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Green Mountain, Google, Apple: Intellectual Property

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., the Vermont-based coffee company whose brands include Tully’s Coffee and Newman’s Own Organics, sued a rival for patent infringement.

The company’s Keurig unit, based in Reading, Massachusetts, on Oct. 1 sued Sturm Foods Inc., a Manawa, Wisconsin-based unit of TreeHouse Foods Inc., Keurig alleges Sturm is violating two U.S. patents by marketing single-serving brewing cups.

In dispute are patents 7,165,488, issued in January 2007, and 6,606,938, issued in August 2003.

In Europe, Nestle SA is involved in patent battles with Sara Lee Corp. and others over single-service coffee capsules.

“Keurig has not authorized Sturm to use its Keurig mark,” company lawyers contend in papers filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. “Keurig has been damaged by such conduct in an amount to be determined at trial.”

Sandy Yusen, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain’s specialty- coffee unit, said the company “cannot comment on pending litigation.” TreeHouse officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The Keurig unit has sold more than 3 billion single-service cartridges, the company said in its pleadings. Keurig asked for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs and an order barring future infringement of the two patents.

Keurig is represented by Karen Elizabeth Keller of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP of Wilmington.

The patent case is Keurig Inc. v. Sturm Foods Inc., 1:10-cv-00841-UNS, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Google Challenges Oracle Suit Over Android Smartphone System

Google Inc. said Oracle Corp., the world’s second-biggest software company, is using invalid patents and vague copyright claims to demand royalties on the Android operating system for mobile devices.

Google, responding to a lawsuit Oracle filed in federal court in San Francisco in August, also accused Oracle of changing its position on whether the Java programming language should be free and open to software developers. Google is seeking dismissal of the copyright-infringement claim and a ruling that the Oracle patents are either invalid or not infringed, according to Oct. 4 court filings.

Google’s Android, used on devices made by Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp., has become the most popular operating system in the U.S. among new smartphone buyers, passing Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and Apple Inc.’s iPhone software, Nielsen Co. said yesterday. Oracle claims Android violates seven patents related to the software maker’s Java platform.

Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, gained Java as part of its purchase this year of Sun Microsystems Inc. Developed by Sun in the mid-1990s, Java lets developers write programs that work across different operating systems and on a variety of computers. It formed a key building block of the Web and is widely used in business applications. The software also runs on billions of mobile devices, Sun said last year.

All of the patents allegedly infringed by Google were issued to Sun between 1999 and 2008.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said in its filing that the patents are invalid and not infringed, and that users of the Android platform have a license to any patents in the case. It also said Oracle made general copyright-infringement claims with nothing to back them up.

Oracle’s complaint targets Google’s Dalvik virtual machine, software that is used to run applications in Android. Oracle is seeking a court ruling that would ban further use of its intellectual property, and would force the destruction of all products that violate Java-related copyrights on the code, documentation and specifications. It also seeks an unspecified amount of cash compensation.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 3:10-cv-03561-WHA, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Apple Gets Patent for Mouse for Lefties and Righties

Apple Inc., the maker of the iPad and iPhone, received a patent for an ambidextrous mouse.

The mouse, as a computer input device, was invented in 1963 by Douglas C. Engelbart of the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. Over the years, innovations such as a trackball and the capacity to work wirelessly have been added.

Cupertino, California-based Apple’s patent 7,808,479, one of 4,772 U.S. patents issued yesterday, covers a mouse that can determine whether a user is right- or left-handed based on the user’s touch. The motion axes of the mouse can then be configured based on the user’s handedness, according to the patent.

Sensors within the mouse can also calculate the difference between previous and current hand images and send that information to the host computer.

Apple applied for the patent in September 2003 with assistance from San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP.

For more patent news, click here.

For copyright news, click here.


Och-Ziff Sues London Firm for Impersonation, Name Use

Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, the New York-based hedge-fund firm run by Daniel Och, is suing a London investment adviser and its founder to block the use of the Och name.

Och-Ziff’s European unit asked a London court for an injunction to stop Och Capital LLP and its founder Thomas Ochocki from using the first portion of its name. It is also seeking damages for trademark infringement and passing itself off as the New York firm, which has more than $26 billion in assets under management.

Guy Hollingworth, a lawyer for Och-Ziff, said at the start of a two-day trial in London that Och Capital’s cooperation “has been totally unsatisfactory and inexcusable.”

