Duke, Mattel, IMI, Universal: Intellectual Property

Duke Energy Corp., the operator of power plants in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest, is working with Chinese utilities to make coal-fired plants cleaner and speed cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. and China.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based utilities owner is working with four Chinese companies, Chief Executive Officer James Rogers said in an interview in Copenhagen, declining to name them. The purpose of the partnership is to jointly develop and share technology that reduces the amount of CO2 emitted by power plants and cuts costs.

“If we can reach out to the Chinese, we can scale this much faster, maybe reduce what we could do in 15 years down to five,” Rogers said. Sharing intellectual-property rights is a “very small part” of the total costs of energy technology and there’s no reason not to share them, he said.

Duke is listed as the owner of two issued U.S. patents, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Both patents deal with emissions.

Patent 6,979,992, issued in December 2005, covers a portable radiated emissions measurement system. Patent 6,145,454, issued in November 2000, is for a type of furnace fired with pulverized coal. The technology covered by the patent reduces reduced nitrous-oxide emissions.

China and the U.S., the biggest users of coal, account for almost half of the world’s emissions of CO2, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The two countries are at the center of a rift at United Nations-sponsored climate talks between industrialized and developing nations over limits for pollution cuts and who should pay to scale back emissions.

Rogers will travel to Shanghai on July 4 to discuss specifics of the project with the Chinese companies, he said in Copenhagen, where executives and officials from the European Union, China, India and the U.S. are discussing ways to reach a global agreement on slowing global warming.

Energy producers are developing ways to separate carbon from gases generated by burning coal for electricity and then burying the gas deep underground. Other coal-related technology includes increasing the amount of energy extracted from the coal from about 30 percent now.

Coal is the biggest source of energy in the U.S. and China, and even with efforts to expand wind, nuclear and solar power, the fossil fuel will remain an important part of power generation for years to come, Rogers said.

Novo Nordisk Sues Mylan Over Copy of Diabetes Drug (Update1)

Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest maker of insulin, sued generic pharmaceutical maker Mylan Inc. over its plans to market a version of the diabetes drug Prandin.

Mylan, the biggest U.S. maker of generic drugs, has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to produce the generic drug, Novo Nordisk said in a lawsuit filed May 20 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey. Mylan has been “willful and deliberate” in violating Novo Nordisk’s rights, the company claimed in the suit.

Novo Nordisk, based in Bagsvaerd, Denmark, is asking for an order halting Mylan from seeking approval for the copy. Mylan had sent a letter to Novo Nordisk claiming the patent for the drug is invalid and unenforceable, according to the lawsuit.

The disputed patent, 6,677,358, was issued in January 2004. It covers an oral form of Prandin to treat Type 2 diabetes.

A representative of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Novo Nordisk is represented by Josh A. Krevitt, Marshall R. King, Gharles J. Boudreau and Michael A. Sitzman of Los Angeles- based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is Novo Nordisk Inc. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., 09cv2445, U.S. District Court for New Jersey (Trenton).

Mattel Gets U.S. Patent for Kids’ Costume with Expanding Muscles

Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, received a U.S. patent on a costume with expandable muscles.

Patent 7,536,729, one of 3,746 U.S. patents issued yesterday, covers a costume with a flexible garment that can contract or expand when a muscle is flexed, according to the patent. This costume, for characters such as Superman, “may provide entertainment” when the shape of the muscles changes.

When a joint moves, “a degree of realism may be portrayed by a flexure element that projects laterally from one or more of the articulating members,” according to the patent.

Mattel, based in El Segundo, California, applied for the patent in June 2006 with the assistance of Kolisch Hartwell PC of Portland, Oregon.

IMI’s Norgren Unit’s Patent Case Advances in Appeals Court

A patent-infringement case against Tokyo-based SMC Corp., a maker of valves and pneumatic equipment, can go ahead, a federal appeals court said yesterday.

In dispute is IMI Plc’s patent 5,372,392 for a fluid- connecting unit used in a compressed-air pipeline between the compressor and point of use. The patent was issued to IMI’s Norgren unit in December 1994.

