Genzyme, Nokia, Apple, J&J, Amazon: Intellectual Property

Genzyme Corp., the drugmaker bought by Sanofi-Aventis SA this month, sued Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Anika Therapeutics Inc. alleging the companies’ treatments for arthritic knee pain infringe a patent.

Genzyme is seeking to block sales of Anika’s Monovisc drug as well as a treatment made by Seikagaku Corp. and distributed by Zimmer called Gel-One, according to two patent-infringement lawsuits filed yesterday in federal court in Boston. Genzyme, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also seeking cash compensation.

Genzyme filed the lawsuits the same day it was issued patent 7,931,030 for a method of treating a knee joint with a single injection of hyaluronic acid, which the company markets as Synvisc-One, according to the complaint. Sales of Synvisc-One and of Synvisc, a three-injection drug, rose 20 percent to $393 million last year, Genzyme said in its annual report.

Synvisc-One was the only single-injection treatment approved by U.S. regulators until Anika’s Gel-One was approved on March 22, according to the complaint against Warsaw, Indiana-based Zimmer. Tokyo-based Seikagaku was named in the Zimmer lawsuit.

Anika, based in Bedford, Massachusetts, sells Monovisc in Europe, Turkey and Canada, and is seeking approval to sell it in the U.S. Anika has “already begun advertising for field sales representatives,” Genzyme said in the complaint.

Garry Clark, a spokesman for Zimmer, said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Officials with Anika didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Paris-based Sanofi bought Genzyme, the world’s largest maker of medicines for rare genetic disorders, for at least $20.1 billion.

The cases are Genzyme Corp. v. Seikagaku Corp., 11cv10704, and Genzyme Corp. v. Anika Therapeutics Inc., 11cv10705, both in U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Nokia Complaint Against Apple to Be Considered by Trade Agency

A U.S. trade agency said it would investigate a complaint by Nokia Oyj that accuses Apple Inc. of infringing patents related to mobile-phone technology.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, in a notice posted on its website April 25, said it will review whether Nokia’s patent rights are being violated by Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad tablet and MacBook computer. The Washington-based agency can block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

Nokia’s March 28 complaint was the second the Espoo, Finland-based handset maker lodged with the ITC against Apple. Nokia claims Apple is infringing seven patents “to create key features in its products in the areas of multi-tasking operating systems, data synchronization, positioning, call quality and the use of Bluetooth accessories.”

An administrative ITC judge said March 25 that Apple wasn’t infringing five different Nokia patents, and the full six-member commission is considering whether to review that finding.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has its own claims against Nokia, which were split into two cases. The judge handling the bulk of the allegations is scheduled to release his findings June 24, and another judge who heard claims over one patent is scheduled to announce his findings by Aug. 5.

The agency typically completes its investigations in 15 to 18 months.

The new case is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices, Including Mobile Phones, Mobile Tablets, Portable Music Players and Computers, 337-771, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington)

MSF Expresses ‘Disappointment’ at J&J Stance on AIDS Patents

Medicines Sans Frontiers sent a letter to Johnson & Johnson April 20, expressing “disappointment” that the pharmaceutical company hasn’t placed any patents into a patent pool for AIDS drugs.

The French charity, which provides medical care to underserved populations, was speaking of the Medicines Patent Pool established by UNITAID, an agency with the mission of buying drugs against malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.

According to the MSF letter, the charity had previously urged Johnson & Johnson to license its patents for the AIDS drugs rilpivirine, darunavir and etravirine.

In a Jan. 31 letter to Medicines Patent Pool, J&J said that rather than license the relevant patents to the pool, ‘we have directly contracted with generic companies to help provide these essential services.” The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company said it was “confident” its agreements with generic manufacturers were “providing the best route to expand access to patients in need.”

MSF argued in its letter that its ability to manage AIDS drugs patents collectively “will allow for the creation of fixed-dose combinations and pediatric formulations in a more effective manner than individual voluntary licensees schemes from multiple originators.”

In its letter, the French charity expressed a willingness to meet with J&J for further discussions of patent-pool licensing. J&J said in its letter that its present agreements for licensing its AIDS drugs to generic manufacturers “do not preclude the possibility of future negotiations” with the patent pool “as patient need, approved uses and the patent pool evolve.”

The Medicines Patent Pool was spun off from UNITAID in November 2010. UNITAID, which is funded through various countries’ tax on airline tickets, is financing the patent pool’s operations for the next five years.

