Advanced Cell Technology Inc., a biotech company in the regenerative medicine area, received a U.S. patent on a process to produce cells used to treat eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Patent 7,736,896, which was one of 5029 U.S. patents issued June 15, is for a method of producing human retinal pigment epithelium cells. The process involves differentiating human embryonic stem cells into the desired cell types.
Worcester, Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology applied for the patent in July 2005, with the assistance of New York’s Hunton & Williams LLP.
The company said in a statement yesterday that it has filed an application to test the cells in humans as a treatment for Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a rare hereditary disease. Advanced Cell Technology said it also plans to use the cells to treat an eye condition known as dry Age-related Macular Degeneration, which commonly affects people over the age of 60.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted the cells covered by the patent an “orphan drug” status, which is given to potential treatments for rare conditions, the company said in its statement.
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Isohunt Tells Appeals Court Search Ban Order Is Overbroad
Isohunt Web Technologies Inc., a Bit Torrent file sharing system, asked a federal appeals court to overturn an order barring searches for movie titles.
U.S. District Judge Stephen H. Wilson issued an order in March barring Isohunt and founder Gary Fung from a wide range of what the judge deemed infringing conduct. Earlier he found Fung and Isohunt liable for infringement because they “engaged in purposeful, culpable expression and conduct aimed at promoting infringing uses” of their websites.
A group of movie studios including Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. sued Fung and Isohunt for copyright infringement in federal court in Los Angeles in September 2006, claiming Isohunt infringed film copyrights and facilitated infringement by others.
Fung and Isohunt filed court papers with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco on June 15, asking the court to keep Wilson’s orders from taking effect until they could appeal his rulings.
The lawyer representing the defendants, Ira P. Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm of Novato, California, is arguing that Wilson reached too far with his order, and that barring the searches of movie titles violated the First Amendment.
The lower court case is Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., v. Gary Fung, 2:06-cv-05578-SVW-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The appeals court case is Columbia Picture Industries v. Gary Fung, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 10-ff946 (San Francisco).
Universities Told They Must Enforce Illegal Downloading Ban
The U.S. Department of Education has sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to U.S. universities reminding them they must develop a plan to combat students’ illegal downloading and distribution of digital content.
The letter, sent June 4, tells the universities that if they wish to participate in the Title IV federal student loan program, they have to set up a mechanism to educate their communities about appropriate and inappropriate use of copyrighted material.
Schools are also required to develop disciplinary procedures for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, and to use one or more of what the letter calls “technology-based deterrents.”
Students must be notified of these measures every year through a direct individual notice to each enrolled student.
The law mandating these measures is the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which was signed by President George Bush in August 2008. The enforcement provisions begin this year on July 1.
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Axial Vector Applies to Register ‘Good Green Energy’ Trademark
Axial Vector Energy Corp., a Dubai-based developer of engine and electric power-generator technologies, is seeking to register “Good Green Energy” as a trademark.
According to the application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office June 8, the company plans to use the mark for anti-knock substances for internal combustion engines and for consultations in the field of custom fabrication of power- generation engines and the generation of energy.
The company said in a statement that it will use the mark for a new line of smart electric grid products.
Urban Outfitters Awarded $1.3 Million in Fees, Sanctions
Urban Outfitters Inc., the Philadelphia-based clothing chain, was awarded $1.3 million in attorney fees and sanctions of $5,000 in a trademark infringement case.
The retailer sued BCBG Max Ariza Group Inc. of Vernon, California, for trademark infringement in federal court in Philadelphia in September 2006. The suit related to Urban Outfitters’ “Free People” trademark, used for a line of clothing and a group of retail stores.
Urban Outfitters objected to BCBG’s “True People” line introduced at the 2006 Magic apparel-industry trade show in Las Vegas. In August 2007, the court found that BCBG had infringed and issued an order barring its use of “True People.”
At that time, the judge didn’t award attorney fees, so Urban Outfitters appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the trial court’s infringement finding and told the judge to take another look at BCBG’s conduct in light of an attorney fee award.
In his June 11 order, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson noted that BCBG had argued “26 separate legal reasons” why Urban Outfitters shouldn’t get attorneys fees and also claimed that the Philadelphia chain’s own lawyers’ conduct was “egregious.”
The judge said BCBG and codefendant Street Beat Sportswear Inc. of Brooklyn “extended this litigation unduly,” and caused the court “to spend time on irrelevant matters.”
The case is Urban Outfitters Inc. v. BCBG Max Azria Group Inc., 2:06-cv-04003-MMB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Allegis Claims Ex-Employee’s Use of LinkedIn Violates Agreement
Allegis Group Inc.’s TEKsystems’ trade-secrets case against three former employees is set for trial in August 2011, according to court filings.
An unusual element in the case is TEKsystems’ assertion that a non-compete agreement was violated by one of its former employees through her use of LinkedIn Corp.’s social networking website. TEKsystems, a technology staffing company, is based in Hanover, Maryland.
TEKsystems claimed Brelyn Hammernick used LinkedIn’s systems to contact her former colleagues and solicit business after she moved to Horizontal Integration Inc., of Minnetonka, Minnesota, a TEKsystems competitor.
Hammernick’s actions violated the employment agreement she signed when she went to work as a recruiter in January 2007, according to the complaint filed March 16 in federal court in Minnesota.
In her response to the TEKsystems complaint, Hammernick said that, while she “linkedin” with TEKsystems employees, she didn’t communicate with them in any other fashion. She and her codefendants said their use of LinkedIn and Facebook Inc.’s social networking site weren’t for promotional purposes or for the exchange of any trade-secret or confidential information.
In her May 28 order, Magistrate Judge Susan Richard Nelson said all pretrial information gathering in the case had to be completed by Feb. 1, 2011, and that the parties should be ready for a five- to seven-day trial beginning Aug. 1, 2011.
TEKsystems is represented by George R. Wood of San Francisco’s Littler Mendelson PC.
The case is TEKsystems Inc. v. Hammernick, 10-cv-00819-PJS-SRN, U.s. District Court, District of Minnesota.
Honigman Miller Hires Skadden Arps Patent Litigator Zelenock
Zelenock, a litigator, joins from New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She has represented clients whose technologies include mechanical devices, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, engine parts, electronics, apparel, software, financial applications and semiconductor chips.
She has handled patent, trade secret, unfair competition and antitrust disputes in federal and state courts, arbitration proceedings, and the International Trade Commission.
Zelenock has an undergraduate degree in biology and history and a law degree from the University of Michigan. She is a candidate for a master of laws degree from L’Università degli Studi di Torino.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.org.