Bayer, Apple, Spanx, Grumpy Cat: Intellectual Property

A unit of Bayer AG (BAYN), Germany’s largest drugmaker, sued India’s Glenmark Generics Ltd. seeking to stop sales of a generic form of its Finacea gel used to treat rosacea.

Glenmark, based in Mumbai, is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a generic version of the drug before Bayer’s patent 6,534,070 expires in 2018, according to a complaint filed March 14 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Plaintiffs will suffer “irreparable harm for which they have no adequate remedy at law” unless Glenmark is prohibited from using the technology before the patent expires, Bayer said in court papers.

“Based on available information, Glenmark believes it may be a first applicant” to file for the generic version of Finacea “and may be entitled to 180 days of generic market exclusivity,” Glenmark said in a statement March 15.

Finacea had U.S. sales of about $95 million for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, according to data compiled by IMS Health, a provider of health-care information, Glenmark said.

The case is Intendis GMBH v. Glenmark Generics Ltd., 13- cv-00421, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Apple Accused of Technology Theft by Lucas-Founded Company

Apple Inc. (AAPL) was accused by THX Ltd., a company founded by “Star Wars” producer George Lucas, of stealing speaker technology used in iPhones, iPads and iMac products.

THX holds a 2008 patent for a speaker unit that can boost sound output and attach to computers or flat-screen televisions, according to a complaint filed on March 14 in federal court in San Jose, California.

Apple products that incorporate the speaker units infringe the THX patent, causing the company “monetary damage and irreparable harm,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint seeks a court order to stop the alleged infringement and a reasonable royalty, or damages to compensate THX for lost profit.

THX, founded in 2002, drew its name from Lucas’s first film, THX 1138, according to Wookieepedia, a website about “Star Wars.”

Once part of Lucasfilms, THX created a set of standards and a certification system for theater sound systems to ensure the sound quality of “Star Wars” movies could be reproduced for moviegoers, according to the company’s website.

This year, San Rafael, California-based THX announced its first mobile application, THX tune-up, available in Apple’s iTunes App Store, according to a Jan. 29 statement from THX. The app allows consumers to use an Apple device with the iOS operating system to adjust the performance of televisions, projectors and speakers, according to the statement.

Marika Knapp, a spokeswoman for THX, said in an e-mail that the company doesn’t comment on pending legal matters.

Colleen Patterson, spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment on the complaint.

The case is THX Ltd. v. Apple Inc., 13-cv-01161, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

Spanx Takes on Yummie Tummie in Fight Over Design Patents

Spanx Inc., the Georgia-based maker of women’s body-shaping undergarments, filed suit in federal court in Atlanta seeking a declaration that it doesn’t infringe patents held by a New York- based rival company.

According to the complaint, Times Three Clothier LLC, which does business as Yummie Tummie, sent Spanx a letter in January claiming that a number of its garments infringe seven Yummie Tummie design patents. The two companies have failed to come to agreement over the infringement allegations, and Spanx said Yummie Tummie has “expressed its willingness to enforce its patents.”

In its pleadings, Spanx says it doesn’t infringe the patents and asked the court for a non-infringement declaration and for awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.

Times Three is associated with Heather Thompson Schindler, the named inventor on the patents and a cast member of the Bravo Channel’s “Real Housewives of New York.” The company didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Spanx Inc. v. Times Three Clothier LLC, 1:13- cv-00710-WSD, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

Cereplast Gets Patent for Biodegradable Nanopolymer Composition

Cereplast Inc. (CERP), a California-based maker of bio-based resins, received a U.S. patent for biodegradable nanopolymer compositions and articles made from this compound.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, patent 8,389,614, issued March 5, covers a biodegradable composition that can be used in molded, formed and extruded articles such as packing materials and disposable beakers, cups and cutlery.

In addition to the bio-based polymer, the compound includes minerals such as silica or nanoclays belonging to the vermiculate family.

Presently Cereplast of El Segundo, California, creates compostable bioplastic pellets that its customers use to make compostable packaging and single-use consumer products.

Cereplast applied for the patent in May 2011, with the assistance of Boston’s Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks PC.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Gujarati Milk Producers’ Group Blocks Rival’s ‘Imul’ Trademark

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. has blocked a Bengali milk producers’ co-op from registering “Imul” as a trademark, the Hindu newspaper reported.

India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board canceled the registration, saying “Imul” was too similar in sound to “Amul,” the brand under which the Gujarat milk group marketed its products, according to the newspaper.

The board said the two marks were phonetically similar, and consumers were likely to be confused, the Hindu reported.

Initially the Registrar of Trademarks had permitted the registration, saying it would have caused the Bengali group unnecessary inconvenience and damage to refuse registration, according to the newspaper.

‘Grumpy Cat’ Owners Seek to Register Phrase, Images as Trademarks

The owners of a cat whose scowling images have become an Internet meme have applied to register “Grumpy Cat” as a trademark.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, four applications were filed at the end of January to register “Grumpy Cat” and an image of that cat as trademarks. Applicants said they plan to use the mark on a variety of items including beer mugs, decorative magnets, mouse pads, covers and cases for mobile phones, clothing, stuffed toys and entertainment services.

The applicant is listed as “Grumpy Cat Inc. Corp. Ohio,” according to the database. Trademark counsel is Kia Kamran of Los Angeles, whose website indicates he does IP work for the music industry.

The cats owners, when interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show, said they have begun creating “Grumpy Cat” merchandise in response to consumer demands. Their website already offers a range of Grumpy Cat products, including coffee mugs, key chains and posters, all featuring images of the scowling cat in a variety of poses.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

TV Station Owners Say Retransmission Agreements Are Confidential

The corporate owners of four Pacific Northwest broadcast- television stations filed suit against a cable outlet owned by a public utility in Tacoma, Washington, claiming the details of their financial arrangements with the cable outlet are a trade secret, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.

They filed suit in Pierce County Superior Court seeking a court order halting the release of the records to the News Tribune, the newspaper reported.

The station owners claim that the documents -- known as “retransmission agreements” -- covering how much they charge Click Cable TV to rebroadcast their signals are a closely guarded secret in the industry and their release would be unprecedented, according to the News Tribune.

The newspaper is arguing that the agreements are public contracts that should be released in the public interest, the News Tribune reported.

Texas Payday Lenders Claim Backers ID is Protected Trade Secret

Two Texas state legislators have filed bills requiring so- called payday loan operators to disclose their financial backers, the Austin, Texas, Statesman newspaper reported.

The Consumer Service Alliance of Texas, a trade group for the payday-loan industry, said this information is a trade secret and disclosing it put its members at a competitive disadvantage, according to the newspaper.

Several of the organizations’ members have filed suits in Texas seeking to block disclosure of what they claim are their trade secrets, according to the Statesman.

One of the two lawmakers who filed pro-disclosure bills -- Representative Eddie Rodriguez, an Austin Democrat -- told the newspaper that aim of the measures is identification of the “big money” interests that benefit from lender’s so-called predatory practices.

Coca-Cola Accused of Using GPS System Against China’s Security

The Coca-Cola Co. (KO) has been accused of using GPS equipment in a manner that threatens China’s national security, Sky News reported.

The soft drink company says it is using the system on its delivery trucks solely to improve service and efficiency,’’ according to Sky News.

China tightly controls the use of satellite-navigation systems, limiting them to use with government-approved maps, Sky News reported.

These approved maps omit features the government classifies as secret, and accuses those who use unapproved systems of trying to obtain classified information illegally, according to Sky News.

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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