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Merck, Circle, Mattel, Rosetta Stone: Intellectual Property

Merck & Co. is close to settling patent lawsuits against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over a generic version of the cholesterol drug Vytorin, according to a federal court document.

The two sides have asked to put on hold patent suits that Merck’s Schering unit filed in 2009 and 2010 to prevent Teva from selling a generic version of the drug. U.S. Magistrate Judge Esther Salas in Newark, New Jersey, delayed all actions until June 1 “to finalize settlement,” the May 3 filing shows.

Vytorin generated $480 million in global sales in the first quarter for Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck, the company said May 3. That includes $247 million in U.S. sales, said Ron Rogers, a spokesman for Merck. The company had sued to prevent Teva from selling copies of the medicine until patents expire in 2014 and 2017.

Rogers said “the filing speaks for itself” when asked about a potential agreement. Denise Bradley, a spokeswoman for Petah Tikva, Israel-based Teva, said the company had no comment.

The cases are Schering Corp. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 10cv1058 and 10-4473, both U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

Boston Scientific Seeks $34 Million in Stent-Patent Trial

Boston Scientific Corp., a maker of stents used to prop open coronary arteries, sought $34 million in damages from Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis Corp. for infringing a patent as a jury trial began yesterday.

Boston Scientific, based in Natick, Massachusetts, sued Cordis in 2009 in Minnesota and the case was transferred to Delaware the following year. U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson told jurors in Wilmington yesterday that another jury in 2005 ruled Cordis infringed Boston Scientific’s patent 5,922,021.

“They ran out of appeals,” limiting the current trial to determining damages, Paul A. Bondor, a lawyer for Boston Scientific, said in his opening statement. He didn’t specify a damage figure, saying experts would testify later.

Gregory Diskant, representing Cordis, said Boston Scientific is seeking $34 million, or more than half of the Johnson & Johnson unit’s $60 million in sales of the stent.

“That’s nuts,” Diskant told the jury. Cordis made a profit of $13.8 million from the sales, he said.

The case is Boston Scientific Corp. v. Cordis Corp., 10CV315, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.


Circle Entertainment, Merlin Sued by Comcast Unit for ‘I-Walk’

Comcast Corp.’s Universal City Studios unit sued an amusement park operator and developers for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed April 29 in federal court in Orlando, Florida, relates to plans by Circle Entertainment Inc. and Merlin Entertainments Group Holdings Ltd. to develop a complex of retail stores, restaurants, bars and entertainment services in Orlando.

Closely held Merlin, based in London, operates the Madame Tussauds wax museum, Legoland theme parks, the London Eye Ferris wheel and Sea Life aquariums.

Universal objects to the use of “I-walk” to promote the project. The proposed project is three miles from the Universal Orlando Resort, which uses “CityWalk” and related terms as trademarks. Universal claims the project developers are “prominently displaying and featuring the I-walk marks in promotions, articles and advertising.”

This mark is “confusingly similar” to the CityWalk trademarks, Universal says, claiming developers made this choice “to benefit from the goodwill generated by the CityWalk marks over the past 18 years.”

Co-defendant with Merlin and Circle Entertainment is Unicorp USA LLC of Orlando.

Merlin spokeswoman Sally Ann Wilkinson said the allegation in the complaint “is not our issue.” The name of the project “does not impact our attractions in any way,” she said.

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

Universal asked the court to order the developer not to use infringing marks, and for awards of money damages, defendants’ profits related to the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Representing Universal are Michael J. Beaudine and Lori T. Milvain of Latham Shuker Eden & Baudine LLP of Orlando.

The case is University City Studios LLC v. Unicorp USA, 6:11-cv-00720-GKS-GJK, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Orlando).

Mattel Sued by ‘Hillbillies’ Actress Over ‘Elly May’ Doll

Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, was sued for infringement by the actress who played Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies” television program.

According to the complaint filed May 4 in federal court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the rights of actress Donna Douglas are infringed by an “Elly May” Barbie doll made and sold by Mattel.

Even though the 274-episode show ended 40 years ago, Douglas still makes personal appearances in association with the role, she said in her court papers.

Douglas said that she was harmed by El Segundo, California-based Mattel’s introduction of the “Elly May” Barbie doll in December 2002. The package for the doll features a photo of her in the role and, she claims, the doll is designed to resemble her.

She never endorsed the doll, nor gave Mattel permission to use her name, image or likeness to promote the doll, Douglas said in her complaint.

