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Allen, Novozymes, Samsung, Lady Gaga: Intellectual Property

Paul G. Allen’s claims that 11 companies including Google Inc. and Apple Inc. infringed his business’s online-shopping technology will remain on hold while the U.S. government reviews the quality of the patents, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman of federal court in Seattle said she won’t reconsider staying the lawsuit filed by Allen’s patent-licensing company. Interval Licensing LLC, she said July 12, “has failed to show any manifest error in the order granting the stay or any new facts that could not have been brought to the court’s attention earlier that compel the court to reconsider its order.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at the request of the companies sued by Interval, is evaluating whether the four patents cover novel inventions. The patents, which mainly cover common electronic-commerce applications for displaying and categorizing product information, were obtained from a defunct computer-science and communications research business Microsoft Corp. co-founder Allen, 58, and David Liddle formed in 1992.

The other defendants are EBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Netflix Inc., AOL Inc., Office Depot Inc., OfficeMax Inc., Staples Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Google’s YouTube business. Seattle-based Interval is seeking unspecified cash compensation and a court order to block further use of the inventions.

In granting the request to maintain the stay, Pechman said that since Interval doesn’t compete with the companies, it won’t lose any market share from the delay. The patent office review could alter the scope of the patents, which would affect how the case proceeds, she said.

The lead case is Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., 10cv1385, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Novozymes Enzyme Patent Deemed Invalid at Danisco’s Request

The European Patent Office said a Novozymes A/S patent is invalid, siding with DuPont Co.’s Danisco A/S unit in the latest legal spat between the world’s two largest makers of enzymes.

The EPO revoked the patent, which covers the technology used to coat an enzyme used for animal feed, according to a statement on the Munich-based agency’s website dated July 8. Novozymes, which was awarded the patent in 2009, last month won an injunction against one of Danisco’s products in a Dutch court based on the EPO’s patent.

“Danisco has strongly maintained that the patent is invalid and that Danisco’s products do not infringe,” Soonhee Jang, Danisco’s chief intellectual property counsel, said in an e-mail. “We are gratified and very pleased with this decision.”

Novozymes has appealed against the office’s decision and the patent will stand as granted until the EPO’s board decides on the challenge, said Annegrethe Jakobsen, a spokeswoman for the Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based company.

“We still have a strong confidence in the validity of the patent,” Jakobsen said by e-mail yesterday.

Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, the third-biggest U.S. chemical maker, in May won control of Copenhagen-based Danisco in a $6.36 billion purchase.

Danisco and Novozymes are also locked in a U.S. patent court case over an enzyme used in biofuel production.

That case is Novozymes A/S v. Danisco A/S, 10-cv-251, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

Circuit City Agrees to Sell Patent Portfolio for $750,000

Circuit City Stores Inc. Liquidating Trust agreed to sell its remaining patent portfolio for $750,000, according to a statement from Streambank LLC, which is advising the company in the sale of its IP assets.

Included in the portfolio are 22 U.S. patents and patent applications and related foreign patents. Streambank said the patents cover technology related to Internet-based home-video rental, and were developed for Circuit City’s Digital Video Express.

The patents “play a central role in the evolving dynamic of technology companies creating digital delivery solutions,” according to the Streambank statement.

Streambank said that even with the agreement to sell the patent portfolio to Imaging Transfer Co. for $750,000, the sale is subject to higher and better offers, with bids due by Aug. 12. An auction will be held Aug. 16, Streambank said.

For more patent news, click here.


Samsung Seeking Ouster of Some of Apple’s Legal Team from Case

Samsung Electronics Ltd. is seeking to disqualify one of the law firms representing Apple Inc. in an intellectual-property dispute in federal court in San Jose, California.

In a July 11 court filing, Samsung asked that Bridges & Mavrakakis LLP of Palo Alto, California, be discharged from the case because of the firm’s previous representation of Samsung.

The Suwon, South Korea-based company said lawyers from Bridges & Mavrakakis represented Samsung in a different infringement case involving one of the patents at issue in the Apple dispute. Bridges & Mavrakakis lawyers have worked almost 9,000 hours on Samsung patent litigation, according to the court filing.

