Archive for October, 2017

Board Rules QLED Trademark Generic for, Well, QLEDs

October 23rd, 2017

Previous posts (e.g., here and here) have discussed trademarks that are “merely descriptive” of the goods or services.  Although the registration process can be an uphill battle, some descriptive marks can be protected.

Generic marks, which refer to the class or category of goods or services, are never protectable.

In November 2014, LG Electronics filed a federal trademark application for the mark QLED.  U.S. Trademark Application No. 86/472,855 listed a variety of goods in Class 9, including mobile phones, software, wearable computers, computer monitors, DVD players, touch panels, LED panels, and LED displays for televisions.

During examination of the application, the Trademark Examining Attorney refused registration on the ground that QLED is generic as an acronym for the generic term “quantum dot light emitting diode.”  LG appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board), which affirmed the genericness refusal in a non-precedential opinion.

The test for determining whether a term is generic is its primary significance to the relevant public.

The Board reviewed evidence gathered by the Examining Attorney consisting of several internet excerpts including explanatory text from QLED-Info.com, press releases from various companies, content from product and trade news sites, and articles from science and technology journals.

LG objected that the evidence was from industry publications and press releases and related to as yet unreleased products.  Although the evidence may be “forward-looking,” the Board said, it is nevertheless probative of consumers’ understanding of the term QLED, especially with respect to TVs, smartphones, and other goods in the application:

Obviously, some members of the relevant consuming public would research the types of TVs, smartphones, etc. that currently are available, and the expected next generation of these items, and would encounter materials like those cited above, some of which are consumer-focused….Sony is selling QLED smartphones, and companies such as Samsung, LG Display and QD Visions have been developing products with QLED displays for at least the last six or seven years.

LG also argued that there is no consensus as to the meaning or understanding of QLED and the term “is not a designation for a key aspect for a designation of the goods.”  The Board disagreed:

The bulk of the evidence discussed above uses the terms “quantum dot light emitting diodes” and QLED” interchangeably to refer to a particular type of display technology, and as an alternative to LCD and OLED display technology, for TVs, computer screens, monitors, smartphones, and the other disputed goods, all of which have displays.  The evidence clearly demonstrates that the type of display technology is a key aspect of the disputed goods.

So QLED is generic for several goods relating to LED panels, displays, and related products.  But there was some good news for LG:  it was able to register the QLED trademark for a number of other goods in the application  (see the last page of the decision for the list of protected goods).

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

October 6th, 2017

Several new green patent complaints were filed in July and August in the areas of advanced batteries, electrolyzers for sewage treatment, LED lighting, eco-friendly pet products, solar powered trash compactors, and wind turbines.

 

Advanced Batteries

Somaltus LLC v. Universal Power Group

Somaltus LLC v. Tenergy Corporation

Somaltus LLC v. Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.

On July 26, 2017 Somaltus, a non-practicing entity, filed three patent infringement lawsuits against Universal Power Group (Somaltus v. Universal Power Group), Tenergy (Somaltus LLC v. Tenergy Corporation), and Maxim Integrated Products (Somaltus LLC v. Maxim Integrated Products Inc.).  The complaints were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

Each lawsuit asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,657,386, entitled “Integrated battery service system (‘386 Patent).

The ‘386 Patent is  directed to an integrated battery service system that performs a plurality of services related to a battery, such as battery testing, battery charging, and the like. In addition, the integrated service system provides services to devices/components that are coupled to the battery, such as starters, alternators, etc.

The accused products are Universal Power Group’s 24 v 8 amp Premium Quality Heavy Duty XLR 3-pin off-board Sealed AGM, GEL Universal 24BC8000T-1 battery charger, Tenergy’s T-9688 Universal 4 By NiMh/NiCd Smart Chargers, and Maxim’s Max77301 JEITA-Compliant Li+ Charger with Smart Power Selector.

 

Marine Sewage Treatment

DeNora Water Technologies Texas, LLC v. H2O, Inc.

This lawsuit involves bookcell electrolyzer technology used for oxidizing sewage.

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 6,379,525, entitled “Enhanced electrolyzer” and directed to an electrolyzer including a housing having an inlet and an outlet at a common end.  Within the housing are disposed electrode elements, a passageway that connects the inlet to the outlet, and a divider is disposed in the passageway between the inlet and outlet. The divider causes fluid entering the inlet to flow through one section of the passageway and then through another section of the passageway before exiting through the outlet.

The complaint was filed August 17, 2017 in federal court in Houston, Texas, and lists Defendant’s multi-pass bookcell electrolyzers as the accused products.

 

LEDs

Bitro Group Inc. v. Advanced Lighting Concepts, Inc.

Bitro sued Advanced Lighting Concepts (ALC) August 24, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey asserting infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,113,558 (‘558 Patent).

The ‘558 Patent is entitled “LED mount bar capable of freely forming curved surfaces thereon” and directed to an LED tape light strip with a structure that allows it to be bent in the direction of its width so it can be used for lighting that must conform to unique shapes.

The accused product listed in Bitro’s complaint is Defendant’s CurrentControl Bendable ZigZag LED Strip Light.

