J&J, South African Breweries, Disney: Intellectual Property

Synthes Inc., being bought by Johnson & Johnson for $21.3 billion, sued a competing maker of spinal-repair products, Globus Medical Inc., alleging infringement of three U.S. patents.

Synthes, a Swiss company based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, contends Globus’s Independence, Coalition and InterContinental Plate-spacer systems are using the protected technology.

The company “has suffered and will continue to suffer damages and irreparable injuries” unless a court stops the Globus infringement, Synthes lawyers said in papers filed July 22 in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Globus is based in Audubon, Pennsylvania.

Johnson & Johnson agreed in April to buy Synthes in the biggest purchase of the company’s 125-year history, to become the leader in the $5.5 billion market for devices that treat trauma victims.

Synthes has 50 percent of the market for sales of screws, plates, bone grafts and other products to treat skeletal damage, according to Navid Malik, an analyst with Matrix Corporate Capital LLP.

Edward Joyce, a spokesman for Globus, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the suit.

The case is Synthes USA v. Globus Medical Inc., 11-cv-652, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Pronova, Teva Agree to Dismiss Patent Litigation in U.S.

Pronova BioPharma ASA and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. agreed to dismiss patent litigation in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, according to a Pronova statement. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed

The suit, filed in September 2010, is related to three of Pronova’s U.S. patents pertaining oil purification. In dispute were patents 7,732,488, 7,678,930 and 7,718,698.

Lysaker, Norway-based Pronova said it still has another patent-infringement dispute with Teva. That one is related to Lovaza, its fish oil-based drug used to reduce triglycerides in the blood. A ruling in that case is expected in the last quarter of 2011, Pronova said in the statement.

The newly settled case against Teva is Pronova BioPharma Norge AS v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 1:10-cv-00800-SLR-MPT, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

IV Objects to Characterization of ‘Patent Troll on Steroids’

Intellectual Ventures, the company founded by Microsoft Corp.’s former Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, objected its portrayal last week on the National Public Radio program “This American Life.”

The episode, titled “When Patents Attack,” looked at patent litigation brought by patent-owning companies. At one point Intellectual Ventures was characterized as a “patent troll on steroids.”

In an e-mailed statement from Intellectual Ventures spokeswoman Kasey Halmagyi, the Bellevue, Washington-based company said it disagreed with what it said was the program’s premise that patents have a negative effect on innovation. That notion “flies in the face of centuries of evidence,” Halmagyi said in the statement.

At one point in the report, non-practicing entities -- companies that have patents, but do not produce products based on those patents -- are characterized as being Mafia-like. IV said in the statement that the program “uses some colorful and dramatic devices” and that “some of the characterizations in the piece are frankly absurd.”

Among the people interviewed on the show were Peter N. Detkin, who ran the IP litigation at Intel Corp. before he became one of IV’s founders and vice chairman; John M. Demaris, a former partner at Chicago’s Kirkland and Ellis and now the owner of 4,000 patents he bought from Micron Technology Inc.; and Michael C. Smith, a partner in Siebman, Burg, Phillips & Smith LLP, who has litigated patent cases in Marshall, Texas on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.

Smith took “This American Life” reporters on a tour of an office building near the courthouse in Marshall, Texas, that houses many of the plaintiffs in cases tried in that court. He called the building “ground zero” for companies that file infringement suits and don’t make the products covered by their patents.

He said the building was filled with empty offices that had only a name plate on the door.

Intellectual Ventures said in its statement that rather than being a so-called troll, it provides “an efficient way for patent holders to get paid for the inventions they own, and in turn, for technology companies to gain easy access to the invention rights they need now or may need as they enter new markets.”

Intellectual Ventures completed a licensing agreement with Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., it said in a statement yesterday. In addition to having access to 35,000 patents, the agreement admits the Taoyan County, Taiwan-based company to what IV calls its “IP for Defense” program, according to the statement.

The program provides customers accused of patent infringement “the ability to obtain patents from IV’s portfolio to support counter-assertions, enabling more efficient negotiations in order to reduce liabilities and achieve favorable licensing terms,” according to the statement.

Myhrvold is a columnist for Bloomberg View, which is owned by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Ogam Sues More than 40 Defendants in Texas Infringement Case

Ogam LLC, a company with a Longview, Texas address that doesn’t appear to make any products, sued more than 40 defendants for infringing a patent for an image-display system.

According to the complaint filed July 21 in federal court in Marshall, Texas, the defendants are accused of infringing patent 5,825,427. The patent, which was issued in October 1998, relates to the changed aspect ratio used in high-definition television screens and other devices.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online database of patent assignments indicates that inventor Kenneth MacLeod of Laguna Nigel, California, transferred the patent to Medici Portfolio Acquisitions LLC in February 2011.

Medici transferred the patent to Ogam the same day, according to the database. Medici and Ogam share the same address.

The complaint lists the model numbers of the various television sets, digital picture frames, projectors and laptops that allegedly infringe the patent. Among the manufacturers and that were sued are 3M Co., Sony Corp., LG Electronics Inc., and Toshiba Corp.

Ogam asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. The company did not, as is often the case, ask for a court order barring the manufacture or sale of the allegedly infringing items.

