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Smith & Nephew, Nokia, J&J: Intellectual Property

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Smith & Nephew Plc, Europe’s biggest maker of shoulder and knee implants, infringed a patent for Kinetic Concepts Inc.’s severe-wound treatments, a U.K. appeals court said.

Pumps and canisters in Smith & Nephew’s Renasys EZ and Renasys GO devices infringed Kinetic’s patent in the U.K., the Court of Appeal ruled in London yesterday. The patents cover technology for using a vacuum-sealed film to treat wounds.

The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute between Smith & Nephew and San Antonio-based Kinetic over devices that reduce infection and promote tissue growth in wounds. Related lawsuits over the devices have played out in the U.S., France, Germany and Australia.

“This isn’t just a victory for KCI, it is also a victory for patients and the health-care community,” Mike Genau, global president of Kinetic’s active-healing solutions unit, said in a statement.

Smith & Nephew, based in London, infringed Kinetic’s so-called ‘950 patent by selling its GO system canisters, while it didn’t infringe the company’s so-called ‘504 patent with the system, the three-judge panel ruled.

Another U.K. court in May 2009 ruled that most of Kinetic’s patent claims over Smith & Nephew’s foam were invalid. In that case, seven of 10 U.K. patent claims were thrown out. The ruling was upheld after Kinetic appealed.

Justine McIlroy, a spokeswoman for Smith & Nephew, declined to comment.

The U.S. case started in 2007, when Kinetic and Wake Forest University, which licensed the technology to the company, sued Bluesky Medical Corp., now owned by Smith & Nephew.

A federal jury in Texas in March 2009 found Kinetic suffered more than $900,000 in lost profits and said its patents were valid. Last month, the same court overturned the verdict and ruled that KCI’s patents were invalid, Smith & Nephew said in an Oct. 19 statement.

The U.K. case is KCI Licensing Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Plc, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC09C02624.

J&J, U.S. Sue Mylan and Lupin to Block Copy of HIV Drug

Johnson & Johnson’s Tibotec unit and the U.S. government separately sued Mylan Inc. and Lupin Ltd. to prevent sales of a generic version of the HIV medicine Prezista.

Mylan and Lupin are each seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a copy of the medicine, known by the compound name darunavir ethanolate. The U.S. and University of Illinois claim a generic would infringe a patent they own that expires in 2019, according to a complaint filed Nov. 15 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. Tibotec said in its lawsuit that Mylan and Lupin would violate a patent expiring in 2026.

U.S. sales of Prezista increased 35 percent to $290 million in the first nine months of this year, making it one of New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J’s fastest-growing new drugs. Globally, sales reached $621 million, the company said Oct. 19. The pill, approved by U.S. regulators in 2006, is in a family known as protease inhibitors, designed to block infected cells from making new copies of HIV.

The government- and university-owned patent 7,470,506 issued in 2008, is for a way to detect if the virus has become resistant to treatment and to prevent it from developing such drug resistance. It was licensed exclusively to Tibotec, according to the government complaint. Tibotec’s patent 7,700,645 is for a method of formulating the compound so it’s more stable and effective.

Michael Laffin, a spokesman for Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan, said the company had no comment. Officials with Lupin, based in Mumbai, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit is standard under federal drug law to clarify patent rights while the FDA is considering applications.

The Tibotec case is Tibotec Inc. v. Lupin Ltd., 10cv5954, and the U.S. case is United States of America v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., 10cv5956, both U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Newark).

For more patent news, click here.


Nokia Says U.K. View of Customs Laws Makes EU Haven for Fakes

Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, told a European Union court that the U.K.’s interpretation of EU customs rules could make the region a “safe harbor” for counterfeiters.

The U.K. view that customs officials can’t seize fake products that are in transit through the 27-nation EU as long as there’s no proof that the products will actually end up in one of the region’s countries would make the EU a “logistical hub” for counterfeiters, a lawyer for Nokia said in a hearing at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg yesterday.

“Is there really going to be import documentation with an address in South America and a bit of paper referring to the fact that the goods are really going to be delivered to Amsterdam?” said Justin Turner, Nokia’s lawyer. “ That sort of specific evidence is not realistic.”

The U.S., the EU, Japan and other nations on Nov. 15 finalized an accord that seeks to stop counterfeiting globally by harmonizing rules against the trade of fakes. More than 40 percent of counterfeit products seized in Europe in 2007 and 2008 were in transit, Nokia said.

Yesterday’s case stemmed from a dispute in the U.K. where customs authorities stopped a shipment of about 400 fake Nokia mobile-phone handsets and accessories in transit from Hong Kong to Colombia. After Nokia said the products were fakes, the U.K. officials said they couldn’t detain them because of a lack of evidence that they would be diverted back into the EU.

The EU court has to consider a wider disagreement between member nations on how to view the rules. Nokia’s view is backed by several EU governments, including Poland, Italy and Finland.

“It makes no sense to have a system of surveillance in place that’s based on suspicion without the need of evidence,” said Thomas de la Mare, a lawyer for the U.K. “The U.K. doesn’t pretend that this is a completely desirable situation.”

Following the U.K. approach will create “every prospect that the ports of the EU will turn into a logistical hub for the international trade in counterfeit goods -- a safe harbor for the counterfeiter,” Turner said.

Honda, Vespa Maker Claim Vietnam-made Motorbike Infringes

Piaggio & C. SpA and Honda Motor Co. demanded that Diamond Blue 125cc motorbike sold in Vietnam be seized for infringing trademarks and industrial design, the Vietnamnet Bridge news website reported.

The bike, made by the Lisohaka affiliate of a unit of Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group -- known as Vinashin Motor - - is marked with a Honda logo without authorization and its design resembles a copy of Piaggio’s Vespa LX, according to Vietnamnet Bridge.

Vietnamese intellectual-property officials have ordered the manufacturer to recall all of its Diamond Blue 125 motorbikes, Vietnamnet Bridge reported.

The manufacturer said that while it will obey the recall order, it considers the order unreasonable as it insists it has the right to make and sell the bikes, according to Vietnamnet Bridge.

University of Iowa Tells High School to Stop Using Mark

The University of Iowa demanded that a California high school quit using a “Tigerhawk” logo similar to the university’s, the Daily Iowan reported.

Murietta Valley High in Murietta, California, which was sent a cease-and-desist letter by the university, will be given time to phase out the logo, according to the newspaper.

The head of the university’s trademark-licensing program told the Daily Iowan that university alumni usually complain about potential infringement and that between six and 10 cease-and-desist letters are sent to high schools each year.

The university’s recent efforts to protect its mark have included telling a local restaurant to quit using the school’s black-and-gold color scheme, demanding that a Madison County winery quit using black-and-gold labels on its “Iowa Gold” wine, and requesting that Anheuser-Busch InBev NV halt production of black-and-gold “fan cans” of beer, the newspaper reported.

Hard Rock Casino Responds to Trademark Infringement Complaint

Hard Rock Hotel Holdings LLC, which operates the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, responded to a lawsuit over the casino’s sublicensing of disputed trademarks to American Indian-operated casinos.

Hard Rock Cafe International Inc., the Orlando, Florida-based owner of the Hard Rock Cafe trademarks, sued in federal court in Manhattan on Sept. 21 seeking cancellation of the Las Vegas hotel’s license to use the marks.

The casino, in a Nov. 11 court filing, said it had done nothing wrong and was a victim of “systematic legal and business harassment” by the marks’ owner. The casino said it has met terms of the 1996 licensing agreement, and accused the marks’ owner of trying to deprive it of “the benefits” of the agreement.

Among those benefits was the right to sublicense or franchise any of its rights within an agreed-upon territory, according to the filing. Its sublicenses with Cherokee National Enterprises and the Pueblo of Isleta Indian Tribe fell within those rights, the casino said.

The casino asked the court to declare that it hadn’t breached the license agreement, and to order the marks’ owner to quit interfering with what it claims are legitimate business relationships. It also seeks litigation costs and financial compensation.

The case is Hard Rock Cafe International (USA) Inc., v. Hard Rock Hotel Holdings LLC, 1:10-cv-07244-UA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more trademark news, click here.


Argus Copyright Suit Against Tradition Financial Services Ends

Argus Media’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against Tradition Financial Services is settled, according to an Argus statement.

The suit, brought in the U.K.’s High Court in 2009, alleged that TFS infringed Argus copyrights and breached its contract with the London-based company.

According to the statement, TFS will pay Argus 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) in compensation and will agree not to infringe the copyrights.

Argus Media Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adrian Binks said in the company statement that the agreement “brings to an end a protracted legal dispute in the U.K. and fully vindicated Argus’s position that TFS violated its copyrights.”

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Greenberg Traurig Hires Former Film Industry IP Counsel

Greenberg Traurig LLP hired Joseph Geisman for its intellectual-property and technology-practice group, the Miami-based firm said in a statement.

Geisman, who previously was IP counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America, will do trademark, copyright, entertainment, right of publicity, media, technology, Internet and First-Amendment work. He also has practiced at Los Angeles-based Loeb & Loeb LLP.

He has an undergraduate degree and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at

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