Reckitt, MGM Resorts, KBR, Mike Tyson, Don Henley: Intellectual Property

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s Adams Respiratory won an appeals court ruling that may help it prevent Perrigo Co. from selling a generic version of the cough medicine Mucinex.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday ruled a judge erred in saying Perrigo’s version wouldn’t infringe Adams Respiratory’s patent 6,372,252 and sent the case back for further proceedings. The decision was posted on the court’s website. The patent was issued in April 2002.

Mucinex is an expectorant that loosens and helps expel mucus that causes congestion. The main ingredient, guaifenesin, was first approved by U.S. regulators in 1952 and the Adams patent is for an extended-release version. Adams sued Perrigo in 2007, seeking to block the lower-cost product until the patent expires in 2020.

The Federal Circuit said the trial judge erred in interpreting the patent.

Perrigo, based in Allegan, Michigan, is the world’s largest maker of non-prescription store-branded drugs. Art Shannon, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment on the ruling. He said Perrigo hadn’t entered the market because it doesn’t have regulatory approval.

A spokesman for Slough, England-based Reckitt declined to comment because of pending litigation.

The case is Adams Respiratory Therapeutics Inc. v. Perrigo Co., 2010-1246, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Adams Respiratory Therapeutics Inc. v. Perrigo Co., 07cv993, U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids).

Facebook Tightens Hold on Social Media IP With Patent Purchase

Facebook Inc., operator of the most-used social network website, acquired seven patents and 11 published and pending patent applications from Sunnyvale, California-based Friendster Inc.

The transfer, which is revealed in filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, took place May 13, and was recorded at the patent office June 7.

Transferred to Facebook are patents 7,069,308, 7,478,078, 7,606,687, 7,117,254, 7,188,153, 7,451,161 and 7,680,882. The acquired patents -- issued between July 2006 and March 2010 -- and the pending applications relate to social media technology. The Houston firm of Patterson & Sheridan LLP assisted with the patent-application process.

The newest patent -- 7,680,882 -- was issued March 16 and is for a method and system for managing multimedia content appearing on user pages of an online social network.

Friendster itself was acquired by closely held MOL AccessPortal Berhad’s MOL Global of Kuala Lumpur in December. MOL Global is a provider of online payment systems. Friendster is a social network company that had more than 115 million members at the end of 2009.

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, presently has 500 million users, according to the company website.

For more patent news, click here.


MGM Resorts Sues Over Mattress Company’s Use of ‘Bellagio’

MGM Resorts International’s Bellagio unit sued a New York mattress maker alleging trademark infringement.

The Las Vegas-based casino and resort company objects to the use of the Bellagio name by Grupo Magni’s Magniflex USA unit. Bellagio is the name of the casino company’s 4,000-room casino resort in Las Vegas.

The resort has used the name continuously since 1998, has spent “millions of dollars” to advertise and promote the name, and has more than 20 trademark registrations for the name for a variety of uses, including art gallery services, wedding chapel services, clothing, cologne, and photography services, in addition to the casino resort.

MGM says it’s sold Bellagio mattresses, pillows, towels and robes to customers since 2001, before Magniflex began selling mattresses in the U.S. The Bellagio mattresses are made by National Bedding Co.’s Serta unit, according to the complaint filed Aug. 4 in federal court in Las Vegas.

The company has pending applications to register “Bellagio” as a trademark for mattresses and bedding. MGM says it learned at an April furniture trade show in North Carolina that Magniflex was offering a Bellagio mattress for sale.

This use of the mark is likely to confuse customers, and cause the company to “suffer damages and irreparable injury, including loss of reputation and goodwill,” according to court papers.

The original Bellagio is popular tourist destination on Lake Como in Italy’s Lombardy region.

MGM asked the court to halt the mattress company’s use of the Bellagio mark, and for an award of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The resort company is represented by Michael J. McCue and Jonathan W. Fountain of Phoenix-based Lewis & Roca LLP.

The case is Bellagio LLC v. Magniflex USA Ltd., 2:10-cv- 01311-PMP-PAL, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

KBR Sues Hispanic Equity Fund for Infringing ‘KBR’ Trademark

KBR Inc., the Houston-based engineering company and military contractor, sued a Florida equity fund for trademark infringement.

Miami-based KBR Equity Fund is accused of infringing marks belonging to the Texas company. According to its website, KBR Equity is an equity fund aimed at Latin America and Hispanics in the U.S.

