Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Human Genome Sciences Inc., a pharmaceutical developer, sued Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit alleging the company created a three-decade “monopoly” for technology used to make medicine to treat lupus.
HGS, based in Rockville, Maryland, said South San Francisco, California-based Genentech circumvented the federal patent process by withholding information and initiating “sham” litigation to ensure protection for antibody therapeutics, according to a Feb. 18 complaint filed in Wilmington, Delaware.
“Genentech has succeeded in collusively and fraudulently extending its monopolistic power over the market by restraining trade and fixing prices until 2018 -- approximately 35 years after the initial 1983 patent application for this technology,” HGS contends.
The lawsuit comes a month after HGS sued Genentech in the same court seeking a court order that it doesn’t infringe its rival’s patent by making the experimental lupus medicine Benlysta. In dispute is patent 6,331,415.
In the latest lawsuit, HGS is asking for a jury trial, unspecified damages citing more than $1 billion in Genentech royalties, and rulings of antitrust law violation, unfair competition and interference with prospective business.
Officials of Genentech didn’t immediately return a phone call to its news media office before regular business hours yesterday.
Because of its actions, HGS contends, Genentech has stifled innovation and increased costs to patients with lupus -- a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation leading to tissue and organ damage and affecting an estimated 322,000 Americans.
HGS is getting ready to sell Benlysta along with London-based partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc. The FDA is set to rule on the medicine by March 10. It would be the first approved treatment for lupus in more than 50 years.
The antitrust case is Human Genome Sciences Inc. v. Genentech Inc., 11cv156, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Democrasoft Unloads Patents that Failed to Sell at Auction
In a transaction that typifies the outcome of the ICAP/Ocean Tomo intellectual property auctions, Democrasoft Inc. said it sold two families of patents that were originally offered at the November auction.
Typically only a handful of patents offered at an ICAP/Ocean Tomo auction are sold outright during the auction. Many properties change hands quietly after the auction is completed.
Democrasoft, based in Santa Rosa, California, was once known as Burst.com. It received $10 million in 2007 from Apple Inc. in the settlement of a patent-infringement lawsuit over technology that stores audio and video files. Apple received a license to the disputed technology and Burst.com changed its name and redirected its business strategy last year.
The company has since developed an online tool for organizing groups into decision-making communities. The patents sold relate to network optimization, Democrasoft said in a statement. Proceeds from the sale are about $750,000, the company said. It didn’t identify the buyer.
The patents were sold because “they are not relevant to our current business model,” Richard Land, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Some patents sold at past ICAP/Ocean Tomo auctions have led to infringement litigation by their purchasers.
In December 2008, Netflix Inc. and 12 other defendants were sued for infringing patent 5,890,152, which was sold for $1.07 million at an April 2008 auction. The patent was for a “personal feedback browser for obtaining media files,” according to the patent.
Other defendants in that case included Amazon.com Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. The case was dismissed in May 2009, according to Bloomberg data.
That case was Quito Enterprises LLC v. Netflix Inc., 1:08-cv-23543-AJ, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).
Vical Gets Patent on Vaccine Against Cytomegalovirus
Vical Inc. received a patent for a DNA vaccine against the cytomegalovirus, the San Diego-based pharmaceutical company said in a statement.
Patent 7,888,112, issued Feb. 15, covers a vaccine that administers genetic sequences into the body without the use of a virus as a delivery agent.
The disease against which the vaccine acts can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy, affecting the development of the central nervous system and causing a wide range of birth defects, including blindness, deafness and mental retardation. The disease, known as CMV, can also affect patients undergoing transplant procedures, and is a cause of blindness in patients with AIDS.
The company said if the vaccine can be widely given to female adolescents, it has the potential to reduce or even eliminate congenital CMV over time.
Vical applied for the patent in August 2007 with the assistance of Washington’s Sughrue Mion PLLC.
For more patent news, click here.
Apple Wins Top Spot for Movie Product-Placement Rankings
Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone and iPad, won the 2010 award for total product placement, BrandChannel said in a statement yesterday.
BrandChannel, which tracks product placement, said Apple products appeared in 30 percent of all films that were tops at the box office in 2010.
