FastShip, Live Nation, Google, VW, CA: Intellectual Property

FastShip Inc. (0211390D), which planned to build ships to speed up the delivery of freight across the Atlantic Ocean, filed for bankruptcy protection saying, it intends to sue the U.S. government for patent infringement.

The Philadelphia-based company listed assets of less than $50,000 and debt of about $39 million in papers filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. It had sought $2 billion in financing to provide all-weather cargo delivery between the U.S. East Coast and Cherbourg, France, according to FastShip President Roland K. Bullard II.

“The combination of deal fatigue and the collapse of the global economy in 2008-2009 forced the debtors to abandon their original commercial business plan,” Bullard said in court papers. FastShip’s technology “would be comparable to airfreight at half the cost,” he said.

The closely held company plans to use bankruptcy to create a trust that would pursue a patent-infringement lawsuit against the U.S. government and repay creditors with any proceeds, Bullard said. A new $650 million U.S. Navy combat ship relies on designs owned by FastShip, Bullard said.

“The debtors believe a strong claim exists against the U.S. government for patent infringement,” the company said in court papers.

The case is In re FastShip Inc., 12-bk-10968, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

United, Live Nation Didn’t Violate Seat Reservation Patents

United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) and Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (LYV) convinced a jury they didn’t violate patents over a method to reserve specific seats for events because those protections are invalid.

A federal jury in Tyler, Texas, deliberated about nine hours before deciding in favor of the airlines and ticketing companies.

Closely held Ceats Inc., based in Tyler, accused the carriers of infringing three patents, and the ticketing companies of infringing two of those and a third.

Consumers are demanding more control over where they sit at concerts, on airlines and in movie theaters. Ceats has an online licensing program, in which it seeks a royalty rate of 50 cents from every event ticket and 30 cents on each airline ticket in the U.S.

The top 100 tours worldwide generated 54.2 million ticket sales in 2011, according to PollStar, an industry publication.

There were 586.1 million domestic passengers in the first 11 months of 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Aircraft are flying at near-record level, with 83 percent of seats full, the agency said.

Also named in the case were airlines owned by AirTran Holdings Inc., Alaska Air Group Inc. (ALK), Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU), U.S. Airways Inc., and Virgin America Inc. The ticketing agencies included Live Nation’s Ticketmaster and TicketsNow, and closely held Ticket Software LLC’s TicketNetwork.

The case is Ceats Inc. v. Continental Airlines Inc., 10cv120, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Google Complaint Said to Be Reviewed by EU as Soon as Next Week

The European Union’s antitrust chief will review a draft complaint against Google Inc. (GOOG) as soon as next week, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, will make a decision on whether to proceed with a case against Google after he sees the so-called statement of objections, said the people, who declined to be identified because the process is confidential. Almunia, who has previously described the document as a report, would be able to quickly send it out as a formal complaint.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under growing pressure from global antitrust agencies probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. While Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and partner Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post last year, citing data from regulators.

The EU is investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting rival ads. Microsoft Corp. and shopping- comparison site Foundem are among companies that asked for a review of Google’s actions.

A spokesman for Google in Brussels declined to immediately comment. The EU’s press office also wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Almunia has said he will decide next month on whether “investigations are advanced enough” after he sees what he described as a report on the case. He said he would then decide on the EU’s concerns and communicate them to Google.

VW Can’t Overturn Suzuki’s GTi Trademark, EU Court Says

Volkswagen AG (VOW) can’t overturn a trademark for SWIFT GTi granted to Suzuki Motor Corp. (7269) by the European Union’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, the EU’s General Court said.

“There is no likelihood of confusion between that trademark and the earlier trademarks ‘GTI’ held by Volkswagen,” the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement.

Volkswagen will review the ruling and consider an appeal to the region’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice, said Eric Felber, a spokesman for Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany. The carmaker’s German rights “to the GTI trademark will remain unaffected by the judgment,” he said in an e-mail.

VW and Suzuki are in arbitration concerning a separate dispute over a 2009 cooperation agreement. The Japanese automaker is seeking to force VW to sell back its 19.9 percent stake in Suzuki.

NuVasive Appeals $60 Million Trademark-Infringement Verdict

NuVasive Inc. (NUVA), a medical-device company based in San Diego, asked a U.S. appeals court to overturn a $60 million judgment in a trademark-infringement case that it called “shocking.”

A federal court jury in Los Angeles awarded the damages to Neurovision Medical Products Inc. in October 2010.

Neurovision, based in Ventura, California, filed the lawsuit in September 2009, claiming NuVasive began infringing its “Neurovision” trademark after discussions about a long- term contract between the two companies ended without an agreement.

The jury found that NuVasive deliberately infringed the mark and concealed that it knew of Neurovision’s prior use of the mark when it filed trademark applications at the patent office.

In its March 15 filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, NuVasive argued that the award “was shocking and excessive and not supported by evidence.”

The company additionally claimed that the judge erred by permitting an award of a share of its profit and gave the jury improper instructions. NuVasive also argued that the court was too restrictive in the evidence it could present on the likelihood of confusion.

The appeal is Neurovision Medical Products I v. NuVasive Inc., 11-55120, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The lower court case is Neurovision Medical Products Inc. v. NuVasive Inc., 2:09-cv-06988-R-JEM, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Music Industry Trade Group Gets Court Order Against Indian ISPs

Indian Music Industry, a music-industry trade group in India, sent infringement notices to almost 400 Internet service providers, complaining of copyright infringement by 104 websites, India’s Daily News & Analysis reported.

The notices were accompanied by a restraining order from the Calcutta High Court barring transmission, display, distribution, communication, reproduction, adoption and dissemination of sound recordings belonging to IMI’s members, according to Daily News and Analysis.

Vijay Lazarus, president of IMI, told the publication that piracy is “a scourge” for the media and entertainment industry” and that only 7 percent of India’s digital music market is legitimate.

Among the companies that received notices are Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI), Sify Technologies Ltd. (SIFY), Wipro Ltd. (WPRO), and Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd. (HATH), the Daily News & Analysis reported.

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

CA Wins Trade Secret, Infringement Ruling in Australian Court

CA Inc. (CA), the Islandia, New York-based business-technology service provider, said in a statement yesterday that an Australian federal court found Independent Systems Integrators Pty Ltd. used misappropriated intellectual property to develop and sell a product belonging to CA’s CA Technologies unit.

The product is ISI’s 2BDB2 software product, which was also found to have infringed CA Technologies’ copyrights, according to the company statement.

At the next stage in the litigation, the court is expected to issue orders to implement the ruling, CA said.

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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