 

Blackbird Tech LLC v. Ontel Products Corporation

Filed August 23, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Blackbird’s complaint alleges that Ontel Products infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,883,927 (‘927 Patent).

Entitled “Frame assembly and light for an electrical wall conduit,” the ‘927 Patent is directed to a frame assembly for covering a wall conduit having a connection to electrical power.  The frame assembly comprises a light powered by an electrical circuit connected to the connection and a frame for housing the light.  The frame has an opening allowing access to the component through the frame, a side and an aperture in the side allowing the light to illuminate a space outside the frame assembly through the aperture.

The accused products are Ontel’s Night Angel electrical wall outlet covers.

 

Document Security Systems, Inc. v. Lite-On, Inc. et al.

Document Security Systems (DSS) filed this lawsuit against Lite-On August 15, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asserting three LED patents.

The complaint contains a long list of accused products, e.g., many of Lite-On’s PLCC Series LED products, including both single color and multi-color lights.

The asserted patents are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,949,771, entitled “Light source”

U.S. Patent No. 7,524,087, entitled “Optical Device”

U.S. Patent No. 7,256,486, entitled “Packing device for semiconductor die, semiconductor device incorporating same and method of making same”

 

Technical LED Intellectual Property, LLC v. Osram Sylvania Inc.

Technical LED IP sued Osram on August 9, 2017 for alleged infringement of two patents relating to phosphor-based LED lights.  The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. RE41,685 (‘685 Patent) and 6,373,188 (‘188 Patent).

The ‘685 Patent is entitled “Light source with non-white and phosphor-based white LED devices, and LCD assembly” and directed to a light source incorporating phosphor-based white and non-white LEDs, which may be raised off the floor of the optical cavity to permit light to be emitted from the base of the LED.  A reflective protrusion may be placed beneath the raised LED to aid in redirecting light forward, and the LEDs may be skewed in relation to adjacent LEDs to reduce interference.

Entitled “Efficient solid-state light emitting device with excited phosphors for producing a visible light output,” the ‘188 Patent is directed to a solid-state light emitting device in which phosphors excited by radiation produce visible light.  The efficiency of the device is increased by providing a reflector adjacent to the phosphor layer for reflecting at least some of the radiation that passes through the phosphor back into the phosphor. The reflector may also reflect at least some of the visible light that is emitted by the phosphor toward a designated light output.

The accused products include, among others, Osram’s LEP-2100-840-HD-C,  LEP-2100-930-HD-C, LEP-800-840-HD-C, LEP800-930-HD-C, LED12A19/DIM/F/927, LCW CP7P-KPKR-5R8T, and LE CW E3B-NYPZ-QRRU models.

 

Green Pet Products

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Unique Petz, Inc.

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. C&A Marketing, Inc.

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. European Home Design, LLC

The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Telebrands Corporation

These lawsuits involve pet pad technology that cools your pets without water or electricity.  These four complaints were filed August 16 and 17, 2017 in federal court in New Jersey and New York (THE GREEN PET SHOP ENTERPRISES, LLC v. C&A MARKETING, INC.; The Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. European Home Design, LLCTHE GREEN PET SHOP ENTERPRISES, LLC v. TELEBRANDS CORPORATIONThe Green Pet Shop Enterprises, LLC v. Unique Petz, Inc.).

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,720,218 and 9,226,474, both entitled “Pressure activated recharging cooling platform” and directed to a cooling platform comprising a temperature regulation layer, a support layer, and a channeled covering layer.  The temperature regulation layer is adapted to hold a composition and has a plurality of angled segments, wherein angled segments within a sealed perimeter of the temperature regulation layer are formed by a top side and a bottom side at a predefined distance, and channels, wherein the channels substantially form sides by contacting the top side with the bottom side at a distance lesser than the predefined distance.

The complaints allege that the defendants’ respective cooling mat products infringe the two patents.

 

Solar Powered Trash Compactors

BigBelly Solar, Inc. v. Ecube Labs Co.

In this lawsuit filed July 28, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, BigBelly asserts two patents relating to solar powered compaction technology.

U.S. Patent Nos. 7,124,680 and 7,481,159 are related patents, each entitled “Solar powered compaction apparatus” and directed to a trash compactor powered by a photovoltaic cell array.  The compaction feature allows the unit to be emptied less often than a typical trash container.  A removable bin allows easy removal of the compacted trash and can include multiple chambers for different trash types.

BigBelly’s complaint alleges that Ecube’s Clean CUBE product infringes the patents.

Wind Power

General Electric Co. v. Vestas Wind Systems A/S et al.

In this important wind industry lawsuit involving Zero Voltage Ride Through (ZVRT) technology, GE alleges that its Danish competitor, Vestas, infringes U.S. Patent No. 7,629,705 (‘705 Patent).

The ‘705 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for operating electrical machines” and directed to methods of facilitating zero voltage ride through so the turbine can remain online during voltage dips down to zero volts.

The complaint was filed July 31, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the District of California and lists the accused products as Vestas’ V90-3.0, V100-2.0, V112-3.0 and V117-3.3 wind turbines.

GE had a big win against Mitsubishi with this patent back in 2012.