Toyota, LG, Google's China Talks, GM Einstein Ads: Intellectual Property

Toyota Motor Corp. lost its bid to dismiss a Florida company’s patent-infringement claim that may result in a ban on imports of the carmaker’s newest hybrid models including the Prius and Camry.

Theodore Essex, a judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, denied Toyota’s request to end the case brought by Paice LLC. He also said Toyota can’t argue that the Paice patent is invalid because that issue has been resolved in court. The judge’s May 21 findings are subject to review by the six-member commission.

The dispute is scheduled for a hearing starting July 19 and the two sides have been wrangling over what issues will be considered. The arguments concern the impact of a trial Bonita Springs, Florida-based Paice won against Toyota in a case over the patent that was upheld on appeal. The case involved earlier versions of the Prius and Highlander hybrids.

A federal judge in that earlier case rejected Paice’s request to halt sales of the cars and instead ordered royalty payments on Prius, hybrid Highlander and Lexus RX400h sport- utility vehicles. Paice filed a new complaint, at both the court and the ITC, over hybrid Camry, third-generation Prius, Lexus HS250h sedan and Lexus RX450h SUV models.

Officials with Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, didn’t return messages seeking comment. In a separate case, the Toyota City, Japan-based company is challenging the royalty rate it was ordered to pay by the federal judge in Texas.

Paice, which is an acronym for Power-Assisted Internal Combustion Engines, said Toyota is infringing a patent for a way to supply torque, or force, to a car’s wheels from both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine.

It also has a patent-infringement claim against Ford Motor Co. over Fusion and Escape hybrid vehicles. Ford is challenging the patent.

The ITC case is In the Matter of Hybrid Electric Vehicles, 337-688, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil cases are Paice LLC v. Toyota Motor Corp., 04-cv-211; 07cv180 and 08-cv-261, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Dow Seeks $88 Million From Nova in Plastic Patent Trial

Dow Chemical Co., the largest U.S. chemical maker, asked a jury to award $88 million in damages from Nova Chemicals Corp. for infringing patents for super-strong plastics used in grocery bags.

Dow, based in Midland, Michigan, sued Calgary-based Nova in 2005 in federal court over the patents. The trial is in Wilmington, Delaware.

“They are infringing on our property rights” and “they’re just ripping us off,” lawyer Harry J. Roper, representing Dow, told jurors in his opening statement yesterday.

“They’re trying to play a bit of a shell game here,” comparing products of different composition, said Nova’s lawyer, Ford Farabow Jr., as the trial started.

In the complaint, Dow contends Nova has been importing polyethylene products since 2003 in violation of the patents. Nova, owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, alleges the patents aren’t valid, in part because the inventions aren’t new and are inadequately described.

In dispute are patents 5,847,053 and 6,111,023, which were issued in December 1998 and August 2000, respectively.

The case is The Dow Chemical Co., v. Nova Chemicals Corp., 05CV737, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

LG Applies for Patent on Foldable, Bendable Display Screen

LG Electronics Inc. applied for a U.S. patent on a flexible display screen capable of a wide variety of configurations.

Application 20100117975, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 13, is for a touch- sensitive display screen for a mobile device that can be bent or folded.

The drawings accompanying the application show the screen bent into a cylindrical shape or folded like a map, or bent around the corner of a rectangle.

The touch sensitivity can be adjusted to the shape in which the screen is folded, and then will adjust back to a normal setting when the screen returns to a flat shape, according to the application.

Seoul-based LG filed the application in October, with assistance from Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimey of Los Angeles.

Copyright

Google’s Chinese Infringement Case by Mian Mian Still Active

Although Google Inc. has removed novelist Mian Mian’s “Acid House” from its online library, settlement talks failed to reach an agreement and the author’s copyright-infringement lawsuit in China is continuing, Associated Press reported.

Mian Mian seeks both financial compensation and an apology from Google, her lawyer, Sun Jongwei, told AP.

Although the author’s work, which depicts heroin use, is banned in China, pirated copies are widely available in that country, the news service reported.

The China Written Works Copyright Society, a government- affiliated group, has said it found more than 80,00 works by Chinese authors scanned into the Google library, according to AP.

