Abbott, Lassonde, Match.com, Apple: Intellectual Property

Abbott Laboratories (ABT), a U.S. health- care company, sued the German drug maker Boehringer AG (0205298D)’s Roxane Laboratories Inc. and accused it of infringing three patents for the HIV drug Norvir.

The Abbott Park, Illinois-based company contends Roxane is wrongly planning to market a generic version of Norvir tablets before the U.S. patents expire, according to papers filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Abbott will be irreparably harmed” if Roxane introduces its copy and “Abbott is entitled to a permanent injunction against further infringement,” according to the complaint.

Abbott is splitting itself into a diversified products company led by its medical device division, and a drug company, to be called AbbVie. Its Norvir is one of the protease inhibitor class of drugs used to treat AIDS.

Last year Abbott agreed to pay $52 billion to resolve claims by direct drug buyers that it tried to harm competition when it quadrupled the price of Norvir in 2003. The company increased the wholesale price of a Norvir capsule containing 100 milligrams to $8.57 from $1.71, the Abbott Park, Illinois-based company said in court documents.

That case was Meijer v. Abbott Laboratories, 07-5985, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Abbott’s best-selling medicine is Humira, an injection to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The company also makes blood-sugar meters, coronary stents, nutritional supplements, eye drops and veterinary products.

Officials of Roxane, based in Columbus, Ohio, weren’t immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Abbott v. Roxane, 1:12-cv-00457-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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Trademark

Lassonde Settles Dispute After Social Media Campaign

Lassonde Industries Inc. (LAS/A), a Canadian food company, has settled a seven-year trademark dispute with a small cosmetics company, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Following a social media campaign that threatened a boycott of Lassonde over its assertion of its “Oasis” trademark rights against Olivia’s Oasis cosmetics, the Rougement, Quebec-based food company said it decided to “take a positive step” in response to the campaign, according to the CBC.

Lassonde said it would compensate the owner of Olivia’s Oasis for the legal fees she incurred over the seven years of the dispute, the CBC reported.

Olivia’s Oasis had C$250,000 ($249,000) in revenues last year, in contrast to Lassonde’s revenue exceeding C$760 million, the network reported.

Match.com Sued Over XXXMatch.com and Eroticmatch.com Websites

Match.com LP, the Dallas-based operator of an online dating service, sued the operators of an adult-themed dating service for trademark infringement.

According to the complaint filed April 2 in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Match.com is harmed by the operators of xxxmatch.com and eroticmatch.com. The Texas company also objects to the adult sites’ use of the phrase “love is complicated, sex is simple,” saying it infringes its “love is complicated, match.com is simple” trademark.

The company claims that consumers are likely to be confused and falsely believe that some connection exists between the erotic-themed services and match.com.

Match.com asked the court for orders barring further infringement, together with awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs as well as a tripling of the profits defendants derived from the alleged infringement. The company also requested that it be transferred the offending domain names, and that the defendants be barred from registering any U.S. trademark containing “match.”

The defendants were listed with addresses in Barbados, the British West Indies and Cyprus. The lead defendant, Fiesta Catering International Inc. of Anguilla, in the British West Indies didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment. Match.com is also suing four unnamed defendants.

The company is represented by Erik Craig Kane of New York’s Kenyon & Kenyon LLP (1338L).

The case is Match.com LLC v. Fiesta Catering International Inc., 1:12-cv-00363-AJG-IDD, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

West Virginia University Settles Trademark Infringement Suit

West Virginia University (26929MF), a state school based in Morgantown, West Virginia, has settled a trademark suit against three t-shirt sellers.

The suit, filed Jan. 6 in federal court in Clarksburg, West Virginia, accused T-shirt companies of producing and selling shirts that infringe on the school’s trademarks.

Many of the shirts, which were pictured in the complaint, are made in the school’s colors of blue and gold and feature texts in a font similar to that used on the school’s licensed products.

Texts on some of the allegedly infringing shirts contain an obscene word between “West” and “Virginia,” or feature the image of a hand with an upraised middle finger in place of the outline of the state. The defendants are also accused of selling other infringing products including temporary tattoos and portable coolers.

According to an April 10 court filing, the T-shirt companies have agreed to quit making and selling infringing products, and using any of the school’s marks or simulation of them that would give the impression of an affiliation with the university or confuse the public.

They also agreed not to sell any West Virginia University- licensed products without a license. They can use “West Virginia” with the products, provided the phrase is used “purely in a non-infringing and non-diluting manner.”

Permitted uses of “West Virginia” are limited to “West by God Virginia,” “(any city name) West Virginia,” and “West Virginia,” according to the agreement. The companies are barred from using fonts that are substantially similar to those used by the school and its athletic teams.

