Sony, Astellas, Intel, Wal-Mart: Intellectual Property

Sony Corp., Samsung Techwin Co. and Robert Bosch GmbH were named in a U.S. trade complaint filed by closely held ObjectVideo Inc., alleging infringement of patents for video analytics software.

ObjectVideo claims the companies violate its intellectual property rights and seeks to block imports of their video products, according to a notice posted on the U.S. International Trade Commission’s website. A copy of the complaint wasn’t immediately available. The Washington-based agency can block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

ObjectVideo, a Reston, Virginia-based company that makes software used in security, business intelligence and public safety, sued the companies in a Richmond, Virginia, federal court in April. The lawsuit claims infringement of patents related to virtual tripwires, which can trigger notifications to the user of the software.

Samsung Techwin, based in Changwon, South Korea, is that country’s biggest digital-camera maker. Stuttgart, Germany-based Robert Bosch is the world’s largest maker of auto parts. Tokyo-based Sony’s businesses include video-game systems, communication devices and information technology.

The ITC case is Certain Video Analytics Software, Components Thereof and Products Containing the Same, Complaint No. 2826, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

The case in federal court is ObjectVideo Inc. v. Robert Bosch GmbH, 11cv217, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

Astellas to Get $609 Million in Drug-Rights Sale to Royalty

Astellas Pharma Inc., Japan’s second-largest drugmaker, will sell rights to experimental diabetes medicines for $609 million to Royalty Pharma.

The sale relates to patents and royalties on drugs in a class of treatments known as DPP-4 inhibitors that spur the body to produce more insulin and less glucose, or blood sugar. The transaction, expected to be completed next month, will free up capital for reinvestment in strategic initiatives, Tokyo-based Astellas said in a statement yesterday.

The diabetes assets being sold to New York-based Royalty Pharma were part of the Prosidion portfolio that Astellas acquired in its $3.54 billion takeover of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. last year. Astellas is reviewing options for other Prosidion assets, it said.

“The range of alternatives that will be assessed could include minority investment or strategic alliance, a merger or sale of some or all of these assets,” Astellas said.

The Japanese drugmaker expects the transaction to have “minimal impact” on its financial forecasts for the year ending March 31.

Astellas was advised by Citigroup Inc. and Allen & Overy LLP. Royalty Pharma’s corporate advisers were Lazard Freres & Co. and Greenhill & Co., and it received legal advice from Goodwin Procter LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, according to the statement.

Intel Patent-Infringement Claim Brought by X2Y to Get ITC Review

A U.S. trade agency agreed to investigate claims that Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, is infringing a Pennsylvania company’s patents on ways to improve how power is delivered to an electronic circuit.

X2Y Attenuators LLC filed the complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on May 31, and the Washington-based agency said yesterday it would review the claims. Closely held X2Y is seeking to block imports of Intel chips including the high-end desktop Core i7 chip, as well as Apple Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. computers that run on the processor.

The inventions covered by the five patents are designed to overcome electromagnetic interference, which can damage electronics, according to the ITC complaint. Erie, Pennsylvania-based X2Y said it has licensed its inventions for inclusion in satellite radios, military aircraft and noise-canceling headphones and filed the complaints after Santa Clara, California-based Intel declined to pay royalties.

The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain Microprocessors, Components Thereof and Products Containing Same, 337-781, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil case is X2Y Attenuators LLC v. Intel Corp., 11cv117, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Erie).

Apple Victory Over Elan Will Stand, U.S. Trade Agency Says

Apple Inc.’s victory over patent-infringement claims brought by Elan Microelectronics Corp. for touch-controlled screens will stand, a U.S. trade agency said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington upheld a judge’s findings that Apple wasn’t infringing Elan’s patent 5,825,352, according to a notice posted on the agency’s website. The six-member commission has the power to block imports of products found to violate U.S. patent rights.

Elan, a Hsinchu, Taiwan-based designer of integrated circuits, claimed Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac computers and Magic Mouse wireless mouse violate its patent The invention involves the use of two fingers to perform operations on a computer screen, to replace the traditional computer mouse or trackball.

Touch-sensitive devices can analyze the placement or movement of a finger to determine what action should be taken. Using the thumb and forefinger together to zoom in or out on a phone screen is a hallmark of the iPhone.

The iPhone generated $25 billion in sales last year for Cupertino, California-based Apple, while the iPod brought in $8.3 billion and the iPad and related services generated $5 billion.

