ITT, GSK, HP, McGraw-Hill: Intellectual Property

ITT Corp., a military electronics supplier, said it reached a settlement of patent-infringement claims it filed against Motorola Inc. over assisted-global position system technology.

Financial details weren’t disclosed, White Plains, New York-based ITT said July 16 in a statement.

Motorola, the communications-equipment maker that is splitting in two, was among a group of mobile-phone companies sued last year by ITT. The patent is for a GPS system that can transmit position information to mobile receivers from Earth-orbiting satellites in urban areas with line-of-sight obstructions.

ITT announced a settlement with Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, in March. Cases against other companies are pending, ITT said.

The case is ITT Manufacturing Enterprises Inc. v. Cellco Partnership (d/b/a/ Verizon Wireless) 09CV190, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Abbott Settles Patent Suit With Teva Over Antibiotic Omnicef

Abbott Laboratories said it settled a patent-infringement lawsuit filed against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over generic versions of the antibiotic Omnicef.

Terms are confidential, said Scott Stoffel, a spokesman for Abbott. The companies filed documents July 15 in federal court in Chicago to dismiss the case. Denise Bradley, a spokeswoman for Teva, said the Petah Tikva, Israel-based company has no comment.

Omnicef sales in the U.S. plunged to $3 million in 2009 from $235 million in 2007 because of competition from generic copies, according to Abbott’s annual report. The Abbott Park, Illinois-based company already settled a fight with Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit over sales of generic Omnicef.

The drug is used to treat respiratory and skin infections.

Teva is the world’s biggest generic-drug maker, and Sandoz is the second-biggest.

The case is Abbott Laboratories v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 07cv1721, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Glaxo, Pfizer HIV Venture Offers Licenses to Generic-Drug Firms

GlaxoSmithKline Plc will give licenses to generic-drug makers in poor countries to produce the HIV medicines it makes in a joint venture with Pfizer Inc.

The policy will offer royalty-free licenses for all products in the Viiv venture, including all potential future products, London-based Glaxo said today in an e-mailed statement. The policy extends to 69 of the world’s least developed countries, where 80 percent of all people with HIV live, Glaxo said.

Viiv, 85 percent controlled by Glaxo and 15 percent owned by Pfizer, has five products in the second of three stages of human testing generally needed before regulatory approval, including an experimental treatment jointly developed with Japan’s Shionogi & Co. Not included in the venture is Glaxo’s HIV vaccine in development. Viiv has 19 percent of the worldwide HIV market, according to a statement on the company’s website.

Glaxo will release data on its drugs to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, at the annual International AIDS Conference in Vienna, which runs July 18-23.

HP Patent Application Rejected After High Court Bilski Ruling

In its first ruling since the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly restricted patents on business methods, an appeals board rejected a patent application from a researcher in Hewlett-Packard Co.’s systems security lab.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences rejected Graeme John Proudler’s Application 10/643.306 for a patent on a method of controlling the processing of data.

The appeals board said the invention Proudler was trying to patent didn’t fall under the definition of patentable subject matter. The board made reference to the June 28 high court ruling that found a method of hedging energy trades wasn’t patentable.

“The unpatentability of abstract ideals was confirmed” by the Supreme Court in that case, the board said in its ruling. The board said Proudler’s invention was directed to “software per se, abstract ideas, abstract concepts and the like” and therefore couldn’t be patented.

Proudler was represented in his appeal by Richard P. Berg of Ladas & Perry LLP of Los Angeles.

The appeal is Ex Parte Graeme John Proudler, 2009-006500, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.

The recent Supreme Court business-method case is Bilski v. Kappos, 08-964, Supreme Court of the United States.

For more patent news, click here.


General Mills Gets Attorney Fees, Blocks Trix Infringement

General Mills Inc., maker of Cheerios cereal and Betty Crocker cake mixes, persuaded a federal judge in Minneapolis to find a Turkish food company in contempt of court.

The Minneapolis-based cereal maker sued Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi of Istanbul for trademark infringement in May 2009. General Mills complained that its trademarks for its fruit-flavored Trix cereal were infringed by Soyyigit’s “Trix” powdered drink mix.

The company also objected to Soyyigit’s use of the domain name to promote the powered drink mix.

General Foods argued that its Trix brand is a famous product. The cereal maker said it sells about $175 million worth of the sugary cereal every year, and licensed the mark for a wide range of goods, including lip balm, bobbleheads, flip flops, clothing and greeting cards.

In June 2009 U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank ordered Soyyigit and its codefendant International Golden Foods of Bensenville, Illinois, to quit importing, selling or promoting any product named “Trix.” He also ordered all offending products recalled.

Lawyers for General Foods retuned to court after the cereal maker learned Soyyigit was promoting and distributing samples of its Trix powdered drink and gelatin mixes at the Fancy Foods show in New York at the end of June. They argued this violated the court’s order and asked for sanctions against Soyyigit.

In his July 16 order, the judge demanded Soyyigit file a report about its participation in any trade shows after August

2009. Frank’s order included a demand for the name, company and any contact information -- including business cards received -- from anyone with whom Soyyigit interacted at the show.

