Business Law Study Set 14

Business

Quiz 8 :

Intellectual Property and Internet Law

Quiz 8 :

Intellectual Property and Internet Law

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Trade Secrets Peggy Hamilton was a major shareholder in Carbon Processing and Reclamation (CPR), LLC. After a dispute, she sold her interest in the company and signed a confidentiality agreement not to divulge company business to anyone. A year later, when William Jones, the owner of CPR, left on a trip, he let an employee, Jesse Edwards, drive his company car. There were boxes containing some detailed company records in the car. Edwards and his wife, Channon, were in the middle of a divorce, and she suspected him of hiding financial information from her. When Channon saw the boxes in the car her husband was driving, she got a car key from Hamilton, who still had one from when she was an owner. Channon used the key to get into the boxes of company information. Jones then sued Hamilton for breach of the confidentiality agreement, contending that allowing Channon to have access to the files was assisting in the theft of trade secrets. The trial court dismissed the claim, but Jones appealed. Could Hamilton's actions be the basis for a claim of trade secret violation What factors should be taken into consideration [ Jones v. Hamilton , ___ So.3d___ (Ala.Civ.App. 2010)]
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A trade secret is information having a commercial value. A trade secret can take the form of customer lists to special techniques. To have a trade secret violation, the accused has to have disseminated or misappropriated the information. Factors that can prove this include whether there was improper means in gaining the information and if the use of these materials constituted a breach of duty.
In this case, these "trades secrets" were kept in an employee's car. There is no evidence that they had any commercial value, that extra effort was exercised to keep them confidential, or that H disseminated the information for commercial profit, etc.
Therefore, H will probably not be found guilty of a trade secret violation.

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Fair Use Professor Wise is teaching a summer seminar in business torts at State University. Several times during the course, he makes copies of relevant sections from business law texts and distributes them to his students. Wise does not realize that the daughter of one of the textbook authors is a member of his seminar. She tells her father about Wise's copying activities, which have taken place without her father's or his publisher's permission. Her father sues Wise for copyright infringement. Wise claims protection under the fair use doctrine. Who will prevail Explain.
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W will prevail under the Fair Use Exception of the Copyright Act. W is using copied excerpts to teach his student, not for commercial profit. He is also only using partial sections. Thus, W did not violate the Copyright Act.

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Suppose that a person of ordinary skill creates an item by implementing a predictable variation of another's patented invention. Does the Court's opinion indicate that the item is likely or unlikely to be patentable Discuss.
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The court finds that a patent that is based on medley of old functions, has no innovative changes and is well-known within the market, is not patentable. They go on to say that a process that is relatively obvious based on existing market items that the method employed in the process is obvious. If the process in question is intuitively related to old processes, like in the case of someone using a previous method to create an item, then it will likely not be patentable.