Douglas, now a resident of Zachary, Louisiana, asked the court to bar Mattel’s exploitation of her persona, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs

“Mattel licensed the rights to Beverly Hillbillies for this product through all the appropriate channels,” Jules Andres, a Mattel spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Douglas is represented by Philip J. Shaheen of Shaheen at Law Inc. of Baton Rouge and Charles von Simson of New York’s von Simson & Chin.

The case is Donna Douglas v. Mattel Inc., 3:11-cv-00297-FJP-CN, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge).

For more trademark news, click here.


Rosetta Settles 77 Cases Involving Pirated Software

Rosetta Stone Inc., developer of language-learning programs, settled 77 cases against distributors of counterfeit software, the Arlington, Virginia-based company said in a statement.

Terms of the settlements weren’t disclosed. The cases involved infringers in 73 cities and 27 states, according to yesterday’s statement. The defendants copied, downloaded, shared or sold versions of Rosetta Stone software without permission.

Consumers who use pirated software risk “identity theft, malware, spyware and defective software,” Michael Wu, Rosetta Stone’s general counsel, said in the statement.

In August, Rosetta Stone told a federal appeals court it would appeal a lower court’s ruling that Google Inc. didn’t infringe the language-software maker’s s trademarks by selling them to rivals for use as search keywords.

That case is Rosetta Stone v. Google Inc., 1:09-00736-GBL-TCB, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

Irish National Anthem’s Copyright to Expire Next Year

The Irish national anthem’s English lyrics will be ripe for commercial exploitation when its copyright expires next year, the news website reported.

Michael Noonan, Ireland’s minister for finance, said it doesn’t own the copyright, which will expire at the end of 2012, 70 years after the death of Peadar Kearney, author of the English lyrics, according to

The country does hold the copyright to the melody, composed by Patrick Heeney in 1907, reported.

The copyright to the Irish-language version of the lyrics has already expired, the website reported.

Too Much Bother to Register Copyrights, Indian Designers Say

Indian fashion designers say the process of registering copyrights for their designs isn’t worth the effort, the Times of India reported.

Registering a copyright -- which must be renewed every two years -- can cost between 800 and 1,000 rupees per design ($18 and $22) and each collection consists of 185-190 different designs, the Times of India said.

Some designers have asked the Fashion Design Council of India to demand changes in copyright law to provide better protection, according to the newspaper.

Sunil Sethi, president of the FDCI, told the Times of India such an action by his organization would be impossible because the group is “only a platform for designers to meet and help them get together to act in a democratic way.”

UFC Claims Copyright on Video of Fans Brawling in the Stands

The mixed-martial arts league known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship used copyright-infringement claims to demand that a website take down a video of action outside the ring.

The video, shot during the April 30 Toronto bout between Jake Shields and Georges St. Pierre, shows two members of the audience fighting in the stands.

It was posted on the website, which now has a dark screen image in place of the video. The text over the dark screen says “this video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by UFC.”

The league is using multiple anti-piracy firms to enforce its copyrights. It typically charges fans $45 to watch a night of action on pay-per-view television.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Industrial Espionage Conviction Bars New Zealand Residency

New Zealand denied a former member of the Church of Scientology permission to settle in that country because of a criminal industrial espionage charge related to the church, New Zealand’s Dominion Post reported.

Robin Scott, a 62-year-old accountant who sought to emigrate to New Zealand, claimed the 1984 Danish industrial espionage case for which he served a month in jail and was deported from Denmark was merely a civil dispute, according to the Herald Sun.

He was part of a scheme to remove teaching materials from a Scientology property in Copenhagen that he planned to use to teach a breakaway Scientology group, the newspaper reported.

After New Zealand’s immigration and Protection Tribunal rejected their appeal, Scott and his wife left the organic farm they established in Canterbury, New Zealand, and returned to the U.K., according to the Dominion Post.

IP Moves

Crowell & Moring Hires Two Hatch-Waxman Patent Specialists

Crowell & Moring LLP hired two intellectual-property specialists from New York’s Frommer Lawrence & Haug LLP, the Washington-based firm said in a statement.

The new hires are James K. Stronski and Chiemi D. Suzuki.

Stronski, a litigator, has handled patent, trade secret, trademark, copyright and unfair-competition disputes for clients in the pharmaceutical, Internet, consumer products, high-tech composites and semiconductor manufacturing industries. He has litigated a number of so-called Hatch-Waxman cases related to generic versions of patented drugs.

Stronski has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Fordham University and served as a judicial clerk for U.S. District Judge Shirley W. Kram.

Suzuki is also a litigator with experience handling Hatch-Waxman disputes. Before she entered private practice she worked in technology transfer at the Office of Industrial Liaison at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She also did research in biology and chemical engineering.

She has an undergraduate degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s degree in biotechnology from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

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