last week. It alleges that RIAA and its partners infringed Altnet’s patented file-matching technology that identifies file requests sent over a P2P network. The suit claims that RIAA encouraged Loudeye and others to propagate popular P2P sites like Kazaa with bogus or damaged files that were disguised as user file requests. It also claims the methods used to match their files with users infringe its patented technology. Woodland Hills-based Altnet is seeking an injunction to stop RIAA and its partners from further use of its patented technology. It is also seeking unspecified monetary damages, but did not specify a dollar amount at this stage of proceedings. See :

E-Data Announces Successful Settlement with Microsoft, Tiscali, HMV, and OD2 in Europe
Internet , Patents / March 2004

PATENT LAW Internet The E-Data Corporation has announced a world-wide agreement for past and future royalties has been reached with On Demand Distribution GmbH (OD2), settling the infringement actions against OD2, HMV Group , Tiscali and Microsoft. For infringing upon E-Data’s European patent EP0195098B-1, also known as “the Freeny patent.” This settlement resolves all outstanding litigation with the companies. As part of the agreement, financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The Freeny patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, from a computer onto a tangible object, such as CDs, DVDs and MP3 players. The OD2 platform enables Tiscali Music Club customers and HMV customers to download individual music tracks for a fee using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player and Digital Rights Management technology. Bert Brodsky, chairman of E-Data Corporation stated, “We are quite pleased with this settlement as it further reinforces the scope and validity of the Freeny patent in Europe. While the OD2 service is still in the nascent stage, which is reflected in the settlement, the agreement sends an important message to other companies infringing upon our intellectual property. Importantly, OD2’s service in Europe parallels iTunes Music Store, a successful music downloading service developed by Apple in…

Inventor Wins Japan’s Highest Patent Compensation Award after Suing ex-employer Hitachi
Patents / March 2004

PATENT LAW Technology The Tokyo High Court has ruled that Seiji Yonezawa had not been paid enough for his work on technology that was a forerunner to DVD. The court awarded Mr. Yonezawa 162m yen (£1.32m / $2.08m) for his work on three optical disc technology patents. Hitachi had originally paid Mr Yonezawa 2.3m yen in compensation. Hitachi said it was considering an appeal and believed its rulebook on compensation was in line with other firms. During the mid-1970s Mr. Yonezawa developed optical disc technologies that resulted in three patents. Hitachi paid him 2.3m yen to take over the patents. Mr Yonezawa first took Hitachi to court two years ago and won 34.9m yen in compensation in the Tokyo District Court. Mr. Yonezawa appealed to the High Court and asked for 250m yen. The High Court’s decision did not go that far, but it has awarded him more than 70 times Hitachi’s original payment. See :

Microsoft, OD2 and Tiscali face patent action
Internet , Patents / November 2003

PATENT LAW Internet Microsoft MSN Music Club, Tiscali Music Club and Peter Gabriel’s OnDemand Distribution (OD2) are facing a patent infringement lawsuit in a German court over their on-demand music services. New York-based E-Data filed the lawsuit last Tuesday in the German court of Mannheim, seeking an injunction against the German subsidiaries of Microsoft, Tiscali and OD2 to defend its European patent EP0195 098B-1. The patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, films and text from a computer onto a tangible object such as a CD or a sheet of paper. The patent also covers nine other European Union countries (the UK, Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden. The original patent was granted in the US in 1985 to Charles Freeny for his “system for reproducing information in material objects at a point of sale location”. Both the MSN Music Club and the Tiscali Music Club use OD2’s music catalogue of over 200,000 recordings. Because E-Data’s US patent has expired, Apple’s popular digital music store, iTunes, is not subject to any action but E-Data’s lawyers have written to Apple to alert them to potential patent problems should iTunes be launched in Europe…

European directive on patents for computer software
Internet , Patents / November 2003

PATENT LAW Telecommunications, Internet The European Parliament (September 24th 2003) has passed a resolution for a proposed directive to harmonize rules on software-related patents in its member states titled Directive on the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions. Its aim is to provide clear guidance on what software-related subject matter may be patentable. Under the proposed Directive, in order for a computer-implemented invention to be patentable, it must make a technical contribution to the state of the art. An invention will not make a technical contribution merely because it involves the use of a computer, network or other programmable apparatus. The invention may only be claimed in the patent as a product or a technical production process using hardware under the control of software. See:

DVD pioneers consider Warners suit
Internet , Patents , Record Labels / November 2003

PATENT LAW Record Labels, Internet The inventors of the world’s first combined compact disc and DVD are considering legal action against Warner Music, one of the largest record groups, amid allegations of breach of contract and patent abuse. The Dierks Group, the privately-owned German music and technology group that pioneered the double-sided CD and DVD, has warned Warner that it has patents and contract rights over combined music and video discs after the US group signalled plans to manufacture so-called dual discs. Warner Music, a subsidiary of Time Warner, is planning to launch dual discs in the US next year in a potential tie-up with Sony Music, part of the Japanese consumer electronics and entertainment giant. Dieter Dierks who patented the combined disc technology under the name DVD Plus, has written to Warner Music claiming it has licenses over production of such discs and royalty agreements that promise a share of future profits arising from sales by the US group. See:

Artists , Internet , Patents , Record Labels , Trade Mark / September 2003

TRADE MARK, PATENTS Record Labels, Artists, Merchandisers, Internet Kirkbi AG & Lego Canada Inc. -v- Ritvik Holdings Inc. In this case the Federal Court of Appeal held that the design of a lego block was not protected by Trade Mark in Canada and that functional features of a toy design are properly the subject of patent law and not subject to trade-mark protection. The facts of the case where that the Canadian company Megabloks made a building brick very similar to those produced and distributed for decades by the Danish manufacturer, Lego. In an attempt to halt the sale of the Mega Bloks bricks, Lego brought a passing off action on the basis that the Mega Bloks bricks infringed the (unregistered) trade-mark rights of Lego in the distinguishing guise of the bricks particularly the protruding knobs by which the bricks interlocked. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Federal Court, Trial Division who dismissed Lego’s claim and held that due to the doctrine of functionality, the look of the Lego bricks could not be the subject of a valid trade-mark. Functionality is the proper subject matter of patents, not Trade Marks. The Federal Court of Appeal commented that Lego, through…

Internet , Patents / March 2003

PATENTS Internet Acacia Media Technologies have asserted ownership of a number of patents which govern the process of transmitting compressed audio or video online, one of the most basic multimedia technologies on the Net. Acacia have just signed up its latest licensee, Mexican satellite telecommunication company Grupo Pegaso. Radio Free Virgin, the online music division of Richard Branson’s Virgin Corporation, said it agreed to license the technology late last year after a careful legal review. A number of basic Web technologies and practices have been subject to patent claims over the past year. Telecommunications giant SBC Communications is claiming rights to Web site “frames” and another company says it has rights to the e-commerce site staple known as the shopping cart. Acacia Media Technologies is part of a larger corporation called Acacia Research which holds intellectual property in several areas. One of its subsidiaries owns technology used in the television content-blocking V-Chip and last year alone earned close to $25 million in royalties from that side of the business. According to the Company, their patents could affect virtually anyone involved in the business of providing on-demand digital audio or video, from software companies to network service providers to the actual…