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Nina Paley Says Don’t Ask for Permission to Use Her Work

Filmmaker and cartoonist Nina Paley reiterated her position on copyright infringement issues in a recent blog posting titled “Yes Means Yes.”

She said people don’t need permission to re-use her work. “You already have permission. Please copy, share, re-use, edit, modify, sell etc,” Paley said in her April 20 posting.

Asking permission to share her work “wastes your time and mine,” she said. Her goal of making her work available for free is freeing up her time to make more art instead of “having to oversee and administrate every re-use,” she said.

The blanket permissions extend to “Sita Sings the Blues,” her 2008 animated feature, Paley said.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trademark Seeks Dismissal of Apple Lawsuit Over ‘App Store’ Inc., responding to a trademark lawsuit by Apple Inc. over its use of the words “App Store,” said the term is generic and denied that the iPhone maker has exclusive rights to the phrase.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, said it isn’t required to obtain a license or authorization to use “App Store” because the term is “unprotectable” and won’t be confused or unfairly compete with Apple’s App Store service, according to a filing yesterday in federal court in Oakland, California. Amazon’s Appstore offering downloads of software for Android devices opened March 22. App is short for application.

“Based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps, such as the app stores operated by Amazon and Apple,” Amazon said in the filing.

Apple’s lawsuit, filed March 18, should be thrown out and a court order confirming Amazon’s right to use the words should be issued, Seattle-based Amazon said.

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

Apple’s App Store, started in 2008, offers downloads of programs from the company and third-party developers to users of iPhones, iPod media players and iPad tablet computers.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, applied to register App Store as a trademark in the U.S., and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application, Apple said in the lawsuit. The mark hasn’t yet been formally registered and Microsoft Corp. is opposing the application.

Both Microsoft and Apple have brought in linguistics experts who filed reports to the patent office supporting their opposing contentions about whether “app store” is a generic term or a proper noun.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Inc., 11-1327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Walgreen, Wegmans Settle Trademark Dispute Over ‘W’ Logo

Walgreen Co. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. settled a trademark dispute involving a store logo.

Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Illinois, sued closely held Wegmans in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Oct. 27, claiming the letter “W” used in the grocery company’s logo too closely resembled the “W” that is a registered trademark for the drugstore chain.

Wegmans, based in Rochester, New York, has in-store pharmacies in five states, and Walgreen complained that the similarity of the two logos would lead consumers to a false belief that the two companies had an affiliation.

Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed in a court filing. Wegmans said in a statement that it would quit using the “circle W” symbol on its Wegmans brand packaging by the end of June 2012. It will retain the right to use “Wegmans” in script, it said.

“The cost of making relatively minor changes to a limited number of products was much less than the cost of litigating this case to the end,” Jo Natale, a Wegmans spokeswoman, said in the statement.

Wegmans never had any intent to make its products or logos resemble Walgreen’s, she said.

The case is Walgreen Co. v. Wegmans Food Markets Inc., 1:10-cv-01216-TSE-TCB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).


Norman Latker, Prime Mover for Bayh-Dole Act, Dies at 79

Norman J. Latker, who played a key role in the passage of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act that allows universities and research institutes to take title to inventions stemming from federally funded research, has died. He was 79.

When Latker was a patent counsel with the National Institutes of Health, he published a study showing that of 30,000 federally owned patents, almost none had been commercialized. U.S. senators Birch Bayh and Robert Dole used the data to support their bill.

As a result of the bill’s passage, $100 billion worth of technology was released for licensing to the private sector, Bruce Merrifield, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, said in a statement posted on the online guestbook accompanying Latker’s April 17 obituary in the Washington Post.

“Norm left behind an enduring legacy that he and his family can be proud of,” Robin Rasor, president of the Association of University Technology Managers, said in an e-mail. AUTM presented Latker with its Driving Innovation award at a December celebration of the 30th anniversary of Bayh-Dole.

After leaving NIH, Latker worked in the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and, later, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Department of Commerce, where he developed implementing regulations for Bayh-Dole. He also drafted the 1986 Federal Technology Transfer Act.

Latker also headed the Interagency Committee on Technology Transfer, established to implement the 1986 law. After he left government service, Latker practiced at Washington’s Brody & Neimark PLLC.

He had an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and a law degree from the University of Illinois. He also received honorary doctorates from the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin in recognition of his contributions to technology transfer.

Latker, who lived in Bethesda, Maryland, at the time of his death, was survived by his wife and two children. His family requested that memorial donations be made to the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

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