Novartis, Vringo, Cerner, Nike, D&G: Intellectual Property

United Therapeutics Corp. sued Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Sandoz unit to prevent it from selling a generic version of Remodulin, a drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, cites Sandoz’s application to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to sell a copy of Remodulin before the expiration of three United Therapeutics patents, including one that runs out in 2014.

Sandoz claims the patents are invalid or wouldn’t be infringed by the copy, according to the UTC complaint. UTC, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, asked a judge to rule that Sandoz infringed its patents and to bar sale of a generic version until its patents expire.

“Sandoz does not comment on pending litigation,” Julie Masow, a spokeswoman, said by e-mail.

The case is United Therapeutics Corp. (UTHR) v. Sandoz, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

Vringo to Merge With Patent Owner Innovate/Protect

Vringo Inc. (VRNG), a New York-based provider of video ringtones, plans to merge with Innovate/Protect Inc. (0207616D), which owns patents acquired from Internet search engine operator Lycos Inc.

Innovate/Protect shareholders will own about 55 percent of the stock in the combined company, according to a statement. Vringo shareholders will hold 44.5 percent.

Innovate/Protect brought a patent-infringement suit in September in federal court in Virginia against Google Inc. (GOOG) and others for allegedly infringing two patents held by a unit. A hearing to determine the scope of the patents is set for June 4.

At issue in that case are patents 6,314,420 and 6,775,664, related to search engines and information filter systems.

The case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 11-cv-00412, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).

Cerner Non-Infringement of Visicu Patents Upheld on Appeal

Cerner Corp., a Kansas City, Missouri-based provider of health-care services, won affirmation from a federal appeals court that it didn’t infringe patents held by a competitor.

Cerner sued in federal court in Kansas City in November 2004, seeking a declaration that it didn’t infringe patent 6,804,656. The patent was issued the previous month to Visicu Inc., now a unit of Royal Dutch Philips Electronics NV. (PHIA)

The patent covered a system and method for providing critical-care services from a remote location. Cerner said that it was subjected to “unfounded allegations” and “threats and warnings” that it infringed the patent. Cerner also accused Visicu of engaging in “an aggressive and systematic campaign” of unfair competition.

In December 2009, a federal jury in Kansas City said the intellectual-property rights asserted by Visicu were invalid and not infringed, and rejected Visicu’s argument that it was entitled to patent royalties. The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals of patent cases, affirmed the ruling March 15.

The dispute was over computer systems that use software to analyze patient information, computerize drug ordering and track any change in a patient’s status so doctors can respond even if they aren’t in the room.

Amsterdam-based Philips, Europe’s biggest consumer- electronics maker, bought Baltimore-based Visicu in 2008 for about $430 million in cash to add to its medical division.

The lower court case is Cerner Corp. (CERN) v. Visicu Inc., 04- cv-1033, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City). The appeal is Cerner Corp. v. Visicu Inc., 2011-1209-1210, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Samsung Accused of Infringing Patent Covering Emoticon Insertion

Samsung Electronics Co., a maker of mobile phones that run on the Android operating system, was sued for patent infringement by a New York company.

Varia Holdings LLC accused Samsung of infringing patent 7,167,731, which covers a technology for inserting emoticons into communication devices. Emoticons are symbols such as a smiley face that are used to express the feelings of the writer of a text. The patent was issued in January 2007.

The patent owner claims that 34 of the Suwon, South Korea- based company’s mobile devices infringe the patent. The Samsung devices have an “insert smiley” key that brings up a list of emoticons the user can choose.

Varia, in the complaint filed March 15, asked the federal court in Manhattan to bar future infringement and award triple money damages to punish Samsung. It also requests attorney fees and litigation costs.

Samsung didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Varia Holdings LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), 1:12-cv-01899, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Nike Ditches ‘Black And Tan’ Name for New Sneaker Product

Nike Inc. (NKE), the Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear company made famous by its running shoes, backtracked on a name for one of its new sneakers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The company apologized for the use of “black and tan” for its shoe, saying the name “can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive,” according to the Times.

Black and Tan” was a term used for British forces accused of brutality against the Irish during the political unrest in the 1920s, the newspaper reported.

Dolce & Gabbana Drops Opposition to Scottish Garage’s Trademark

Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian luxury fashion house, ended a trademark scuffle with a Scottish auto-repair chain, Scotland’s Courier newspaper reported.

D&G Autocare, a garage chain based in Dunfermline, Scotland, had sought to register its name with the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office in October, only to be met with a “notice of threatened opposition” by Milan’s Dolce & Gabbana, according to the Courier.

Counsel for the garage chain wrote the fashion house asking for proof of its presence in the auto industry, the newspaper reported.

Dolce & Gabbana responded that it would drop the objection if the garage chain always used “autocare” with its D & G logo, and didn’t try to register the name outside the U.K., according to the Courier.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Optus Row Pushing Court Into Policy Arena Makes Judge Reticent

Singtel Optus Ltd. (CWO)’s dispute with Australian sports leagues over the streaming of broadcasts to computers and phones has a judge concerned the courts may be pushed into making policy decisions better left for the government.

“You’re asking us to make a policy decision,” Justice Arthur Emmett, a member of a three-judge panel hearing the sports leagues’ appeal of a ruling that cleared Optus to show over-the-air broadcasts on computers and mobile devices, said yesterday. “Should we not be reticent to do that?”

The Australian Football League, the most popular spectator sport in the country, and the National Rugby League seek to overturn the lower court ruling to protect broadcasting rights valued at more than $1 billion. The decision, if upheld, would also let mobile phone operators stream over-the-air broadcasts of this year’s Olympic Games to customers, with only a slight delay, and without having to pay for broadcast rights.

The panel reserved its ruling in the case at the hearing in Sydney, with Emmett saying that the judges “hope to have a decision reasonably expeditiously.”

The main point of dispute is who creates the electronic files that are streamed to the customer for viewing.

The AFL, NRL and Telstra Corp., Australia’s biggest phone company, say Optus’s service infringes their copyrights because it makes the recordings, stores them on its servers, and passes them on to customers.

The AFL signed a five-year, A$1.25 billion ($1.3 billion) agreement last year with Seven West Media Ltd. (SWM)’s Seven Network, Foxtel, Australia’s biggest pay television operator, and Telstra for exclusive broadcast rights to its games. The NRL is in talks with broadcasters on a new deal that would run from 2013 to 2017.

Optus is covered by an exemption in the copyright law that allows people to make recordings of copyrighted material for their own personal use, the company said.

“The customer operates Optus’s equipment,” Richard Cobden, Optus’s lawyer, told the panel yesterday. “The last human intervention is the maker.”

The case is National Rugby League Investments Ltd. v. SingTel Optus Ltd. NSD201/2012 Federal Court of Australia, Full Court (Sydney).

For copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

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

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