The engineering company said it initiated an action at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to halt registration of the equity fund’s trademark. That procedure is ongoing, according to the complaint filed Aug. 4 in Houston federal court.

The public is likely to be confused by the Florida company’s name and assume it has an affiliation with the engineering company, KBR Inc. claims in its pleadings.

The potential for confusion is exacerbated, according to court papers, because “members of the general public, including equities investors” recognize the KBR Inc. as “a reputable and stable company capable of arranging financing for major high- cost investments and deals.”

The fact that the engineering company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the “KBR” ticker symbol also leads to potential confusion, according to the complaint.

KBR Inc. asked the court to bar the investment company from using “KBR” or “any other mark confusingly similar.” It also seeks a recall of all marketing, promotional and advertising materials and the editing of any of the equity company’s websites featuring the KBR name.

It also asked to be transferred the name, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Additionally, KBR Inc. asked that it be given an extra monetary award to punish the equity company for its actions.

KBR Inc. is represented by Robb. D. Edmonds of Edmonds & Nolte PC in Houston.

The case is KBR Inc. v. KBR Equity Partners LLC, 4:10-cv- 02776, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

$115 Million Sought From Tyson in Trademark Infringement Case

Mike Tyson, who won the World Boxing Council’s heavyweight championship in 1986, was sued for trademark infringement by a boxer from Moreno Valley, California.

Mike Landrum Sr. sued Tyson in federal court in Los Angeles, claiming the retired champion infringed the “Iron Mike” trademark. Landrum, who seeks $115 million in damages, said he started boxing under the name in 1983.

He said he’s been damaged by Tyson’s use of “Iron Mike,” and, in addition to requesting money damages, asked the court to bar Tyson from further use of the term.

Landrum is unrepresented by counsel. The complaint was filed June 28, with a scheduling conference set for Oct. 25.

The case is Landrum v. Tyson, 2:10-cv-04785-VRF-RC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.


Henley Wins Apology, Cash in Political Ad Infringement Suit

Don Henley, a founding member of the Eagles and a successful solo musician and songwriter, received a written apology from a California politician as part of the settlement of a suit for misappropriation of two of his songs for a political campaign.

Henley sued Charles S. DeVore for copyright infringement in April after DeVore used two Henley songs without authorization for videos promoting his campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Co-defendant with DeVore was Justin Hart, who worked on the DeVore campaign.

DeVore is a conservative Republican who lost the primary election in June to Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co.

Co-plaintiffs with Henley are songwriters Mike Campbell and Danny Kortchmar. They objected to DeVore’s use of “Dance” and “The Boys of Summer” in videos critical of President Barack Obama and California incumbent U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

The videos were posted on Google Inc.’s YouTube video- sharing site and other websites.

DeVore claimed his use of the songs was permitted under “fair use” interpretations of U.S. copyright law. U.S. District Judge James V. Selna disagreed and in a June 10 order said the copyrights were infringed. Selna didn’t agree that the songwriters’ trademarks were also infringed or that the infringement was deliberate.

In addition to an apology, an undisclosed amount of compensation was paid to the three songwriters by DeVore and Hart, according to a statement released on BusinessWire yesterday.

In their apology they said “the court’s ruling in this case confirms that political candidates, regardless of affiliation, should seek appropriate license authority before they use copyrighted works.”

They also apologized for “inaccurate, derogatory or disparaging remarks” they made about Henley during the course of the dispute.

Henley said the suit was not brought over political ideology, “but the right of artists to control the use of the works they create and protect their livelihoods.”

The musicians were represented by Charles S. Barquist, Craig Brian Whitney, Jacqueline C. Charlesworth, Kelvin D. Chen, Tania Magoon, Charles E. Patterson, and Cindy P. Abramson from San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Professor Paul Goldstein from Stanford Law School.

The case is Henley v. DeVore, 8:09-cv-00481-JVS-RNB, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Dykema Gossett Adds Jeffrey Pine to Chicago IP Practice Group

Dykema Gossett PLLC hired Jeffrey A. Pine for its IP practice group, the Chicago-based firm said in a statement.

Pine, a litigator, has handled patent, trade secret, trademark and copyright cases. He has represented clients in the electrical, mechanical, software, and Internet fields. Before he was a lawyer he was an engineer designing automated testing equipment for complex electronic systems.

He has previously practiced at Valauskas & Pine LLC, its predecessor firm of Baniak, Pine & Gannon, and at Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, all of Chicago.

Pine has an undergraduate degree in electric engineering from the University of Illinois and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

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