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By David McAfee
Feb. 25 — A China-based science and technology company hit Rearden LLC, a company founded by entrepreneur and inventor Steve Perlman, with a lawsuit alleging the tech incubator and its affiliates falsely claimed ownership of a visual effects system that recently won an award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Plaintiff Shenzhenshi Haitiecheng Science and Technology Co. Ltd. says it bought the assets related to MOVA technology, used to record the facial performances of actors with a special camera rig, in 2013. After MOVA received a science and technology award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, SHST alleges, the defendants and originators of the technology “suffered a severe bout of ‘seller's remorse.’”
“Rearden, Rearden Mova, MO2, and/or Mova have used and continue to use false or misleading representations of facts concerning the ownership of the MOVA Assets in a campaign to mislead the public and actual and prospective users and licensees of those assets,” attorneys for SHST wrote in the 10-page complaint filed Feb. 20. “As a result, SHST has suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm unless and until Rearden, Rearden Mova, MO2, and Mova cease making the false representations alleged herein.”
The complaint alleges claims for false advertising, unfair competition and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
SHST says the MOVA technology, used for motion pictures, computer graphics and other video applications, was financed and developed in the late 1990s by Perlman and other affiliates of Rearden. Rearden, founded in 2000, describes itself as “an incubator for fundamental technology, new art and the interplay between the two.”
The MOVA originators sought in 2003 to launch the system commercially, but failed, the plaintiff alleges.
“The originators of MOVA were unable to operate a successful business based upon the technology, abandoned the attempt, and transferred all of the assets involved to a third party,” the plaintiff's counsel wrote in the complaint. “Eventually, in May 2013, the MOVA Assets were purchased by plaintiff SHST.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Aug. 15 that MOVA had been nominated as a possible recipient of the 2014 Science and Technology Academy Award. SHST says the original MOVA creators then formed defendants MO2 LLC, Rearden Mova LLC and Mova LLC in an attempt to misappropriate the MOVA Assets.
The plaintiff says the Rearden companies recorded a number of false assignments in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office between Sept. 18 and Sept. 29.
SHST says that, after the recordation of the “false assignments,” the defendants made multiple public statements claiming ownership of the assets.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced in January that the MOVA developers had been awarded a 2014 Science and Technology Academy Award, prompting even more public announcements from the defendants, according to the lawsuit.
“More recently, in February 2015, Perlman—speaking on behalf of one or more of the named defendants—stated that a licensee of certain of the MOVA Assets from SHST was not properly authorized to use MOVA technology,” the complaint says.
A representative for Rearden declined to comment Feb. 25, but did note that the U.S. Patent Office website shows the complaint does not accurately state the current chain of assignments for any MOVA patent.
Representatives for the Shenzhenshi Haitiecheng Science and Technology Co. Ltd. didn't immediately return Bloomberg BNA's requests for comment Feb. 24.
The plaintiff is represented by Jon Michaelson, Scott E. Kolassa and Frances B. Cox of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. Counsel information for the defendants wasn't immediately available.
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