Hynix, Oracle, Google, 2012 Olympics: Intellectual Property

The jury deliberating whether Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660) and Micron Technology Inc. (MU) conspired to push Rambus Inc. out of the memory-chip market is reviewing trial testimony by Farhad Tabrizi, a former Hynix executive.

California Superior Court Judge James McBride in San Francisco said yesterday that the 12-member jury, which has been deliberating since Sept. 22, requested information about Tabrizi’s testimony that he was “pressured to become more upbeat about” Rambus-designed dynamic random access memory chips, or RDRAM, at a May 2000 chip industry forum. Rambus lawyers questioned Tabrizi, a former Hynix vice president of worldwide marketing, “extensively” about whether his enthusiasm was “genuine,” McBride said.

McBride said in his chambers that he reviewed testimony excerpts with lawyers from both sides to be read back to the jury.

“We know that Mr. Tabrizi was not the most terse witness,” and that he “tended to fold in a lot of topics in any answer,” which produced objections from lawyers during trial, McBride said. “The jury in its collective wisdom will ask further questions” if the testimony isn’t satisfactory, the judge said.

Rambus, based in Sunnyvale, California, contends that Boise, Idaho-based Micron and Hynix of Ichon, South Korea, colluded to cut the prices of their own SDRAM, or synchronous dynamic random access memory, chips and deserted their commitment to produce RDRAM, relegating it to a niche role.

Rambus contends it would have earned $3.95 billion in patent royalties without the alleged conspiracy. Under California law, a jury finding of damages in that amount would be automatically tripled to $11.9 billion.

Lawyers for Hynix and Micron argued that Rambus has only itself to blame, not collusion by rivals, for the flaws and production delays that led to the failure of its product to become an industry standard.

The case is Rambus Inc. (RMBS) v. Micron Technology Inc., 04- 0431105, California Superior Court (San Francisco).

Oracle Trial With Google Over Java Patents May Be Delayed

The judge presiding over Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s lawsuit over whether Google Inc.’s Android software infringed patents on the Java programming language said a trial may need to be before a different judge to avoid a delay.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco vacated the scheduled trial date of Oct. 31, saying it conflicts with a criminal gang case in his courtroom that will continue through January. He asked lawyers for Oracle and Google to consent to a trial before a magistrate judge. If they don’t agree, Alsup said he’s considering “swapping the case to another federal judge,” and the companies will have no right to object.

“I have not been so overworked in 37 years of professional life,” Alsup said. The hearing concluded today with no new trial date scheduled.

Oracle is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from the operator of the world’s largest search engine. Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, accuses Google of infringing its Java patents and copyrights in the Android operating system, now running on more than 150 million mobile devices.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has denied the claims.

The judge gave the lawyers a chance to argue whether the copyright and patent claims in the case should be split into two trials. Alsup said he favors having the copyright issues decided in the first trial.

“Maybe the jury would say there is no liability, then there may be a settlement,” he said. “Maybe they would say there is a huge liability and there might be a settlement. I’m seeking some formula like that.”

Alsup made no decision yesterday on Google’s bid to exclude as evidence an employee’s e-mail saying the company should negotiate a license for Java.

Google said the e-mail was mistakenly provided to Oracle during pre-trial document exchanges and should be kept secret under a law protecting communications between attorneys and their clients.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc. (GOOG), 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Google Aims for ‘Patent Peace,’ Andy Rubin Says

Google Inc. Senior Vice President Andy Rubin said the company aims to have “peace” after an increase in the number of patent disputes in the software industry recently.

“The legal system hasn’t caught up yet,” with the pace of innovations in the wireless industry, Rubin told the AsiaD conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

He also told the conference that his company is “close” to setting up a music service. The perception of media companies that Google is a technology company affected cooperation previously, he said.

Without giving any time frame, Rubin said Google’s Galaxy Nexus phone will be offered by NTT Docomo Inc. (9437)

USPTO Says Patent Backlog Reaches Lowest Level in 5 Yrs

The number of patent applications awaiting a first review by an examiner was cut to 669,625, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said in a statement.

This is the lowest backlog in five years, according to the USPTO. David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, said the backlog reduction was achieved despite a 5 percent increase in patent filings.

The office’s goal of clearing away the oldest pending applications yielded the processing of 257,642 applications. This was 20,000 more than the goal the USPTO set for itself for its most recently completed fiscal year.