The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices with Multi-Touch Enabled Touchpads and Touchscreens, 337-714, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.


Wal-Mart, Smiley Co. Settle Dispute Over Smiling-Face Trademarks

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, has settled a trademark dispute with a Belgian company over the use of the smiling-face mark.

The Smiley Co. of Brussels sued Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart in federal court in Chicago May 20, asking that findings from a trademark appeal board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office be set aside.

According to court papers, the smiley face was created by Franklin Loufrani of France in the 1970s and the mark is registered in more than 80 countries worldwide. Loufrani’s rights to the mark are assigned to Smiley Co.

Wal-Mart opposed Loufrani’s attempts to register the mark in the U.S., saying it was confusingly similar to its “Happy Face Design.” In a March 2009 order, the appeal board agreed.

In its court papers, Smiley Co. argued that its mark was “readily distinguishable” from the Happy Face design, and that its mark is distinctive, rather than descriptive.

The case was dismissed June 21, according to the court docket. No terms of the settlement were disclosed in court filings other than that the parties agreed to dismiss the case, with each side paying its costs and attorney fees. Both parties agree not to appeal.

The case is Loufrani v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 1:09-cv-03062, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Aussie Vets Object to Warner Music’s Bid to Register ‘Diggers’

Warner Music Group Corp.’s attempt to register “The Diggers” together with the image of a soldier saluting as an Australian trademark is meeting opposition from veterans groups and the government itself, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The term is used in Australian military history to describe those who served in World War I, according to the newspaper.

Although Australia has more than 60 trademark registrations for the term, these relate to earthmoving, horticultural or other non-military uses, the newspaper reported.

Warren Snowdon, Australia’s minister of veterans’ affairs, told the Morning Herald that Warner Music’s application “is clearly military related” and should not be registered.

Kells Won’t Oppose College’s ‘Book of Kells’ Applications

The Irish town of Kells won’t challenge Trinity College’s application to register “Book of Kells” and a logo taken from the book as trademarks for use on Textiles, the Meath Chronicle reported.

Members of the Kells Town Council and the college will enter into an agreement to tell the story of the town in its exhibits on the Book of Kells, according to the newspaper.

The college already has some trademark registrations for the term, with registration extending to all the countries in the European Union, the Chronicle reported.

Legal advice given the town council indicated it has no sustainable grounds to object to the college’s trademark registrations, according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.


Photographer, Artist Settle Dispute Over ‘Dance Steps’ Photo

A Seattle-based photographer who was sued for copyright infringement by an artist from the same city has settled the dispute.

Michael J. Hipple said in a June 29 blog posting that while he believed he had good defenses he had come to understand that the artist “has good claims.”

Jack Mackie sued Hipple for copyright infringement in federal court in Seattle in February, 2009, after he learned that Hipple had photographed a woman dancing over one of his “Dance Steps” pieces.

These artworks are metal shoeprints in the form of dance steps embedded in the sidewalk along a street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Initially Mackie sent Hipple a cease-and-desist letter and demanded that the photographer’s stock agency remove the image, which it did, according to Hipple’s January 2010 blog posting.

Hipple said he thought this would be the end of the suit, and was surprised when he was sued for copyright infringement. In initially, Hipple said he thought his photo fell into copyright law’s “fair use” exception.

The case, which was set for trial in July, was settled for undisclosed terms. Hipple said he did not intend to attack Mackie, and he now understands why the artist “is so protective.” He said when he took the photo, he didn’t realize that selling photography that includes part of a copyrighted public artwork can violate that copyright.

According to the court docket, the order dismissing the case was filed June 21.

The case is Mackie V. Hipple, 2:09-cv-00164-RSL, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

For copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Barnes & Thornburg Adds IP, Entertainment Specialist Fohrman

Barnes & Thornburg LLP hired Sidney Fohrman for its IP and entertainment practice, the Indianapolis-based firm said in a statement.

Fohrman joins from Washington’s Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. He has a transactional practice related to the music, entertainment, media, live events, advertising, and technology industries.

He has handled advertising, branding and sponsorship deals for all types of entertainment companies; licensing and copyright transactions for music publishers; production, labor, trade and venue matters for live performance venues; and corporate governance, contractual issues, and platform and content and licensing deals for technology companies.

Fohrman has an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and a law degree from Pepperdine University.

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