STMicroelectronics, Zoll, Costco: Intellectual Property

STMicroelectronics filed a patent- infringement complaint against InvenSense Inc. (INVN) in a case that could keep some Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (SWK) screwdrivers and Roku Inc. remote controllers out of the U.S.

STMicroelectronics filed the complaint March 11 with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington against InvenSense and its two customers. The complaint is over inventions related to micro-electro mechanical systems, or “MEMS,” which include motion sensors that let consumers turn, tilt and tap their gadgets for games, search and other functions.

The trade complaint ratchets up the battle between the two companies as they compete in the market for sensors and imaging used in wireless devices. The wireless-equipment market is projected to grow 19 percent a year to $20 billion by 2016, Benedetto Vigna, who heads STMicroelectronics (STM)’ MEMS unit, said in an interview last month.

“While we welcome fair competition, ST cannot tolerate continued infringement of our strong and unique patent portfolio, which is the result of more than 15 years of intensive R&D efforts and substantial investment,” said Bob Krysiak, president of the U.S. unit of STMicroelectronics, in a statement March 11.

The complaint accuses InvenSense of making MEMS devices that infringe four patents. The MEMS are incorporated in the Max Gyro Rechargeable Screwdriver made by New Britain, Connecticut- based Stanley Black & Decker, and motion-sensitive remote controllers for online video-service company Roku, based in Saratoga, California

Geneva-based STMicroelectronics, whose first major sensors contract was to equip the remote on Nintendo Co.’s Wii gaming system in 2005, leads the MEMS field today, according to data published by Lyon, France-based researcher Yole Developpement.

InvenSense said it developed the first integrated dual-axis MEMS gyroscope for consumer electronics and was in the market before STMicroelectronics. It has accused STMicroelectronics of using invalid patents in litigation.

An earlier civil lawsuit STMicroelectronics filed against InvenSense was put on hold last month while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes a second look at the STMicroelectronics patents at InvenSense’s request.

The ITC has refused to postpone its investigations in other cases where the patent office is reviewing patents.

David Almoslino, a spokesman for Sunnyvale, California- based InvenSense, said the company had no comment.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS Devices) and Products Containing Same, Complaint No. 2942, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Zoll Medical Says It Won German Patent Case Against ELan Med

Zoll Medical, which was acquired by Japan’s Asahi Kasei Corp. (3407) in 2012, said it won a patent-infringement case against ELan Med GmbH in a German court.

The District Court of Munich granted Zoll’s request for an order barring the distribution and sale of some ELan products related to temperature-management systems that Zoll claimed infringed its patents, Zoll said in a statement.

The court said Zoll can recover damages from the sale of infringing products since Jan. 18, 2012, according to Zoll’s statement.

Jobs’s Patents Continue to Issue After Apple Founder’s Death

Apple Inc. (AAPL) co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs has been dead for more than a year yet patents continue to be issued listing him as one of the named inventors.

Jobs was identified as an inventor on six U.S. patents issued yesterday, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. All were assigned to Cupertino, California-based Apple and all were design patents covering electronic devices or packaging.

The application for one of the patents -- D677,563 -- was filed more than a month after Jobs’s death from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5, 2011.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Costco Responds to Tiffany Suit, Calls Setting ‘Generic’

Costco Wholesale Corp., the Issaquah, Washington-based membership warehouse retail chain, responded to the trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Tiffany & Co. (TIF) on Feb. 14.

In a March 8 filing in federal court in Manhattan, Costco denied that it infringed the New York-based luxury jeweler’s trademarks by referring to the “Tiffany setting” used for some of its diamond rings.

“Tiffany Setting” is a generic term “for ring settings comprising multiple slender prong extending upward from a base to hold a single gemstone,” Costco said in its filing.

Costco presented examples of dictionary references and other ads that make reference to a Tiffany setting and said the rings to which the jeweler objected were “unbranded rings having Tiffany settings and accurately described as such.”

