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United Microelectronics, Lilly: Intellectual Property

United Microelectronics Corp., the world’s second-largest custom-chip maker, said it settled a patent dispute with LSI Corp.

The two companies ended all outstanding disputes and entered into a patent licensing deal that’s valid until the end of 2012, the Hsinchu, Taiwan-based company said in an exchange filing April 3.

The settlement covers a complaint LSI filed against United Microelectronics a year ago with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to block imports of chips that LSI claims violate its patent. LSI gave the ITC notice of the settlement in an April 2 filing.

LSI, based in Milpitas, California, brought a patent- infringement suit in federal court in Marshall, Texas, against 18 chipmakers including United Micro in April 2008. The 28-year- old company has already settled with several other defendants.

The disputed patent -- 5,227,335 -- was issued in 1993 to Bell Labs. It covers a way of using tungsten rather than aluminum to make semiconductors smaller.

Terms of the settlement and details of which patents are covered by the license weren’t disclosed in the statement.

The complaint is In the Matter of Certain Semiconductor Integrated Circuits, 337-648, U.S. International Trade Commission.

The federal court case is LSI Corp. v. United Microelectronics Corp., 2:08-cv-00165-TJW, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Lilly Wins Ruling Overturning Ariad Patent Royalties

Eli Lilly & Co. won an appeals court ruling that throws out a $65.2 million verdict won by Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. over royalties on the osteoporosis drug Evista and the sepsis medicine Xigris.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said April 3 that an Ariad patent in dispute is invalid because it failed to adequately describe the invention or explain how others could replicate its work.

A federal jury in Boston determined in May 2006 that the drugs rely on a technique developed by researchers at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Whitehead Institute. The process is covered by a patent licensed to Ariad by the schools and challenged in the appeal.

In addition to awarding the $65.2 million, the jury said Indianapolis-based Lilly should pay royalties of 2.3 percent of sales of the two drugs. Evista generated $1.08 billion in global sales last year for Lilly, including $700.5 million in the U.S.

“We believe it upholds the most basic premise of the patent system,” Mark Taylor, a Lilly spokesman, said of the April 3 ruling. “Patent applicants must adequately describe the full scope of their claimed invention.”

The patent covers gene regulation, specifically of a protein called NF-KappaB, Ariad said. Reducing the protein alters the way cells respond to stimulus, such as an infection. Identifying the protein helps researchers develop drugs for certain types of diseases.

The appeals court rejected Lilly’s argument that the patent should be deemed unenforceable because the inventors had misled the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office into obtaining the patent.

The invalidity ruling affects four aspects of the invention, called claims, that Ariad alleged were infringed, and the company can still seek to assert other elements of the patent that weren’t part of the decision, said Maria Cantor, a spokeswoman for Ariad.

Amgen Inc., the world’s biggest biotechnology company, also was challenging the Ariad patent in a case that’s currently on appeal before the Federal Circuit.

“We believe the appellate court got it right,” said David Polk, an Amgen spokesman.

In dispute is patent 6,410,516, which was issued in June 2002.

Stephen S. Rabonowitz of New York’s Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP argued the case for Ariad. Lilly’s case was argued by Charles E. Lipsey of Washington-based Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP.

The case is Ariad Pharmaceutical v. Eli Lilly, 08-1248, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The lower court case is Ariad Pharmaceutical v. Eli Lilly & Co., 02cv11280, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Copyright

QVC Seeks Ruling It Doesn’t Infringe ‘Ah Ring’ Copyright

QVC Inc., the home-shopping network based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, asked a court to declare it isn’t infringing a New York jewelry designer’s copyright.

Ruta Fox, who does business as Divine Diamonds Inc., designed a diamond-channel ring to be worn by “confident and joyful single women to show the world they’re available and happy,” according to complaint.

The ring is engraved with the letters A and H for “available” and “happy,” and is known as the “Ah Ring,” according to the designer’s Web site.

The designer met with QVC officials in December 2007 to discuss the possibility of selling a version of the Ah Ring on the QVC channel, the company said in the complaint filed April 2 in federal court in Philadelphia.

QVC decided not to carry the ring “because the commonly used channel prong setting of the ‘Ah Ring’ could not be distinguished from countless other similar channel prong rings already sold by QVC,” the company said in its pleadings. It also said it never asked for or received manufacturing specifications for the ring.

Counsel for Fox sent QVC a cease-and-desist letter in September 2008, claiming her copyrights were infringed and that the home shopping channel had stolen her trade secrets. The letter, which is included in the court files, claimed that rings in QVC’s Affinity line infringe her copyrights.

The home shopping channel says the AH rings’ settings are “a common feature found in rings currently for sale in a multitude of retail outlets, and has been a feature on rights sold by QVC for up to 20 years.”

It asked the court to declare the ring design isn’t a trade secret and that it didn’t infringe Fox’s copyright.

QVC is represented by Sarah E. Davies and Robert D. Lee of Philadelphia’s Cozen O’Connor.

The case is QVC Inc., v. Fox, 2:09-cv-013443-MMB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Doctors to Use Copyright Law to Defeat Negative Web Reviews

Medical Justice, a physician’s membership program based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is using copyright law to prevent patients from posting negative reviews of their physicians on Internet comment sites.

Patients of Medical Justice member physicians sign a mutual privacy agreement. Under this contract, the patient assigns all IP rights to the physician for anything the patient may write or publish about the doctor.

Physicians generally can’t rebut negative statements patients have posted on the Internet because they are barred from revealing patient information under privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA.

