Schering-Plough, RIM Settles With Prism, Novartis: Intellectual Property

Schering-Plough Healthcare Products Inc., a unit of Merck & Co., prevailed over Neutrogena Corp., a division of Johnson & Johnson, in a false advertising suit involving sunblock.

The suit, filed last August, alleged that Neutrogena had touted its “Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+” sunscreen in print advertisements, television commercials and packaging as containing “Helioplex” -- a photo stabilizing agent that prevented the sunscreen from breaking down. Neutrogena’s product, however, didn’t initially have Helioplex, although the company added it to its sunscreen in February.

In a ruling yesterday in Delaware, U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson found that Neutrogena had violated both section 43(a) of the federal Lanham Act and Delaware’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Neutrogena’s “message is unambiguous and explicit, insofar as it provided the public with a specific formula for Helioplex, and its labeling and advertisements for DEHN-free 100+ Product clearly represented that Helioplex was present.”

The case is Schering-Plough Healthcare Products Inc. v. Neutrogena Corporation, 1:09-cv-00642, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Microsoft Accuses Salesforce.com of Infringing Patents

Microsoft Corp. sued Salesforce.com Inc. yesterday, accusing the company of infringing nine patents for ways to make software more efficient.

The complaint targets the customer-relationship management, or CRM, software that is the hallmark of Salesforce.com’s business. It seeks a court order that would prevent the San Francisco-based company from providing features that Microsoft claims it invented.

Salesforce.com, founded in 1999, sells subscriptions to Internet business software that runs marketing campaigns and tracks sales leads. It competes against Microsoft’s Dynamics programs in the CRM market and “has profited through infringement of the Microsoft patents-in-suit,” according to the complaint, filed in federal court in Seattle.

“More and more, we’re seeing Dynamics compete with Salesforce in deals,” said Ray Wang, an analyst with Altimeter Group in San Mateo, California. “Long term, Salesforce and Microsoft are on a collision course for all enterprise software.”

CRM is the fastest-growing part of the $250 billion corporate-software market, with a value of $7 billion to $8 billion a year, he said. The patent dispute pits the world’s largest software maker against the biggest seller of Internet- based customer-management programs. Salesforce.com had more than $1.3 billion in sales last year. Jane Hynes, a Salesforce.com spokeswoman, declined to comment. Some of the patents cover how the software operates, such as a way to determine which version a person is using to see if it needs to be updated, or for features that make the software easier to use, including tool bars and navigation of menus.

The case is Microsoft Corp. v. Salesforce.com Inc., 10cv825, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

RIM Settles BlackBerry Patent Dispute With Prism

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry phone, settled a patent-infringement dispute with Prism Technologies LLC over technology used in the e-mail devices and smartphones.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed in documents filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington and in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, seeking dismissal of the cases. The documents cite a “license and settlement agreement” reached between the two companies.

Closely held Prism, based in Omaha, had filed a complaint with the ITC seeking to block imports of BlackBerry devices, desktop software and servers, claiming they infringe a patent for an authentication system that can be used with services conducted over the Internet.

One device singled out was the BlackBerry Curve 8330 smartphone made in Canada and Mexico for RIM. The civil suit was filed in 2008 against RIM and Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker. Microsoft settled its part of the case in September, according to court records.

Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, said the company doesn’t comment on litigation. Prism lawyers Robert Walters of McDermott Will & Emery in Washington and Michael Cox of Koley Jessen in Omaha didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain Authentication Systems, Including Software and Handheld Electronic Devices, 337-697, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil suit is Prism Technologies v. Research In Motion Ltd., 08cv537, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska (Omaha).

King Loses Bid to Stop Novartis’s Copy of Skelaxin

Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit can continue selling copies of King Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Skelaxin muscle relaxant while their dispute over a patent on the medicine awaits resolution in court, a U.S. judge said.

King’s bid to halt sales until trial was rejected May 17 by U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown in Trenton, New Jersey. Sandoz has “raised a substantial question regarding patent validity and infringement,” and Novartis would be able to pay King were it to lose the trial scheduled to begin in July, the judge said.

“Any changes in the market caused over this short period of time should be even easier to estimate and calculate, if necessary, after a full trial on liability,” the judge ruled.

Skelaxin is King’s biggest product, generating $401 million in sales last year, or 23 percent of the Bristol, Tennessee- based company’s $1.78 billion in revenue. The patent, which expires in 2026, is for a way of using metaxalone, the active ingredient in Skelaxin.

Jack Howarth, a spokesman for King, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. Lauren Cohen, a spokeswoman for Sandoz, said the company “is continuing to sell metaxalone.”

Two other patents on the drug that expire in 2021 were ruled invalid by a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, last year in a case involving Eon Labs Inc., which is now part of Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis. The companies are awaiting an appeals court ruling in that case.

Sandoz, the world’s second-biggest generic-drug maker behind Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., began selling its copy of the drug on March 30. It was forced to halt sales for about a week before Brown lifted that ban April 9.

The case is King Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Sandoz Inc., 08cv5974, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

New Patents Issued by Patent and Trademark Office

Among the new patents announced yesterday by the federal Patent and Trademark Office were several novel approaches to everyday needs. John Perazzo of Southlake, Texas, represented by attorney Stephen Mosher of Whitaker, Chalk, Swindle & Sawyer in Fort Worth, Texas, received patent 7,716,749 for a high-chair cover. Kimberly Ann Cook and Wayne Arthur Crawford of Chicago, represented by Chicago’s McAndrews, Held & Malloy, received patent 7,716,751 B2 for an insulated glove to hold hot or cold beverages. Ted C. Halbur of Lino Lakes, Minnesota, and Travis M. Robertson of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, represented by attorneys at Griffiths & Seaton, received patent 7,716,849 for a finger- puppet stored value card created for Target Brands, a division of Target Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York, at erosen14@bloomberg.net.

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