The membership-warehouse chain said that unlike Tiffany’s own rings, which come in a blue box bearing the name “Tiffany & Co.,” the rings it sells come in plain beige boxes with no brand name embossed or engraved on them.

In addition to asking for dismissal of the case, Costco asked the court to direct that Tiffany trademark registrations be modified and restricted to make clear that “Tiffany” is a generic term for a general type of setting.

The case is Tiffany & Co., v. Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), 1:13- cv-01041, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Defense Distributed Promises Plans for Guns You Can Make at Home

An Austin, Texas-based nonprofit has posted a video on Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site in which it says it will make available plans for guns that can be created by anyone with access to a 3-D printer and that it is opposed to all forms of intellectual property.

Defense Distributed says in the video it wants to create an “unblockable open-source search engine for all 3-D printable parts.” People will be able to use the Internet search engine to find plans to make what Defense Distributed calls “important things, not trinkets, not lawn gnomes but things that institutions and industries have an interest in keeping from us.”

Defense Distributed lists guns and medical devices as among the “important things” and promises there will be “no takedowns ever” under pressure from IP-rights owners. The organization “stands against artificial scarcity, intellectual property, copyright, patentable objects and regulation in all its forms,” according to the video.

Defense Distributed said on its website that its “first order production goal” is to produce and publish a file for a completely printable gun. It says it won’t go for something fancy, just a “printable configuration of geometries and materials” to allow for “the reliable and safe firing of a single round of ammunition.”

The organization, which is seeking donations via crowd- funding through its website, said its project “might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet?”

U.K. Parliament Member Calls Copyright Law Harmful to Designers

A member of the U.K.’s parliament said that proposed changes to that nation’s copyright law may not give enough protection to designers, the BBC reported.

Baroness Janet Whitaker, a member of the Labour Party and a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said March 11 that the U.K. had become a safe haven for copyright- infringing replica designs, according to the BBC.

She introduced and later withdrew an amendment to extend copyright rules to cover works made before 1957, the BBC reported.

Baron Alan Howarth, also a Labour party member, spoke in opposition, saying that extending copyright would perpetuate monopolies, keep prices artificially high, and prevent people of modest means from having beautiful things, according to the BBC.

Ikos’s Ambrosiadou Denies Being Wealthy Yacht Owner at Trial

Elena Ambrosiadou, the co-founder of hedge fund Ikos Asset Management Ltd. involved in a dispute with her estranged husband over its trading software, rejected reports that she is one of Britain’s wealthiest women as she gave evidence in the trial.

“I didn’t have any personal wealth” in 2006 and still don’t, the 55-year-old told a London court yesterday. Press reports about her riches, including claims she owns the largest sailing yacht in the world, are wrong and “very unfortunate,” she said. “I’m not the owner of the Maltese Falcon,” she said, although she is part of the team that looks after the vessel.

Martin Coward sued his wife’s company over ownership of the copyright for Ikos’s trading technology. Ikos, which manages about $1.36 billion in assets, filed a counterclaim accusing Coward of stealing its software. It is one of more than 40 lawsuits pitting the couple against each other in at least four countries.

Richard Hillgrove, Coward’s spokesman, and Phil Hall, Ambrosiadou’s spokesman, declined to comment on the dispute.

Their marriage turned “toxic,” Coward’s lawyer Michael Bloch said at the start of the trial last week, arguing that his client, not Ambrosiadou, was the architect of the firm’s success.

Ambrosiadou, who was born in Greece and educated in England, said yesterday she was responsible for Ikos’s business while Coward was part of a trading team and “delivered what the rest of the people engaged in that work were doing.”

“I was looking after the entirety of the operation,” she told the court. Ambrosiadou said her business assets were held in a family trust, and that she also co-owned a house in Steyning, England, with Coward.

The case is Coward v. Phaestos Limited, U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, case no. HC10C02788

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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