Disney, Entrepreneur Media: Intellectual Property

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Novozymes A/S lost a U.S. court bid to prevent Danisco A/S from selling an enzyme used in biofuel production until a trial can be held on patent-infringement claims.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wisconsin, rejected arguments by Novozymes that Danisco would cause irreparable damages to Novozymes’ market share unless it was halted. Danisco has the ability to pay financial compensation if it ultimately loses the case, the judge said in the Sept. 24 ruling. She found there’s still a “substantial question” about the validity of the Novozymes patent.

Novozymes contends its smaller rival infringes a patent on an alpha amylase enzyme that remains active in high temperatures. The two Danish companies are the world’s biggest makers of enzymes that break down organic material, such as grain and corn, to form bioethanol, used as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Novozymes has “not shown that they are likely to lose a significant amount of additional market share between now and trial,” Crabb wrote. “The accused products had been on the market for more than two years” when the patent was issued.

The disputed patent -- 7,713,723 -- was issued May 11, the same day the case was filed.

Danisco dominated the market until 1999, when Novozymes began selling its Liquozyme enzyme, according to Crabb’s ruling. At one point, Liquozyme accounted for 80 percent of the market, before Danisco introduced a new product called GC358. Liquozyme now has about 60 percent of the market, the judge said.

The judge also said it wasn’t in the public’s best interest for Danisco to be ordered off the market, since Novozymes said Liquozyme doesn’t use the invention covered by the patent. She said it was “inconsistent” for Novozymes to argue that the patent “represents an important new invention” and then say it would make no difference if no one is allowed to use it.

“The legal standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is higher than the legal standard Novozymes must meet at trial, and as such preliminary injunctions are rarely given,” Annegrethe Jakobsen, a spokeswoman for Novozymes, said by e-mail. “We believe we will ultimately prevail at the trial, which is scheduled for the fall of 2011.”

Danisco, based in Copenhagen, paid Novozymes $15.3 million to settle a 2007 patent dispute over another enzyme used in ethanol production. In that case, Novozymes won after first being denied a preliminary injunction.

In a separate case, Danisco filed a U.K. patent-infringement lawsuit July 19 against Novozymes of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, in connection with an unspecified enzyme.

The case is Novozymes A/S v. Danisco A/S, et al, 10-cv-251, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

Apple Sues Nokia in U.K. in Continuing Patent Fight

Apple Inc. said it filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nokia Oyj in the U.K., part of a broader fight between the companies over smartphone technology.

A copy of the complaint, filed Sept. 28 in the U.K. High Court of Justice Chancery Division, wasn’t immediately available. Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said the case is related to patent-infringement claims that Apple filed against Nokia in December in the U.S.

“This is an unsurprising development, which seems designed to put pressure on the ongoing dialogue between both companies,” said Mark Durrant, a Nokia spokesman. “It changes nothing in the fundamentals of the matter, which are rooted in Apple’s refusal to respect Nokia’s intellectual property and attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

The dispute began in October, when Espoo, Finland-based Nokia filed a lawsuit accusing Apple of infringing 10 patents. It demanded royalties on all iPhones sold since Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, 55, introduced the device in 2007.

Charges and countercharges followed, including complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington that may result in a ban on imports of either the Nokia or Apple phones. Some Apple claims against Nokia are scheduled for a trial beginning Nov. 1 at the agency, and Nokia’s case against Apple is scheduled for Nov. 29, according to information on the ITC’s website. ‘

The U.K. case is based on “nine implementation patents already in suit between the two companies in the U.S.,” Durrant said. “Though litigation is always a last resort for Nokia, the company will continue to defend itself to the utmost.”

In court filings in December and February, Apple claimed Nokia was seeking to force Apple into surrendering access to proprietary technology that differentiates the iPhone. Apple said it doesn’t want to license its iPhone-related patents to competitors.

The new case is Apple Inc. v. Nokia Corp., HC10CO3053, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (London).