According to Bloomberg data, Ogma has filed 22 patent-infringement cases in the same court since Feb. 3, 2011.

Ogma is represented by Andrew W. Spangler of Spangler Law PC of Longview, Texas, and James C. Otteson, David A. Caine, Thomas T. Carmack and Xian Long of Agility IP Law of East Palo Alto, California. All four lawyers from Agility previously practiced at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati of Palo Alto.

The case is Ogma LLC v. 3M Co, 2:11-cv-00328-TJW, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

For more patent news, click here.


South African Brewery in Copyright Dispute With Games Company

South African Breweries Ltd. is accused of copyright infringement by a company that operates a system for interactive team sports, South Africa’s Business Day reported.

Boost Sports Africa claims the brewery’s “Be the Coach Event” infringed its “Fan Challenge Sport,” which it said it presented to the brewery on a confidential basis, according to Business Day.

The sports group is seeking a licensing fee of 15 percent of the revenue necessary to conduct the event, Business Day reported.

The brewery said the concept underlying its event was disclosed much earlier in a patent that predated the presentation by Boost Sports Arica, according to Business Day.

ABC Sports Claims Pawlenty Campaign Ad Infringes Copyright

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC Sports is claiming a television ad promoting the presidential candidacy of former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty infringes its copyrights, the Boston Globe Reported.

The ad uses footage from the 1980 Olympics “Miracle on Ice” hockey broadcast, according to the Globe.

Louise Argianas, director of rights and clearances for ABC sports said the campaign would be receiving a cease-and-desist letter, according to the Globe.

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant told the Globe that its lawyers had checked the ad for compliance with copyright law and that it “‘fully complies with the fair-use doctrine.”

Sections of WHO Drug Guide Copied, Australian Publisher Claims

Parts of a guide to pediatric drugs published by the World Health Organization appear to have been copied from an independently published guide for Australian doctors, The Australian reported.

The publishers of the Australian Medicines Handbook sent a letter to the WHO, a United Nations Agency, claiming that at least 50 passages in the “WHO Model Formulary for Children” are identical to those in the Australian book, according to the Australian.

Clinical editors of the WHO publication told the Australian there were “limited ways” in which the drug information could be presented without deviating from the source material.

The U.N. health agency has told the Australian publishers it will conduct a forensic comparison of the two publications, according to The Australian.

For more copyright news, click here.


Brand Owners Can Buy XXX Web Addresses to Avoid Public Use

Companies that would be too embarrassed with the new “xxx” top level Internet domain names can buy their addresses for between $200 and $300, the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper reported yesterday.

A “sunrise” period in which brand owners can buy these addresses before bidding is open to the public has been extended, the Telegraph reported.

ICM, the domain registry service selling the new “xxx” domain names -- which are intended for adult-oriented content - - told the Telegraph it has received about 900,000 inquiries from those interested in acquiring an address with that domain name.

Although the creation of the XXX registry was originally blocked by the Bush administration at the behest of conservative Christian groups, ICM successfully appealed that decision and is going ahead with the potential sales, according to the Telegraph.

‘White Rose’ Infringer Will Send Profits to Military Charity

A trademark dispute between two rival breweries should have been settled out of court and was the result of “Yorkshire Pride,” a U.K. High Court judge said, and the BBC reported.

The Samuel Smith Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, sued the Cropton Brewery of North Yorkshire, complaining about the use of a white rose design on the label for its Yorkshire Warrior beer, according to the BBC.

The white rose, a symbol of Yorkshire and registered by Samuel Smith as a logo in the 1960s, was infringed by the Cropton label, the high court ruled, and the BBC reported.

Even though the court didn’t order damages, Cropton will give its profits from the sale of Yorkshire Warrior to Samuel Smith, which will donate the funds to a military charity, the BBC reported.

LOCOG Trademark Policy Challenged by Plant-Display Company

InstaPlant, a U.K. company that uses computer technology to create intricate plant displays, is challenging the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games over its trademark policies, Horticulture Week reported.

The company will offer two bedding displays featuring the Olympic rings to anyone who can persuade the committee to back down on its trademark rules, according to the publication.

A spokesman for the committee told Horticulture Week that it needed to make 2 billion English pounds ($3.26 billion) in order to finance the games, and that InstaPlant was welcome to try to become an official partner.

Chris Harnett, InstaPlant’s manager, said if the committee doesn’t give someone permission to use the display, they “will be left here to rot and that would be a shame,” according to Horticulture Week.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Trade Secrets Law Invoked Over Medical-Device Price Comparison

None of the public hospitals in Florida’s Broward County would reveal the prices they paid manufacturers for pacemakers and defibrillators, the Miami Herald reported.

The hospitals claimed that Florida trade secrets laws barred the release of that information, which was sought by the Herald.

Professor Annemarie Bridy of the University of Idaho, who has written on the secrecy of cardiac-device prices, told the Herald that hospitals’ inability to compare prices “is driving up the cost of healthcare for everyone.”

David Nexon, a spokesman for the Advanced Medical Technology Association, said keeping the prices secret allows manufacturers to offer discounts selectively in a “highly competitive” marketplace, according to the Herald.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE