Marine Polymer, Apple, Bridgestone: Intellectual Property

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Marine Polymer Technologies Inc. (0008300D)’s patent damages award of more than $29 million will stand, according to a March 15 ruling from a federal appeals court.

The Danvers, Massachusetts-based company sued HemCon Medical Technologies Inc. in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, for patent infringement in March 2006, alleging infringement of its patent 6,864,245.

Both companies make products such as bandages and dressings to control bleeding resulting from trauma or surgery.

In April 2010 a federal jury awarded Marine Polymer Technologies $29,400,246 for the infringement of the patent. HemCon appealed, and the federal appeals court affirmed the lower court. The ruling was issued by the entire court rather than a three-judge panel.

In a March 16 statement, HemCon said it is now selling reformulated products that “differ significantly” from the products that were at issue in the case. The reformulation “will have no impact on product efficacy, performance, or pricing,” the company said.

HemCon, based in Portland, Oregon, said it will review the court’s decision with its patent litigation counsel, and “will continue to operate as usual” until the matter is resolved.

Raymond A. Kurz of Washington-based Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP (1131L) argued the appeal for HemCon. Brian M. Poissant of Washington’s Jones Day (1113L) presented Marine Polymer’s argument.

The lower court case is Marine Polymer Technologies Inc., v. HemCon Inc., 1:06-00100-JD, U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire (Concord). The appeal is Marine Polymer V. Hemcon, 10-01548, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Apple’s Loss in Motorola Mobility Patent Case Will Stand

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s loss in a case where it accused phonemaker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. of patent infringement will stand, a U.S. trade agency said March 16.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it rejected Apple’s claims that Judge Theodore Essex erred in finding that Motorola Mobility wasn’t infringing one Apple patent and that two others were invalid.

Natural Alternatives International Settles Patent Cases

Natural Alternatives International Inc., a maker of nutritional supplements, said it settled patent-infringement cases against BPI Sports LLC and Image Sports LLC.

According to a March 15 NAI statement, the San Marcos, California-based company will provide the two companies with its patented CarnoSyn bata-Alanine product through its licensed distributor. The two companies will also receive a license from NAI for IP rights related to the compound.

At issue in the case was patent 8,067,381, which was issued in November. The patent covers a method for increasing tissues’ anaerobic working capacity. NAI filed both cases in federal court in Houston on Jan. 20.

Also dismissed is the countersuit BPI Sports filed against NAI in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 30.

Other than the license and supply arrangement, terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

The two patent cases are Natural Alternatives International Inc. v. Image Sports LLC, 4:12-cv-00194, and Natural Alternatives International v. BPX Sports Holdings LLC, 4:12- 00198, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

The countersuit is BPI Sports LLC v. Natural Alternatives International Inc., 0:12-cv-60167-KMM, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Bridgestone Wins Appeal Over Federal Corp.’s ‘Milanza’ Mark

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC (0000797D), the Nashville, Tennessee-based tire company, won a trademark dispute with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In its March 16 ruling, a Washington-based federal appeals court reversed a ruling from the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board supporting Federal Corp. (2102)’s attempt to register “Milanza” as a trademark.

Bridgestone, which was using “Potenza” and “Turanza” had tried to persuade the patent office that “Milanza” was so similar to those two names that the public would be confused. The company also claimed that if Federal were to be allowed to register “Milanza,” the strength of the two Bridgestone marks at issue would be diminished.

Federal, based in Taiwan, had argued that the three words were dissimilar, as the two Bridgestone marks had meanings in Italian associated with automobiles -- “Potenza” for power, and “Turanza” for touring -- while “Milanza” was simply associated with the Italian city of Milan. Federal also claimed that the two Bridgestone marks were weak trademarks, and not entitled to broad protection.

The appeals court did not agree, noting that the Bridgestone marks had fame and strength “undiminished by the identification of Bridgestone as the manufacturer.” Trademark law places “a heavy burden on the newcomer to avoid confusion as to products and their sources,” the court said.

The two Federal marks were similar enough in sound and connotation that consumers were likely to be confused, the court said, ruling that the TTAB erred in denying Bridgestone’s opposition to the use of “Milanza” with tires.

The case is Bridgestone v. Federal Corp., 10-01376, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Zaentz Says It Will Consider Licensing ‘Hobbit’ Mark to U.K. Pub

Saul Zaentz Co., a film company holding the rights to brands associated with the late British author J.R.R. Tolkein, said it will “amicably resolve” a dispute with a pub in the U.K. that used “The Hobbit” as its name, the BBC reported.

Following criticism from actors Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen when Zaentz threatened to sue the pub’s owners for trademark infringement, the Zaentz company said it was open to licensing the pub’s use of the Tolkein brands, according to the BBC.

Paul Zaentz, of the company, told the BBC that if the pub’s owners acknowledge the use of the marks, “we will grant them a license for a nominal fee -- approximately $100 per year.”

The pub, in Southampton, has been in business as “The Hobbit” for more than 20 years, the BBC reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Music for Dentist’s Patients Not Subject to Fees, ECOJ Rules

The Societa Consortile Fonografici, an Italian rights- collecting agency, lost its argument that a dentist should have to pay royalties for playing background music in his office.

In its March 15 ruling, the European Court of Justice turned back SFC’s copyright-infringement claim against Marco del Corso, a dentist in Turin, Italy, who had background music in his office.

The ECOJ took the case on appeal from an appellate court in Turin, which sought clarification on whether the playing of music in the office constituted “communication with the public,” and if so, was the rights group entitled to compensation.

The court said the music is enjoyed by the patients without an active choice on their part, and that when people visit the dentist, it is not for the purpose of hearing music. Likewise, the compensation the dentist receives for his service is not related to the music that is played.

As a result, the broadcast of the music in the dentist’s office “is not of a profit-making nature” so it doesn’t meet the requirements for royalty payments, the court ruled.

The case is Società Consortile Fonografici (SCF) v. Marco Del Corso, C‑135/10, European Court of Justice.

‘Copyright Alert System’ to Take Effect with U.S. ISPs in July

Some U.S. Internet service providers are expected to begin issuing a “Copyright Alert System” warning system to customers beginning in July, PC Magazine reported.

The system is intended to provide a standardized approach to infringement warnings, according to PC Magazine.

Among the Internet service providers participating in the system are Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and AT&T Inc. (T), PC Magazine reported.

Internet Service Providers will be put on notice by copyright owners or their representatives that illegal downloading by customers is occurring, according to PC Magazine.

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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