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AstraZeneca, Saks, Raytheon: Intellectual Property

AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest drugmaker, said it filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. is infringing a patent on the active ingredient in cholesterol medicine Crestor.

Donna Huang, a spokeswoman for the London-based drugmaker, said the lawsuit involves a patent related to rosuvastatin calcium.

USPTO, EPO to Work Together to Develop Classification System

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office have agreed to work toward the creation of a joint patent-classification system, the USPTO said in a statement.

The aim of the project is to align both the U.S. and the European classification systems with the International Patent Classification System, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency.

The new system will be more detailed, improving patent-searching efforts, and is intended to eliminate unnecessary duplication of work between the two offices.

For more patent news, click here.


Hells Angels Sue Saks, McQueen Design Over Trademark

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club sued fashion design house Alexander McQueen and retail chain Saks Inc. for trademark infringement for selling handbags, jewelry and clothing using the club’s death-head design.

Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. said McQueen’s company, New York-based Saks and retailer Inc. have been selling infringing products in stores in California and online, according to a complaint filed Oct. 25 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The Oakland, California-based motorcycle club said it has been using the death-head mark, a skull with wings, since its founding in 1948. The Hells Angels have authorized the use of the marks on jewelry, apparel and “promotional and entertainment services,” according to the complaint.

Saks, McQueen and Zappos have been selling items including the Hells Angels Jacquard Box Dress and Hells Angels Pashmina that deploy the trademarks, according to the complaint. The jacquard dress is listed on McQueen’s website for $1,595 and the pashmina scarf for $560.

A woman’s handbag designed by McQueen called “Hell’s Knuckle Duster” is listed on’s site for $2,329. Zappos is owned by Seattle-based Inc.

McQueen, the designer for whom the fashion house is named, committed suicide in February.

Julia Bentley, a spokeswoman for Saks, said the company had no comment on the complaint. Diane Coffey, a spokeswoman for Zappos, said the company has no immediate comment.

Representatives of Alexander McQueen, based in London, couldn’t be reached for comment. McQueen is a unit of PPR’s Gucci Group, based in Amsterdam.

The suit was filed by Fritz Clapp of Beverly Hills, California. Clapp acts as IP counsel for the Hells Angels, and has represented the motorcycle club in at least 13 trademark cases, according to Bloomberg data.

The case is Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. v. Alexander McQueen Trading Ltd., 10-08029, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Rich Joint Venture Loses Appeal of India Trademark Verdict

The Delhi High Court dismissed the appeal of trademark infringement lawsuit Rich Graviss Products Pvt. brought against Indo Nippon Foods Ltd. over the use of the term “whip topping,” Food a Beverage News reported.

Rich’s Brand Whip Topping, a joint venture between Rich Graviss Products and Rich Products Corp., claimed they had the exclusive rights to the term, and objected to alleged similarities between their product’s packaging and Indo Nippon’s Bells Non Dairy Whip Topping, according to Food & Beverage News.

After Indo Nippon prevailed at the trial-court level, Rich appealed and was met with the high court’s judgment that the appeal was meritless and neither side could claim exclusivity to the design, according to the trade publication.

The high court also said that the Bells product didn’t copy the Rich Dairy Whip Topping Packaging, Food & Beverage News reported.

Left Behind Games Acquires IP, Other Assets of Cloud 9 Games

Left Behind Games Inc., the maker of computer games based on the Christian “Left Behind” novels, bought the trademarks and other assets of Cloud 9 games, the Murrieta, California-based company said in a statement.

Cloud 9 Games is second in size only to Left Behind Games in the Christian computer-game marketplace.

Among the existing Cloud 9 games, developed with Left Behind’s assistance, are Praise Champion and King Solomon’s Trivia Challenge. The Cloud 9 products are distributed by Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd.’s EMI unit through Christian retailers, including Family Christian Stores, Parable, Berean, Mardel and Lifeway.

Left Behind Games said in the statement it will present Praise Champion and King Solomon’s Trivia Challenge to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this week “during our national line review.”

The Left Behind novels, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, deal with a Christian view of the end of the world, based on apocalyptic books of the Bible. In addition to the video games, the books are also the sources of three action-thriller films by Cloud Ten Pictures of St. Catharines, Ontario.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Raytheon Employee’s Home Raided by Agents of FBI, ICE

The home of a former Raytheon Co. employee who has a patent on an anti-land mine missile was searched by federal investigators, according to the Boston Globe.

The Globe reported that the home was searched by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and boxes were removed from the house and carried to a van.

The former employee, who left Raytheon for undisclosed reasons, previously headed the defense contractor’s warhead lethality group, according to the newspaper.

There is no immediate threat to the public, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz told the Globe.


Licensing Group, Carriers Near Accord on Music Rates

A licensing organization is near a settlement with two of the largest mobile-phone companies on payments for music over wireless devices, lawyers for both sides said in court.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Verizon Communications Inc. and Ericsson Inc. are close to an agreement, their lawyers said yesterday at a hearing in New York. ASCAP hasn’t reached agreement with another carrier, AT&T Inc., its lawyer said.

“We’re almost at the finish line, particularly with Verizon and Ericsson,” said David Leichtman, who represents New York-based ASCAP. “We’re at an impasse with AT&T. We may need some assistance from the court.”

Licensing groups are fighting for as much money as they can for songwriters and publishers as sales of physical products such as compact discs decline. Digital transmission of music, through mobile ringtones and streaming services, is seen as an area of revenue growth for the music business.

ASCAP is required by a consent decree to settle disputes over royalties with providers of music in U.S. District Court in New York.

“We’ve made progress,” Joseph Petersen, a lawyer for Dallas-based AT&T, told Judge Denise Cote. Three issues remain for AT&T, he said. One is how to account for revenue from future video services AT&T plans to offer on wireless phones, Petersen said.

Cote told the lawyers to continue negotiations for two weeks, then meet with a magistrate judge if necessary to settle remaining issues. If disputes remain, both sides are to submit briefs by Dec. 17, and a hearing will be held in January, she said.

The setting of licensing rates in federal court is the result of an antitrust suit the U.S. government brought against ASCAP in 1941.

The case is In the Matter of the Application of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless for the Determination of Reasonable License Fees, 1:09-cv-07074, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Winfrey Accused of Infringing Election Pamphlet Copyright

Oprah Winfrey and her production company were sued for copyright infringement by the author of a pamphlet about the U.S. election process.

Charles Harris wrote “How American Elects Her Presidents” and registered the work’s copyright in January 2000. He sells the booklet through his company, Philadelphia-based Unique Products & Services.

According to the complaint he filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia, he sent 10 copies of the booklet to Winfrey in January 2008, together with a letter querying the show’s interest in featuring the work.

He said he received no response, and then saw Winfrey using “the exact same questions that are included in his booklet” on her Feb. 9, 2009, show. He said the questions in the booklet weren’t designed for her show, and were used without his permission.

Harris claims the use of his material on the show was “deliberate, willful, malicious, oppressive and without regard” to his rights. He alleges he suffered injury, loss and damage from what he says is the unauthorized use of his work, and asked the court for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Additionally, he requested an award of profits the show realized through its alleged infringement.

Harris is represented by James E. Lee of Houston-based Brooker Richardson & Associates.

The case is Charles Harris v. Oprah Winfrey, 2:10-cv-05655-JD, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

New Platform Set Up to Increase Access to Published Works

A month after blind entertainer Stevie Wonder addressed the World Intellectual Property Organization, calling for better access to copyright-protected materials by the handicapped, a new program has been established to facilitate the process.

Beginning Nov. 1, the Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources Project -- known as TIGAR -- will bring together content owners and advocacy groups for the handicapped, according to a statement from the WIPO, an agency of the United Nations.

WIPO will provide technical support for the project, which aims to create accessible formats to be shared among publishers and specialized libraries. This will provide access to a wider range of books for the 340 million people around the world who are blind, visually impaired or have other disabilities impairing their ability to read, WIPO said.

WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights will work with all stakeholders to create a legal framework for the publishing venture. The UN agency said it expects the first transfer of accessible books to take place in mid-2011.

For more copyright news, click here.

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