Nokia, Melexis, Trek 2000: Intellectual Property

Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, escalated its patent battle with Apple Inc. over smartphone technology by filing new infringement complaints in the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands.

Nokia claims Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices infringe 13 patents related to functions including touch user interfaces, signal noise suppression and on-device application stores, according to a statement yesterday from the Espoo, Finland-based company. The cases add to lawsuits involving 24 additional Nokia patents asserted against Apple in the U.S.

Nokia, which has lost market share to competitors with more feature-rich phones, is expanding a patent war that began when it sued Apple in October 2009. Cupertino, California-based Apple has its own complaints against Nokia in the U.S. and U.K., and claims Nokia is trying to use the litigation to strong-arm Apple into providing access to proprietary iPhone technology. Nokia has denied Apple’s patent and antitrust allegations.

The newest lawsuits involve technology including patents for “using a wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than 10 years before the launch of the iPhone” in 2007, Paul Melin, Nokia’s vice president for intellectual property, said in the statement.

Nokia plans to begin shipments early next year of the E7. The phone is the most complete of Nokia’s latest series of handsets using a new version of the Symbian operating system and has both a touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company stands by a comment made in December 2009 by General Counsel Bruce Sewell, that “other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.”

The International Trade Commission in Washington is reviewing patent-infringement claims that Nokia and Apple have filed against the other. A trial on some of Apple’s claims against Nokia was held in November and an ITC judge is scheduled to release his findings in February. Nokia’s allegations against Apple were tried earlier this month, with the judge’s decision expected in April.

The commission, which was set up to protect domestic markets from unfair trade practices, has the power to ban imports of products found to infringe U.S. patents.

The cases are: HC 10 C 03053, U.K. High Court (London); 4b O 195/10, Dusseldorf District Court, Germany; 7 O 222/10, Mannheim District Court, Germany; and KG RK 10-3054, District Court of The Hague, the Netherlands.

Somaxon Sues Actavis, Mylan, to Block Generic Silenor

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals Inc. accused generic-drug makers Actavis Inc. and Mylan Inc. of infringing a U.S. patent for its Silenor sleeping tablets.

Somaxon, based in San Diego, asked a federal judge to stop its rivals from selling their versions of the drug until its patent 6,211,229 expires in 2020, according to a complaint filed Dec. 15 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Without a court order against Morristown, New Jersey-based Actavis and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan, Somaxon “will suffer substantial and irreparable harm,” plaintiff’s lawyers contend in the lawsuit.

Somaxon won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March to market Silenor, its first product. The drug became commercially available Sept. 7, according to a company statement last month.

“It’s Actavis’s policy not to comment on pending litigation,” Gerard Farrell, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview. Michael Laffin, a Mylan spokesman, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Somaxon v. Actavis, 10cv1100, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Melexis Wins Patent Nullity Case Against Austriamicrosystems

Melexis NV, the Belgian maker of sensor chips for the car industry, said Germany’s federal patent court in Munich ruled that all patent attack claims by Austriamicrosystems AG are null and invalid.

The verdict can still be appealed at the federal supreme court in Karlsruhe, according to Melexis.

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Trek 2000 Allowed to Register ‘Thumb Drive’ as U.S. Trademark

Trek 2000 International Ltd., a Singapore-based computer-technology company, was permitted to register “thumb drive” as a trademark, according to a statement from the company’s law firm.

Examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark had contended that the term had become generic and wasn’t entitled to registration. Lawyers from New York’s White & Case LLP persuaded the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board that the company had long used the mark and no competitors used the mark in a generic way.

Trek 2000’s Thumb Drives are portable storage units that can be plugged into a computer’s USB port. Some are as small as a thumbnail.

T-Mobile Seeking U.S. Trademark Registration for ‘Cliq 2’ Mark

Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA unit filed two applications to register “Cliq 2” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The two applications, filed in August and published in the patent office database on Nov. 30, are for use of the mark with wireless handheld communication devices and for telecommunication services.

Customers of Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile were able to buy Motorola Inc.’s Cliq phone beginning in late 2009. The phone is based on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

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Fake Mattel, MGA Dolls Seized at Arizona Border

Fake versions of Mattel Inc.’s and MGA Entertainment Inc.’s dolls were seized at an Arizona border crossing, the Associated Press reported.

More than 140 boxes of fake Mattel Barbie dolls and MGA Moxie Girlz dolls were seized at the Sal Luis port of entry into Arizona, according to AP. The dolls, seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, were valued at $61,000, AP reported.

Representatives of El Segundo, California-based Mattel and MGA of Van Nuys, California, verified that the dolls infringed their copyrights.

Systran Wins Copyright Case against European Commission

Systran SA won its intellectual-property case against the European Commission and was awarded 12 million euros ($15.9 million) by the European Union tribunal, the company said in a statement.

The European Commission was found to have infringed the copyright and knowhow in the Unix version of the Systran machine-translation software.

The tribunal said that if the commission doesn’t take appropriate steps to ensure Systran’s rights, the company “would be entitled to bring before the General Court a fresh action seeking damages in respect of the further damage it might suffer,” according to yesterday’s statement.

Systran, based in Paris, makes language-translation software products. The company said that the court’s ruling “marks the first time a European institution has been condemned in such a manner and to such a degree.”

Californian Sentenced to Four Years for Criminal Infringement

A resident of El Cerrito, California, was sentenced to four years in prison for criminal copyright infringement, according to a statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Julius Chow Lieh Liu, 55, was sentenced Dec. 13. According to the FBI, Liu was charged with selling counterfeit copies of Symantec Corp.’s Norton Anti-Virus program, music DCs, and DVDs of the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Liu will begin serving his sentence in February. He is also subject to three years’ supervised release, according to the statement.

U.K. Music Piracy is Eroding Digital Revenue Growth, BPI Says

The value of illegally downloaded music in the U.K. will be 1 billion pounds ($1.56 billion) this year, as the practice proliferates and slows growth of the digital music market.

An estimated 7.7 million U.K. Internet users illegally download music on a regular basis, giving musicians, songwriters and music companies no payments, according to the Digital Music Nation 2010 report from the British Recorded Music Industry trade organization.

Although the U.K. boasts 67 legal online music services, more than any other country, there is no effective deterrent to obtaining music illegally, BPI said. The music industry is lobbying the government to implement the Digital Economy Act, passed this year and designed to curb illegal file-sharing by requiring Internet service providers to block some users.

Digital music growth in the U.K. “is a fraction of what it ought to be,” BPI Chief Executive Officer Geoff Taylor said in a statement.

Illegal downloading “is a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music and is holding back investment in the fledgling digital entertainment sector,” he said.

Digital services now account for 24.5 percent of U.K. record industry revenue, BPI said, from 19.2 percent a year ago.

For more copyright news, click here.

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