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U.K. NHS, De Beers, Righthaven: Intellectual Property

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s National Health Service considers patents for diagnostics and genes “unacceptable, unenforceable and detrimental to the delivery of patient services” and is deliberately ignoring them, the U.K.’s Financial Times reported.

At a meeting of the U.K.’s Human Genetics Commission, Michael Hopkins of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex said health-care systems throughout Europe have similar policies, according to the Financial Times.

To date, Hopkins said, patent holders haven’t turned to litigation to enforce these patents, and “many companies would shy away from suing a hospital,” the Financial Times reported.

Because of the National Health System’s attitude toward patents, the U.K. “is one of the worst” countries to operate in, said Berwyn Clarke of that country’s Lab21 diagnostics company, according to the Financial Times.

Patent Issued on New Method of Measuring Hurricane Intensity

A scientists from a federal research lab in Florida is one of two inventors issued a patent on a new hurricane-intensity scale.

Patent 7,970,543, issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office June 28, covers a method of predicting the destructive potential of hurricanes based on the total amount of kinetic energy, rather than on wind speed alone.

The new scale looks at the effects of a hurricane on coastal communities through wind, storm surges and wave damage.

According to the patent, after Hurricane Katrina’s damage to Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, scientists began looking at tropical cyclone intensity and its relevance to destructive potential. The U.S. avoided damage from major hurricanes last year. Katrina caused about $45 billion in insured losses after striking the Gulf Coast.

Michael Powell of Coconut Grove, Florida, one of two inventors listed on the patent, told the Florida Keys Reporter that there were hopes “these new scales would do a better job of showing the risk of a hurricane before it makes landfall.” He’s with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlantic and Meteorological Laboratory.

His co-inventor, Timothy A. Reinhold of Tampa, Florida, is senior vice president of research and chief engineer with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, a non-profit organization, according to the Florida newspaper.

The patent is assigned to the U.S. government. The application for the patent was filed in March 2008 with the assistance of Washington’s Novak Druce & Quigg LLP.

For more patent news, click here.


Berkshire Hathaway Unit Sued Over ‘Juno’ Mark for Sports Bra

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Brooks Sports unit was sued for trademark infringement by a Minnesota-based retailer of women’s clothing.

Junonia Ltd. of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, objects to Brooks’s use of “Juno” for one of its sports bras. The Minnesota company said it has registered “Juno,” “Junonia,” “Junowear,” “Junoesque” and “Juno’s Closet” as trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Although the parties have attempted to negotiate a resolution of the dispute, the discussions have come to naught, Junonia said in its court papers. It claims the public is confused by Brooks’s use of the Juno mark and is likely to assume, mistakenly, that an affiliation exists between the two companies.

Junonia asked the court to order Brooks to halt its allegedly infringing activities, and for an award of Brooks’s profits derived from its use of the Juno mark. Additionally, it seeks removal of the Juno mark from all Brooks promotional materials and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Brooks didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

The Minnesota company is represented by Norman M. Abramson and Lori Wiese-Parks of Minneapolis-based Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett PA.

The case is Junonia Ltd. v. Brooks Sports Inc, 0:11-cv-02211-JRT-JSM, U.s. District Court, District of Minnesota.

De Beers Accused of Infringing Hearts on Fire’s ‘Sublime’ Mark

De Beers Diamond Jewellers Ltd. was sued for trademark infringement by a Boston-based diamond company.

Hearts on Fire Co. filed the suit in federal court in Boston Aug. 3. The company objects to London-based De Beers’s use of “Sublime Symmetry” and claims it infringes Hearts on Fire’s “Sublime” trademark.

That mark was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February 2006, according to court papers. Hearts on Fire said the phrase has become an identifier of its good and services.

De Beers is accused of trying to trade off the goodwill associated with Hearts on Fire’s “Sublime” mark.