Tied for second place were General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet, Nike Inc. and Ford Motor Co., each of which had products featured in 24 percent of 2010’s top films, according to BrandChannel.
Coming in third were Glock GmbH, Sony Corp., Dell Inc. and Land Rover, whose marks and products appeared in at least 15 percent of the number-one films for the year.
Although Apple retained the top spot in product placement, BrandChannel said its performance declined from 2009, when the company’s products and trademarks appeared in 44 percent of all number-one films for the year.
Flashing Trademarks in Video Nets Britney Spears $500,000
Products share the exposure with pop singer Britney Spears in her new “Hold It Against Me” music video, the U.K.’s Mail newspaper reported.
A bottle of her signature Radiance perfume made for her by Elizabeth Arden Inc. co-stars, as does an eye shadow product made by Make Up For Ever and the Plenty of Fish computer-dating site, according to the Mail.
Spears received a total of $500,000 for the product placements, the Mail reported. Plenty of Fish, whose website has also appeared in a Lady Gaga video, paid Spears $200,000 for its role in her video, according to the newspaper.
Cornish Pasty Gets Protected Geographical Indication from EU
The Cornish pasty is the latest foodstuff to be affording a protected geographical indication from the European Union, the Cornish Pasty Association said in a statement.
The pasty is a baked turnover shaped like the letter “D” and filled with mixed beef, rutabaga, potato and onion.
Only pasties made by Cornish bakers using the traditional processes and ingredients will be entitled to use this designation. The association submitted its application for protected status in 2002.
Protected status was sought to protect the regional food heritage and local jobs, the association said.
“Thousands of people in Cornwall are involved in the pasty industry, from farmers to producers, and it’s important that the product’s quality is protected for future generations,” said David Rodda, a spokesman for the association.
USPTO Rejects ‘Slants’ Trademark Application, Band to Appeal
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “found unpersuasive” arguments from a Portland, Oregon-based band that its proposed trademark, “The Slants,” isn’t disparaging to persons of Asian descent, according to a statement issued on the band’s behalf by In Music We Trust, which does band publicity.
The band filed its application in March 2010, seeking registration for a mark to be used for live performances by a musical band, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The office responded in a final action on Dec. 23, saying the mark couldn’t be registered because it “includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”
The band will appeal the decision, according to the statement. Spencer Trowbridge of Portland law firm McNamer & Co., who represents the band, said in the statement that the rejection “is a case where the government is making a decision about how members of a minority group can define themselves.”
The determination of whether a term is disparaging “can only be made from the point of view of the referenced minority group,” he said.
For more trademark news, click here.
Ivi Ordered by Judge to Stop Streaming TV Shows on Web
Ivi Inc. must stop streaming on the Web broadcasts of TV networks television programming, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald yesterday granted a motion by a group of broadcasters including CBS Corp. for a preliminary injunction against the re-transmission of their programs by Ivi, according to a court filing in Manhattan.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their copyright claim,” Buchwald said in her opinion. “They have also demonstrated irreparable harm, that the balance of hardships tips in their favor, and that the public interest will not be disserved by an injunction.”
Broadcasters including Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and Comcast Corp.’s NBC sued Seattle-based Ivi in September for copyright infringement, claiming that the webcaster charged consumers a subscription fee for streaming television programs without authorization over the Internet.
The case is WPIX v. Ivi Inc., 10-07415, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
For more copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
South Korean Police Report 40 Industrial Espionage Cases
South Korea’s National Police Agency said 40 cases of industrial espionage were reported in the country last year, Arirang Television reported.
The bulk of the cases involved information technology, according to Arirang. Damages suffered by South Korean businesses were estimated at $8 billion, Arirang reported.
Of the cases with an international focus, nine involved China and two related to India, according to Arirang.
Foley & Lardner Regains Sharon Barner From Patent Office
A former official of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office returned to Foley & Lardner LLP, the Milwaukee-based firm said in a statement.
Sharon R. Barner, whose title was deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, practiced at Foley from 1996 until she joined the patent office at the beginning of the Obama administration.
She previously headed Foley’s IP department. As a litigator, she has represented clients in patent and other IP disputes whose technologies have included computers, satellites and genetically engineered foods.
Barner has an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from the University of Michigan.
To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at Jpickering@bloomberg.net.