All infringing products are to be recalled and handed over to the school for destruction, and Internet domains that were at issue in the case are to be transferred to the school.

Parties on both sides are to pay their own court costs and attorney fees, according to the agreement.

The case is West Virginia University Board of Governors v. Miviman LLC, 1:12-cv-00005-FPS, U.S. District Court, Northern District of West Virginia (Clarksburg).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Apple, Four Publishers Seek to Settle EU’s E-Book Probe

Apple Inc. (AAPL), the world’s biggest technology company, and four publishers may be able to settle a European Union probe into digital book sales similar to one that resulted in a U.S. lawsuit.

Apple, CBS Corp. (CBS)’s Simon & Schuster, News Corp. (NWSA)’s Harper Collins, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan unit and Lagardere SCA (MMB)’s Hachette Livre sent “possible commitments” to the European Commission, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The EU will review the offers with competitors to see if they would address antitrust issues.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple, Macmillan and Pearson Plc (PSON)’s Penguin in New York yesterday, claiming the publishers colluded to fix e-book prices. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins reached settlements with the Justice Department.

“We are currently engaged in fruitful discussions with them, without prejudice to the outcome of these talks,” Almunia said. “We will assess any final proposals of commitments and we will test them with third parties in order to check whether they are sufficient to preserve competition for the benefit of consumers in this fast-growing market.”

The European Commission opened a probe into Cupertino, California-based Apple, the four publishers and Penguin in December to examine the iPad-maker’s deals with publishers and the publishers’ deals with retailers.

“We are in active and productive discussions” with the EU, Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster in New York, said in an e-mail.

Penguin wasn’t mentioned in the EU statement on the possible settlement. Charles Goldsmith, a spokesman for Pearson in London, declined to make an immediate comment.

Tanya Ridd, a spokeswoman for Apple in London, declined to comment. Siobhan Kenny, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins in London, declined to comment because the company is still negotiating details of the settlement with regulators. Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck declined to immediately comment.

Hachette didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and e- mails.

Thailand to Seek Tougher Jail Terms, Fines for Infringement

Thailand’s commerce ministry seeks an increased jail term for criminal copyright infringement, the Bangkok Post reported.

The ministry’s subcommittee on the protection of IP rights said the present sanction of two years jail via suspended sentence doesn’t provide enough of a deterrent to piracy, according to the newspaper.

The committee also seeks a restructuring of the fines, to be based on the number of seized items instead of the current system, which has a range of 100,000 bhat to 600,000 bhat ($3,237 to $19,423), the Bangkok Post reported.

Poom Sarapol, the deputy minister for the Commerce Ministry, told the Bangkok Post that the government seeks to reduce IP rights violations by 80 percent.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Talk

Patents, Copyrights Boost Economy With Jobs, Report Finds

More than a quarter of all jobs in the U.S. are with companies that rely on patents, copyrights and trademarks to protect products from competition and promote investment, the Commerce Department said.

About 27.1 million jobs in 2010 were in industries that rely heavily on intellectual property protections, and another 12.9 million positions were indirectly affected. The 75 industries deemed “IP-intensive” accounted for $5.06 trillion, or about 35 percent of the gross domestic product in 2010, according to a study released yesterday by the Economics and Statistics Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Commerce Department sought to quantify the portion of the U.S. economy relying on intellectual property rights as President Barack Obama calls for more innovation to boost job growth. Workers in industries deemed intellectual property intensive earned $1,156 a week on average in 2010, 42 percent more than those in other sectors, the report found.

“These good-paying jobs help support an economic security for America’s middle class,” Rebecca Blank, deputy Commerce secretary, said yesterday in a conference call with reporters.

While almost all companies rely on some intellectual property, such as the trademark for their name, the study selected 75 that were considered more reliant, including makers of electronics, medical devices, software, drugs, motor vehicles, consumer goods and movies.

“The largest and most innovative industries in the U.S. rely on IP for global competitiveness,” said patent office Director David Kappos. Strong intellectual property protection is “paying dividends in growth of the economy and growth of jobs.”

The U.S. jobless rate was at 8.2 percent in March as Obama campaigns for a second term in November’s presidential election. A loss of manufacturing jobs has meant that employment in the patent-reliant industries fell, though there was rapid growth in jobs in areas such as software that rely more on copyright protection.

U.S. exports of merchandise from industries that are intensive in intellectual property, including electronics and chemicals, increased about 53 percent, to $775 billion, from 2000 to 2010, according to the report. They account for almost 61 percent of all U.S. goods exported.

Imports from industries intensive in intellectual property increased almost 62 percent during the past decade, to $1.34 billion in 2010.

“We must ensure that American IP-intensive industries remain confident that their copyrights, patents, and trademarks will be enforced,” Thomas Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said at a White House event announcing the report.

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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