IRobot, Allergan, Microsoft: Intellectual Property

IRobot Corp. (IRBT), the company that makes robotic vacuum cleaners, floor-scrubbers and gutter-cleaners, has applied for a patent on robotic assembly.

According to application 20130015596, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Jan. 17, this technology is related to the three-dimensional printing and manufacturing process. IRobot said in the application that this would be a fully automated process without human intervention and labor.

The Bedford, Massachusetts-based manufacturing company said the technology would increase the quality of a finished product because it would be made all in one, without the need to attach additional components. In what it calls “traditional 3-D printing,” connectors and fasteners are often required to attach component parts to each other, and these connection points are often the site of product failure, IRobot said.

The machine that performs this operation would be a six- axis industrial robot that handles product from seed component to mature product, through the use of 3-D printing, milling and drilling, according to the application.

IRobot filed this patent application in June 2012. According to the application, the two assignees or owners of the patent are IRobot and Raytheon BBN Technologies Corp. of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Allergan Wins Appeal Upholding Patent for Lumigan Eye Treatment

Allergan Inc. won a U.S. appeals court ruling yesterday that prevents Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) and Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Sandoz unit from selling a generic version of the glaucoma treatment Lumigan until August 2014.

A disputed patent -- 5,688,819 -- which covers Lumigan’s active ingredient bimatoprost and its use to treat ocular hypertension or glaucoma is valid and infringed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said in an opinion posted on its website.

Allegan had filed the suit in federal court in Delaware in May 2009. The appeals court upheld a September 2011 lower-court victory for Allergan.

The appeal is Allergan v. Barr Labs, 12-01040, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The lower court case is Allergan Inc. V. Barr Laboratories Inc., 1:09-cvc-00333-SLR-MPT, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware.

Merial Sued Over Patent for Frontline Pet Flea, Tick Treatment

Merial Ltd., an animal-health products unit of Sanofi (SAN), France’s largest drugmaker, was sued by Horizon Valley Generics Inc., which asked for a ruling that it doesn’t violate Merial’s patent for Frontline flea and tick control products for pets.

In the complaint, filed yesterday in federal court in Delaware, Horizon Valley claims that Merial has “consistently and aggressively litigated or threatened to litigate” its patent 6,096,329 in attempts to stop potential competitors from developing or selling any products that could compete with Frontline.

Wilmington, Delaware-based Horizon Valley said it’s already sought approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a competing flea and tick product for cats and dogs, and plans to introduce it into the market as a generic alternative for Frontline.

The case is Horizon Valley Generics Inc. v. Merial Ltd., U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Mega Brands Claims Amloid’s Big Blocks Infringe Trade Dress

Mega Brands Inc., a Canadian maker of construction toys, sued a New Jersey-based competitor for infringing its trade dress. Trade dress is protected under U.S. trademark law.

According to the suit filed Jan. 23 in federal court in Santa Ana, California, Amloid Corp. of Denville, New Jersey, is accused of producing a line of construction toys that are confusingly similar to Mega’s Mega Blocks toy line.

The Montreal-based toymaker says in its pleadings that Amloid’s Big Blocks toy line is too similar to the MEGA products in terms of the configuration of the blocks, the packaging and some of the construction toys that are to be used with the blocks.

Mega claims that the infringement is intentional, will cause consumer confusion, and that the lookalike products will harm its own reputation.

The company asked the court to bar further infringement, and an order for the destruction of all infringing products, packaging and promotional material, and for awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees. Mega is also requesting additional damages to punish Amloid for its actions.

Amloid didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Mega Brands Inc. (MB) v. Amloid Corp., 8:13-cv- 00108-CJC-MLG, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Microsoft Sues Electronic-Products Recycler for Infringement

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, sued a company that offers electronic-equipment recycling for copyright infringement.

According to the complaint filed Jan. 25 in federal court in Arizona, E-Waste Harvesters Inc. is accused of advertising and selling computers with unauthorized copies of Microsoft software installed. The Redmond, California-based software company said that the sales have continued even after it warned E-Waste Harvesters of the consequences of its actions.

In addition to copyright infringement, Microsoft also accused Phoenix-based E-Waste Harvesters of infringing trademarks and of using false representations of the software company’s packaging.

The public is likely to be confused by E-Waste Harvester’s actions, and to assume falsely that the software company has authorized the use of its copyrighted material and trademarks, Microsoft claims.

It asked the court to order the Arizona company to halt its allegedly infringing activities, and to order the seizure of all infringing products in E-Waste Harvesters’ possession. Microsoft has requested awards of money damages, profits derived from the infringing actions, attorney fees and litigation costs. It also asked for a tripling of the damages and profits awards.

E-Waste Harvesters didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) v. E-Waste Harvesters Inc., 2:13-cv-00169-DKD, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix)

‘Life of Pi’ Tops List of Films Most Illegally Downloaded

If the number of unauthorized downloads of a movie were an indication of which film would win the best-picture Academy Award, “Life of Pi,” would win, according to a chart posted on the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website.

Second place goes to “Silver Linings Playbook,” followed in order by “Skyfall,” “Django Unchained,” and “Argo.” The movies were downloaded through the use of the BitTorrent file- sharing protocol.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 24 in Los Angeles.

Colombian Constitutional Court Rejects New Copyright Law

Colombia’s copyright law was ruled unconstitutional by the nation’s constitutional court, according to Columbia Reports.

The law had been passed as part of the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia that went into effect last year, according to the Colombia Reports website.

The court agreed with Colombian Senator Jorge Robledo, who had argued against the law, saying it unfairly limited Internet users’ rights to have access to and share information, the website reported.

Antigua Given WTO Approval to Suspend IP Treaty Obligations

The World Trade Organization has granted Antigua and Barbados authorization to suspend treaty obligations it has with the U.S. related to intellectual property rights.

According to a statement posted on the island nation’s website yesterday, the remedy, “contrary to what the United States has publicly stated, will not constitute ‘piracy’ or theft of intellectual property rights.” The government went on to say that it has tried for almost a decade to resolve a dispute with the U.S. with respect to what it calls “remote gaming.”

Actions by the U.S. to block U.S. residents access to the online gambling websites in Antigua “has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” according to the statement.

The online gambling industry was at one point the second- largest employer in Antigua, which was worth “over $3.4 billion to the Antiguan economy,” the government said.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative responded to the news of the WTO actions. USTR spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement that the U.S. is presently “engaged in compensation negotiations with Antigua and six other WTO members that have claimed to be affected.

He said that once the process of “clarifying the U.S. schedule of commitments is completed,” the issues of the nation’s dispute with Antigua will be moot and there will no longer be any basis for suspending WTO commitments.

The WTO had previously found that the U.S. gambling laws related to Internet gambling on horse racing weren’t in compliance with treaty obligations.

The U.S. had taken exception to the $3.4 billion figure put forth by Antigua. According to the USTR statement, that amount is more than three times the size of Antigua’s entire economy.

For more copyright news, click here.

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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