Boehringer, Ropes & Gray, Nike Golf Clubs, Jackson: Intellectual Property

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH expects sales to show little change this year as two of its biggest U.S. medicines face generic competition, prompting the world’s largest family-owned drugmaker to consider takeovers to spur growth.

Boehringer is seeking “targeted acquisitions,” Chairman Andreas Barner said yesterday at the Ingelheim, Germany-based drugmaker’s annual press conference. Investments may come in biotechnology companies and start-ups, the company said.

Boehringer needs to plug the gap left this year when generic competitors take sales from its prostate drug Flomax and Parkinson’s therapy Mirapex, and has already begun making deals. Pfizer Inc. sold animal-health assets to Boehringer in September, and the German company agreed in February to buy the rest of Japan’s SSP Co., a producer of over-the-counter drugs, for about 82 billion yen ($884 million).

The German drugmaker also said yesterday it will increase spending on research and development.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company has 1,306 published and pending patent applications. Among them are an application for the use of peptides against the Hepatitis C virus, the treatment of sexual disorders with compounds containing flibanserin, and a treatment for a disease affecting hogs.

Profit last year rose 24 percent to 1.76 billion euros ($2.37 billion), lifted by sales of brand-name medicines, including smokers’ cough drug Spiriva and Flomax, the company said in a statement.

Ropes & Gray Denies Patent-Application Malpractice Allegations

Ropes & Gray LP responded to a malpractice lawsuit from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory by asking a federal court to dismiss the case.

The lab sued the Boston-based firm in February, alleging that one of its partners mishandled patent applications. Patent applications filed on behalf of Gregory J. Hannon, a researcher working on RNA interference, contained “extensive portions of text” from a patent application from Stanford University’s Andrew Fire, a Nobel laureate, according to court papers.

As a result, the lab said that Hannon’s applications were denied, and it lost millions of dollars in potential licensing fees. The lab asked the federal court in Central Islip for an award of between $37.5 million and $82.5 million.

Ropes & Gray replied in court papers that the malpractice claim is “speculative and implausible on its face” and that it’s “flatly contradicted by the indisputable documentary record.”

Instead, the firm said, the patent office found Hannon’s invention unpatentable because of earlier inventions by researchers other than Fire. The patent office rejected Hannon’s applications “on multiple bases,” the firm argued in its court papers.

Matthew P. Vincent, the partner who handled the application, was dismissed from the firm last April and resigned from the Massachusetts bar three months later, according to court papers. He is a co-defendant with his former firm in the malpractice case.

His dismissal wasn’t related to his handling of the Hannon application, Ropes & Gray said in a court filing. The dismissal was related to Vincent’s billing of clients for patent-database- search services by a company he owned, the firm said.

In an April 10 order, Judge Arthur D. Spatt gave Vincent and Ropes & Gray until April 30 to respond to filings the laboratory will make in efforts to halt dismissal of the case.

Cold Spring is represented by Chad Ziegler of Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser PC of Garden City, New York.

Ropes & Gray is represented by Nicholas Commandeur and Philip R. Forlenza of New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP.

Vincent is represented by Anthony P. Colavita and Scott E. Kossove of L’Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini LLP of Garden City.

The case is Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory v. Ropes & Gray LLP, 2:10-cv-00661-ADS-AKT, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).

Nike Must Face Golf Club Inventorship Claims, Court Says

Nike Inc., which has 214 U.S. patents related to golf clubs, will have to face claims from a Florida man and a golf club company that they’re entitled to be named as inventors on some of the patents.

John P. Gillig and Triple Tee Golf Inc. sued Nike in federal court in Miami in October 2008, claiming the Beaverton, Oregon-based sports company misappropriated his secrets of golf club design and that he should be a named inventor on patents D484,937, 7,201,669 and other patents for a golf putter.

After a trial court in Texas dismissed his claims, Gillig filed an appeal with the Washington-based court that hears appeals of patent cases.

In its April 20 ruling, the Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit said the trial judge correctly tossed out the trade- secrets claims and said some of the inventorship claims could go forward.

Gillig and Triple Tee Golf’s case was argued by Melvin K. Silverman of M.K. Silverman & Associates PC of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Nike’s case was argued by Christopher J. Renk of Washington’s Banner & Witcoff Ltd.

