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Monsanto, Toyota, Microsoft: Intellectual Property

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed producer, said DuPont Co. failed to get a license to use technology for resisting Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer in a new line of herbicide-resistant soybeans.

The companies are in dispute resolution over a plan by DuPont’s Pioneer unit to combine Roundup Ready technology with DuPont genetics in Optimum GAT soybeans, Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles said yesterday. Monsanto doesn’t license Roundup-resistant technology for use in so-called stacked soybean seeds, which combine multiple genetic changes, he said.

“Pioneer is not authorized to make this genetic combination,” Monsanto said in an April 3 regulatory filing. “We are seeking to prevent non-consensual use of our proprietary technology absent appropriate terms including compensation for providing access to such technology.”

DuPont will notify the U.S. Department of Agriculture later this year that it is stacking Roundup Ready technology with other herbicide-resistant genetics in its Optimum GAT soybeans, Pioneer spokesman Pat Arthur said yesterday.

Since 2005, DuPont has said its so-called GAT technology is an alternative to Roundup Ready seeds, which are unaffected by glyphosate herbicides, and would end royalty payments to Monsanto. DuPont, the second-largest seed maker, won U.S. regulatory approval in July to sell Optimum GAT soybean seeds and plans to start commercial sales in 2011.

“Optimum GAT wasn’t meeting our standards for glyphosate tolerance by itself,” Arthur said. “With Optimum GAT stacked with Roundup Ready, we get better yield with more options for weed control.”

Arthur declined to comment on the dispute with Monsanto, saying DuPont doesn’t discuss confidential business agreements. The change doesn’t require a second U.S. government approval, he said.

More than 147 million acres, including 72.5 million in the U.S., were sown with Roundup Ready soybeans last year, Monsanto said in an Oct. 8 report.

Samsung to Pay Spansion $70 Million to End Phone-Chip Fight

Spansion Inc., the bankrupt maker of mobile-phone memory chips, said Samsung Electronics Co. will pay $70 million to end a patent fight that could have resulted in an import ban of the Apple Inc. iPod and other electronics.

The settlement, which is subject to approval by a U.S. bankruptcy court, includes an agreement that each company will license the other’s patents. It ends cases pending before the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington and a federal court in Delaware against Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, Asia’s biggest maker of chips.

Spansion had been seeking an ITC order to ban the imports of electronics that used certain Samsung chips, including the iPod, Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry e-mail device and Lenovo Group Ltd.’s personal computers. Spansion has said it acted after Samsung refused to sign a patent-licensing agreement over a type of flash memory called Nand, which stores songs and pictures on portable electronics.

The agreement “is a significant step forward in Spansion’s reorganization process, demonstrating the company’s intense focus on improving its financial position in the current economic climate,” Spansion said in a statement.

Former Spansion Chief Executive Officer Bertrand Cambou, 53, said in November that the Sunnyvale, California-based company could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing revenue from its patents. He resigned as CEO on Feb. 2, a month before the company filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt.

Spansion, created by the merger of the flash-memory units of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd., has struggled to make money in the market for Nor flash memory, a type of semiconductor that stores the operating system in mobile phones.

The case is In the Matter of Flash Memory Chips, 337-664, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Toyota Gets Patent for Glove Box Door that Collapses on Impact

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, received a patent for a safety innovation in car dashboard design.

Patent 7,513,528, one of 3,953 U.S. patents issued yesterday, covers the rib structure of the door to a vehicle’s glove box.

The invention related to variations in the rib structure supporting the door so it will have “controlled deformation” when hit by the passenger’s knees in a collision. The invention also seeks to minimize the transfer of force to a passenger’s arms or chest.

Japan’s Toyota applied for the patent in February 2006 with the assistance of Gifford, Krass, Sprinkle, Anderson & Citkowski PC of Troy, Michigan.

Samsung Electronics Signs Licensing Agreement with Intertrust

Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s biggest maker of chips, flat screens and mobile phones, signed an agreement to use Intertrust Technologies Corp.’s patents on content protection.

The South Korean company will use the technologies in its handsets, computers and televisions, Samsung said yesterday in a regulatory filing, without disclosing financial terms.

Among the other companies that have licensed Intertrust’s digital-rights management technology are Nokia Oyj, Motorola Inc., LG Electronics Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.

Trademark

Microsoft Applies for ‘Bing’ Mark for Search-Engine Software

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, may have tipped its hand about the name for its Internet search engines.

The Redmond, Washington-based company applied for a U.S. trademark for the term “Bing” on March 2. According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the term is to be used for ‘computer search engine software, graphic user interface software, toolbar software for us with search engine software and Web sites.”

The company actually filed two applications to cover “Bing.” The second one is for “providing a Web site and Web sites links to geographic information, map images and trip routing.”

An address search conducted through IP-adress.com yields the information that Microsoft is the registrant for the domain name bing.net and bing.com. The company is testing a new search engine under the name of kumo.com.

H&M, Wal-Mart Hold Top Retailer Brands, Interbrand Says

Hennes & Mauritz AB’s H&M Co. owns the most valuable retail brand in Europe, worth 11 billion euros ($14.6 billion), according to consulting firm Interbrand.

H&M is followed by Carrefour SA, Ikea, Tesco Plc and Zara UK Ltd. among European brands, Interbrand said on its Web site. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. owns the most-valuable U.S. brand, worth $21 billion, the consultant said.

The remaining U.S. retailers in the top five are Best Buy Co., Home Depot Inc., Target Corp. and CVS Caremark Corp., according to Interbrand.

Tea Brothers Seeks Declaration Its Teaka Doesn’t Infringe Taaka

Sazerac Co., a 140-year-old liquor company, was sued by a Florida liquor distributor over its “Taaka” trademark for vodka.

Tea Brothers LLC of Pompano Beach asked the court to declare its Teaka tea-flavored vodka products don’t infringe Sazerac’s trademark. The Florida company said its counsel received a cease-and-desist letter from Sazerac’s lawyer in January demanding that Tea Brothers quit using the Teaka mark.

“Given the visual and phoenetic similarity between your client’s Teaka mark, and Sazerac’s Taaka, the identical nature of the products (vodka), and the fact that the two products are offered through identical channels of commerce, customers are likely to conclude that your client’s Teaka vodka is offered by, or affiliated with, Sazerac,” Todd S. Bontemps, a lawyer for Sazerac, wrote in the letter.

Closely held Sazerac, based in New Orleans, has had registered U.S. trademarks for the Taaka brand since 1958.

Tea Brothers asked the court to declare that Teaka doesn’t infringe Taaka and isn’t “confusingly similar.” The company also seeks cancellation of Sazerac’s Taaka trademark, and attorney fees.

S. Tracy Long of Fort Lauderdale’s Santucci Priore & Long LLP represents Tea Brothers. Bontemps is at Palo Alto, California’s Cooley Goward Kronish LLP.

The case is Tea Brothers LLC v. Sazerac Co., 1:09-cv-20898-ASG, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

For more trademark news: {NI TRADEMARK <GO

Copyright

Richloom Sues Customer over Knockoff Home Decor Fabric

Richloom Fabrics Group, a textile company licensed to produce home decor fabrics for Liz Claiborne Inc., sued one of its customers for trademark infringement.

Huntington Fabrics Inc., of Tupelo Mississippi, is accused of making knockoff copies of two of Richloom’s Implosion and Focal BK patterns and selling them as original Richloom designs.

Even after the cease-and-desist notice sent to Huntington, the company continues to sell the knockoffs, New York-based Richloom said in its pleadings.

In the complaint filed April 6 in federal court in Mississippi, Richloom asked the court for an order barring Huntington from creating and selling the knockoffs. It also seeks the surrender of all allegedly infringing fabric, and requests money damages and attorney fees.

William M. Beasley and Rachel M. Pierce of New Orleans-based Phelps Dunbar LLP represent Richloom.

The case is Richloom Fabrics Group v. Huntington Fabrics Inc., 1:09-cv-00090-SA-JAD, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi.

Technology Transfer

Cambridge Generates $14.7 Million in Tech Transfer Income

Cambridge Enterprise, the arm of the U.K.’s University of Cambridge established to license university-developed IP, generated a yearly income of more than 10 million British pounds ($14.7 million) for the first time, according to a university statement.

During the year, 83 patent applications were filed and 80 IP transactions took place. Cambridge Enterprise now holds equity in 68 companies on the university’s behalf, according to the statement.

More than 80 percent of the income was returned to the university’s academics and departments, with 7 percent invested in patent assets and 8 percent invested in seed funds.

One of the spinoffs is closely held Cambridge Semiconductor Ltd., known as CamSemi, which makes semiconductors that enable manufacturers of offline power supplies and lighting products to develop more energy-efficient products.

IP Moves

Biovail Names Schwegman Lundberg’s Rochelle Seide VP of IP

Biovail Corp., Canada’s largest publicly traded drugmaker, appointed Rochelle Seide as vice president of intellectual property, the Mississauga, Ontario-based company said in a statement yesterday.

She joins from Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner PA, a Minneapolis-based IP specialty firm. Seide also practiced at Washington’s Arent Fox PLLC and Houston’s Baker Botts LLP, where she co-headed the firm’s biotechnology group.

She has done litigation and transactional patent work, including the filing of patent applications in the biology, chemistry and pharmaceutical area.

Seide has a master’s degree in biology and immunology from Long Island University, and a doctorate in human genetics from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of City University of New York. She received her law degree from the University of Akron.

Rouse Hires Field Fisher’s Rachel Tan for Trademark Practice

Rouse, the international IP consulting firm, hired Rachel Tan for its Beijing office, the company said in a statement.

Tan, a trademark and branding expert, joins from London’s Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP. She previously worked at the Singapore office of Drew & Napier LLP.

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: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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