Cisco, Human Genome, Google, Viacom: Intellectual Property

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and Hewlett- Packard Co. were accused of infringing a patent for routers and wireless networks in a case that may result in a ban of U.S. imports of their products.

Closely held ChriMar Systems Inc., also known as CMS Technologies, filed a complaint Nov. 1 against Cisco and HP at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The complaint also names HP’s 3Com Corp., Avaya Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc.

ChriMar claims the companies are infringing a patent for a system to communicate with electronic equipment. The complaint targets telephones, wireless access points, routers and other devices that comply with an industry standard for transmitting electrical power over Ethernet cables. ChriMar said it makes Ethernet-related products, and licenses technology to electronics-gear maker Hubble Inc.

The ITC is a quasi-judicial agency that investigates claims of unfair trade practices and has the power to block imports of products made outside the U.S. that are found to infringe U.S. patent rights.

Cisco, based in San Jose, California, is the world’s largest maker of networking equipment. HP, based in Palo Alto, California, bought network- and computer-gear maker 3Com in 2009 for $2.7 billion. Extreme Networks (EXTR), based in Santa Clara, California, makes computer-network switches.

Kristin Carvell, a Cisco spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did Mike Thacker, an HP spokesman, and Greg Cross, a spokesman for Extreme Networks. Avaya spokeswoman Deborah Kline said the company had no comment.

The complaint said some HP products are made in China, Singapore and India. Avaya products are made in Poland, Israel, Mexico, Malaysia, Taiwan, Ireland, Germany, Indonesia and the U.K., while Extreme has products made in Mexico, according to the complaint. It doesn’t specify the countries where Cisco products are made.

ChriMar, based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, said it filed a civil suit on Oct. 31 against the companies in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, making the same allegations. That suit is likely to be put on hold once the ITC agrees to investigate the new complaint.

The complaint is In the Matter of Certain Communication Equipment, 2853, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Human Genome Sciences Wins U.K. High Court Ruling On Gene Patent

The British Supreme Court ruled in favor of Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGSI) in its dispute with Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) over the validity of a patent for a gene sequence that could be used to treat people with immune diseases.

The U.K.’s top court upheld a patent awarded to Rockville, Maryland-based Human Genome in 2005 for the neutrokine alpha protein, part of the TNF “superfamily” of proteins. Eli Lilly had persuaded a U.K. judge in a previous hearing to revoke the patent on the basis Human Genome’s list of potential uses for the gene was too vague.

One of the five U.K. Supreme Court judges who ruled in the dispute, Robert Walker, said it was an “important case” for the bioscience industry. The decision would “reduce the risk of a chilling effect on investment in bioscience” and “align this country’s interpretation of the European Patent Convention more closely” with other countries, he said.

The European Patent Office, which isn’t part of the European Union and has 38 member countries, offers the closest thing currently available to an EU-wide patent. Once the patent is granted, a company has to defend it in each country where it is valid.

Eli Lilly maintains the patent is invalid and is “exploring available avenues to make its case,” the company said in an e-mailed statement today. “Human Genome Sciences seek to foreclose a whole area of research in a way that is not only harmful to the industry, but would ultimately and unjustifiably hinder the future development of new medicines,” it said.

Green Mountain’s Keurig Sues Over Single-Serve Packaging Patents

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR)’s Keurig unit sued a California coffee vendor for patent infringement.

Lincoln, California’s JBR Inc., which does business as the Rogers Family Co., is accused of infringing three patents related to single-serving coffee cartridges.

In dispute are patents D502,362, 7,165,488 and 7,347,138. According to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, Rogers offers single-serving beverage cartridges that infringe the Keurig patents. Additionally, Reading, Massachusetts-based Keurig complains that the Rogers website states that the company’s “One Cup” product can be used in a Keurig single-serving coffee brewer.

Keurig asked the court to bar Rogers from further infringement, and for awards of money damages, Rogers’ profits attributable to the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Jim Rogers, spokesman for the Rogers Family Co., said in an e-mail that the company couldn’t comment because it hadn’t yet seen the complaint.

The Massachusetts-based coffee company is represented by Michael A. Albert, Gerald B. Hrycyszn and Chelsea Loughran of Boston’s Wolf Greenfield & Sacks PC.

The case is Keurig Inc. v. JBR Inc., 1:11-cv-11913, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Google Faces at Least Nine Complaints in EU Antitrust Probe

Google Inc. faces at least nine complaints from rivals and customers as part of an antitrust probe by European Union regulators, the company said last week.

The world’s largest search engine said the European Commission told it about six further complaints including ones filed by a Dutch soccer website, a German mapping company and a telephone listings site, Google said in an Oct. 26 regulatory filing.

Google is being investigated by the commission over claims it discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting rival ads. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), U.K. shopping comparison site Foundem and French Web publisher 1PlusV have also complained to the Brussels-based antitrust authority.