The case is Gillig v. Nike, 09-12415, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Trademark

Jackson Estate to Develop Shows with Cirque du Soleil

The estate of late pop singer Michael Jackson will receive royalty payments on intellectual property used in Cirque du Soleil programs set to start next year, the estate and Cirque du Soleil said in a joint statement yesterday.

Cirque du Soleil will produce a touring arena show that will begin in 2011. A permanent show will open in Las Vegas in 2012, according to the statement. Both shows will be produced in partnership with MGM Mirage, the biggest casino owner on the Las Vegas Strip.

The estate and Cirque du Soleil will each own 50 percent of each Michael Jackson project, sharing equally the cost of creating, developing, building and producing the projects, according to the statement.

Sony Corp. said in March it reached a “landmark recording deal” with the late singer’s estate, with the transaction work as much as $250 million.

Jackson died in June and the Los Angeles County coroner ruled his death a homicide, from acute propofol intoxication. His physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Fake Soccer Shirts Seized on South Africa Border, Times Says

A man from Swaziland was arrested at the South African border with fake World Cup soccer shirts valued at 3.6 million euros ($4.8 million), the Times of Swaziland reported.

He was also bringing in fake Nike sneakers and counterfeit Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss trousers, according to the newspaper.

Visnu Naidoo, a South African police official, said the popularity of fake soccer shirts is related to the World Cup South Africa, set to begin June 11, according to the newspaper.

Copyright

Dow Jones Sues Briefing.com Claiming Content Theft

News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co. said it sued Briefing.com to prevent what it claims is theft of its news articles and headlines.

Dow Jones, the owner of a financial newswire, sued Briefing.com for copyright infringement and “hot news” misappropriation in federal court in New York, it said yesterday in a statement.

According to Dow Jones, Briefing.com charges a fee for access to its Web site, where it publishes material from Dow Jones news stories. Briefing.com also delivers content through third-parties including New York-based Bloomberg LP’s Bloomberg News.

“Briefing.com has been brazenly taking a free ride on the reputation of our publications and on the investment Dow Jones makes in quality, real-time journalism,” Mark H. Jackson, general counsel for Dow Jones, said in the statement.

Kelly Kauffman, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Briefing.com, didn’t immediately respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment.

In one two-week period, Briefing.com copied parts of at least 100 articles and more than 70 headlines within three minutes of their publication on Dow Jones Newswires, the company said in the statement.

Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch, was acquired by New York-based News Corp. in 2007.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.’s chairman and chief executive officer, said this month that newspaper publishers should prevent search engines such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.’s Bing from linking to full articles for free.

“It’s produced a river of gold, but those words are being taken mostly from the newspapers,” Murdoch said April 6 at a taping of “The Kalb Report” at the National Press Club in Washington. “I think they ought to stop it, that the newspapers ought to stand up and let them do their own reporting.”

Murdoch has said newspaper publishers should protect their online content behind pay walls. News Corp. has started charging for access to its newspaper sites, emulating the subscription model of the Wall Street Journal.

“There are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purpose without contributing a penny to its production,” Murdoch said in December at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s workshop on journalism in the Internet age. “Content creators bear all the costs, while aggregators enjoy many of the benefits. In the long term, this is untenable.”

Some people post stories from News Corp.’s newspapers without permission or rewrite the information, Murdoch said at the time.

“It’s not fair use,” he said. “To be impolite, it’s theft.”

The case is Dow Jones & Co. v. Briefing.com Inc., 1:10-cv- 03321, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

Ohio Seller of Pirated Movies Gets Two-Year Prison Sentence

An Ohio man was sentenced to 29 months in prison for selling counterfeit copies of movies, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

Richard Humphrey, 22, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, ran a subscription-based Web site -- www.usawarez.com -- through which he distributed unauthorized copies of movies, computer games and software, according to the statement yesterday. He pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement in federal court in Cleveland on Sept. 21.

In addition to offering paid subscriptions, Humphrey solicited donations from users. The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized two of Humphrey’s personal computers and a server at an Internet service provider that was used to run his Web site.

In addition to the prison sentence, Humphrey was required to forfeit his computers and assorted hardware, and to undergo three years of supervised release after serving his prison term.

IP Moves

Pietragallo Gorden Hires Steven Hays for IP Practice

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP hired Steven W. Hays for its intellectual-property practice group, the Pittsburgh-based firm said in a statement.

Hays, a former polymer chemist, works on patent and trademark acquisition and litigation.

He has an undergraduate degree in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Loyola University-New Orleans.

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

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