Dish Network’s Insurance Can Cover Patent Suit, Court Rules

Dish Network Corp. (DISH), a provider of satellite subscription television service, persuaded a federal appeals court that its commercial general liability insurance policy covered a patent infringement suit.

In an Oct. 17 ruling, the Denver-based federal appeals court reversed a lower court decision that the “advertising injury” section of Dish’s policy wasn’t relevant to its defense of that kind of suit.

Dish was sued by Los Angeles-based Ronald Katz Technology Licensing LP in federal court in San Francisco in June 2007 and accused of infringing 23 patents. Katz Technology Licensing is a patent holder that has more than 100 patent infringement cases against defendants in a wide range of industries.

The television company had asked its insurer to provide its defense, claiming the suit could be covered by the “advertising injury” section of the policy. A federal court in Denver disagreed.

The appeals court said that the trial court looked at the policy language too narrowly. The patented technology at issue in the case could theoretically be used for advertising purposes, and therefore the insurance company could have a duty to defend Dish, the court ruled.

The case is Dish Network Corp. v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co., 10-1445, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Denver). The lower court case is Dish Network Corp. v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co., 1:09-cv-00447-JLK-MEH, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado (Denver).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Lockheed Wins Bid to Block Raytheon’s ‘Paveway’ Bomb Trademark

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the world’s largest defense contractor, won a U.S. agency ruling that prevents Raytheon Co. (RTN) from obtaining a trademark on the name “Paveway” for laser- guided bombs.

Paveway is a generic term, a board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, said in a Sept. 27 decision that rejected Raytheon’s request. Both Lockheed and Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon make bombs with the name.

Raytheon, the world’s largest missile maker, had sought exclusive rights to the name after Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed began supplying laser-guided bombs to the U.S. Air Force and Navy and international customers, Lockheed said yesterday in a statement. Lockheed had filed notice of opposition to the registration request in 2005.

The agency’s decision “fully recognizes Lockheed Martin as one of two U.S. government-qualified sources for Paveway II precision guided systems,” Joe Serra, a senior manager for precision guided systems at Lockheed, said in the statement.

The case is Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Raytheon Co., Opposition No. 91174152, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Alexandria, Virginia).

London Olympics Wants Rules Against Ambush Marketing

In efforts to combat so-called “ambush marketing” of products and services without paying a sponsorship fee during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the U.K. Department for Culture Media and Sport has proposed regulations that will suspend the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported.

Under the regulations, interference with that right “will be justified” if it’s done within reasonable limits, according to the newspaper.

The proposed rules were described to the Independent as “draconian” by Graham Wilson, a spokesman for the National Association of British Market Authorities.

The reach of the proposed regulations extends to landowners where sale of unlicensed merchandise takes place, and to senior company executives whose employees are involved in those sales, the newspaper reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Google Wins German Top Court Ruling Over Photo Search Previews

Google Inc., operator of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, won dismissal of a lawsuit in Germany’s top civil court aimed at stopping the company’s use of previews of photographs.

The judges dismissed a case by a photographer who claimed the search engine violated his copyrights.

The case is BGH, I ZR 140/10.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

ITC, Popular Venue for Patent Disputes, Gets Two New ALJs

The U.S. International Trade Commission, the agency that directs actions against unfair trade practices, has hired two new administrative law judges, the Washington-based organization said in a statement.

Increasingly the ITC has become the venue for patent disputes involving a wider range of high technology products, such as mobile telephones and flat-screen televisions. The agency has the power to issue orders barring the importation of items that infringe U.S. patents.

The two new judges are Thomas Bernard Pender and David P. Shaw.

Pender previously served as an ALJ at the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Before that, he held a similar post with the Small Business Administration’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.

He has also worked as the chief trial attorney and director of the Contract Disputes Resolution Center for Defense Contract Management Agency, and as senior trial attorney in the Office of the Chief Trial Attorney of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

He’s also been a deputy district counsel for the U.S. Amy Engineer District in Baltimore and as general attorney/trial attorney for the U.S. Army Engineer District in Fort Worth, Texas. While on duty with the U.S. Army, he was an assistant staff judge advocate and a trial defense counsel

Pender has an undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute and a law degree from Emory University.

Shaw also previously serves as an ALJ with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review at the National Hearing Center in Baltimore and, before that, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was an attorney adviser in the trade commission’s Office of Administrative Law Judges from 1987 to 2010.

He has an undergraduate degree from George Mason University and a law degree from American University.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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