CommScope Sues Rosenberger to Protect Trade Secrets, Tencent Lifts NBA Broadcast Ban, California Bans New Fur Products and more
DPIIT Launches IPR Platform for Startups; CommScope Sues Rosenberger to Protect Trade Secrets; Tencent Lifts NBA Broadcast Ban; California Bans New Fur Products; US Court Finds UPL Guilty of Stealing SmartFresh Trade Secrets; Brydge Sues Kickstarter for Selling iPad Keyboard Clone; Photographer Sues Law Firm for Using Copyrighted Photograph; Judge Allows Part of WTC Infringement Suit to Proceed; Facebook Complies, but Google Resists Delhi HC Orders; Prime Match Reschedule Irks Football Fans and more.
DPIIT Launches IPR Platform for Startups
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade’s (DPIIT) Cell for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Promotion and Management (CIPAM)-(DPIIT) in collaboration with Qualcomm and National Law University (NLU), Delhi, has developed a website and mobile application, Learn to Protect, Secure and Maximize Your Innovation (L2Pro). Similar versions of the L2Pro have successfully been implemented in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, and France.
The L2Pro India IP e-learning platform will have 11 modules that includes e-text, short animated videos, links to additional resources and quizzes for assessment/grading the learner, at three different levels: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The modules of this e-learning platform (L2Pro India IP e-learning Platform and the L2Pro India Mobile App) have been customized for India and are aimed towards aiding and enabling youth, innovators, entrepreneurs and small and medium industries (SMEs) to understand IPR, IP ownership and protection, IP integration into businesses, IP management and IP commercialization. Upon successful completion learners will be awarded with e-certificates by CIPAM-DPIIT and NLU Delhi and Qualcomm.
CommScope Sues Rosenberger to Protect Trade Secrets
CommScope, a US network infrastructure company, is suing Rosenberger, its German rival, for the misappropriation of trade secrets related to base station antenna and computer software. CommScope has also named two of its former employees as defendants, as these two employees currently work for Rosenberger and are alleged to have been involved in the misappropriation by breaching their post-employment obligations of non-disclosure. CommScope filed the complaint in a New Jersey court in July 2019, and issued a press release early this week. CommScope has stated that it filed the suit with the intention of protecting the company’s significant investments in developing innovative products that provide superior value to network infrastructure customers.
In its response, Rosenberger has denied all allegations, stating in a few places that it lacks the information necessary to identify the truth of the allegations. It also denied that the programs CommScope alleges it to have misappropriated are protected as trade secrets under the law. The court has granted Rosenberger’s request to keep court records and other filings containing confidential information sealed, to avoid losses.
A seizure hearing was held in August, pursuant to which specified Rosenberger computers could be seized and narrowly searched by federal law enforcement agencies.
Trade secret criminal actions in the US are generally initiated under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and civil actions under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). The DTSA allows for seizures to identify and prevent further misappropriation. Increased damages may be awarded for willful and malicious misappropriation.
Tencent Lifts NBA Broadcast Ban
Chinese social media giant Tencent has lifted its ban on streaming of NBA preseason games, imposed in response to a free speech tweet by Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets general manager, supporting the Hong Kong protests. China’s state broadcaster had also suspended its coverage. The NBA row took this unexpected turn when Chinese sports fans, among whom the NBA is extremely popular, began asking Tencent for refunds. Tencent became the NBA’s biggest overseas partner when it inked a 5-year deal worth USD 1.5 billion to stream NBA games in China.
The Chinese government is reassessing its campaign against the NBA in an attempt to protect its already rocky trade relations with the US and its image abroad. This dispute with the NBA has prompted an audience of sports fans to get unusually involved in the protests in Hong Kong.
California Bans New Fur Products
California has become the first state in the US to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products.
This new law will bar residents of California from selling or making of clothing, shoes or handbags with fur starting from 2023. It however does not apply to used products and preserved animals. The law includes penalties of up to USD 1,000 for multiple violations against use and sale of fur.
This law was widely appreciated by animal rights activists and NGOs, but protested by the US fur industry, paving the way for possible litigation. However, many companies in the fashion industry have already vowed to reduce or eliminate the use of fur in their designs, in response to growing demand from consumers and similar bans by cities and countries around the world.
US Court Finds UPL Guilty of Stealing SmartFresh Trade Secrets
Indian chemical giant UPL Ltd. has lost a suit filed by Philadelphia start-up AgroFresh before a Delaware court for misappropriating its trade secrets. Agrotech company AgroFresh had sued UPL for infringement of its patented technology to keep apples fresh after harvest, for misappropriation of trade secrets related to the synthetic technology, for hiring a former AgroFresh employee, and for using information obtained under an NDA signed during the bidding process. The jury awarded AgroFresh damages of USD 31 million, including USD million as compensation, out of the USD 346 million AgroFresh had claimed. AgroFresh has stated that it will petition for treble compensatory damages based on the jury’s finding of willful infringement.
