Infringing patents, music and copyright and trade mark protection

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Good and rainy morning. Let me share some IP news with you. You can also expect our monthly blog post on Thursday! 

Masimo vs Apple

Masimo, a medical technology company, has filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly committing patent and trade secret infringement. Masimo is a company that develops and manufactures non-invasive monitoring technologies. Before launching its first Apple Watch, Apple reached out to Masimo to learn more about said technology and possibly incorporate it into its future product. Allegedly, no collaboration agreement was reached; instead, Apple went and “stole” two main employees from Masimo, hence gaining access to confidential information from the company. This would have enabled Apple to use technology from Masimo that was patent protected to overcome some performance issues of the Apple Watch linked to the watch’s heart sensor. Masimo is, therefore, seeking damages for said infringements, an order that would prevent Apple to continue using said technology, as well as the return of the confidential information illegally acquired by Apple. The case is now pending before Court and the two companies will most likely reach an agreement outside of court. 

Tiffany vs. Cotswold Lashes by Tiffany

Meanwhile, in the UK, a beautician called Tiffany just saw her trade mark application refused (Cotswold Lashes by Tiffany) due to opposition from the famous jewellery chain "Tiffany" based on likelihood of confusion and association between these two trade mark, given that the goods and services listed in her application are similar and/or identical to the ones listed in Tiffany's earlier marks (FYI, although Tiffany is mainly focused on jewellery, the company's trade mark application also extended to soaps, perfumery, and cosmetics, hence the legal issue). Although the UK IP Office acknowledges the existence of certain differences between the two brands and the goods and services covered, it concluded that consumers might be misled into believing that Cotswolrd's goods and services are those of Tiffany directly or are provided by an undertaking link to the company.  

Nestlé loses Camy due to lack of use

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, Camy was THE star ice-cream brand of Nestlé. However, the company stopped using it since 2004 in a quest to unify all of his products under the “Nestlé” umbrella. Fast-forward sixteen years later, the Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that Camy is no longer a registered trade mark due to "lack of use" (if you stop using your trade mark for 5 years, you will probably lose it due to lack of use). 

Kardashians accused of infringing lace pattern

Yes, lace patterns’ designs can be protected by copyright. And apparently, Kendall and Kylie infringed said design by nit purchasing it from the right holder and proceeding to sell fabric and garments that included the illegal reproduction or variations of said lace pattern. Given the alleged substantial damages suffered by Klauber Brothers (the official creator and copyright holder over the lace patterns) and the fact that said infringement seems to have been committed “willfully, intentionally and maliciously”, the company is seeking damages. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds. 

35 companies urge the EU to stop patent trolls 

Apple, Microsoft, and BMW, together with other brands, have called on the EU to take action against “patent trolls” or companies that use patent infringement claims to win court judgments for profit or to stifle competition (which also includes hoarding patents to make money out of licences). Indeed, such a behaviour can be harmful to innovation and increase the costs that a company has to face. The coalition argues that EU courts’ judgments should be less harsh. Indeed, the threat of having products banned in the EU over a single patent infringement is a deterrent to companies who may have otherwise fight the demands of the patent troll. Instead, there is an incentive to capitulate to demands or to negotiate with a settlement before reaching that stage.

Music and copyright infringement 

If you remember, back in November we reported on a situation involving Forever21 copying the looks of Ariana Grande in her “7 rings” music video. Well, now Josh Stone claims that Ariana Grande copied HIS musical composition “I got it”. According to the rapper, Grande has allegedly copied the beat, lyrics, hook, rhythmic structure, metrical placement, and the narrative context. Should a Court side with Stone, this could potentially impact Grande’s lawsuit against Forever21, at least regarding the aspects of the claim related to 7 rings.

This is it for today. We wish you a very good start of the week and see you Thursday!

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