“On Sept. 16, 2011, we responded to all of the allegations made against us,” Google said in the filing. “We are cooperating with the EC and responding to its information requests.”

The commission has the power to impose fines of as much as 10 percent of revenue for monopoly abuses. The EU’s highest-ever penalty of 1.06 billion euros ($1.46 billion) was against Intel Corp. in 2009.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

BET Sued by TV ONE over 2010 Essence Music Festival Broadcast

Viacom Inc.’s BET Networks unit was sued for copyright infringement by a television channel owned by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Radio One Inc. (ROIA)

According to the complaint filed Oct. 28 in federal court in Los Angeles, BET is accused of broadcasting without authorization a program derived from the Essence Music Festival of African-American music and culture that took place in New Orleans in 2010.

TV One of Silver Spring, Maryland, said it had exclusive television broadcast rights to the program, which featured Janet Jackson. BET aired the program without permission in June 2011, according to court papers. The broadcast was identical to TV One’s except that it displayed a BET logo on the screen, according to the complaint.

The unauthorized use of the festival broadcast confused the public and advertisers into thinking falsely that an affiliation exists between BET and the festival, TV One said in its pleadings.

It asked the court to bar further infringement of its content, and for orders for the destruction of all copies of the allegedly infringing program, and awards of money damages, extra damages to punish the network for its actions, and attorney fees and litigation costs.

Bret Henne, Viacom senior vice president, communications and public affairs, said in an e-mail that his company licensed the program from Northstar Media and has tendered the dispute to Northstar to resolve with TV One. After Viacom was informed of a disputed rights issue for the program, Henne said it was pulled from its schedule.

Northstar of Norwalk, Connecticut, is a co-defendant in the case. That company didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

TV One is represented by Thaddeus J. Stauber, Sarah Erickson Andre, Kenneth J. Nichols and Diana V. Vilmenay of Nixon Peabody LLP., which has offices in cities including Boston, New York and Rochester, New York.

The case is TV One Inc. v. BET Networks, 2:11-cv-08983-MMM- F, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Copyright Overhaul Pushed to Protect U.S. Intellectual Property

Entertainment and software industry groups urged Congress to protect their economic health by approving legislation aimed at combating websites that sell illegal copies of movies, music and computer programs.

The publishing, software, film, music and television industries added more than $930 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010, almost 6.4 percent of total gross domestic product, according to a report released in Washington yesterday by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a Washington-based content-owner organization whose members include Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Paramount Pictures Corp.

The analyses released yesterday, “based on U.S. government data, demonstrate the vibrancy of copyright and creativity as an engine for growth,” Steven Metalitz, counsel for the organization, said in a statement. “To preserve and enhance that vibrancy, we must ensure strong legal protection for U.S. creativity, innovation, and ingenuity, both here and in the markets of our trading partners, in both the physical and online world.”

Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, introduced a measure last week aimed at combating “rogue” websites in a bill, H.R. 3261, that would let the U.S. Attorney General seek court orders to block websites based in other countries that steal and sell U.S. products. The measure would also increase criminal penalties for trafficking in counterfeit medicine and military goods.

Some technology industry groups and lawmakers including Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have objected to elements of the House measure, saying they consider certain aspects overreaching. The Computer & Communications Industry Association, representing companies including Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc., cautioned against the report, calling for more balanced considerations for copyright bills before Congress.

“Too often we hear about the cost of piracy without also considering the cost to legitimate sectors of the U.S. economy of poorly targeted copyright enforcement measures like the pending Protect IP Act and its even worse companion, H.R. 3261,” Ed Black, the group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

He said that “Congress needs to consider the overall economic picture both to the entertainment industry as well as the tech industry and other sectors.”

Righthaven Faces Federal Court Order for Seizure of Assets

Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas-based entity set up to enforce the copyrights for Stephens Media Group’s publications, may have been dealt a fatal blow by a Nov. 1 court order.

The company, which has filed more than 100 copyright infringement suits in the past year, has been ordered to pay the defendant in one of the cases almost $30,000. Righthaven had repeatedly asked the court to delay payout of attorney fees awarded one of the defendants it sued.

Courts have questioned Righthaven’s standing to pursue these cases, saying its agreements with Stephens Media don’t truly transfer the copyrights the company is attempting to enforce.

The order, signed by the clerk of the federal court in Nevada, ordered the U.S. Marshal to satisfy the judgment. The marshal can go after personal property or real estate belonging to Righthaven. The order authorizes the marshal to use “reasonable force” to execute the judgment.

In its pleadings, Righthaven had claimed execution of such an order could put its intellectual property -- including software used to identify what it determined were potential infringers -- at risk of being seized and reverse engineered by alleged infringers. It also said it had cash flow problems.

The case is Righthaven v. Wayne Hoehn, 2:11-cv-00050-PMP- RJJ, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

For more copyright news, click here.

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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