|"Tell me again: how much am I worth?"|
Ugly, angry ... and jilted. "Artist sues pet toy company over Angry Birds licensing profits", a Joystiq post by Danny Cowan, is one of those curious items that gets this Kat wondering why it is that some icons, despite their (to him) are totally unappealing yet massively successful while others, which are so redolent of charm and subtlety, never catch the public's imagination at all. This article, kindly drawn to this Kat's attention by Doug Ealey (D Young -- katpat!), reads as follows:
This dispute looks as though it's worth keeping an eye on, if only for a sight of the computation of any damages or profits awarded. This Kat wonders whether there is parallel litigation in other countries in which Angry Birds is or are obsessively popular. Can any readers advise?
"Seattle artist Juli Adams has filed suit against pet product manufacturer Hartz, alleging that the company denied her profits when it ditched her trademarked "Angry Birds" toy line in favor of licensed products based on Rovio's mobile hit Angry Birds. Adams' own "Angry Birds" lineup of catnip-filled toys predates Rovio's franchise, originally launching in partnership with Hartz in November 2006. As part of the agreement, Hartz received limited licensing rights, allowing it to sell the toys in pet stores while forbidding the licensing of Adams' intellectual property to third parties. Adams retained full intellectual property rights in the partnership.
The Adams bird
After the Angry Birds mobile game debuted in 2009, Hartz began distributing Rovio-licensed toys while its partnership with Adams was still in effect [this sounds interesting: were consumers actually presented with a choice of two different Angry Birds at the same time?]. Adams' representing attorney Anthony Shapiro claims that Hartz subsequently earned "tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars from sales of the Angry Birds pet toys," without legal property rights to the trademark. The suit alleges that Hartz later informed Adams that she could no longer use the "Angry Birds" name due to a licensing conflict.
While Rovio had trademarked the Angry Birds name for licensed children's toys, clothing and other products, it specifically excluded pet toys from its attempted trademarks [Merpel loves this terminology and wonders how long it will take for 'attempted trade marks' to penetrate the legal jargon of Fortress Europe], deferring to Hartz' trademark that it established in partnership with Adams. Hartz is the sole named defendant in Adams' case; Rovio is not targeted in the suit. Adams' complaint seeks "disgorgement of all of Hartz's ill-gotten gains, a reasonable royalty as owed to her under the Agreement, and an accounting, as well as a return of her Intellectual Property, including all associated trademarks and copyright registrations for 'Angry Birds' pet toys".
The Rovio bird
Looking for a new job? "Telework: How much did you work? Nobody Knows!" That's a post on PatentlyO by master patent blogger Dennis Crouch (and swiftly spotted by Chris Torrero: katpat!), which you can enjoy here. Dennis refers to a 2012 internal memo from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on telework fraud. According to the memo:
"Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top agency officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found".A rumour has since reached the ear of this feline that 75% of US patents enjoy a term extension because the USPTO has failed to meet its deadline of timely examination. Might there be some connection between this rumour and the paragraph above, he wonders. Merpel notes that currently the USPTO website has no vacancies. She is naturally relieved that opportunities to commit fraud are not listed among the benefits of employment in that august agency.