In the past, Samsung said, lawyers from the firm “received confidential information from Samsung that is substantially related to this action.” As a result, an “irreconcilable conflict of interest required Bridges & Mavrakakis to be disqualified from representing Apple in this case,” Samsung said.

The issue is whether attorneys from the firm obtained confidential information, “not whether they will use it,” Samsung said. The company said it met with the firm “on multiple occasions” in efforts to resolve the matter without a lawsuit.

Kenneth H. Bridges from Bridges & Mavrakakis didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment. He is named in the motion for disqualification and is described as having been in charge of the day-to-day operation of a case involving one of the patents in the Apple dispute.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11CV1846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

EU Customs Seized 1 Billion Euros of Imported Goods in 2010

The European Union seized more than 1 billion euros of imported goods at customs last year, the European Commission said in a statement yesterday.

“In 2010, EU Customs seized more than 103 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights at the EU’s external borders,” the commission said. “The number of shipments stopped by customs almost doubled” to almost 80,000 from 43,500 in 2009, the commission said.

Cigarettes comprised 34 percent of the seized goods, followed by office supplies, at 9 percent of the total. The commission said 14.5 percent of the suspected products were household products with potential health and safety implications for customers, including shampoos, soaps, medicines and electrical and electronic items.

China was the leading source of the infringing products, accounting for 85 percent of the articles seized, the commission said. Other points of origin for the detained items were Turkey, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.

According to the report, 90 percent of the goods seized by customs were destroyed or are the subject of infringement-related court cases.

For more trademark news, click here.


Google’s YouTube Yanks Gaga Account after Infringement Claims

Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site suspended Lady Gaga’s YouTube account in response to copyright-infringement claims, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

According to the newspaper, a YouTube notice said her account was suspended because of “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s copyright policy.”

The performer’s publicist and record label didn’t return messages seeking comment, the Post reported.

Gaga has two accounts and only one was removed, according to the newspaper.

For more copyright news, click here.

University Technology Transfer

University of Copenhagen to License IP Rights for Free

The University of Copenhagen has said it will follow the lead of three UK universities to offer free licenses for intellectual property developed by its researchers to companies or individuals with credible plans for commercializing the inventions, the Copenhagen Post reported.

The “Easy Access IP” program under which the university intellectual property is made available had its origin in Glasgow University’s technology transfer program, according to the Copenhagen Post.

The program’s aim is the development of new commercial collaborations, the newspaper reported.

The project comes with a three-year timeline for the development of the invention into a commercial product, according to the Post.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

South Korea Targets Industrial Espionage, Official Says

South Korea will intensify efforts targeting industrial espionage, Kim Dong-soo, chairman of that nation’s Fair Trade Commission, told the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, the Korea Herald reported.

He said his agency will establish a center where reports of intellectual-property abuse can be filed, according to the Herald. he center will also provide guidelines on how to exercise intellectual property rights properly, Kim said, and the Herald reported.

Kim told the chamber that some holders of intellectual property rights “engage in abusive behavior that exceeds the rights rewarded for the innovation,” according to the Herald.

IP Moves

Heninger Garrison Adds Maureen Abbey to IP Litigation Team

Heninger Garrison Davis LLC hired Maureen B. Abbey for its intellectual-property practice, the Birmingham, Alabama-based firm said in a statement.

Abbey previously practiced at the now-dissolved firm Ward & Olivo and joins name partner John W. Olivo Jr. who also moved to Heninger Garrison.

She has done patent litigation for clients whose technologies include financial services, document and workflow management, network security systems, fraud and security detection and deterrent systems, and various other electronic systems. She has also done patent-acquisition work, and advised clients on intellectual property portfolio management.

Before she was a lawyer, Abbey was a research scientist and lab manager at the Department of Neurosurgery at the Graduate Hospital affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, and later at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia.

Abbey has an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University, a master’s degree from Thomas Jefferson University and a law degree from Temple University.

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