Nuance, One51, Google, Tudou, `Paul the Octopus': Intellectual Property

Vlingo Corp., whose products help mobile telephones recognize voice commands, sued rival Nuance Communications Inc. alleging infringement of five U.S. patents.

Vlingo, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is seeking a jury trial, an order to stop the infringement and unspecified damages, according to a complaint filed July 22 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Nuance’s acts of infringement have caused harm, reparable and irreparable, to Vlingo” and “Nuance will continue to infringe” unless stopped by the court, the plaintiff’s lawyers said in court papers.

Nuance, with $950.4 million in sales last fiscal year, sued Vlingo in federal court in Texas in 2008, asserting its own patent against Vlingo. That case was transferred to Massachusetts in 2009 and is continuing with document gathering.

Richard Mack, a spokesman for Burlington, Massachusetts- based Nuance, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the Delaware lawsuit.

In dispute are patents 5,956,681; 6,563,911; 6,606,611; 6,671,354; and 6,813,603.

Vlingo is represented by Paul J. Hayes and Dean G. Bostock from Boston’s Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo PC, and Melanie K. Sharp and Erika R. Caesar of Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor LLP of Wilmington.

The case is Vlingo Corp. v. Nuance, 10CV621 U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

ASTI, Ismeca Settle Singapore Patent Infringement Suits

ASTI Holdings Ltd., a Singapore-based maker of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment, settled a patent- infringement case with Komax Holding AG’s Ismeca Semiconductor, Singapore’s Business Times reported July 23.

Semiconductor Technologies & Instruments, an ASTI division, was accused of infringing Ismeca patents, the newspaper reported.

Ismeca filed infringement cases in Singapore High Court and the Kuala Lumpur High Court of Malaysia, according to the Business Times.

Although financial terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, the suits were dismissed, and Semiconductor Technologies can sell its can pack machines in the present configuration with no bars, according to the newspaper.

One51’s Board to Be Queried About Patent Royalty Distribution

The board of One51, a Dublin-based investor, is facing questions from a group of dissident shareholders about the payment of 40 percent of a 4.96 million euros ($6.4 million) patent royalty to nine company executives, the Irish Times reported July 23.

The patent is for a paint-can lid developed by Protech Performance, acquired by One51 in 2006 for $105 million euros, according to the newspaper.

The dissident shareholders in the closely held company want to know how the money was spent and why the payments weren’t disclosed to them, according to the Irish Times.

They’ve also asked for names of those who benefitted personally from the payments to be made public, the Irish Times reported.

King and Purdue Settle Patent Fight Over Embeda Drug

King Pharmaceuticals Inc. settled a fight with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP over patents on pain medicines that are less likely to be abused by drug addicts, according to court documents.

Alpharma Inc., which King bought in 2008, had asked a federal court in Virginia that year to determine that its Embeda drug doesn’t infringe Purdue’s patents on abuse-resistant pain pills. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed by the court, and Jack Howarth, a King spokesman, declined to comment.

King and Purdue were among drugmakers racing to develop safer forms of the extended-release narcotic oxycodone that would be harder to crush, chew or inject for a quicker high. Corey Davis, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in New York, said the settlement means it’s likely King is licensing the Purdue patents and could use them to block generic competition.

“Now we’d just like to see Embeda accelerate well beyond the current approximate $50-$60 million sales run-rate,” Davis said in a note to clients.

Sales of Embeda were $9 million in the first quarter, Bristol, Tennessee-based King said in May. Chief Executive Officer Brian Markison said sales have seen steady growth.

Libby Holman, a spokeswoman for Purdue, declined to comment on the settlement.

OxyContin is Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue’s biggest drug, with more than $1 billion in annual sales. The closely held company had been fighting lawsuits over the way it promoted the drug’s safety. Purdue received regulatory approval in April for a new formula of OxyContin that’s more difficult to abuse.

In a December 2009 filing, King said it had talks with Purdue and that fear of Purdue’s patents hurt King by “adversely affecting the marketplace’s acceptance of Embeda and by decreasing Alpharma’s attractiveness to potential investors.”

The complaint was filed in western Virginia where, according to King, opioid painkillers such as OxyContin are prescribed 500 percent more frequently than the national average.

The case is Alpharma Inc. v. Purdue Pharma LP, 2008-50, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Abington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

BP Sues Six Former Staff for Misusing Confidential Information

BP Plc is suing six former members of its energy team in Singapore claiming they misused confidential information to help rival Shenzhen Brightoil Group gain a “strategic advantage.”

The six, including Quek Chin Thean, formerly global head of residues trading, and legal manager Simon Cheong, had “access to and possessed intricate knowledge” of BP’s business and commercial strategies and trade secrets, according to papers filed with the Singapore High Court. Unauthorized disclosure of the information would harm BP “immeasurably” and create a “significant new competitor that is well aware of our trading strategies,” BP said in the court filing.

Quek, who was “widely respected on the trading floor” and seen “as one of the symbols for local leadership,” together with Cheong orchestrated the mass departures at BP by offering sign-on bonuses, according to court papers. Both men “actively assisted” Brightoil, a direct rival, in setting up a competing business while still in the London-based company’s employment, BP said in its pleadings.