Copyright Society of Nigeria Gets Sole Music-Copyright Nod

Nigeria’s government approved the Copyright Society of Nigeria as the sole music-industry copyright collective management organization in the country, according to a society statement.

In addition to the society, two other groups sought the designation, the Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.

Adebambo Adewopo, director general of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, said of the three applicants, the society demonstrated the “highest level of compliance to the statutory and regulatory approval conditions” and provided a “wider and more accommodating platform to all stakeholders which will make for a stronger and more cohesive collective management.”

Trademark

GM Sued by University for Ads Showing Einstein in Underpants

General Motors Co. was sued over its ads depicting the late physicist Albert Einstein in his underwear.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem received all the rights to Einstein’s image after his death in 1955. The school registered the mark for the use with paper and cardboard figures, games, toys, key chains, umbrellas and other products, according to the complaint filed May 19 in federal court in Los Angeles.

The school has licensed use of the inventor’s name and image to a wide variety of companies, including Apple Inc., Hyundai Motor Co., International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Einstein Noah Bagel Corp., according to court papers.

In 2008, Forbes Magazine ranked Einstein as the fourth highest-earning dead celebrity, with $18 million in annual earnings, the school said in its pleadings. “A great deal of time and effort and talent” has been expended in the school’s efforts to control “the works, goods and services” associated with its Einstein rights, according to court papers.

The school objects to GM’s use of an Einstein image in ads for its “Terrain” crossover sport utility vehicle. In the ad, Einstein’s face is superimposed on the body of a “shirtless muscle-bound underwear model bearing an ‘E=MC2” tattoo” on his shoulder and. The tattoo makes reference to Einstein’s theory of relativity.

“Ideas are sexy too” is the text accompanying the ad, which ran in Time Warner Inc.’s People Magazine.

The university says the use of Einstein’s image was unauthorized and unlicensed and creates a false association between the physicist and the GM product. GM’s actions didn’t stem from “any sincere or proper motive” and caused the school “substantial injury, loss and damage,” the university claims.

It asked the court to bar the automaker from any future use of the Einstein image, and for money damages, including an award of profits related to the alleged infringement. Additionally, the school seeks recall of all advertising and promotional materials containing the unauthorized image, and an award of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The school also requested extra damages to punish GM for its actions.

Hebrew University is represented by Antoinette Waller, Anthony V. Lupo, and Randall A. Brater of Washington-based Arent Fox LLP.

The case is The Hebrew University of Jerusalem v. General Motors Co., 2:10-cv-03790-AHM-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Monticello Mayor Accused of Selling Fake Shoes, Pirated Music

The mayor of Monticello, New York, was indicted for selling counterfeit music and films and fake Nike Inc. and Timberland Co. footwear, the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York, reported.

Mayor Gordon Jenkins and Rochelle Massey were named in a 16-count indictment by a Sullivan County grand jury, according to the newspaper.

Although the mayor told the newspaper the charges were politically motivated, Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell declined to respond, saying he would save his comments for the trial.

Jenkins’ next court date is June 9 and he’s presently out on bail, according to the Times Herald-Record.

IP Moves

K&L Gates Hires MoFo Litigator for San Francisco IP Group

K&L Gates LLP hired Shane Brune for its intellectual- property practice, the Pittsburgh-based firm said in a e-mailed statement.

Brun, a patent litigator, joins from San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP, where he also did technology-licensing work.

He has represented clients whose technologies have included Internet hypertext links, object-oriented software, the combination of Global Positioning System and cellular telephone technologies, plasma display technologies, and optical alignment and inspection systems.

He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas and a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Brooks Kushman Hires Patent Litigator from Kirkland & Ellis

Brooks Kushman PC hired Christopher C. Smith for its intellectual-property litigation practice, the Southfield, Michigan-based firm said in a statement.

Smith, a patent litigator, joins from Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and has also practiced at Pasadena, California’s Christie Parker & Hale LLP. Before he was a lawyer, he worked at IT Automotive, the Goldman Group and American Axel & Manufacturing Inc.

He has an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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

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