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What Happened in the Field of Intellectual Property Worldwide?

This newsletter compiles global intellectual property news from various media sources.

Microsoft sued by ParTec for alleged supercomputer patent infringement

ParTec seeking undisclosed amount of damages


Microsoft is being sued by German high-performance computing (HPC) vendor ParTec over alleged patent infringement.


The lawsuit says that Microsoft violated three of ParTec’s patents when the tech giant built its Azure AI platform.


Slated to contain tens of thousands of Nvidia A100 and H100 GPUs, the system was described as “one of the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world” when it was first announced in 2022. At the time, Microsoft said that customers would eventually be able to deploy thousands of GPUs in a single cluster to train large language models and complex recommender systems, and run generative AI models.


According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on June 10, ParTec and its licensing agent, BF exaQC AG, claim that Microsoft infringed on patents relating to its dynamic modular system architecture (dMSA).


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Virgin wins $160m trademark appeal against Alaska Airlines


UK Court of Appeal rules in favour of Virgin, ordering Alaska Airlines to pay unpaid royalties | Verdict enforces an annual minimum royalty payment under their licensing agreement, despite Alaska Airlines not using the Virgin brand.


Alaska Airlines has lost an appeal in a $160 million trademark case against Virgin Group over royalties, despite Alaska Airlines no longer using the Virgin brand.


The UK Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that the US airline must continue to pay Virgin a minimum annual royalty under a trademark licensing agreement, even if the airline no longer uses Virgin's trademarks.


The High Court of England and Wales ruled, in February 2023, that Alaska Airlines owed Virgin $160 million in unpaid fees for the ‘Virgin America’ name even though the branding had been discarded four years earlier.


The decision, delivered by Lord Justice Stephen Phillips on June 11, reinforces an initial judgment handed down by Christopher Hancock KC in March 2024, ordering Alaska to pay Virgin a set minimum fee each year.


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No ‘GPT’ trademark for OpenAI


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied OpenAI’s attempt to trademark “GPT,” ruling that the term is “merely descriptive” and therefore unable to be registered. It’s a blow to OpenAI’s branding, but don’t expect its competitors to start releasing their own version of the ubiquitous chatbot.


ChatGPT is certainly the most recognizable brand in AI right now, being the most popular conversational model on the market and the one that most visibly took large language models from curiosity to global trend.


But the name, according to the USPTO, doesn’t meet the standards to register for a trademark and the protections a “TM” after the name affords. (Incidentally, they refused once back in October, and this is a “FINAL” in all caps denial of the application.)



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Universal Music Group And Tiktok Announce New Licensing Agreement


Universal Music Group, the world-leader in music-based entertainment and TikTok today announce a new multi-dimensional licensing agreement that will deliver significant industry-leading benefits for UMG’s global family of artists, songwriters and labels and will return their music to TikTok’s billion-plus global community.


The joint agreement marks a new era of strategic collaboration between the two organizations, built on a shared commitment to help UMG’s artists and songwriters achieve their creative and commercial potential. By harnessing TikTok’s best-in-class technology, marketing and promotional capabilities, UMG and TikTok will deliver improved remuneration for UMG’s songwriters and artists, new promotional and engagement opportunities for their recordings and songs and industry-leading protections with respect to generative AI.



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IHG in Trademark Clash With Marriott Over New Hotel Brand, City Express


IHG has petitioned to cancel Marriott's newest trademark, City Express by Marriott. IHG feels the name is just a little too close for comfort to its own popular hotel brand, Holiday Inn Express?


InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is opposing Marriott International’s bid to trademark City Express by Marriott.


Last month, IHG petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark for Marriott’s newest hotel brand, filings show.


A source told Skift that IHG was concerned that the word “Express” in City Express, combined with the brand’s “affordable midscale” positioning, would be “confusingly similar” to Holiday Inn Express, which has a large U.S. footprint. The source is familiar with the IHG team’s thinking but asked for anonymity to discuss the group’s internal deliberations.



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Burberry triumphs over Baneburry in trademark infringement case


Burberry has triumphed over Baneburry in a trademark infringement and unfair competition case after the Jiangsu Provincial High People’s Court ruled in its favor.


Xinboli Trading Shanghai (Xinboli), trading as Baneburry, was ordered to cease use of the infringing marks, had its own registrations declared invalid, and was ordered to pay Burberry RMB 6 million (approximately £655,633) in costs due to the scale of the infringement.


Burberry filed its trademark infringement and unfair competition case against Xinboli Trading Shanghai in 2020. Burberry claimed that Xinboli had infringed Burberry’s trademarks by marketing and selling products bearing trademarks that were confusingly similar to its earlier rights, namely the word mark BURBERRY, the famous check pattern, and the equestrian logo.


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