If the patient who’s signed a Medical Justice agreement publishes something on a Web site, the physician can claim copyright infringement and file a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“We’ve vetted this with multiple sources and worked with attorneys specializing in cyber law to create this,” Shane Stadler, the company’s vice president of marketing, said in a phone interview April 3.

If patients don’t sign the agreement, “the doctor may recommend that that patient seek care elsewhere,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. Medical Justice added “that stipulation does not apply to emergent or urgent care. In that situation, the doctor treats the patient. Period.”

The idea for using copyright law came from company founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Segal, who is both a physician and a lawyer.

Segal is the named inventor on U.S. patent 6,272,471, for a “method and apparatus for deterring frivolous professional liability claims,” according to the patent. He’s also listed as the inventor on five published pending U.S. patent applications, most of which also deal with professional liability issues.

Physician-rating sites are becoming increasingly popular. In October, WellPoint Inc. selected Zagat Survey LLC to set up an online survey tool for the Indianapolis-based health-benefits provider.

Yelp Inc., which runs an Internet site where consumers rank local businesses and services, publishes physician rankings and paid listings.

In January 2007, a California appeals court said a plastic surgeon couldn’t sue a patient who created a Web site criticizing the surgical procedure he performed on her.

That case is Gilbert v. Sykes, 147 Cal.App.3th 13.

Coalition Asks President Obama to Diversify IP Appointments

A group of library associations, technology trade associations and public-interest groups wrote President Barack Obama, complaining that some of appointees to top Justice Department posts formerly represented content owners.

The letter, signed by 19 entities, noted that two recent Obama appointees previously represented the Recording Industry Association of America, which has aggressively gone after people it claims have illegally downloaded music.

These appointees are Donald Verrilli Jr. and Thomas J. Perrilli. “The fact that these individuals were litigators rather than registered lobbyists does not diminish the possibility that they may be inclined favorably toward the positions of the industries they long represented,” the organizations said in their letter to the president.

The administration should “make appointments to policy positions mindful of the need to account for unintended structural biases,” according to the letter.

The organizations asked that the president look more broadly for future appointees to IP-related posts, including the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator position authorized to the IP Enforcement Act of 2008.

The letter didn’t mention that the president also has yet appoint someone to fill the post of acting under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Among the organizations that signed the letter are the American Library Association, the Consumer’s Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy & Technology.

China to Ban Desperate Housewives Internet Videos, Xinhua Says

China is planning to ban Internet video sites from broadcasting episodes and clips of foreign television programs such as Desperate Housewives and Prison Break, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a regulation from the media regulator.

Online broadcasts of the programs, which aren’t available on terrestrial television, aren’t licensed by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, the agency said.

The rule, the latest attempt by the government to crack down on “low-brow” cyber content, has angered Internet users and could crimp the country’s booming online audio and video industry, Xinhua said.

Trademark

E.U. Gives Approval to New Rose Wine Label Practices

The member states of the European Union gave tentative approval to a new method of labeling rose wine, according to an E.U. statement.

Previously, rose table wines created by blending reds and whites were banned, with the exception of so-called “appellation” wines that historically were created using this method.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine, an intergovernmental scientific and technical organization known as OIV, accepts the blending of red and white wines to create rose.

Under legislation adopted in 2007, the E.U.’s European Commission agreed to make greater use of OIV references to oenological practices.

The commission has approved two label references, “traditional rose,” for wines created by traditional methods, and “rose by blending,” for rose wines created from blends of red and white wines.

This new rule will, if formally adopted by the commission, go into effect in August 2009.

Tavel, Europe’s best-known rose, is produced from red grapes such as grenache and cinsault whose juice is fermented briefly on the grape skins.

Mutual Fish Co. Claims ‘Three Fish’ Label Infringes

Mutual Fish Co., a Seattle-based fishmonger, sued an importer of Vietnamese fish sauce for trademark infringement.

The fishmonger, which has been in business since 1947, registered the three fish brand with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1999, according to the complaint filed April 1 in federal court in Seattle. The company logo features a line drawing of three fish.

The mark is used for fresh fish, frozen fish, shellfish, fish roe and prepared fish sauces and batters, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Cho Lon Moi Corp., also based in Seattle, operates a grocery market within a mile of the Mutual Fish operations, according to court papers. The company uses the words “three fish brand” on its products, including a Vietnamese fish sauce, Mutual Fish says in its pleadings.

The sauce is sold on Amazon.com Inc.’s Web site as “Three Fish Brand fish sauce.” The label has the image of three fish.

Cho Lon Moi tried to register the words “Three Gouramy Fish Brand” and the design with the three fish with the U.S. Patent Office. That application was rejected because of concerns they’d be confused with Mutual Fish’s marks, according to court papers.

Mutual Fish claims that in September 2008, Cho Lon Moi filed an application to register the marks with Washington’s secretary of state “with the full knowledge they are likely to be confused” with the Mutual Fish marks.

The fishmonger asked the court to bar Cho Lon Moi from infringing the trademark, and for destruction of all infringing materials. Additionally, Mutual Fish seeks Cho Lon Moi’s profits attributable to the alleged infringement, for attorney fees and money damages, including extra damages to punish the company for what it claims is deliberate infringement.

Mutual Fish is represented by Nicholas R. Gunn, and Randall C. Johnson of Seattle-based Badgley Mullins Law Group PLLC.

The case is Mutual Fish Co. v. Cho Lon Moi Corp., 2:09-cv- 00430-JLR, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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