The London diamond company filed an application March 30 to register “Sublime Symmetry” as a trademark and would use it for the same classes of goods for which Hearts on Fire uses “Sublime,” according to the complaint. Although that application was rejected in June, De Beers continues to use it, Hearts on Fire said in its pleadings.

De Beers also filed a petition in March to have Hearts on Fire’s “Sublime” trademark registration canceled, according to court papers.

Hearts on Fire asked the court to order De Beers to abandon its attempt to register “Sublime Symmetry” as a trademark, and to bar the U.K.-based diamond company from its use.

Additionally, the company asked for awards of De Beers profits attributable to its alleged infringement, money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The company also seeks an order for corrective advertising, to be paid for by De Beers.

De Beers didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

Hearts on Fire is represented by Bruce E. Falby and Robert P. Sherman of Chicago’s DLA Piper LLP.

The case is Hearts on Fire Co. v. De Beers Diamond Jewellers Ltd., 1:11-cv-11391-WGY, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

Coventry First Drops Trademark Suit Against Doe Defendants

Coventry First LLC, a closely held buyer of life insurance policies for the secondary market, dropped a trademark-infringement suit it filed against 10 unidentified defendants.

The case was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania June 7 and never served on any defendants. The Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based company sued the unnamed defendants it accused of posting false messages through Twitter Inc.’s short messaging service.

The messages accused the company of “rooting for mass deaths” as a way of increasing shareholder value, according to exhibits filed with the complaint.

According to another exhibit, a separate posting made through Twitter said that “the faster people die, the more Coventry First profits.”

Paul Allen Levy of the Washington-Based Public Citizen public-interest group said in a blog posting that he represented the anonymous poster after Coventry sent a subpoena to Twitter seeking the poster’s identity. He filed a motion to stop the subpoena. First Coventry then dropped the case.

He said counsel for Coventry made a “tactical mistake” by sending a subpoena to Twitter without filing a motion to take early discovery. Levy praised San Francisco’s Twitter for being “a strong defender” of defendants’ right to notice.

The company was represented by Camille M. Miller and Melanie A. Miller of Cozen O’Connor of Philadelphia.

The case is Coventry First LLC v. Does 1-10, 2:11-cv-03700-JS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

For more trademark news, click here.


Stephens’s Righthaven Gets Extension on Sanctions Payment

Stephens Media Group’s ongoing attempts to enforce its copyrights through Righthaven LLC, a separate entity, got a brief reprieve in its case against the Democratic Underground.

The suit, filed in August 2010, was related to what Righthaven said was unauthorized posting to the Democratic Underground’s website of content from one of Stephens’s newspapers.

After filing a request for delay in paying a $5,000 sanction a day after the payment was due, Righthaven was given an extension until Aug. 8 to make the payment.

The court responded Aug. 2 to another Righthaven request in which the Las Vegas company asked what it meant when it ordered the company to produce several court documents to all parties in every proceeding involving Stevens Media.

Righthaven had argued that there were more than 70 cases that fell within the court’s order, and complying with the court order would “vastly exceed the amount of time counsel anticipated dedicating to this portion of complying with the court’s order.”

Earlier the court found fault with the nature of the relationship between Righthaven and Stephens, saying that Righthaven may not have the right to sue for copyright infringement.

In its Aug. 2 order, the court told Righthaven that its difficulties with getting the court documents to the parties in all the cases was a problem of its own making. Righthaven and its lawyers “should concentrate their efforts on material issues and court orders, not wishful research,” U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt said in his order.

Instead of complaining to the court about time constraints, Hunt said the company should obtain additional help. He refused to grant Righthaven a stay on the money sanction past Aug. 8.

He also chided Righthaven for what he called “its practice of filing suit against a party and then entering settlement negotiations (and frequently settling) without ever serving the party.”

The case is Righthaven LLC v. Democratic Underground LLC, 2:10-cv-01356-RLH-GWF, U.s. District court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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