Nokia’s ITC case against Apple is In the Matter of Electronic Devices, including Mobile Phones, Portable Music Players and Computers, 337-701, and Apple’s case is In the Matter of Certain Mobile Communications and Computer Devices, 337-703, both in the U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.


Disney, CBS, Fox Sue Ivi for Streaming Shows on Web

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, CBS Corp. and other broadcasters sued Ivi Inc., an online subscription service, for streaming television programs over the Web without authorization.

The companies, which also include News Corp.’s Fox, General Electric Co.’s NBC and the Public Broadcasting Service, today accused Ivi and its founder, Todd Weaver, of copyright infringement in a federal court complaint in New York.

“Defendants have launched their infringing Internet TV service to coincide with the start of the new fall television season,” the broadcasters said in the complaint.

Ivi, based in Seattle, began streaming TV stations there and in New York 24 hours a day to Web subscribers worldwide on Sept. 13, according to the lawsuit. Viewers would pay $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial, the complaint said. Broadcasters have deals with companies including Hulu LLC, Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. to stream TV shows. Hulu’s owners include NBC, Fox and ABC.

On Sept. 20, Ivi and Weaver filed suit in federal court in Seattle seeking a ruling that Ivi isn’t infringing copyrights.

The Seattle company claimed that copyright law authorized secondary transmission of copyrighted works embodied in primary transmissions, such as those from the content owners. It argued that because copyright law permits secondary transmission upon payment of licensing fees, its actions are permissible.

In an e-mail yesterday, Weaver said of the new suit that “big media is choosing to fight Internet delivery the same way they fought against cable delivery and satellite delivery, when in reality it is legal to retransmit.”

He said that “broadcasters charge more in advertising due to the increase in viewers. It is too bad big media must fight innovation that is legal, pays them and increases their revenue.”

The broadcasters said that after they demanded that Ivi stop streaming their stations, the company initially responded that it was “open to engaging in discussions to explore more direct contractual agreements with certain plaintiffs.” Ivi sued several days later.

Major League Baseball, Univision, Telemundo, Cox Media, Tribune Television, Fisher Broadcasting, WPIX, WGBH and WNET.org are also plaintiffs in the New York suit.

Today’s case is WPIX Inc. v. Ivi Inc., 10-7415, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The earlier case is Ivi Inc. v. Fisher Communications Inc., 10-1512, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Attack Against Copyright Enforcement Firm Leaks Private Data

ACS:Law, the London firm that sent out demand letters to alleged illegal file sharers in the U.K., became the target of an Internet attack that exposed on the Internet private information including physical addresses and credit card numbers of “tens of thousands of broadband users,” the U.K.’s Guardian reported.

The firm’s website -- www.acs-law.org.uk -- has gone offline following a sustained attack that left thousands of the firm’s e-mails published on its front page and distributed widely on the Internet, according to the Guardian.

The confidential information was also uploaded to the Pirate Bay file-sharing site, which prompted the U.K.’s Pirate Party to tell protesters to “find less drastic ways to make their displeasure felt” and that it opposed such leaks of confidential matters, the newspaper reported.

Andrew Crosley of the firm told the Guardian he was unable to comment on the attack “for legal reasons.”

U.K. Band Member Predicts Eternal Perdition for Music Pirates

Guy Harvey, a member of the British alternative rock band Elbow, says those who pirate music instead of paying for it are “going to hell,” according to the BBC.

He told the BBC that while he could understand poor people’s illegally copying music, there’s “no excuse” for those who can afford it. He said they’ll have their own rooms in hell as a consequence of their actions.

His band, which won the 2008 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for its album “The Seldom Seen Kid,” has sold more than 600,000 copies in the U.K., according to the BBC.

Piracy losses are behind Elbow’s 2011 arena tour because “without the live side, nobody’s making any money,” Garvey said and the BBC reported.

For more copyright news, click here.


