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J&J, NIH, Vivendi, Hasbro: Intellectual Property

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Acuvue brand contact lenses, won a U.K. appeals court ruling affirming that competitor Novartis AG’s European patent for extended-wear lenses is invalid.

The judgment against Novartis and its Ciba Vision unit was handed down yesterday at the Court of Appeal in London. Novartis, Switzerland’s largest drugmaker, appealed after a lower court in July 2009 ruled its patent was “insufficient.”

The lower court “was entirely right to decide the patent was insufficient,” U.K. Court of Appeal Justice Robin Jacob wrote in the ruling. The patent is “nothing but a hazard to those conducting research into extended-wear contact lenses.”

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, sued in May 2007 over claims that J&J’s Acuvue Oasys lenses violate the patent by using similar chemicals. J&J, the world’s biggest health-products company, began selling Oasys in February 2005 through its Vision Care unit. Lawsuits over the same lenses have also been filed in the U.S.

Novartis argued that the lower court’s judgment was “out on a limb” because Dutch and French courts had considered the same patent and arrived at different conclusions. A three-judge panel at the appeals court today disagreed.

“Johnson & Johnson Vision Care is very pleased” that the court ruled that the patent “is completely invalid” in the U.K., spokesman Gary Esterow said in an interview.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, argued in the U.K. appeal that Novartis’s patent covered too much technology.

An e-mail to Ciba Vision’s U.K. press office wasn’t immediately returned.

NIH Grants Royalty-Free License to Provide Cheaper AIDS Drugs

The National Institutes of Health, a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, became the first patent-holder to share its IP with the Medicines Patent Pool, with the support of an international agency set up to provide less costly drugs to treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

UNITAID, founded at the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the U.K., is funded by a levy on airline tickets. The agency’s Medicines Patent Pool -- will receive a license to multiple National Institutes of Health patents covering existing drugs, products still in development and other technologies related to HIB/AIDS.

Included in the royalty-free license are patents that are pending or have already been granted in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and, according to the agency’s statement, “10 high-income member states of the European Patent Office.”

Among the aims of UNITAID are speeding up the production of generic versions of patented HIV drugs, the development of appropriate formulations of AIDS drugs for children, and simplification of AIDS treatment through fixed-dose combinations that combine several drugs into one pill.

Paris Hilton’s Hair Extension-Maker Sued for Patent Infringement

A company that makes clip-on hair extensions under a Paris Hilton label was sued for patent infringement by a Missouri competitor.

Celebrity Signatures International Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri, accused Hairtech International Inc. of infringing patent 7,735,495.

This patent, which was issued in June 2010, covers a lattice-like framework to which false hair is attached. It is “configured to not engage a portion of a user’s head substantially forward of a crown of the user’s head,” with the framework disguised by the user’s own hair.

Atlanta-based Hairtech has sold products since 2007 that infringe the patent, according to the complaint filed Sept. 27 in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri. Among the infringing products are the “Clipin-Go by Paris Hilton” And “Dream Catchers.” According to the complaint.

Celebrity Signatures claims that the Hairtech products are marked “patent pending” even though “no U.S. patent application listing defendant as inventor or assignee has ever been published by the USPTO.”

The Missouri Company asked the court to order Hairtech to quit infringing the patent, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Additionally, the company requested an award of as much as $500 for every Hairtech product found to be bearing a false patent marking.

Celebrity Signatures is represented by R. Cameron Garrison and A. Justin Poplin of Kansas City, Missouri’s Lathrop & Gage LLP. That firm also filed Celebrity Signatures’ patent application in February 2007.

The case is Celebrity Signatures International Inc., v. Hairtech International Inc., 4:10-cv-00939-SWH, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Vivendi, Time Warner Seek to End ‘Ellen’ Music Suit

Vivendi SA’s music labels and Time Warner Inc. asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit the labels brought against Time Warner, the producer of Ellen DeGeneres’s television talk show, for allegedly playing their songs without authorization.

The adversaries filed a joint request Sept. 29 in federal court in Los Angeles to end the copyright infringement case, which was filed in March.

Interscope Records, Motown Record Co. and UMG Recordings said in the suit that the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” played hundreds of their sound recordings without obtaining permission or paying for licenses. The songs included “Superfreak” by Rick James and “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas, according to the labels, part of Paris-based Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company.

