Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of the world’s largest search engine, ended legal disputes with a French publishing trade group and a French authors’ association over the U.S. company’s scanning of books.
The Syndicat National de l’Edition, which represents more than 600 publishers, and the SGDL Society of Authors agreed with Google to end litigation over Google’s scanning of copyright-protected books without permission, according to two statements yesterday.
Google is working to improve its relationship with French industry groups and regulators after disputes over privacy and access to copyrighted content. It has also settled legal disputes with the Hachette Livre unit of Lagardere SCA (MMB), the country’s biggest publisher, and La Martiniere Groupe that allowed it scan out-of-print works that are still copyrighted.
“We’ve agreed a model to get out-of-print books back into print,” Echikson said in a telephone interview of the agreement with SNE. While Google’s settlement with the publishers’ group doesn’t contain any financial terms, it will separately sponsor a school-reading program it runs, he said.
Google plans to sell some of the scanned copyrighted works as electronic books and will share the proceeds with publishers under individual deals where the “majority of the revenue comes to the publisher,” said Philippe Colombet, Google Books’ strategic partner development manager in France.
Colombet said in an interview that Google was “still talking” to French publishers that last year dropped a 9.8 million-euro ($12.3 million) lawsuit against Google over book-scanning. Editions Albin Michel SA, Editions Gallimard SA and Flammarion made the decision in order to resume negotiations to reach a deal on scanning copyright-protected works for Google’s digital library.
Google will financially support the SGDL Society of Authors’ development of a database of book authors and right-owners to settle legal proceedings over the scanning of copyright-protected books for its digital library, the company and the SGDL said in a joint statement. Google declined to disclose the financial terms of the support.
The SGDL, which represents 6,000 French and French-speaking authors, said the agreement will reaffirm the position of authors and help them protect their rights online, SGDL President Jean-Claude Bologne said in the joint statement.
The search-engine owner this month lost a U.S. court bid to dismiss claims by groups including the Author’s Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers in two lawsuits over electronic books.
The suits stem from Google’s plan, announced in 2004, to digitally scan books from public and university libraries to provide short snippets of text to people who use its Internet search engine. It said in a February court filing that it has scanned more than 20 million books.
Subtitle Downloading Site Shut Down, Operator Hit with Fine
A student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology was convicted of copyright infringement and fined 15,000 Norwegian kroner ($2,500) for running a website that enabled the downloading of movie and television program subtitles, the TorrentFreak website reported.
The site, Norsub.com, has now been taken down, and the operator posed a notice saying he had always thought he was providing a legal service, according to TorrentFreak.
TorrentFreak, which holds an anti-copyright position, reported that this case is the first in Norway involving subtitles and that the judge “had difficulty” comparing movie piracy to the sharing of subtitles.
Although prosecutors had also sought a jail sentence for the student, the court declined to impose a sentence, TorrentFreak reported.
Quingdao to Become Center for International Copyright Exchange
An industrial park devoted to international copyright and creative culture is to be built in Quingdao, China, as a means of facilitating copyright exchanges among China, Japan and South Korea, China Daily reported.
More than 30 Quingdao animation and software companies have agreed to participate in the trade center, which will be an exchange for IP rights for creative works, according to China Daily.
Categories of works to be brokered through the center include anime games, cyber culture, media and publishing, entertainment, arts and crafts and audio-visual works, the newspaper reported.
An example of the kind of deal that could be facilitated through the center was the recent licensing of a non-Chinese oil painting to be a design element in a domestic vintner’s wine label, China Daily Reported.
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Forest Reduces Forecast as Copycats Take Lexapro Pill Sales
Forest (FRX) Laboratories Inc. cut its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast because sales of Lexapro, a pill to treat depression, are being lost to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA)’s generic version.
Profit for the year ending in March will be 65 to 80 cents a share, 25 cents less than previously forecast, New York-based Forest said yesterday in a statement.
