For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Boehringer bans adverts till trial; Cablevision hit by US ruling

Another little IP gem from online subscription service LexisNexis Butterworths is the Chancery Division for England and Wales decision on Monday of Mr Justice Patten in Boehringer Ingelheim Ltd v Vetplus Ltd, so far unreported on BAILII.

This was an application by Boehringer for ex parte interim injunctive relief to stop Vetplus publishing an advertisement and a press release in various journals relating to one of its products. The press release in cited Boehringer's own test results, which the company had handed over to Vetplus on the basis that they were not to be disclosed. According to Boehringer, publication would denigrate its product. In support of its application, Boehringer produced a list of test results it had carried out and other results carried out by others, all of which were designed to indicate that the test results which formed the basis for the press release were scientifically unreliable.

Patten J granted Boehringer's application on the basis that, under the circumstances, it was appropriate to ban publication until trial. The scientific evidence pointed only one way, showing that Vetplus's own scientific evidence was unreliable and wrong. Even if there was room for legitimate doubt, the status quo should be preserved, subject to Vetplus being given liberty to apply to discharge or vary the order before trial.

The IPKat is fascinated by scientific evidence: whether in the hands of lawyers or scientists it seems almost endlessly open to interpretations and methodological objections and its veracity is certainly not an ideal issue for determination in interim proceedings. Merpel adds, it's not surprising that Boehringer's evidence only supported Boehringer's case - but Boehringer would be duty-bound to disclose adverse evidence too. If it became apparent that contrary evidence existed, to Boehringer's knowledge, but was not produced at the interim stage, one imagines that the court would have something pretty pungent to say about it.


It's been too long since the IPKat's friend Miri Frankel sent him this link to the New York Times, "Cablevision Loses Suit on Network DVRs". This tells of the Federal Court ruling that Cablevision Systems Corp.'s network digital video recorder experiment was a mega-infringement of copyright law. The standard set-top digital video recorder with a built-in hard drive lets TV viewers store and replay shows when they like while skipping commercials. The network DVR would let any customer with a digital set-top box record and replay back shows in the same way, while storing the programmes in Cablevision's remote computer servers.

Several studios and cable networks sued, since they had not given their permission for the rebroadcast of the programmes. Cablevision said that, since the control of the recording and playback was in the hands of the consumer, not itself, the devices were compliant with copyright law on an application of the Sony v Universal City Studios doctrine (the Betamax case). Judge Denny Chin disagreed and this dispute is now likely to ascend the judicial ladder in the form of an appeal.

The IPKat thinks this was an accident waiting to happen. The studios are always going to sue and there must be an argument for getting them onside at the beginning of a project like network DVRs rather than making them your enemies from Day One.

Right: Catatonia caused by too much TV viewing

Merpel says, you forget that the US is a litigation-oriented culture. Suing someone in these circumstances can be seen as a prelude to a warm and loving business relationship ...

Copyright suit here
Cat suit here

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