Hybrid Audio is the assignee of U.S. Reissue Patent RE40,281, which claims a priority date of September 12, 1992. The patent is alleged to cover certain elements of MP3 technology. As a result of a prior lawsuit involving other defendants, the patent was put into reexamination in 2012. It emerged in December 2015 with all reexamined claims confirmed. Texas Instruments was notified in January 2011 by a prior assignee, Hybrid Audio-Texas, that certain Texas Instruments products were believed to infringe the patent. Hybrid Audio acknowledges that the patent lapsed on September 21, 2012, but states that it was constrained from filing suit or seeking damages during the pendency of the reexamination. Hybrid Audio seeks damages for the period from the January 2011 notice letter to the expiration, all of which it asserts to be with the six-year statute of limitations on damages. It is unclear how this could be, given that the January 2011 letter was sent nearly seven years ago, and Hybrid Audio itself seems to acknowledge that there is a statute of limitations issue – it asserts that it sent a letter in December 2016 to Texas Instruments proposing to toll by agreement the statute of limitations so that settlement could be discussed without necessitating the time and expense of actually filing suit, and that Texas Instruments never responded.
Solid Holdings, Solid Surface Care, Inc. and Solidcare, LLC (collectively, “Solid”) sued Solid Logic, along with two of its officers, for trademark and trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, dilution and cybersquatting. Solid alleges that it is the registrant and owner of SOLID marks in connection with cleaning and maintenance of stone, metal, concrete, terrazzo, grout and wood surfaces, as well as a distinctive trade dress using red-orange and gray. Solid asserts that, after meeting with Solid to discuss possibly becoming a franchisee, the defendants formed Solid Logic Limited to offer the same services in a deliberate attempt to poach off of the good-will of the SOLID mark and trade dress, and that its registration of its “solidlogicltd.com” website comprises cybersquatting on Solid’s “solidcare.com” domain name.
William Higgins filed suit pro se against Christine Sullivan, accusing her of hacking into his account, taking 32 photographs, and changing the copyright attribution information from Higgin’s name to her own.
The Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) is an international association of arts and crafts manufacturers that provides toxicology testing and safety certifications. Products that meet their requirements receive the AP SEAL certifying the safety of the product. ACMI asserts that Benstores, operating under the trade name Artilicious and Sorillo Brands, sell products through Amazon and eBay bearing the AP SEAL without approval from ACMI. ACMI brings counts for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, passing off, dilution, and unfair competition.
Harrison Global sued Boston Corporate Coach (BCC) for trademark infringement, accusing the defendants of trying to pass their business off as “Boston Coach” in violation of Harrison’s registered BOSTONCOACH mark. The mark was first used in commerce by FMR Corp. for chauffeured transportation services, was registered for chauffeuring and private bus services, and has become incontestible. Harrison was assigned the mark in 2013, and has used the mark ever since. The defendants opened their business in 2005, and operated as “Boston Corporate Coach” from 2008 until last year, when Harrison became aware that it had begun identifying itself publically as “Boston Coach Corp.” or simply “Boston Coach.” The complaint alleges that the defendants also paid search engines for top-of-page advertisements whenever anyone entered word combinations that included “Boston” and “coach.” In response to cease and desist letters, BCC discontinued most of the acts complained of, but apparently still run paid advertisements on Google, Yahoo and Bing that begin with “Boston Coach” in large type, with “Boston Corporate Coach” appearing in small print below. Harrison asserts state and federal trademark infringement and false designation of origin claims, as well as state unfair business practice claims.
Linda Matlow, a Chicago-based photographer, accuses on-line magazine and website Her Campus of using a 2010 Matlow photograph of Victoria’s Secret model Erin Heatherton in a post titled “12 More Celebrity Look-Alikes on Yale’s Campus!” Matlow brings a copyright infringement claim against Her Campus Media, and a claim for vicarious liability for the infringement against Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Her Campus Media’s CEO.
Alamite Ventures, owners of a Russian-language internet video streaming service known as “TUA.tv,” filed an interesting lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts against a competitor Russian-language video streaming service, “eTVnet.” According to the complaint, eTVnet is populated with pirated copyrighted videos for which no license fees were paid, and advertises the service as legal and fully-licensed. Because of this, eTVnet can both offer content that the copyright owners do not license out, making the content unavailable to companies operating legitimately, and to offer lower prices as a result of not paying license fees. The complaint names eTVnet’s two owners and operators as co-defendants with the company, and use the multiplicity of defendants to assert claims of civil conspiracy, along with unfair business practices and false designation of origin/false or misleading representations of fact under the Lanham Act. It will be interesting to see if this complaint, which effectively argues for redress of harm resulting from infringement of third-party, non-plaintiff’s copyrights, can survive a preemption challenge under 17 U.S.C. § 301.