Forest lost the right to sell Lexapro exclusively after its patent for the drug expired in September. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva and Forest will split the market for a six-month period that began in March, with Forest also licensing to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan Inc. (MYL) an “authorized generic” to compete against Forest’s and Teva’s pills. After that, more copycat makers can start selling.
Forest said it overestimated how many pills it would sell and how much Teva would trim prices to win a share of the market. The company projects sales of Lexapro will fall to $215 million this fiscal year rather than to $250 million. Projected royalty income from the authorized generic version will be $60 million, down from an expected $115 million.
Forest also said it would stop shipping Levothroid, used to treat low levels of thyroid hormone. The company licenses the drug from another manufacturer. The FDA notified the maker that the agency had “regulatory and quality concerns,” leading to a shutdown of the plant where the pills are made, Forest said.
“Pending further details Forest has discontinued shipping Levothroid to its customers and does not know how long the product will be unavailable,” the company said.
Should the disruption go on “for an extended period of time” or if a recall of the medicine occurs, earnings would be reduced by 3 cents a share, Forest said.
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Inditex’s Zara Unit Turns Back Louboutin Red-Sole Challenge
A French court rejected Louboutin’s claim that the red sole and peep toes on a pair of cut-price Zara slingback high-heeled shoes infringed its trademarks, the Mail reported.
The court determined that consumers wouldn’t confuse the inexpensive shoes with genuine Louboutins, according to the newspaper.
Alexis Mourot, Louboutin’s general manager, told the Mail that the company would continue its battle to protect its distinctive red-sole design.
Arsenal, Manchester United Sue Chinese Trademark Authority
Premier League soccer teams Manchester United and Arsenal are suing China’s trademark authority, seeking revocation of “Arsenal” and “Manchester United” trademarks issued to Chinese companies, the Global Times reported.
The “Arsenal” mark was issued to a manufacturer of eyeglasses, and the Chinese agency approved the application to register “Manchester United” by a toymaker, the newspaper reported.
Previously the China Trademark Board had ruled that there was no harm done to Arsenal by permitting the eyeglasses company to use the mark, according to the Global Times.
The football clubs will have to prove to the Chinese court that they have registered their marks for categories of products similar to those for which the marks are presently being used by the Chinese companies, the newspaper reported.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Raytheon Accused of Misappropriating Warhead Trade Secrets
Raytheon Co. (RTN), developer of the Tomahawk, Sidewinder and Patriot missiles, was sued for trademark infringement by a small closely held defense contractor.
According to the complaint filed in federal court in Tucson, Arizona, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company is accused of misappropriating proprietary information related to the Lancer Multiple Warhead Systems designed by Ordinance Technologies Inc.
Ordinance Technologies said in its pleadings that beginning in the early 1990s, it had worked with Raytheon on a multiwarhead missile program, and that this relationship was covered by an agreement to protect the La Jolla, California-based company’s trade secrets.
Concerns about Raytheon’s possible misuse of the trade secrets first surfaced in 2005, Ordinance Technologies said, claiming that the Massachusetts company “began generating briefings” using the proprietary data. Ordinance Technologies said it put Raytheon on notice in November 2005 not to disclose the data to any other organization,.
In 2009 Ordinance Technologies learned of a project Raytheon had entered into with the U.S. government to modify the Tactical Tomahawk Cruise Missile “to enable it to destroy targets in a ‘multieffects’ system,” a project the California company claims uses its trade secrets.
It claims it has suffered “at least $12 million in consequential damages and lost profits,” and asked the court for an order barring further use of its trade secrets and to ban Raytheon from participating in the missile modification program.
Additionally, Ordinance Technologies asked for money damages, including extra damages to punish Raytheon for its conduct, and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.
Raytheon spokesman Jonathan D. Kasle said in an e-mail yesterday that his company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. The company also hasn’t yet filed a response to the complaint.
The case is Ordinance Technologies Inc., v. Raytheon Co, 4:12-cv-00386-CKJ, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Tucson).
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