- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Several small business owners in patent and trademark disputes with large companies are pinning their hopes on a Supreme Court case involving Victoria's Secret.
The national lingerie chain is suing Victor Moseley for naming his Elizabethtown, Ky., adult novelty store, Victor's Little Secret.
The court heard oral arguments Tuesday and is reviewing whether Mr. Moseley caused financial damage to Victoria's Secret. The decision could clarify rules over accusations that a rival is watering down trademark protection by using a similar name or slogan.
Uzi Nissan said yesterday that a favorable ruling for Mr. Moseley could help his plans to appeal an injunction made yesterday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles to ban commercial use for his Web sites.
"Hopefully a ruling for Mr. Moseley would push federal judges to review damages based on capital instead of the famous quota," Mr. Nissan said.
Mr. Nissan owns the domains www.nissan.com and www.nissan.net, which Nissan North America has been working to obtain for the past five years.
But Leland Dutcher, special counsel for the car manufacturer, said the Supreme Court's decision would not affect further cases with Mr. Nissan. "In the case with Victoria's Secret, there is a question of whether there is damage to the company," Mr. Dutcher said.
"The judge found harm that Mr. Nissan was disparaging our company and has restricted Mr. Nissan to only using the Web sites to personal use," he said.
While Walt Smith is in court for illegally using a patent involving software for processing credit-card sales online, he said the ruling would give his case better direction.
"The courts will have a stronger voice either way the ruling goes," said Mr. Smith, president of Arcade Electronics, an Alexandria electronics provider. "It may also help the courts throw out cases that are unsubstantial like mine," he added.
Mr. Smith is one of 50 defendants facing charges from Pangea Intellectual Properties LLC, a San Diego patent-holding company, for infringement and use of its patent.
Larry Lockwood, Pangea president, says in the filings that he patented the idea of processing credit-card information for online sales in 1994.
Mr. Lockwood could not be reached for comment.
"It's a decision that's going to affect the way small businesses are able to dispute and defend themselves in trademark and patent cases," said Jonathan Hangartner, special counsel for Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, a San Diego law firm.
Mr. Hangartner, who specializes in intellectual property cases, said he expects the court to tighten the process of determining when a term is too general for trademark use.
"A lot of start-up and small businesses are getting approved trademarks that a more aggressive or financially sound company will take them to the cleaners on for some general term like entrepreneur," Mr. Hangartner said.
"This may give the small business owners a chance to either settle their disputes quicker or at least find a resolution that won't cave the company in bankruptcy."


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