He also awarded General Foods attorney fees for the costs of bringing the motion, and said he was considering ordering Soyyigit to pay General Foods all proceeds from the sale of any infringing products after August 2009.

General Mills is represented by Charles Ashley Callahan, Laura J. Borst, Richard J. Groos and Timothy M. Kenny of Houston’s Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

The case is General Mills IP Holdings II LLC v. Soyyigit Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, 0:09-cv-01010-DWF-JSM, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.

McGraw-Hill Magazine Cover Art Accused of Trademark Infringement

The McGraw-Hill Cos. were sued for trademark infringement by a Florida resident who claimed the cover art for a magazine the company published infringed his trademark.

James Giles of Ft. Myers, Florida, originally sued McGraw-Hill in Florida state court June 1. The case was removed to federal court July 15 on the request of counsel for the publisher.

The cover art to which Giles objected was the July 1991 issue of BusinessWeek Magazine. Bloomberg LP, parent company of Bloomberg News, acquired BusinessWeek from McGraw-Hill Cos. for $5 million in October 2009.

Giles claims the magazine cover illustration, which shows a hand holding a gold bar surrounded by orbiting atomic particles, infringes his trademark, which he calls “the strong hand.” He said in his pleadings that this mark originates from his “ancestral homeland, Safed Israel” and he’s continuously used the mark since 1935.

The cover was used to illustrate “The New Alchemy,” a story about engineered materials. In his pleadings, Giles said that in addition to infringing his trademark, the story defames his alchemy work.

He asked the court for damages of $1 million and, claiming the infringement is deliberate, asked they be tripled. Additionally, he requested awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

He is unrepresented by counsel. McGraw Hill is represented by Norman Davis from Cleveland-based Squires Sanders & Dempsey LLP.

The case is Giles v. The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2:10-cv-00445-JES-SPC, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Ft. Myers).

Pro and Anti-Dam Groups Battle Over ‘Save the Poudre’ Trademark

An environmental group opposed to damming the Poudre River in northern Colorado has threatened trademark infringement action against pro-dam activists, Colorado’s website reported.

The fight is over the use of the phrase “Save the Poudre,” according to

The pro-dam contingent is using “Save the Poudre, Store it in Glade,” with reference to the Glade reservoir, the news site reported.

Gary Wockner, who heads dam opponents Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, told that the bumper sticker users misappropriated the environmental group’s trade name and “are using it against us.”

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Churchill Ends Trade Secrets Suit Against Ex-Analysts at Aviate

Churchill Capital Ltd., a hedge fund adviser and brokerage, ended a lawsuit filed against two of its former equity analysts in Singapore accusing them of passing confidential client data to rival Aviate Global LLP.

A notice to discontinue the lawsuit was filed with the Singapore High Court July 15.

Churchill had accused Jonathan Foster and Charles Nave of breaching their employment contract, which prohibited them from poaching clients and employees for a year, according to the April 29 suit. Bermuda-based Churchill said in the suit it found evidence that the two, who quit at the end of 2009 to join Aviate, conspired to download several files from the company’s system.

“The matter has now been amicably resolved,” a founding partner Patrick Churchill said in a telephone interview from Monaco. He declined to disclose settlement terms. Foster and Nave declined to comment. Aviate wasn’t a party to the suit.

Churchill faced a “real and imminent danger” that the duo may disclose trade secrets to competitors including Aviate, Churchill said in court papers, adding that it would be “catastrophic” if that happened. Its rivals would then be able to unfairly compete and have an immediate marketable product or service that would have otherwise taken months to develop, the financial adviser said.

Foster had failed or forgotten to close his Skype online international calling account on his office computer while he was on so-called gardening leave, exposing the duo’s communication over the data retrieval, according to court papers. The two men were also in touch with another ex-Churchill employee who had joined Aviate.

Churchill has offices in U.S., U.K., Australia, Monaco, Bermuda and Singapore. Religare Enterprises Ltd., an Indian financial-services company, on June 30 agreed to acquire Aviate Global (Asia) to bolster its equities business in the region.

Churchill was represented by ATMD Bird & Bird LLP while Tan Peng Chin LLP acted for Foster and Nave.

The case is Churchill Singapore Pte. v Jonathan Foster and Charles Nave S298/2010 in the Singapore High Court.

Language Line Gets Court Order Protecting Trade Secrets

Language Line Service Holdings Inc. persuaded a federal court in San Jose to order a competitor to quit using proprietary information it claims was stolen by a former employee.

The Monterey, California-based provider of translation services sued two former employees and Language Services Associates Inc. of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, in federal court June 14. It claimed the ex-employees brought customer lists, pricing data, and other confidential information to Language Services when they joined the Pennsylvania company.

In the complaint, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, Language Line said the misappropriation of its trade secrets caused it “irreparable harm” and asked the court to order the company and the two ex-employees to quit using its proprietary information.

In a July 13 ruling, U.S. District Judge James Ware ordered Language Services not to use any of Language Line’s trade secrets. Additionally, he ordered the Pennsylvania company not to destroy or conceal any record of Language Line’s trade secrets, and appointed Thomas H.R. Denver of Mediation Masters of San Jose to make sure his orders are followed.

The case is Language Line Services Inc. v. Language Services Associates LLC, 5:10-cv-02605-JW, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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