Zynga, Samsung, Escobar, Purdue: Intellectual Property
By Victoria Slind-Flor - Sep 16, 2013 7:01 AM ET
Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) and its former studio general manager settled a trade-secrets misappropriation case, according to a Sept. 9 filing at a California state court.
San Francisco-based Zynga sued Alan Patmore in San Francisco County Superior Court last October, accusing him of taking companies files with him when he joined Zynga competitor Kixeye. Both companies create games for use on social-media websites.
Zynga said the files contained revenue information and monetization strategy for its games, plus design documents for more than 10 unreleased games, in addition to 14 months of confidential e-mails reserved exclusively for Zynga’s executive staff.
It alleged that Kixeye, which like Zynga, releases free-to-play online social games, had “failed to achieve success” because it lacked Zynga’s know-how. Zynga said that on Patmore’s final day of employment, he refused to confirm he had returned company data and refused to sign a termination certification document.
In a cross-complaint filed in November, Kixeye said Zynga had nothing that it wanted. “Comparing Kixeye’s games to Zynga’s games is like comparing a Ducati racing motorcycle to a minivan. Both are motorized vehicles, but Ducati motorcycles, like Kixeye’s midcore games, appeal to a small but passionate group of users who are focused on quality and performance,” the company said in its pleadings.
Kixeye dismissed Zynga’s work as “cranking out games that will fit the whole family without offending anyone” and claimed that Zynga is “notorious for copyright and cloning the games of its competition, often trampling those competitors’ intellectual property rights in the process.”
The motivation behind Zynga’s suit, Kixeye claimed, was to scare any of its employees that might want to leave and work at the competitor, and to use the case as a “Trojan Horse” to gain access to Kixeye’s inner workings and trade secrets.
According to the Sept. 9 court filing, a request for dismissal will be filed within 45 days of the Sept. 6 settlement of the dispute.
Zynga appears to be moving beyond social-media games. On Aug. 20 the company received patent 8,512,117, which covers a technology used to manage linked gambling video games. The patent specifically mentioned poker as one of the games in which this technology could be used.
The case is Zynga Inc. v. Patmore, CGC-12-525099, Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco (San Francisco).
Samsung, Motorola Mobility Antitrust Rulings Close, EU Says
The European Union’s antitrust chief said probes are close to completion into whether Samsung Electronics Co. and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility abused key mobile-phone patents in their struggle for supremacy with Apple Inc.
The European Commission’s approach on standard-essential patents will be “clarified” in two separate cases, one concerning Samsung, the other Motorola Mobility, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Sept. 13 at an event in Florence, Italy. Decisions are in the “pipeline,” he said. The timing of the decisions “does not depend only on the commission side.”
The EU is cracking down on patent abuses as Google’s Motorola Mobility, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Apple and Samsung trade victories in divergent court rulings across the world on intellectual property. Almunia has sent statements of objections to Samsung and to Motorola Mobility, laying out the EU’s concerns about possible antitrust violations. Almunia has said he is targeting “rules of the game” to prevent companies from unfairly leveraging their inventions to thwart rivals.
“We have some others in the pipeline but not as advanced as these two” cases, Almunia said. In the Samsung case, the Brussels-based EU regulator is “trying to reach an agreement.”
Samsung failed to deflect the EU complaint when it announced on Dec. 18 it planned to withdraw injunctions in Europe that seek to block sales of Apple (AAPL) products.
Under phone industry agreements on standards, companies owning the rights to essential technology must usually license it to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, known as FRAND.
Samsung began seeking injunctions against Apple in courts in EU member countries in 2011, based on alleged infringement of patents for 3G technology, according to the commission.
Samsung’s spokeswoman Rhee So-Eui declined to comment.
The EU opened a similar probe into Motorola Mobility, which makes smartphones that run on Google’s Android software, in April 2012, following complaints by Microsoft and Apple.
Colombia Rejects Application to Register Escobar’s Name as Mark
The government of Columbia rejected an application to register the name of Pablo Escobar as a trademark, Associated Press reported.
Escobar, who was killed by police gunfire in 1993, was a cocaine distributor, according to Associated Press.
Colombia’s Commission of Industry and Commerce said the application was rejected because trademarking the drug king’s name would be immoral and against public order, according to AP.
His family is seeking the registration, and his son didn’t respond to an AP request for information on how the mark would have been used.
Purdue Says ‘OxyContin’ Name for Cocktail is Objectionable
Purdue Pharma LP is objecting to the name a Chicago distillery and bar has given one of its cocktails, TimeOut Chicago reported.
The CH Distillery is offering an OxyContin cocktail, which, although it contains none of Purdue’s OxyContin painkiller, is likely to bring to mind the fatal overdoses that have been related to its misuse, according to TimeOut Chicago.
Jim Heins, spokesman for Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue, told TimeOut Chicago that the company objects “to any unlicensed use of our trademark,”and said using its name in conjunction with a cocktail was particularly objectionable.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in efforts to combat misuse of this class of drug, has recommended that physicians and patients initially consider other pain-relief methods, according to TimeOut Chicago.
Twenty-First Century Fox Appealing Russian Trademark Ruling
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) is appealing a Russian court’s refusal to terminate a Russian company’s registration of the “PoBeGi” trademark in that country, the Russian Legal News Service reported.
The film wants to use the mark in connection with its Russian adaptation of the Prison Break Series, known in Russia as POBeg, according to the news service.
The mark is registered to a sports company, Begushchy Gorod, the news service reported.
The sports company used the mark for sports events it sponsors, promotional posters and some of its products, according to the news service.
Cameron Names Music-Fan Parliamentarian to Oversee Piracy Issues
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron appointed a former music-industry figure as an adviser to the government on music-related piracy issues, according to a government statement.
Newly appointed Mike Weatherley, a member of Parliament, is the former finance director of the Pete Waterman Group, and also served as the vice president for Europe of Motion Picture Licensing Corp.
He is known for his stated plan to wear a t-shirt blazoned with the logo of the Iron Maiden heavy metal band into the House of Commons, a gesture that wasn’t permitted. He is known for his “House of Rock” radio program on Radio Reverb, a community radio station in Brighton,England.
Weatherley’s focus in his new unpaid position is to be enforcement issues relating to the creative industries, the government said.
He has an undergraduate degree in business studies from South Bank University, London.
‘Hydrogen Sponge’ Patent Offers Hydrogen Storage Method
A patent for a method of solid-state storage of hydrogen was issued to a scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Professor Peter J. Schubert, who heads the school’s Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy, is the named inventor on patent 8,518,856, which was issued Aug. 27, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent covers a storage system made from porous silicon. Use of this material makes it possible to store hydrogen at lower temperatures and lower pressure than in conventional storage systems, according to the patent.
When used in an automobile, the system would reduce the potential hazards in a crash involving a car powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The patent specifies that this technology could be used for fuel cells for “vehicles, stationary power systems, and consumer electronics, and non-power applications including chemical production.”
The university’s technology licensing agency is spinning off Hydrogen Sponge LLC, a company aimed at commercializing the invention. According to the company website, the initial target market for its fuel cells is hand-held electronics.
The university said in a statement that it plans to seek some funding through Kickstarter Inc.’s crowd-sourced funding website. It is also looking to potential investors from China.
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