Michael Cohen, the chief executive officer of Och-Ziff Management Europe Ltd., testified about the importance of Europe to the firm’s business, saying Och-Ziff has 50 percent of its assets under management outside of the U.S. and 40 percent of its investors in Europe. It has about 65 employees in the U.K. and manages $1.5 billion in assets for people there, Cohen said.

A lawyer for Och Capital, Alistair Wilson, said the London-based firm pronounces its name as initials, and offered to Och-Ziff to clarify that late last year.

“Our client said they were willing to change to O.C.H. to make it clear that it was pronounced O-C-H,” Wilson said at the first day of the trial. “That was rejected.”

Och Capital is named after the first three letters of its founder’s name, Wilson said. At a previous job as a trader, Ochocki became known by the letters O-C-H, Wilson said, and is still referred to as that because his name is hard to pronounce.

There was “no intention to cause any confusion at all” with Och-Ziff, Wilson said. He apologized to Judge Richard Arnold for initially failing to comply with court orders and said the firm is now cooperating.

Och-Ziff was started in 1994 by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader Och, 49, and Ziff Brothers Investments LLC with money from the Ziff media empire. Och Capital has been operating in the U.K. since April last year, according to the Financial Services Authority’s register.

The case is Och-Ziff Management Europe v. Och Capital LLP, case no. 112/10, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (London).

Whirlpool Gets Australia to Refuse ‘KitchenMaid’ Trademark

Whirlpool Corp., the Michigan-based appliance maker, persuaded Australia’s Trade Marks Office to block an application from a Chinese company.

Huilong Electrical Appliances Co. of Shenzhen, China, filed an application in March 2009 to register “KitchenMaid” as an Australian trademark for kitchen and personal-care electrical appliances.

Whirlpool objected, claiming this would infringe its KitchenAid mark and confuse the public. The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based appliance maker acquired the mark from Hobart Corp. in 1986.

The KitchenAid marks, originally used for countertop mixers, are now used for a variety of appliances, including refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, cooktops and trash compactors, in addition to the mixers.

An Australian trademarks examiner made reference to pronunciations used in his country when he rejected the Chinese company’s application. He said there is a “real likelihood that Australians would slur the operative part” of the two trademarks, and “a real and tangible danger of confusion exists” between the marks.

He also ordered Huilong to pay the costs of the proceedings.

The case is Whirlpool Properties Inc. v. Huilong Electrical Appliances Pty Ltd. (2010) ATMO 79.

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

Dykema Hires Automotive, Biotech Patent Specialists

Dykema Gossett PLLC expanded its intellectual-property practice with the addition of two lawyers, the Detroit-based firm said in a statement.

The two new hires are Anna M. Shih and Teresa A. Lavenue.

Shih joined from Eaton Corp., where she was lead IP counsel for the Cleveland-based manufacturing company’s automotive division. She does patent-acquisition and licensing work and has practiced at Washington’s Cushman, Darby & Cushman.

Shih has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Lavenue, who joins from Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC of Memphis, Tennessee, has handled more than 500 biotech-related patent applications.

Before she was a lawyer, Lavenue spent five years doing research at Vanderbilt and Georgetown universities. After she graduated from law school, she served as a judicial clerk for Judge Glenn Archer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Washington-based court that handles patent appeals.

She has an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt and a law degree from Washington College of Law.

Virtual Law Partners Expands IP Practice With Two New Hires

Virtual Law Partners LLP hired two new IP lawyers, James G. Markey and Charlie Y. Oh, according to a statement from the Palo Alto, California-based firm.

Markey, who joined from Duane Morris LLP, also practiced at Jones Day and the now-defunct IP specialty firm Pennie & Edmonds.

He does litigation and patent and trademark counseling and acquisition work for clients in the pharmaceutical, health-care, industrial gases and chemicals, and apparel industries. Before he was a lawyer, he worked as a design engineer for a company that manufactured heat transfer equipment for the chemical process and energy industries.

Markey has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Manhattan College and a law degree from St. John’s University.

Oh, who joins from Philadelphia’s Dechert LLP, does patent counseling for clients in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Before he was a lawyer, he did post-doctoral research in neurobiology, genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at San Francisco.

He also gas practiced at San Francisco’s Flehr, Hohback, Test, Albritton & Herbert LLP, which became part of Dorsey & Whitney LLP in 2002

Oh has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Los Angeles and a doctorate in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University.

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