The producers, including New York-based Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Television, said they had an “implied” license because the labels took no action for almost six years.

Jeffrey Goldman, a lawyer for Interscope, and Aton Arbisser, a lawyer for Time Warner, weren’t immediately available for comment. Nor was Scott Rowe, a spokesman for Warner Bros. Television.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson on Aug. 30 denied a request by both sides to halt the case for arbitration and said it would proceed to trial on Nov. 30.

The case is Interscope Records v. Time Warner Inc., 10-1662, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

EFF Joins Winston & Strawn in Copyright Battle with Righthaven

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital rights group, has taken on representation of a political-discussion forum in a copyright infringement suit related to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas has sued more than 200 websites for allegedly infringing copyrights to stories in the Las Vegas newspaper. Righthaven claims the copyrights to the newspaper’s stories.

One of the defendants is the Democratic Underground, which Righthaven sued Aug. 8 in connection with a story about the support a political candidate received from the Tea Party.

EFF, together with Chicago’s Winston & Strawn LLP and a Las Vegas attorney, responded to the complaint Sept. 27, listing at least 20 reasons why the site didn’t infringe, including copyright law’s “fair use” exception, and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Democratic Underground, through its lawyers, accused the publisher of working with its “lithe friend” Righthaven to seek “windfall recoveries” and to “exact nuisance settlements” by challenging the fair use of an excerpt that the publisher makes freely available on the Internet.

In its filing, the Democratic Underground also said that the publisher and Righthaven, which purports to hold the copyrights for the newspaper stories, have “not engaged in the business of licensing copyright rights other than in the context of litigation.”

The filing disputes Righthaven’s copyrights, claiming the Stephens Inc.’s Stevens Media unit, the newspaper’s publisher, retains some legal interest in the copyrights and that any separation between the two of them “is a sham.” The fact that the newspaper has a “Share & Save” feature for articles on its website meant that there was “no objection to allowing users to save, share, email or print, in part of in whole, the news article at issue,” according to the Democratic Underground filing.

The Democratic Underground asked the court for a declaration of non-infringement, and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

The Democratic Underground is represented by Andrew P. Bridges, J. Caleb Donaldson and Kathleen Lu from Winston & Strawn LLP; Kurt Opsahl and Corynne McSherry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Chad A. Bowers of Chad A. Bowers Ltd. of Las Vegas.

The case is Righthaven LLC v. Democratic Underground LLC, 2:10-cv-01356-RLH-RJJ, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark

Hasbro Seeks Additional U.S. Trademark for Transformers

Hasbro Inc., the toymaker second in size only to Mattel Inc., applied to register “Transformers One” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toymaker’s earliest Transformers-related trademark was registered in 2001. The company’s Transformers toys represent robots that can hide by transforming themselves into common mechanical objects, such as trucks. A 1980s Japanese animation series is the source of the Transformers stories.

The new application was filed September 24 and the trademark will be used for entertainment services, according to documents filed at patent office. The application doesn’t mention any particular toy for which the trademark might be used.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Norwegian Air Shuttle Says SAS Appeal in Case Denied

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, Europe’s fourth-largest discount carrier, said it won an appeals court ruling against SAS AB in a case concerning unlawful use of the Norwegian carrier’s trade secrets.

The Appeals Committee of Norway’s Supreme Court on Sept. 28 denied SAS’s appeal against a High Court ruling from March 16, Fornebu-based Norwegian Air said yesterday.

Norwegian Air was awarded about 175 million kroner ($30 million) in damages and costs from SAS and SAS Scandinavian Airlines Norge AS, the carrier said in yesterday’s statement.“This means that the High Court judgment is final, and that the damages and costs awarded are payable to Norwegian,” the carrier said.

In a separate statement yesterday SAS that the decision will have a negative effect on earnings of about 200 million kronor ($30 million) in the third quarter.

The suit related to SAS employees’ unauthorized use of Norwegian Air’s Amadeus booking system to spy on its rival.

IP Moves

Portugal’s Campinos Takes Top European Trademark Post

Antonio Serge de Pinho Campinos takes office today as the president of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Union’s trademark and design registry, according to an agenda from the office.

Campinos has served as director of the trademark department of the Portuguese Industrial Property Institute, and the president of the Directive Council of the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property.

He has a master’s degree in public law and a post-graduate degree in community law from the University of Montpelier. He is a citizen of Portugal, and is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.

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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