Tuesday, January 31, 2012

China Trademark Dispute with Apple: We Own the iPad Trademark

Trademark lawyers are known to be zealous advocates for their owners marks.  But Apple’s lawyers will not quit by appealing the court ruling in China that rejected its ownership of the iPad trademark in that country.  Last month, the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province ruled that a local company, Proview International actually owns the trademark in China.  According to Apple, they bought the rights to the name legally from a UK-based company known as I.P. Applications.  I.P. Applications had previously purchased the mark from a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan.  But the Chinese court ruled that the Proview subsidiary did not have adequate rights to sell the trademark.  Proview’s main Shenzhen-based company did not attend any of the meetings or negotiations to sell the trademark.

Apple is asking for 4 million yuan, or $636,204, from Proview, in addition to the transfer of the name.  Proview has filed two trademark infringement lawsuits against Apple demanding that they cease using the iPad name.

Monday, January 16, 2012

SOPA Blackout Gathers Momentum, Includes Wikipedia

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

If you’re planning on using Wikipedia this Wednesday, January 18th, you may be disappointed.  The web site is strongly considering a 12 hour blackout, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or “SOPA.”  Other major sites, most notably Reddit.com have already announced blackouts that day.  According to a statement by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on a recent Wiki discussion board:

“I’m all in favor of it, and I think it would be great if we could act quickly to coordinate with Reddit. I’d like to talk to our government affairs advisor to see if they agree on this as useful timing, but assuming that’s a green light, I think that matching what Reddit does (but in our own way of course) per the emerging consensus on how to do it, is a good idea.”

The blackout coincides with the January 18th reconvening of congressional hearings regarding the controversial bill.  SOPA was proposed a few months ago as a way to stop cyber piracy of copyrighted works, and is supported by major members of the fashion, motion picture, and recording industries.  But opponents of the bill, such as Google, Youtube, Wikipedia and Facebook say it could have major unintended side effects.  Under the bill, Web sites with copyright-infringing content can effectively be shut down, regardless of where the sites are hosted, or whether the content is user-generated.

According to Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney Michael Cohen, the bill could alter the internet landscape in major and potentially unforeseen ways.

“For better or worse, this bill will change the web.  This is the first internet legislation that gives real power to copyright holders,” says Mr. Cohen.  “In the future, the history of the internet might be divided into two phases, before SOPA and after SOPA.”

The blackout has been snowballing since Reddit.com first announced its blackout a few days ago.  Although the extent of the blackout is unknown, sites like Google (which may post a censored-out logo), Twitter, and even Facebook are quickly discussing their options.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rose Bowl Copyright Infringement

Copyright litigation can be tricky without an attorney.  Take, for example, the case of David Bartholomew, a man who claims he is the original designer of the Rose Bowl and Parade logo.  Bartholomew claims he came up with the logo while attending school at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in 1977.  Bartholomew claims that he made the design and gave it to the tournament’s staff, who released it a few years later as the work of a different student, Susan Karasic.  Karasic vehemently denies any of this, and says that she has various sketchbook drawings, showing the evolution of the design.

He’s not a football fan, so Bartholomew says he didn’t notice the logo until just a few years ago, and is now trying to collect damages for some 30 years of the logo’s use.  Since he doesn’t have an attorney, it’s been hard for him to argue the rolling statute of limitations on copyrights, as well as other tricky copyright nuances.  His case has been dismissed and appealed many times since 2007, and has cost him over $14,000, according to last week’s lengthy article in the L.A. Times.

Whether or not his claim is legitimate, he sums up the feeling of those who have suffered intellectual property theft pretty well:  “What happened was a booby trap. It’s like somebody broke into my house and stole my property.”