UPL has expressed an intent to appeal.
Brydge Sues Kickstarter for Selling iPad Keyboard Clone
Brydge, an iPad keyboard maker, has filed a suit in a New York court against OGadget, the seller associated with a ‘clone’ keyboard named Libra, along with crowd-funding platform Kickstarter for hosting a campaign in support of the product.
Brydge is claiming that Libra infringes its patent over a keyboard that includes a U-shaped hinge which when attached to an iPad, converts it into a user-friendly laptop. Brydge is seeking an order to block all sales of the Libra keyboard, have the crowdfunding campaign removed from Kickstarter, and award punitive damages. Brydge also owns design patents over its keyboards, but has chosen to focus on the functional elements, especially the hinge mechanism. The major difference between the two keyboards is a built-in trackpad, which Brydge is yet to integrate into its own keyboards.
The reasons behind Brydge targeting Kickstarter in this lawsuit are twofold: it could force KickStarter to take down the product campaign thus reducing its visibility and funding, and it could also partly overcome the lack of information about Sentis, the brand, that allegedly makes Libra.
Photographer Sues Law Firm for Using Copyrighted Photograph
Professional photographer Eric Bowers has filed a suit in a court in Kansas, US, against the law office of a personal injury and family law attorney for using a copyrighted image on the firm’s website. The law Office of Daniel E. Stuart was notified of the infringement four times in 2019 in an attempt to settle the matter amicably. The firm, according to Bowers, did not respond and kept the photograph on its website for a month after the first notice.
The photograph was registered with the US Copyright Office on March 29, 2017. The photograph is one among a series of street images taken by Bowers, and was used by the firm with blurred effects as a background for text information about its services.
Bowers is seeking damages and profits attributable to the infringement as well as attorney fees and costs. The law firm has not officially responded to the complaint.
Judge Allows Part of WTC Infringement Suit to Proceed
Jeehoon Park, a Georgia based architect, had sued architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), Tishman Construction and the tower’s developers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and The Durst Organization for copyright infringement over the design of One World Trade Centre.
Park claimed that the design, construction and marketing of the tower copied a design he planned and modeled for his thesis at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1999. He claimed that his adviser was an associate partner at SOM and his work was also reviewed by a second senior partner from the firm.
The judge granted the motion to dismiss, but allowed three claims to move into the first stage of the trial, mainly due to the highly deferential standards on a motion to dismiss. These claims cover the use of allegedly infringing images throughout construction, leasing and the selling of tickets to One World Observatory; and in the sale of souvenirs, such as models of the tower.
Facebook Complies, but Google Resists Delhi HC Orders
The Delhi High Court had directed Facebook and Google to take down content related to alleged sexual misconduct by Indian artist Subodh Gupta, and provide information on the accusers. This demand for information could have long lasting effects in the protection of personal data and data leaks in India until the Personal Data Protection Bill is enacted, and around the world.
Facebook has agreed to comply with the court’s demand to submit the identity of the account holders in a sealed envelope. It is not confirmed if the information being provided will only be the email address used or other information that directly identifies the individuals.
Google is resisting the attempts to control the content on the platform, claiming that it is only a search and indexing platform, which does not have any control over the content being displayed for searches. Google has also pointed out that complying with the takedown order would have a “chilling effect” on the freedom of speech and go against the public interest. Since no media or news organizations have been named in the case, Google states that this is an attempt to impose unreasonable restraint on freedom of speech and expression on the internet and press.
Subodh Gupta, filed an INR 5 Cr civil defamation suit in the Delhi High Court against anonymous Instagram handle ‘HerdSceneAnd’ for accusing him of sexual misconduct. HerdSceneAnd is an anonymous woman-focused platform which helps victims and survivors share experiences of abuse and harassment in the Indian art world.
Prime Match Reschedule Irks Football Fans
The rescheduling of the Boxing day match between English Premier League clubs Liverpool and Leicester City to allow live telecasts on Amazon Prime, has irked fans of the football clubs. The match has been moved to an 8 pm start, which would greatly inconvenience fans who will be left with little or no public transport options as trains do not operate on this holiday. Amazon acquired partial streaming rights to the top-tier English league in 2018 for an undisclosed amount, limited to 20 matches over each season for three years. This was considered a ground-breaking deal at the time, as Amazon was the first to break the hold of BT and Sky Sports over Premier League broadcasts.
Authored and compiled by Ashwini Arun and Snehaja Rana (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
The IP, Privacy and Antitrust Law News Bulletin is brought to you by the Consulting/Strategy Division of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with the subject: IP, Privacy and Antitrust Law News.
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