John Steinbeck, Boeing Drone, Jimi Hendrix, Ford Car: Intellectual Property News

By | August 21, 2015

Rightscorp Inc., the company that identifies infringers to copyright holders, said in a company filing that it now has contracts covering about 208,000 copyrights.

That’s more than twice the 100,000 copyrights the Santa Monica, California-based company had under contract in June 2014, Rightscorp said.

Rightscorp said it pays copyright owners about half of what it collects from infringers. In the three months ended June 2015, it paid copyright holders $116,908, down from $125,740 in the same quarter in the previous year.

Legal fees related to litigation came to $762,323 for the six months ending June 30. In the previous year, Rightscorp said, its legal fees were only $236.432 for the same period. The fees are related to legal proceedings against the company.

The filing mentioned two cases in which the company is involved. Both were brought by computer users whom Rightscorp accused of copyright infringement.

In one case the plaintiff is asking the court to declare this suit a class action. That case is Blaha v. Rightscorp Inc., 14-cv-09032, U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

Rightscorp was failed to persuade a federal court in Georgia to put the other case on hold until a determination of whether the California case is a class action. That case is Brown v. Rightscorp Inc., 15-cv-00012, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia (Athens).

On Aug. 10 Rightscorp said it signed an agreement with Quincy, Massachusetts-based Flynn Wirkus Young PC for that firm to sue some of the infringers the California company identified.

Steinbeck Copyright Dispute ‘Litigated ad Nauseam,’ Judge Says

A copyright dispute among members of Nobel laureate John Steinbeck’s family has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter in Los Angeles said in his Aug. 11 ruling that the claims over the copyrights to the author’s works have been “litigated ad nauseam” and can’t be refiled and pursued.

The case involved a son and grandchild of the author who were contesting the copyrights inherited by Steinbeck’s widow, Elaine Steinbeck, who has also died.

In his order dismissing the case, Hatter listed other cases going back as far as 2008 that raised the same issues.

The case is Steinbeck v. Kaffaga, 14-cv-08681, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Boeing Receives U.S. Patent on Unmanned Flying Submarine Drone

Boeing Co., maker of the Minuteman missile and the B-52 bomber, has received a patent on a drone that can fly through the air and move underwater.

Patent 9,010,678, covers what the Chicago-based company calls a “rapid deployment air and water vehicle.”

Boeing said the vehicle can be launched from an aircraft, enter the water and then be re-launched. It has two propellers, one to move through the air and a second to move in the water.

The vehicle can also be configured so that at least part of its wing and its front propeller can be configured to separate from the craft when it’s in the water. This can be done through the use of explosive bolts or water-soluble glue, Boeing said.

Boeing applied for the patent in March 2013, with the assistance of Klintworth & Rozenblat IP LLC of Chicago.

Hendrix Family Settles Dispute Over Musician’s Image, Marks

A long-standing trademark dispute between heirs of the late Jimi Hendrix has been settled, according to the case docket. No terms were disclosed.

The suit, filed in 2009, involved siblings of the musician, who died in London of a drug overdose in 1970.

Experience Hendrix LLC sued Hendrix Licensing.com Ltd. in Settle federal court, complaining that HendrixLicensing.com was selling merchandise such as T-shirts that used the likeness of the rock-and-roll legend and related trademarks without permission.

According to the court ruling, the parties agreed to settle the case to accord with a 2014 ruling in Experience Hendrix’s favor from U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court said the parties can’t refile this case.

In an earlier case in the same court, U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly ordered a liquor company to quit selling vodka bearing an image of the performer.

The family said in that suit that because of the mode of the musician’s death, they had made a decision not to allow trademarks or the performer’s image to be used in connection with alcohol or drug-related products.

The family case is Experience Hendrix LLC v. HendrixLicensing.com Ltd., 09-cv-00286, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle). The vodka case is Experience Hendrix LLC v. Electric Hendrix LLC, 07-cv-00338-TSZ, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle)

Ford Car Turns Into Living Room

Ford Motor Co. received a patent for a car that can be turned into a living room. Well, a small one.

Patent 9,096,150, issued Aug. 4, provides for a vehicle with configurable seats. A seat facing forward when occupied by a driver can be turned around when the car is operating in an “autonomous” mode.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said that as the level of sophistication in vehicles increases, they require less input from a passenger. Eventually an autonomous vehicle will require no interaction beyond the selection of a destination, “leaving passengers to focus on non-driving-related tasks,” according to the patent.

Another configuration described by the patent would permit the stowing of a bench seat under the instrument panel.

It could be used for trucks, sport utility vehicles, taxis and buses as well as ordinary passenger cars, Ford said.

The vehicle would contain a user interface, such as a touch-sensitive display system.

The motorized seat could swivel, slide or fold. The seats could be bucket seats, captain’s chairs, bench seats or split bench seats, according to the patent.

Ford applied for the patent in November 2013 with the assistance of Bejin Bieneman PLC of Detroit.

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