The European Central Bank won a court ruling invalidating the German part of Document Security Systems Inc.’s European patent for a method to prevent copying bank notes.
The Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest civil tribunal, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that the patent isn’t valid for use in Germany. The ruling granted the ECB’s appeal of a lower-court ruling which the central bank had lost.
The case is part of a nine-nation battle over the patent. Rochester, New York-based Document Security’s right to the technology has so far been upheld in the Netherlands and Spain, where the Frankfurt-based bank has filed an appeal.
The ECB has succeeded in revoking the patent in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and the U.K. A case in Luxembourg is still pending.
“The court is, similar to the English and French courts, of the opinion that the patent granted exceeds the scope of” the technology the company originally applied to protect, the judges wrote. “For the territory of Germany, the validity has been retroactively voided.”
The ECB welcomes the ruling, Wiktor Krzyzanowski, a spokesman for the bank said.
The German case is BGH, Xa ZR 124/07.
Genzyme Sues Anika for Arthritis-Drug Patent Infringement
The patents, issued in 1992 and 1995, relate to gels used to deliver drugs into the body. Genzyme is seeking a court ruling to prevent further use of its inventions, plus cash compensation.
“Anika’s activities have been without express or implied license from Genzyme,” Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Genzyme said in the complaint, filed July 7 in federal court in Boston.
Anika plans to sell Monovisc in the second half of this year, the company said May 10. Officials with the company didn’t return a message seeking comment. Bedford, Massachusetts-based Anika reported $40.1 million in sales last year.
The case is Genzyme Corp. v. Anika Therapeutics Inc., 10cv11146, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston).
Shire Sues Cadila Healthcare in U.S. Court Over Lialda
Shire Plc sued Cadila Healthcare Ltd. in federal court in Delaware to block its attempt to market and sell a generic version of Lialda, a treatment for ulcerative colitis.
The lawsuit, which alleges infringement of U.S. patent 6,773,720, was triggered by an application that Cadila’s Zydus unit filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In the abbreviated new drug applications filed by makers of generic drugs, the companies claim they have created a biologically equivalent form of a patented product. Such applications allow the generic-drug makers to bypass clinical and animal studies.
Under federal regulations, when the maker of the patented drug files an infringement suit, the regulatory agency many not approve the application for 30 months, or until a court finds the patent is invalid or not infringed.
Cadila, based in Ahmedabad, India, will cause Shire “irreparable harm” if it’s permitted to go ahead with the generic drug, Dublin-based Shire said in court papers.
Shire is represented by Frederick L. Cottrell III and Sarah R. Stafford of Wilmington’s Richards, Layton & Finger PA, and Edgar H. Haug, Sandra Kuzmich and Andrew Wasson of New York’s Frommer Lawrence & Haug LLP.
The case is Shire development Inc., v. Cadila Healthcare Ltd, 1:10-cv-00581-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Apple Seeks U.S. Patent on User Interface That Changes Shape
Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, applied for a patent on a shape-shifting user interface.
Application 20100162109, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 24, covers a user interface with changeable topography.
The inclusion of tactile features would make it easier for a user to manipulate the device without having to look at it, according to the application. Changeable nodes would be able to push out or pull away from the surface.
The configuration of the device would be altered through temperature change, either related to room temperature or through heating by an electrical current.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, applied for the patent in March 2009 with assistance from San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP
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BT, TalkTalk Challenge U.K. Law on Digital Piracy
The companies filed papers with the High Court because provisions in the Digital Economy Act received “insufficient scrutiny” before the previous government dissolved parliament, they said in a statement yesterday.
“We think the previous government’s rushed approach resulted in flawed legislation,” TalkTalk Chairman Charles Dunstone said in the statement. “Innocent broadband customers will suffer and citizens will have their privacy invaded.”
The law is designed to prevent illegal file sharing of television shows, films and music by forcing Internet service providers to block some users. BT and TalkTalk may invest “tens of millions of pounds in new systems and processes” to monitor Internet users and block connections, only to find the law is unenforceable, the companies said.
Piracy may cost content providers 400 million pounds ($605 million) each year, the U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
The act “sets out to protect our creative economy from the continued threat of online copyright infringement,” the department said. “We believe measures are consistent with EU legislation and that there are enough safeguards in place to protect the rights of consumers.”
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Internet Terms That Create Confusion May Be Blocked in EU
Companies can stop rivals from using trademarked terms as keywords on Internet search engines if they trigger advertisements that confuse users, the European Union’s highest court said.
In a dispute involving two companies that sell modular buildings, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled yesterday that using a competitor’s trademarks as keywords to link Internet searches to ads can be stopped if the ad “does not enable average Internet users, or enables them only with difficulty, to ascertain” who made the products.
The decision by a five-judge panel follows the EU court’s ruling in a dispute between Google Inc., owner of the most-used search engine, and luxury-goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA. The March 23 ruling established that brand owners can sue advertisers who buy protected keywords and display ads on the search engine’s website that make it difficult for users to see whether they sell original or fake products.
Portakabin Ltd., a maker of portable cabins and modular buildings, sought to stop Dutch competitor Primakabin from using Internet keywords such as “portakabin,” and “portacabin” to trigger an ad that said “used portakabins.” A Dutch court in December 2008 sought the EU tribunal’s guidance.
The case is C-558/08, Portakabin Ltd, Portakabin BV v Primakabin BV.
Vuvuzela Trademarks to be Used for Wide Range of Products
Although the sound of vuvuzelas may fade away after the July 11 World Cup championship game between Spain and the Netherlands, vuvuzela-related trademarks are likely to linger.
The vuvuzela is a long plastic horn popular with South African sports fans. Its loud blasts of noise have punctuated this year’s World Cup broadcasts.
Masincedane Sport CC of Kuils River, South Africa, registered the trademark in the European community in December 2005 for games, playthings, toys and sporting articles.
Myliki International (Wines) Ltd. of Manchester, England, has had a European registration for “vuvuzela” to be used for wines since November. The company website shows no vuvuzela label for any of the wines Myliki imports from three different sites in South Africa.
Intersnack Group GmbH of Dusseldorf, Germany, registered “vuvuzela” in the European community in April for snack foods including extruded potato products, dried fruits and muesli bars. The company, which produces chips in a variety of flavors including goulash and roasted chicken, doesn’t feature a vuvuzela-named product on its website.
On June 22, Tendence Group Anstalt of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, applied for a European registration for “vuvuzela” for products ranging from scientific instruments, leather goods, and jewelry to bookbinding materials and paint brushes.
Laurie Mark Kempster of Cape Town, South Africa, filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on July 4 to register “vuvuzela” for beer, ale, lager and porter.
On July 2, Mark F. Thomann of Chicago applied to register “vuvuzela” in the U.S. for musical instruments.
J Sainsbury Plc imported 70,000 vuvuzelas in anticipation of the World Cup matches, and sold them for 2 pounds ($3) apiece. The supermarket chain sidestepped potential trademark problems by calling them “vuvu horns” according to the London- based company’s website.
World Cup Fakes Cost South Africa 14,400 Jobs, INTA Claims
Imports of fake World Cup-related merchandise cost South Africa 14,400 jobs in the clothing and textile-industry industry sectors, the International Trademark Association said in a statement.
South Africa seized counterfeit goods valued at 66 million rand ($8.7 million) in the six months leading up to the World Cup, according to the INTA statement.
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