Norgren, based in Littleton, Colorado, had asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar import of SCM’s fluid connecting units for infringing the patent. The administrative law judge said the patent wasn’t infringed and found no trade- law violation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Washington court that hears appeals of patent cases, said SCM’s product had elements that infringed the patent. The similarities related to rims of flanges for the devices.

The court said the judge who heard the case at the trade commission needs to take another look at the patent to see whether it describes a technology that’s obvious. If it’s found to be obvious, the patent would be invalidated.

Carl F. Manthei of the Ollila Law Group LLC of Bounder, Colorado, argued the case for Norgren. Arthur J. Neustadt of Alexandria Virginia-based Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt PC argued SMC’s case. Mark B. Rees, from the office of the general counsel of the U.S. International Trade Commission, argued the case for the government.

The case is Norgren Inc. v. International Trade Commission, 2008-1314, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).


Universal’s Apocalyptica Will Sue Over Anti-Gypsy Use of Song

Universal Music Group’s Apocalyptica, an all-cello rock band from Finland, will file a copyright-infringement lawsuit against a Czech political party that used one of the band’s songs in an election campaign.

Narodni Strana Ns has used Apocalyptica’s “Path” in a commercial calling for a “final solution” to what it says is Europe’s “Gypsy Problem.” The band says it’s “mortified” by such use against Gypsy, or Romany, people.

Apocalyptica “always supports minorities, stands up for human rights, respects every human being no matter their color, ethnic background or religion, worldwide,” the band said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The band said it would “never” allow the Narodni Strana, or National Party, to use its music, which was played in the anti-Gypsy ad without its permission.

Both the band and Universal will sue the Czech political party, according to the statement.

Czech Radio refused to broadcast some of Narodni Strana’s commercials calling for “the final solution to the Romany question,” the Prague Daily Monitor reported. A National Party video on the same theme was shown once on May 19 and then withdrawn by public Czech Television, according to the Daily Monitor.

Apocalyptica was formed in the 1990s by cellists trained at the Sibelius Academy, Finland’s music university. Initially the group was best known for its all-cello versions of music by Metallica.

Second Swedish Judge Removed From Pirate Bay Infringement Case

A second judge was removed from a Swedish copyright- infringement case against Pirate Bay, the MCV games-business Web site reported.

Judge Ulrika Ihrfelt was removed from the case after it was learned she is a member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Swedish Copyright Association. Judge Tomas Norstrom was removed earlier for the same reason, according to MCV.

A lawyer for one of the four defendants convicted in the Pirate Bay file-sharing case had requested Norstrom’s removal for bias.

“Because of the content of the claim of bias, it has been deemed proper that the question should be answered by a division that is not specialized in copyright,” the Swedish appeals court said in a statement, according to MCV.

California Lawmaker Seeks Facebook, MySpace Infringement Warning

The lower house of California’s Legislature passed a measure requiring operators of social networks such as Facebook Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace unit to inform users that their uploaded videos and photos may be copied without their consent by viewers.

The measure, AB 632, was written by Mike Davis, a Democratic member of the California Assembly from Los Angeles.

“When a person posts pictures on their profile on a social networking site, often there will be a warning from the network to be careful with whom they intentionally share their personal information,” Davis said in a May 21 statement.

“But no one warns you that on the social network, any picture can be copied by simply ‘right clicking’ the viewer’s mouse while it is placed over the image,” he said.

IP Moves

Bingham McCutchen Adds Japanese IP Litigator to Tokyo Office

Bingham McCutchen LLP hired Tomohiko Makino as an intellectual-property litigation partner for its Tokyo office, the Boston-based firm said in a statement.

Makino joins from Tokyo’s Fuji Law Patent Office. He has litigated patent infringement and invalidation cases for Japanese companies and also done appellate work. Additionally, he has done IP-related transactional work, including licensing and contract issues and strategic IP planning.

He has represented both Japanese and foreign companies whose technologies have included electronics, chemicals and manufacturing. In addition to patent infringement, he also has litigated copyright, trademark and unfair-competition cases.

Makino has an undergraduate degree from the School of International and Public Affairs and a law degree from Aoyama Gakuin University Law School.

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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