Entrepreneur Media Sued Over ‘Entrepreneur.Ology’ Trademark

Entrepreneur Media Inc., the Irvine, California-based publisher of Entrepreneur Magazine, was sued by a Texas lawyer in a dispute over his attempt to register “Entrepreneur.Ology” as a trademark.

Daniel R. Castro, of Austin, Texas-based Castro & Baker LIP, said the publisher is opposing his trademark registration and sent him a cease-and-desist letter Sept. 7, threatening to sue him if he didn’t give up rights to the “Entrepreneur.Ology” mark, and his www.entrepreneurOlogy.com domain name.

According to Bloomberg data, Entrepreneur Media has filed five trademark-infringement suits since 2005.

Castro said the publisher claimed his domain name and trademark registration violated its “Entrepreneur” trademark.

Castro is author of “Critical Choices that Change Lives,” and a book in progress tentatively titled “Anatomy of the Entrepreneur’s Brain.” He says he’s about to start a “Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs,” in which he will teach corporate executives to think and act like entrepreneurs.

He says he’s given presentations on the subject of entrepreneurship for the American Red Cross, the City of Austin, International Business Machines Corp., Dell Inc. and Northwestern Mutual Insurance, according to the complaint filed Sept. 15 in federal court in Austin.

The word “Entrepreneur.Ology” is one he claims he coined and that it’s “fanciful,” “inherently distinct” and, as such, entitled to trademark protection. The word, Castro says, is as distinctive a word as “Kodak” or “Exxon.”

According to the patent office database, Entrepreneur Media has two trademark registrations for the world “Entrepreneur,” one of use with trade shows, and the other for pre-recorded audio and visual media.

The Irvine-California-based publisher has other trademark registrations, many of which incorporate the word “entrepreneur.”

The company didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit. Lawyer Deborah A. Gubernick of Latham & Watkins, who represented the company at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an attempt to block Castro’s trademark from being issued, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and a phone call seeking comment.

Castro claims the publisher is attempting to “kidnap” the word, which he said has been used by authors “in their books and articles for hundreds of years.” They “should be allowed the freedom to continue doing so for eternity,” he said in his pleadings.

He asked the court to declare that “entrepreneur” as a stand-alone word can’t be registered as a trademark, and that his “EntrepreNeurology,” ‘Entrepreneur.Ology.” and “www.entrepreneurOlogy.com” don’t infringe. He claims the publisher is violating antitrust laws by trying to keep him from using his coined words, and seeks damages, court costs and attorney fees under trademark and antitrust laws.

He represents himself in this action.

The case is Castro v. Entrepreneur Media Inc., 1:10-cv-00695-JRN, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Astro Unit Leaked Confidential Data, AV Asia Claims

Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn., a unit of Malaysian billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan’s Astro All Asia Networks Plc., illegally used confidential information in a tender for new satellite dishes with reduced signal loss during rainstorms, AV Asia Sdn claimed in a lawsuit.

AV Asia, a Malaysian television equipment provider, sought 1.3 billion ringgit ($420 million) for damages in the suit, filed yesterday in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Closely held AV Asia sought help in 2008 from Maspro Denkoh Corp., a Japanese television-receiving equipment manufacturer, to help it develop a satellite dish less susceptible to existing rain fade problems, a characteristic which lends to transmission interruptions during bad tropical weather, according to the suit.

AV Asia and Maspro’s engineers met with Measat in August that year to discuss their ideas and exchanged data after signing non-disclosure agreements, AV Asia said in the court documents.

“The rights of the rain fade solution were given by Maspro solely and exclusively to my client,” Ravi Sodhi, AV Asia’s lawyer, told reporters at court yesterday.

Measat used the information in a bid on a contract with satellite dish suppliers and to help it start the Astro B.yond, the first high-definition television service in Malaysia, AV Asia said.

Astro said it had not been served with any legal proceedings and therefore couldn’t comment.

Tele System Electronic (M) Sdn, which is providing Measat with satellite dishes, was also named as a defendant, AV Asia’s lawyer said.

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