Blueprint of a gear train.

 Robert J. Yarbrough
Patent Attorney

 Patents - Inventions - Trademarks 

Newsletter Issue 61 - March 2014

In this issue:

Creating copyrights
New top level domain names
Google street view

Ask Dr. Copyright ...Dr. Copyright logo

Dear Doc:

A magazine editor has told me that if a magazine releases an issue before its copyright date, the magazine will lose its rights. I can't believe that this is the law. Please tell me who's right.

Signed,
Confused Author

Dear Confused:

You're less confused than your editor! Under international copyright law, known as the Berne Convention (no, it's not a meeting of arsonists) a "work" is protected by copyright automatically from the moment it is created. There are no complicated rules. Most countries, including the United States, are a part of this treaty, so copyright protection extends to most of the world in this way.

Each country is still allowed to create its own rules in addition to those of the treaty, so, for example, in the United States, even though you have an automatic copyright, you must register your work in the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress in order to enforce your rights in court, and there are other benefits of early registration as well. Registration is a simple process, and the fee is quite low. You may not, however, just send yourself a registered letter! (That is as legally effective as shaking a rattle to cure the flu.)

Under U.S. law, you may put a copyright notice on your work to show the world that you have rights. The law says that this notice is , the year of creation or publication, and some identifier of the copyright owner. You may also use the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr." You may NOT use a ( C ) - that's not part of the law. Under the laws of some countries, it also helps to use the phrase, "All Rights Reserved."

Copyright extends to more than just written works, as well. You can protect music, video, computer code, works of visual art, and even performances. Each type of work has its own rules and registration forms, so be sure to check www.copyright.gov and with your IP counsel for the right information. Registering copyrights should be an automatic part of the business process for just about every business.

When it comes to simple and effective protection of intellectual property, you just can't beat copyright. By now, the Doc knows that you have lots more questions. Just call one of the attorneys at LW&H. They do copyright, trademark, patent, trade secrets, and lots of other stuff to protect rights of creative endeavors.

The Doc

New gTLD's ... New Burdensdomain name image

You may recall that we reported about "one of the biggest changes in the Domain Name System" was about to be implemented by ICANN, which was introducing hundreds of new top level domains that could "end with almost any word in any language."  So, instead of such dependable and familiar domains like "nike.com" and "nikon.com", you could have "nike.shoes" or "nikon.camera."  Pretty cool, right?  Well, maybe not so much for trademark owners.

The roll out of the new domains has been slow-paced, however, as registrars come on line with the new domains (after paying hefty application and registration fees) some trademark experts worry that the explosion of top level domains places too much burden on brand owners to police their marks and purchase unwanted domains for the sole purpose of keeping them out of the hands of would-be cyber squatters and infringers.  Francis Gurry, the head of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is on record of stating that the impact upon trademark protection is "likely to be significant and disruptive."   SecurityWeek.com quoted Gurry:

'The opportunity for misuse of trademarks expands exponentially,' said Gurry, noting that registering a domain name is a cheap, automatic procedure that takes a matter of seconds and does not have a filter to examine whether there is a trademark conflict."

According to the same SecurityWeek.com article, in 2013, 2,585 cases involving 6,191 domains were were filed with WIPO, which is one of the arbiters in charge of domain disputes.  It is currently hearing its first case concerning a new gTLD in which a German company, Canyon Bicycles GmbH, is objecting to a Dutch registrant of canyon.bike.  The German company is a worldwide distributor of bicycle products and is involved in numerous international cycling events.  The registrant of the domain is an individual based in the Netherlands who states that he is a cyclist and web designer in the cycling industry. The disputed domain name points to a website parking page provided by the Registrar which, according to the screenshot provided by the Center, features sponsored listings including one entitled "Mountainbikes".  To learn more about the case visit WIPO's website.   

This case may foreshadow many more similar disputes.  We'll keep you posted.

Google Street View infringes patent Google street view

Google Street View is the popular feature of Google Maps that allows you to see panoramic photographs of, well, pretty much anywhere with different orientations and magnifications.  The photographs are stitched together in software to allow the viewer to navigate through a virtual representation of the real world.  You may have seen the Google photography cars driving around with an array of cameras, taking pictures of your neighborhood.

Here's the story:  back in the year 2000, Enrico Bernado and Luis Goncalves were Ph.D candidates at CalTech.  They attached cameras and a GPS device to Mr. Bernado's car and drove around Pasadena taking photographs.They also developed software to stitch the photographs together, creating panoramic views and allowing a person to navigate through a virtual representation of the real landscape.  The results were available through the City of Pasadena's website.
 
Drs. Bernado and Goncalves founded Vederi, LLC and were awarded four patents for their work.  Vederi sued Google for patent infringement for its Street View product.  The trial court found no infringement based its interpretation of the claims of the patents, but the Federal Circuit Court reversed and sent the case back to the trial court.  Street View is still available, so we suspect that Google and Vederi LLC reached an accomodation, since patent litigation is a license negotiation by another name. 
 

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