Standard Chartered Ltd., Citigroup Inc., Societe Generale SA, Mercuria Energy Ltd., Noble Group Ltd. and Trafigura Beheer BV are hiring energy traders in Asia amid rising demand in the region for coal, oil and natural gas. Singapore, which is the Asian oil-trading hub, is offering tax breaks and incentives to lure companies to boost hiring.

The six, including Paul John Bradshaw, head of operations eastern hemisphere; trading manager John Foo; regional marine sales manager Clarence Chang; and executive assistance Laura Kuan, received a sign-on fee from Brightoil that constitutes a “secret profit” and breaches their fiduciary and fidelity duties and code of conduct to BP, according to court papers.

Quek, who began working at BP in 1992, also allegedly recruited three U.S.-based colleagues to Brightoil, according to the lawsuit. Foo, Bradshaw and Kuan also made unauthorized downloads from BP’s computer networks, BP said.

“Investigations are ongoing,” said Lau Lu Ching, a Singapore-based spokeswoman at BP, declining to comment further. Quek and Foo didn’t answer calls to their mobile phones. Shirley Kwok at Brightoil’s investor relations department in Hong Kong declined comment. Brightoil isn’t named as a defendant in this lawsuit. The six hadn’t filed any defense motions by July 23.

BP suspected the resignations were engineered after the employees didn’t offer any reason for their departures, which were in “quick succession,” according to the papers. The oil company started an investigation and claims it discovered the six had acted wrongfully and breached their duties to BP. Evidence of e-mail correspondence between Quek and Brightoil Chairman Raymond Sit Kwong Lam as well as Vice President Michael Zhang indicated they planned on setting up a Singapore-based oil-trading firm, BP said in the court papers.

The case is BP Singapore Pte vs Quek Chin Thean & Anor S482/2010 in the Singapore High Court.

Copyright

Google Asked to Take Down Unauthorized Book Link on User’s Blog

Google Inc. received a request from a southern publisher to take down a copy of a book that was uploaded without authorization.

The book, “Frost Moon,” is a fantasy novel by San Jose, California-based computer scientist Anthony G. Francis, published by the Bell Bridge imprint of Symrna, Georgia-based BelleBooks.

“Frost Moon” is available in a Kindle edition, according to the Amazon.com website. According to the take-down letter, sent to Google under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the blogger at www.myebookswwrw.blogspot.com was providing a link to an “illegal pirated copy of the protected work.”

When accessed July 23, the site no longer contained a link to “Frost Moon.” The bulk of the book titles to which links were still provided fell into the categories of paranormal fiction, paranormal romance, young adult and urban fantasy.

The site lists an e-mail address to which book requests can be sent.

The letter sent to Google seeking the book’s removal was posted on the Chilling Effects website, a joint project of San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, and seven law schools.

Tudou Must Pay Damages in Infringement Case, Shanghai Court Says

Tudou’s Tudou.com video-sharing website was ordered to pay copyright-infringement damages to Shanghai Joy.cn Corp., Interfax-China reported July 23.

The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court found that Tudou infringed Shanghai Joy’s copyrights through unauthorized Web broadcasts of video clips of an animation series, according to Interfax-China.

Although Tudou was put on notice it was infringing, the company didn’t remove the offending clips for two months, Interfax-China reported.

Shanghai Joy will receive 20,000 Chinese renminbi ($2,950) in damages from Tudou, according to Interfax-China.

Russian Publisher Hit with $250 Million Infringement Verdict

In a case involving work by science fiction author Alexander Belyayev, the Moscow Arbitration Court ordered a publisher to pay 7.6 billion rubles ($250 million) for copyright infringement, the Moscow Times reported.

The court found that the publishing house Astrel violated the rights of the copyright holder, the publishing house Terra, according to the newspaper.

AST, the parent corporation for Astrel, said it would appeal the ruling and that Belyayev’s works were in the public domain since it had been more than 50 years since Belyayev’s death in 1942, according to the Moscow Times.

The suit was based on a Russian law that extended the copyrights for authors who worked during World War II to 70 years after their death, the newspaper reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

Merlin Entertainments’ ‘Paul the Octopus’ Trademarks Sought

Paul the Octopus, who resides at Merlin Entertainments Group’s Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, is the subject of a growing number of trademark registrations. Paul won his fame for correctly picking the winner of a number of matches including the final at the World Cup competition in South Africa.

While no applications to register his title had been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by July 23, European registration is sought for a number of variations on his name, including “Octopus Paul,” “Polpo Octopus Paul,” and “Paul die Krake” and “Paul das Orakel.” “Polpo” and “Krake” are, respectively, the Italian and German words for octopus.

Several of the applications were filed by Sea Life Deutschland GmbH and others were filed by individuals not necessarily affiliated with the animal park.

Meanwhile, Paul has won fame in another area affected by IP law. Parry Gripp, the California author of such songs as “Surfin’ Taco,” and “Hamster on a Piano, Eating Popcorn,” has posted “Paul the Octopus,” a song in honor of the oracular cephalopod, on Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing website.

For more trademark news, click here.

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

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