Transocean, Shimano, Private Media, Tropicana: Intellectual Property

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore oil driller, won an appeals court ruling that revives its patent-infringement lawsuit against shipping company A.P. Moeller Maersk A/S over a way to drill wells.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said yesterday there are “genuine issues” about Maersk’s claim that the Transocean patents are invalid and not infringed. A judge shouldn’t have thrown out the lawsuit, the Washington-based court said as it sent the case back for further proceedings.

The dispute is over Transocean’s dual-activity technology, which lets a single derrick on a rig perform parallel drilling operations to save time and money. Geneva-based Transocean claimed three patents were infringed by a rig Maersk was building for use by Norway’s Statoil ASA in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transocean settled similar cases against Pride International Inc. and Noble Corp. over the patents.

Yesterday’s Federal Circuit’s decision reverses a judge’s ruling last month that the Transocean patents were invalid. The court also said the judge erred in saying there was no infringement because the contract Maersk signed to build the rig was negotiated in Norway. The rig was destined for the U.S., and negotiated between U.S. units of Copenhagen-based Maersk and Statoil, the court said.

Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Transocean, had no immediate comment. Officials with Maersk couldn’t immediately be reached.

Transocean’s case was argued by Gregory A. Castanias of Cleveland’s Jones Day. Maersk’s case was presented by William H. Frankel of Chicago’s Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione.

The case is Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. v. Maersk Contractors USA Inc., 2009-1556, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. v. Maersk Contractors USA Inc.,07cv02392, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston).

Shimano Accused of Infringing Patent for Braided Fishing Line

Shimano Inc., a Japanese maker of fishing gear and bicycle parts, was sued for patent infringement by an Iowa patent holder.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 16 in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, Shimano’s Shimano American unit is accused of importing and selling fishing lines that infringe patent 5,749,214.

The patent, issued in May 1998, is held by Jarden Corp.’s Pure Fishing unit. Pure Fishing, based in Columbia, produces fishing gear under brands including Shakespeare, Mitchell, Berkley and Pflueger. The patent covers braided or twisted gel spun polyolefin yarns of a high strength.

Pure Fishing claims the “Power Pro” fishing line produced by Shimano’s Innovative Textiles unit infringes the patent and compete unfairly with its own products.

It asked the court to order Shimano to halt the alleged infringement and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and ligation costs. The company also asked for extra damages to punish Shimano and Innovative textiles for their actions.

Pure Fishing is represented by Thomas G. Pasternak of Washington’s Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and James H. Fowles III, Douglas J. Rosinski, and Christopher J. Near of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC of Greenville, South Carolina.

The case is Pure Fishing Inc. v. Shimano American Corp., 3:10-cv-02139-CMC, U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina (Columbia).

Starpharma to Get Russian Patent for Anti-Microbial Condom

Starpharma Holdings Ltd. is receiving a Russian patent to cover its condom coated with a microbial gel, the Melbourne- based company said in a statement.

The patent is to be granted tomorrow, the company said, and it will provide protection for the technology until at least 2026. The company has partnered with London-based SSL International Plc, owner of the Durex condom brand, and the leader in the Russian condom market, according to the statement.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said, in its 2010 report on health in Russia, that an increase in HIV infections threatens the Russian population’s health. While most Russian AIDS cases stem from injecting drugs, the epidemic is spreading to addicts’ partners, according to USAID.

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Private Media Claims Meta Interfaces Infringed Film Copyrights

Private Media Group Inc., a producer of adult content, sued Meta Interfaces LLC for copyright infringement.

Meta Interfaces exceeded the terms of a license by making films from a Private Media unit available through unauthorized websites, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, where both companies are based.

Private Media asked the court for an order barring future infringement of its copyrights, together with the impoundment of all allegedly infringing copies of its films. Private Media also requested money damages and an award of Meta Interfaces’ profits derived from the alleged infringement, in addition to attorney fees and litigation costs.

Meta Interfaces didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Fraserside Holdings Ltd. V. Meta Interfaces LLC, 3:10-cv-03545-BZ, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Kenya Video Pirates Shut Over New System, Business Daily Says

Sellers of pirated videos are beginning to close down in anticipation of a new authentication system adopted by Kenya’s Copyright Board, Kenya’s Business Daily reported.

Retailers and wholesalers of audiovisual material must affix a three-dimensional holographic symbol on all copies to indicate they aren’t pirated, according to Business Daily.

Previously, vendors had been downloading films from file- sharing websites, making unauthorized copies and selling them, the newspaper reported.

The Copyright Board estimated than 90 percent of all videos and CDs sold in the country were pirated, Business Daily said.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

Tropicana Trademark Dispute Goes to Delaware Bankruptcy Court

Tropicana Entertainment Inc., the Las Vegas-based casino company operated by Carl Icahn, asked a bankruptcy court in Delaware to declare it’s the owner of the Tropicana trademarks.

The lawsuit follows a legal battle over trademarks waged in federal and Nevada state courts. Onex Corp., Canada’s largest private-equity firm, and Alex Yemenidjian acquired a majority equity stake in the Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in July 2009.

At that time, Icahn’s group picked up the Atlantic City Tropicana, together with casinos in Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi. In the suit filed Aug. 18, Icahn asked the court to declare that his group owns the interest in the Tropicana trademarks.

If the court decides otherwise, Icahn said his group is entitled to “damages equal to the loss in value resulting from the change in ownership of the Tropicana trademarks” and asked for a trial to determine that.

The court was also asked to order the Tropicana Las Vegas to quit trying to litigate ownership issues with respect to the Tropicana trademarks in any jurisdiction.

The original Tropicana, which opened in Havana in 1930, spawned a Tropicana Club in the Bronx, New York, in the 1940s, followed by the Tropicana Resort & Casino in 1957. The Tropicana in Atlantic City opened in 1981.

Icahn’s group is represented in the Delaware bankruptcy case by Charlene D. Davis and Justin R. Alberto of Wilmington’s Bayard PA, and Peter D. Wolfson, David R. Baum, Jo Christine Reed and Ben Delfin of New York’s Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP.

The bankruptcy case is Icahn Agency Services LLC v. Tropicana Las Vegas Inc., 10-5232489-KJC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.

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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