October 2011

Mattel scores minor win in Bratz® dolls IP custody battle.

A federal district court judge last week threw out a lawsuit brought by Mattel Bratz® rival MGA. The suit accused Mattel of anti-competitive conduct since August of 2010. Judge David O. Carter tossed MGA’s suit because it alleged the same  facts underlying MGA’s claims to the Bratz® trademarks in defending an earlier case against Mattel. Last Spring a California jury ruled for MGA and held Mattel liable for $309 Million in damages…. (more…)

Facebook has sued Various, Inc., the owner of Penthouse, adultfriendfinder.com and other adult-themed websites, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, for trademark infringement based upon Various’ creation of website called Facebook of Sex with the URL: facebookofsex.com.  Various has defended the name and the website saying, among other things, that it is a parody permissible under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  The case is in its nascent stages and no decisions have been rendered.  So, what do you think:  infringement or parody?

 “…in bed.”  Maybe it was just us, but tacking those two little words on to the end of a perfectly innocuous sentence turned the fortune in every Chinese takeout fortune cookie my friends and I have had since high school into racy innuendo.  The same thing is about to happen to internet addresses.   That’s because the familiar list of top level domains (such as .com or .edu) is growing and will soon include .xxx.  Just in time for Halloween,… (more…)

Well-known patent troll Ron Katz sued Dish Network in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging infringement of 23 patents by Dish Network’s customer service telephone system pay-per-view ordering features. Dish had five commercial insurance policies in place all of which provided for defense costs in lawsuits claiming “advertising Injury.” As is typical, the policies all defined “advertising Injury” as injury arising out, et alia, “misappropriation of advertising ideas or style of doing business.” Equating patent infringement to misappropriation, and noting that some of the claims of some of the patents covered a method of advertising, … (more…)

Maryland Lawyers for the Arts meets with Paraguayan Journalists about IPR at Ober|Kaler

MLA meets Paraguayan Journalists

What’s IPR you ask?  Intellectual property rights. The U.S. Department of State once again asked lawyers from MLA to meet with a delegation of journalists and media lawyers from Paraguay. The Paraguayans are interested in how lawyers in the United States assist artists and record labels in halting piracy and counterfeiting. While the U.S. music business fights file sharing piracy online, the RIAA and MPAA might be interested in knowing that in Paraguay, counterfeit DVDs and compact disks of copyright-protected works from the U.S. are an enormous problem. It’s such big business selling counterfeit,… (more…)

Is HIPAA privacy compliance required when unencrypted Personal Health Information is lost on a train?

A lawyer lost a portable hard drive containing protected health information (PHI) on a commuter train, reports The Baltimore Sun. What compliance is required? From the Sun article, the hard drive, while complicated and technologically difficult to access, was not encrypted.  Loss of unencrypted data by healthcare professional or company triggers compliance under the HIPAA Privacy Rule  as a “covered entity.”  HIPAA compliance requires covered entities to notify both affected patients and the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights.  The lawyer’s firm was, however, as the Sun points out, not a covered entity.  According to the Sun:

… it’s unclear if the law firm would be covered by the medical record privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA. The incident may have exposed a loophole, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

HIPAA regulates the protection of patient information by “covered entities” — providers of health care or health plans and data management companies. But malpractice attorneys aren’t expressly mentioned….

One of our colleagues in Ober|Kaler’s Health Law group, Joshua Freemire, says that a loophole for malpractice lawyers may be an oversimplification.  (more…)

Photo by dbking

Photo by dbkingAt first I hated the idea of restoring copyrights in public domain works.  This week the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Golan v. Holder taking me back to when Section 514 was first implemented. I hated the idea even though I am pro-copyright.  I hated the idea despite my feeling that on some level it righted wrongs suffered by authors whose copyrights were forfeited due to an inadvertent failure to comply with a US copyright “formality”.  A faulty copyright notice or failure to make a certain filing in the US  Copyright Office could propel the foreign author’s work into theUS public domain, although no such formality existed in the author’s home country.  I hated restoration because it undermined confidence in the permanence of the public domain, something I firmly believed was and should remain “black letter law.”   I guess I was a hater…


Heavy Seas- a delicious case study

I just read Baltimore homeboy Hugh Sisson’s interview in this week’s Baltimore City Paper. His tale of two branding strategies is a great case study. And it reminded me how much I admire Hugh’s agile navigation when the business changed.

My first studio with D.S.Bakker was the old Sanitary Laundry (now sadly gone) at 2703 Sisson Street. The neighborhood bar was Piney’s Tavern. It had about three different beers. At the time, Piney’s “more upper beer” was Michelob Light.  Now I know this was about when old man Sisson tossed the keys to his bar to Hugh heralding the era of local beers in Baltimore.

Steve Jobs: Farewell to a Visionary

The image is from the Apple.com website today.

Steve founded Apple® Computer in 1976, and launched the first successful personal computer (the Macintosh®) in 1984.  I was working as an electrical engineer at the time and remember the incredible buzz that it created.  Since then we have all enjoyed the iPod®, iPad®, iPhone®, and Pixar®.  Steve was a true visionary and prolific inventor. He is named as an inventor on 312 issued Apple patents, and a handful of pending applications.  You can peruse the patents by cutting and pasting the following into your browser: