Brookstone, Dow Corning: Intellectual Property

Brookstone Inc., a retailer of items such as cordless air compressors, remote-control toy helicopters and massaging chairs, was sued for patent infringement by Baltimore-based manufacturer of specialty items.

180s Inc. claims Brookstone is infringing three patent for behind-the-head earmuffs. At issue are patents 6,735,784, 6,920,645 and 6,502,248.

Brookstone was notified it was infringing the patents in November 2009 and received a demand that it quit making and selling “Luxe Earmuffs,” according to the complaint filed Nov. 15 in federal court in Baltimore. 180s claimed that before it began selling the Luxe Earmuffs, Brookstone “had knowledge” of the Baltimore company’s IP rights.

Brookstone didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

180s, which also accused Brookstone of infringing the earmuffs’ trade dress, said it has been damaged and “irreparably harmed” by the alleged infringement. It asked the court for an order barring future infringement, and awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Claiming the infringement is deliberate, 180s asked that the damages be tripled to punish Brookstone for its actions.

The Baltimore company is represented by Douglas P. Lobel, Jonathan G. Graves and Heather A. Faltin of Cooley LLP of San Francisco.

The case is 180s Inc. v. Brookstone Inc., 1:10-cv-03231-JFM, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore).

Intellectual Ventures’ Myhrvold Gets Surgical Stapler Patent

Nathan Myhrvold, the founder and chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures, is a named inventor on a patent for a surgical stapler that was issued yesterday, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent 7,832,611, which was one of 4,933 U.S. patents issued yesterday, covers a device that can be deformed to enable the user to reach around “anatomical corners” and areas of the patient’s body that are difficult to access.

The application for the patent was filed in May 2007, and it is assigned to The Invention Science Fund of Bellevue, Washington.

Myhrvold, who is the former chief technology officer of Microsoft Corp., is a named inventor on 131 issued U.S. patents, of which 29 are assigned to the Invention Science Fund. Those patents cover a wide range of technologies, including systems for genome selection, a method of masking or degrading biological material identifiers, a nanotube circuit analysis system, scattered X-ray visualization, multiprocessor resource optimization, and image correction using individual manipulation of microlenses in a microlens array.

Intellectual Ventures, which characterizes itself as an “invention company,” holds “invention sessions” where Myhrvold and a group of scientists and engineers sit around a table and work at inventing new technology to solve existing problems.

According to the Intellectual Ventures website, the company is developing inventions in areas including agriculture, automotive, communications, computer hardware, construction, consumer electronics, e-commerce, energy, financial services, health technologies, information technology, life sciences, materials science, medical devices, nanotechnology, physical sciences, security, semiconductors and software.

The company invites corporations and foundations to hire Intellectual Ventures to conduct two-day invention sessions. It says it files more than 500 patent applications a year and claims the cost per patent is “very low compared with that of corporate R&D organizations.”

Intellectual Ventures said it owns the patents that result from sponsored invention sessions. The company said it gives sponsors non-exclusive licenses to the inventions, and typically receive a portion of the profits associated with the licensing of the patents.

Searete LLC, also is based in Bellevue, is the assignee for 81 patents on which Myhrvold is named as an inventor.

For more patent news, click here.


Goode-Cook Accused of Infringing Turkey-Handling Instructions

Greenberg Smoked Turkeys Inc. of Tyler, Texas, sued a Houston restaurant chain for copyright infringement.

The complaint, filed yesterday in federal court in Tyler, accused Goode-Cook Inc. of infringing the copyright for instructions for handling smoked turkeys.

Greenberg, which does business at the website, said it created an insert on the handling of its smoked turkeys and began posting it on the company website in 2003. It claims that Goode-Cook’s website contains instructions for handling the turkeys it sells that copy the Greenberg instructions.

Goode-Cook is accused of deliberately infringing the copyrights. The restaurant company didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking a response to the allegations in the complaint.

Greenberg asked the court to order Goode-Cook to quit infringing the copyright, and for an award of profits the Houston company derived from the alleged infringement.

Additionally, Greenberg asked for a court order mandating the destruction of all infringing turkeys, promotional materials and turkey-handling instructions. The Tyler-based company also requested money damages, and awards of attorney fees and ligation costs.

Greenberg is represented by Jonathan Michael Rowan of Potter Minton PC of Tyler.

The case is Greenberg Smoked Turkeys Inc. v. Goode-Cooke Inc., 6:10-cv-00621-LED, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

For copyright news, click here.


Pfizer Didn’t Pay for Viagra Placement in ‘Love’ Film

Although the Viagra brand is all over News Corp.’s “Love and Other Drugs,” the director maintains that Pfizer Inc. didn’t pay for product placement, the BrandChannel trade journal reported.

The film, released this week, features Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in an adaptation of Jamie Reidy’s 2005 memoir, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” according to BrandChannel.

When director Edward Zwick said there was no Viagra product placement, he meant no money changed hands for the use of the trademark and brand, according to BrandChannel, which contends that a financial transaction isn’t necessary for product placement to occur.

BrandChannel noted that the film also contains a scene in which Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s trademark is prominently displayed.

Nepali Task Force Urges Trademark for Hand-Knotted Carpets

Faced with a downturn in demand for hand-knotted carpets, an industry and government task force in Nepal has recommended the establishment of a collective trademark for Nepali carpets, Nepal Republic Media’s Republica reported.

One aim is to halt the export of substandard carpets from neighboring countries under the Nepali name, according to Republica.

Some carpet manufacturers in the country are hesitant about registration because they don’t see a benefit of a mark without an establishment of minimum quality standards, Republica reported.

Demand for Nepali carpets has declined, with exports falling to 780,000 square meters in 2009-2010 from 3.3 million in 1993-1994, according to Republica.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Dow Corning’s Solar-Grade Silicon Trade Secrets Case Dismissed

Dow Corning Corp.’s trade secrets case against a Pennsylvania company was dismissed by a federal judge in Bay City, Michigan.

In a complaint filed in March, Dow Corning accused RSI Silicon Products LLC of Easton, Pennsylvania, of misappropriating trade secrets related to the production of a grade of silicon suitable for use in solar cells.

Dow Corning had argued that RSI’s attempt to engage an unidentified vendor in a process to develop solar-grade silicon indicated the company was in possession of Dow Corning trade secrets.

The Midland, Michigan-based company said there was no reason for RSI to contact the vendor about developing the process unless it was aware that the vendor was working with Dow Corning and wanted to replicate that trade-secret methodology.

RSI’s request for communications with the unnamed company and its request for contact information for other suitable vendors made clear “its unlawful acquisition, use, and disclosure of Dow Corning’s trade secret purification methodology and equipment,” Dow Corning said in court papers.

The Pennsylvania company responded by asking that the case be dismissed because Dow Corning hadn’t made sufficiently specific claims of trade secret theft, and that there wasn’t enough Michigan-based contact between the two companies to justify trying the case in that state.

U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington dismissed the case Nov. 15. He said that although Dow Corning complaint was sufficiently specific under Michigan law about the alleged misappropriation of the trade secrets, RSI’s contacts to Michigan “are simply insufficient” for the case to go forward.

“The interests of this state in the controversy and the plaintiff’s interest in obtaining relief are insufficient to force the defendants to travel here and provide a defense against the speculative allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint,” Ludington wrote in his order.

Dow Corning was represented by David J. Debold and Jason C. Schwartz of Los Angeles-based Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. RSI’s lawyers are David E. Plunkett of Williams, Williams, Rattner & Plunkett PC of Birmingham, Michigan, and Michael A. Ladra of Palo Alto, California’s Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati PC.

The case is Dow Corning Corp. v. RSI Silicon Products LLC, 1:10-cv-11226-TLL-CEB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Bay City).

IP Moves

Pabst Patent Group Hires Lawyers, Scientific Advisers From AGG

Pabst Patent Group LLC hired two lawyers and two scientific advisers, the Atlanta-based intellectual-property firm said in a statement.

All four new hires joined from Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, also of Atlanta. They are Robert A. Hodges, David E. Huizenga, Jonas Jarvholm and Sandra A. Sciascia-Zirger.

Hodges, a lawyer, is himself an inventor on three issued U.S. patents. He does patent acquisition work and has represented clients in proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he previously worked as an examiner.

His clients’ technologies have included biological therapeutics, receptors, transport, cell signaling, diagnostic and prognostic markers and techniques, genomics, proteomics, transgenic and recombinant organisms, analytic techniques, and recombinant DNA products and procedures.

He has an undergraduate degree in genetics from the University of California at Davis, a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a law degree from Georgia State University.

Huizenga, also a lawyer, is the named inventor on two U.S. patents, according to the firm’s statement. He does litigation, IP counseling and patent-acquisition work. He has represented clients in areas including genetics, recombinant biotechnology, stem cells, cell therapies, molecular diagnostics, combinatorial chemistry and medical devices.

He has an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from the University of San Diego, a doctorate in genetics from Harvard University and a law degree from Emory University.

Jarvholm, a scientific adviser, works in the areas of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Shorter College and a doctorate in chemistry and biochemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Sciascia-Zirger acts as a scientific adviser for clients in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical areas. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Montevallo and a doctorate in molecular genetics from the University of Kansas.

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