Netgear, Merck & Co., Yahoo!, BMW: Intellectual Property

Harris Corp. (HRS) a maker of communications-related electronic equipment, sued Netgear Inc. (NTGR) for allegedly infringing network-security patents.

According to the complaint filed Nov. 21 in federal court in Orlando, Florida, Netgear infringed six patents related to network security access control.

The complaint lists a number of products from San Jose, California-based Netgear that allegedly infringe the patents.

In dispute are patents 6,504,515, 7,916,684, 5,787,177, 5,974,149, 6,189,104, and 6,397,336.

Harris, based in Melbourne Florida, asked the court for an order barring further infringement and awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is Harris Corp. v. Netgear Inc, 6:11-cv-01866, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Orlando).

Amgen’s Enbrel Patent May Keep Biosimilars Away, Analyst Says

Amgen Inc. (AMGN) said a new patent was issued that covers Enbrel, a drug used for rheumatoid arthritis and the auto-immune skin disorder psoriasis.

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, has an exclusive license to patent 8,063,182, the biotechnology company said in a statement Nov. 22. The patent was issued to Hoffman-La-Roche Inc, which licensed Amgen in return for a one-time payment, according to the statement.

Geoffrey Porges, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York, said in a note that the patent may keep biosimilar drugs off the market through 2028. A biosimilar is a product that is shown to be “highly similar” to an approved bioengineered product, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The patent is “certainly likely” to be challenged, Porges said.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Merck KGaA (MRK) Says Facebook Let Merck & Co. Swipe Its Web Page

German drugmaker Merck KGaA asked a New York judge to force Facebook Inc. to produce information about an alleged takeover of its page on the social networking site by U.S.-based competitor Merck & Co.

Merck KGaA, based in Darmstadt, Germany, wants the information from Facebook as it considers a possible lawsuit for breach of contract or interference with business against an unspecified defendant, according to a filing in state court in New York.

The German company said it made an agreement with Facebook last year for exclusive use of the www.facebook.com/merck Web page. Last month, Merck KGaA saw that the page’s content was related to its U.S. competitor, according to the Nov. 21 filing. The Web page currently refers to Merck & Co. (MRK), the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based drugmaker.

“We took action against Facebook and not against Merck & Co., and we are seeking an answer to why we don’t own a website we owned before,” Gangolf Schrimpf, a Merck KGaA spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“The action was not brought against Merck & Co. Inc.,” a spokesman for the U.S. company, Ronald Rogers, said in an e-mail. “We’ve begun looking into the matter.”

E-mails to Palo Alto, California-based Facebook’s press department didn’t receive a response.

The two Mercks became separate companies, each owning rights to the trademark in different geographical areas, under the Treaty of Versailles as part of Germany’s reparations following World War I, according to the filing.

The case is In the matter of the application of Merck KGaA, 11113215-2011, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York (Manhattan).

Sturgis Can’t Register Rally Mark, South Dakota Official Says

Sponsors of an annual gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in Sturgis, South Dakota, can’t register the city’s name as a standalone trademark, a state official said.

Weighing in on a dispute between the bike rally’s sponsors and vendors who had sought to use the Sturgis name, Secretary of State Jason Grant said on Nov. 23 that South Dakota law doesn’t permit registration of a trademark for a place name for exclusive use.

“Any trademark registration with a name of location can only be used in connection with additionally descriptive terms distinctive of the applicant’s goods or services,” he said. “You can’t deny someone the use of their name, just because they might have the same name.”

While the nonprofit Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. had applied for federal trademark protection for Sturgis, “this only could have take place at the federal level, because my office has and will continue to reject similar applications,” Grant said. The parties in the dispute “are left to fight that battle in federal court,” he said.

The rally sued in federal court for trademark infringement against five defendants in June, saying its four federal trademarks were infringed through the production and sale of goods bearing the Sturgis name without authorization.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Oct. 31 denied a defense request to dismiss the suit.

The case is Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts Inc., 5:11-cv-05052-JLV, U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota (Western Division).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Yahoo! Sued for Infringement by Straits Times Company, AFP Says

Yahoo! Inc. was sued for copyright infringement by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (SPH), publisher of the Straits Times and other newspapers, Agence France Presse reported.

The suit, filed in the Singapore High Court, is related to Yahoo’s alleged reproduction of content from Singapore Press Holdings’ newspapers without permission, according to AFP.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, confirmed that it has been sued and told AFP that it referred the issue to its legal counsel and would comment no further, the news service reported.

The plaintiff said that even though it sent Yahoo a cease- and-desist letter, “substantial reproduction” of its content still showed up on Yahoo sites, according to AFP.

BMW Accused of Infringement by Rocket-Maker, Shanghai Daily Says

BMW’s China unit was sued for infringement by China’s rocket-maker, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the Shanghai Daily reported.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the German automaker, was accused of using an image of the academy’s Long March rocket in one of its advertisements without authorization, according to the Shanghai Daily.

The academy complained about a BMW ad in the Chinese- language magazine Vista that contained an image of the CZ-2F Type Long March Rocket and is seeking an order barring further infringement and money damages, the newspaper reported.

Results of the trial are expected before the end of the year, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Ex-German Defense Chief Guttenberg Settles Plagiarism Probe

Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg settled a criminal probe into allegations that he plagiarized passages of his doctoral thesis, agreeing to pay 20,000 euros ($26,700) to a charity.

Prosecutors in Hof, Germany, found 23 “criminally relevant” passages in the thesis, the investigators said in an e-mailed statement Nov. 23. They received 199 complaints asking them to look into the allegations.

“Not all passages that were copied reached the level of works protected under copyright laws,” the prosecutors said.

Guttenberg resigned in March over the issue, depriving Chancellor Angela Merkel of her most popular cabinet member in an election year. The University of Bayreuth had awarded him the doctorate in law, with the highest grade “summa cum laude.” The school revoked it on Feb. 24.

Guttenberg said passages that appeared to be copied from other texts weren’t the result of conscious deception. He admitted to “grave” mistakes in compiling his 2006 thesis.

“We’re very content with the outcome,” his lawyer Klaus Leipold said Nov. 23.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Standard Bank Accused of Espionage by MBI, Saudi Gazette Says

Standard Bank Plc was sued by MBI International, the company owned by Saudi businessman Muhammad Bin Issa Al-Jaber, for industrial espionage, the Saudi Gazette reported Nov. 23.

The suit is related to the alleged actions of a former MBI employee, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Standard Bank, which froze Al-Jaber’s accounts for alleged non-payment of loans to his company, is accused of dealing illegally with the former employee, the Saudi Gazette reported.

MBI said London-based Standard Bank deliberately recruited the ex-employee to supply inside information about the Saudi- owned company, according to the Saudi Gazette.

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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