• Microsoft asks for a rehearing in i4i - On 22 December 2009, the three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals upheld the lower court order banning Microsoft from selling its patent-infringing Word processing software and imposed a $290 million award. The court injunction is to come into force tomorrow. Last week Microsoft sought review of the decision, stating that
“the petition details significant conflicts we believe the Dec. 22 decision creates with established precedents governing trial procedure and the determination of damages.''Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs stated that “we are concerned that the decision weakens judges' authority to apply appropriate safeguards in future patent trials.” Microsoft’s petition stated that this case is
“symptomatic of the new wave of patent litigation where aggressive plaintiffs substitute purported ‘expert’ testimony for actual evidence and seek lottery-like verdicts without any connection to the real world.”Chairman of i4i, Loudon Owen, stated that "this next step of seeking a rehearing was anticipated. We continue to be confident that we will prevail.” For further information see this article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the AmeriKat’s discussion of the jury award here and in another Microsoft patent case here.
• Fox News sued for copyright infringement – Last Thursday a former adviser to Michael Jackson, F. Marc Schaffel, filed a copyright infringement law suit claiming that Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera’s 5 July 2009 show aired significant portions of a 2003 interview with Debbie Rowe (left), the ex-wife of the late pop singer. Schaffel owns the copyright to the Rowe interview. A spokesperson for Fox News, owned by News Corporation, stated that the channel does not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit states that “Fox sanctimoniously operates unencumbered by the very copyright restrictions it seeks to impose on its competitors.” For more information see the Associated Press report on the ABC News site here.
• Authors tell Congress “No” to Google Books Settlement – Last week the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America sent an open letter to Congress voicing their objection to the second version of the Google Books Settlement. The letter states that many writers affected by the settlement were “hugely confused” and that “there are millions of book authors in this country who could be locked into an agreement they don’t understand and didn’t ask for.” The letter also stated that the Settlement is “an affront to all on the Hill who have worked hard for a consensus on Orphan Works legislation….Simply allowing Google to profit from these works without any attempt to find the rights holders makes a mockery of copyright.” [“Purrrrrrr”, says the AmeriKat] The letter also implored Congress to contact Department of Justice officials to convince the DoJ to continue “close scrutiny” of the settlement. For more information please see this article in the New York Times.
• Smiley cookies not so smiley after trade mark suit filed – Eat’n Park Hospitality Group last week filed a trade mark infringement suit in Pennsylvania federal court alleging that Crumb Corps LLC is infringing its smiley cookie with its own similar version. Eat’n Park claim to have been selling “its distinctive smiling face cookie since 1985” and registered it as a trade mark in 1987 Kevin O’Connell, a company spokesman, stated that the cookie “is a very powerful brand icon for us. We make more than 12 million smiley face cookies every year…” That’s a lot of smiles!
• Obama and the Weatherproof coat endorsement – Last Wednesday a billboard in New York’s Times Square was erected that depicted a picture of President Obama sporting a Weatherproof coat during a recent trip to China with the tagline reading “A Leader in Style”. The White House called on Weatherproof to take down the billboard. In a written statement White House spokesman Ben LaBolt stated that “the White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.” Weatherproof of course obliged with the request and is reported to aim to remove the offending billboard after the 22 January 2009. For a fun commentary of the interesting legal issues if Weatherproof had defended its poster, please see this article in the Wall Street Journal.