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QUESTION WITH SAMPLE ANSWER: Copyright Infringement. In which of the following situations would a court likely hold Ursula liable for copyright infringement (a) Ursula goes to the library and photocopies ten pages from a scholarly journal relating to a topic on which she is writing a term paper. (b) Ursula makes blouses, dresses, and other clothes and sells them in her small shop. She advertises some of the outfits as Guest items, hoping that customers might mistakenly assume that they were made by Guess, the well-known clothing manufacturer. (c) Ursula teaches Latin American history at a small university. She has a digital video recorder and frequently records television programs relating to Latin America and puts them on DVDs. She then takes the DVDs to her classroom so that her students can watch them.
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A QUESTION OF ETHICS: Copyright Infringement. Custom Copies, Inc., in Gainesville, Florida, is a copy shop that, on request, reproduces and distributes, for profit, material published and owned by others. One of the copy shop's primary activities is the preparation and sale of coursepacks, which contain compilations of readings for college courses. For a particular coursepack, a teacher selects the readings and delivers a syllabus to the copy shop, which obtains the materials from a library, copies them, and then binds and sells the copies. Blackwell Publishing, Inc., in Malden, Massachusetts, publishes books and journals in medicine and other fields and owns the copyrights to these publications. Blackwell and others filed a suit in a federal district court against Custom Copies, alleging copyright infringement for its "routine and systematic reproduction of materials from plaintiffs' publications, without seeking permission," to compile coursepacks for classes at the University of Florida. The plaintiffs asked the court to issue an injunction and award them damages, as well the profit from the infringement. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. [ Blackwell Publishing, Inc. v. Custom Copies, Inc., __ F.Supp.2d __ (N.D.Fla. 2007)] (a) Custom Copies argued, in part, that creating and selling did not "distribute" the coursepacks. Does a copy shop violate copyright law if it only copies materials for coursepacks Does the copying fall under the "fair use" exception Should the court grant the defendant's motion Why or why not (b) What is the potential impact if copies of a book or journal are created and sold without the permission of, and the payment of royalties or a fee to, the copyright owner Explain.
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Trademark Infringement Sync Computers, Inc., makes computer-related products under the brand name "Sync," which the company registers as a trademark. Without Sync's permission, E-Product Corp. embeds the Sync mark in E-Product's Web site, in black type on a blue background. This tag causes the E-Product site to be returned at the top of the list of results on a search engine query for "Sync." Does E-Product's use of the Sync mark as a meta tag without Sync's permission constitute trademark infringement Explain.
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Patent Infringement As a cattle rancher in Nebraska, Gerald Gohl used handheld searchlights to find and help calving animals (animals giving birth) in harsh blizzard conditions. Gohl thought that it would be more helpful to have a portable searchlight mounted on the outside of a vehicle and remotely controlled. He and Al Gebhardt developed and patented practical applications of this idea-the Golight and the wireless, remote-controlled Radio Ray, which could rotate 360 degrees-and formed Golight, Inc., to make and market these products. In 1997, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., began selling a portable, wireless, remote-controlled searchlight that was identical to the Radio Ray except for a stop piece that prevented the light from rotating more than 351 degrees. Golight sent Wal-Mart a letter claiming that its device infringed Golight's patent. Wal-Mart sold its remaining inventory of the devices and stopped carrying the product. Golight filed a suit in a federal district court against Wal-Mart, alleging patent infringement. How should the court rule Explain. [ Golight, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 355 F.3d 1327 (Fed.Cir. 2004)]
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Copyright Redwin Wilchcombe is a musician and music producer. In 2002, Wilchcombe met Jonathan Smith, known as Lil Jon, a member of Lit Jon The East Side Boyz (LJESB). Lil Jon and LJESB are under contract to give TeeVee Toons, Inc. (TVT), all rights to LJESB's recordings and Lil Jon's songs. Wilchcombe composed, performed, and recorded a song titled Tha Weedman at Lil Jon's request, based on his idea, and with his suggestions for LJESB's album Kings of Crunk. They did not discuss payment and Wilchcombe was not paid, but he was given credit on the album as a producer. By 2005, the album had sold 2 million copies. Wilchcombe filed a suit in a federal district court against TVT and the others, alleging copyright infringement. The defendants asserted that they had a license to use the song. Wilchcombe argued that he had never granted a license to anyone. Do these facts indicate that the defendants had a license to use Wilchcombe's song If so, what does that mean for Wilchcombe's cause Explain. [ Wilchcombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949 (11th Cir. 2009)]
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CASE PROBLEM WITH SAMPLE ANSWER: Trademarks. In 1969, Jack Masquelier, a professor of phannacology, discovered a chemical antioxidant made from the bark of a French pine tree. The substance supposedly assists in nutritional distribution and blood circulation. Horphag Research, Ltd., began to sell the product under the name Pycnogenol, which Horphag registered as a trademark in 1993. Pycnogenol became one of the fifteen best-selling herbal supplements in the United States. In 1999, through the Web site www.healthierlife.com , Larry Garcia began to sell Masquelier's Original OPCs, a supplement derived from grape pits. Claiming that this product was the "true Pycnogenol," Garcia used the mark as a meta tag and a generic term, attributing the results of research on Horphag's product to Masquelier's and altering quotations from scientific literature to substitute the name of Masquelier's product for Horphag's. Customers who purchased Garcia's product contacted Horphag about it, only to learn that they had not bought Horphag's product. Others called Horphag to ask whether Garcia "was selling … real Pycnogenol." Horphag filed a suit in a federal district court against Garcia, alleging, among other things, that he was diluting Horphag's mark. What is trademark dilution Did it occur here Explain. [ Horphag Research, Ltd. v. Garcia, 475 F.3d 1029 (9th Cir. 2007)]
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Trade Secrets Briefing.com offers Internet-based analyses of investment opportunities to investors. Richard Green is the company's president. One of Briefing.com's competitors is StreetAccount, LLC (limited liability company), whose owners include Gregory Jones and Cynthia Dietzmann. Jones worked for Briefing.com for six years until he quit in March 2003 and was a member of its board of directors until April 2003. Dietzmann worked for Briefing.com for seven years until she quit in March 2003. As Briefing.com employees, Jones and Dietzmann had access to confidential business data. For instance, Dietzmann developed a list of contacts through which Briefing.com obtained market information to display online. When Dietzmann quit, she did not return all of the contact information to the company. Briefing.com and Green filed a suit in a federal district court against Jones, Dietzmann, and StreetAccount, alleging that they had appropriated these data and other "trade secrets" to form a competing business. What are trade secrets Why are they protected Under what circumstances is a party liable at common law for their appropriation How should these principles apply in this case [ Briefing.com v. Jones, 2006 WY 16, 126 P.3d 928 (2006)]
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VIDEO QUESTION: Protecting Ideas. Go to this text's Web site at www.cengage.com/blaw/darkson and select "Chapter 8." Click on "Video Questions" and view the video titled The Jerk. Then answer the following questions. (a) In the video, Navin (Steve Martin) creates a special handle for Mr. Fox's (Bill Macy's) glasses. Can Navin obtain a patent or a copyright protecting his invention Explain your answer. (b) Suppose that after Navin legally protects his idea, Fox steals it and decides to develop it for himself, without Navin's permission. Has Fox committed infringement If so, what kind-trademark, patent, or copyright (c) Suppose that after Navin legally protects his idea, he realizes he doesn't have the funds to mass-produce the glasses' special handle. Navin therefore agrees to allow Fox to manufacture the product. Has Navin granted Fox a license Explain. (d) Assume that Navin is able to manufacture his invention. What might Navin do to ensure that his product is identifiable and can be distinguished from other products on the market
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Based on the Court's reasoning, what other factors should be considered in determining the obviousness of a patent
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