aNb Media News, December 23, 2014

NRF Honors Former Home Depot CEO

Frank Blake, former CEO and current chairman of The Home Depot, will receive the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s Gold Medal Award at Retail’s BIG Show in New York City next month.

“As evidenced by The Home Depot’s loyal customer base and storied success, Frank Blake is an excellent choice for the Gold Medal Award,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says. “His focus on customer service and employee culture will help solidify his place in history as a great retail leader.”

The Gold Medal Award is given to individuals that have served in the retail industry with distinction and have garnered a national reputation for excellence.

In addition, the NRF will recognize additional retailers at the ceremony. International Retailer of the Year goes to France’s Galeries Lafayette and Retail Innovator of the Year goes to Warby Parker. Miki Berardelli, Chico’s FAS, Inc. president of digital, chief marketing officer, and executive vice president, will receive the Silver Plaque award.

The award recipients are selected each year by the NRF Board of Directors’ Awards Committee. The awards will be presented during a keynote session at the 2015 Retail’s BIG Show on January 12.

Supreme Court Takes Up Spider-Man Web Blaster Case

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday, December 19 to decide whether Marvel owes royalties to the inventor of a Spider-Man toy after the expiration of his patent. Stephen Kimble had first sued Marvel Entertainment in 1997 over the Web Blaster, a toy that simulates web-slinging with foam string.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, after patenting the idea back in 1990, Kimble approached Marvel about licensing his device. The company turned Kimble down, only shortly after the launch of officially licensed Spider-Man Web Blasters. The parties originally settled in 2001, agreeing that Kimble deserved three percent of royalties for toys that infringed his original patent for a “toy web shooting glove.” The courts determined that the Web Blaster did not infringe the patent but did incorporate ideas disclosed under an oral agreement that Kimble reached with Marvel in 1990.

Kimble sued Marvel again in 2008, arguing the company breached the settlement by failing to pay royalties after it sold its toy-making arm to Hasbro. Marvel defended that the settlement did not require it to pay Kimble after his patent expired in 2010. A federal judge ruled in Marvel’s favor. Kimble appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the settlement had transferred both patented and unpatented rights, both at three percent, and that the latter of which did not end when the patent ran out. The case was again ruled in favor of Marvel last year, when a panel of three judges cited the U.S. Supreme Court precedent from the case Brulotte v. Thys Co., which prohibits patent holders from collecting royalties after the patent’s expiration date.

The Supreme Court approved Kimble’s petition for certiorari regarding the case and, moving forward, will focus on whether the most recent decision was based on unsound and outdated information.