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InterDigital, Teva, Pozen, Apple-HTC: Intellectual Property

InterDigital Inc., owner of about 1,300 U.S. mobile-phone patents, filed infringement claims with a U.S. trade panel last month to boost the price of its intellectual property portfolio, Huawei Technologies Co. said.

The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based company “may be using the commission’s investigation process purely for the purpose of inflating its value as it prepares to sell its IP assets,” Huawei said in an Aug. 5 letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington.

InterDigital said July 19 it was considering a sale of its patent portfolio. The company filed a complaint with the ITC on July 26 that accused Huawei, Nokia Oyj and ZTE Corp. of infringing seven patents related to so-called third-generation wireless technology.

In its complaint, InterDigital asked the panel for an order that would block U.S. imports of mobile phones containing the disputed technology. All three companies sent letters to the commission saying such an action wouldn’t be in the public’s interest.

There is a “distinct possibility that InterDigital is using the Commission’s proceeding simply to inflate the value of its patent holdings with no likely benefit to the kind of domestic industry intended to be protected by the statute,” Sturgis Sobin of Covington & Burling in Washington wrote on behalf of Shenzhen, China-based Huawei.

The companies asked that the judge assigned to the case gather evidence on the public implications of a ruling in InterDigital’s favor. The ITC has not yet picked a judge.

In a July 26 statement, InterDigital said it filed the complaint after “good faith efforts” to reach a licensing agreement failed. When asked about the new filings, Jack Indekeu, a spokesman for InterDigital, said the company doesn’t comment on litigation.

“It makes little sense for the ITC to protect entities that use patent litigation to compel prelitigation settlements and use the ITC to drive up settlement amounts,” ZTE, also based in Shenzhen, wrote in its filing. ZTE and Huawei are China’s two largest makers of phone equipment.

Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, won an earlier ITC case filed by InterDigital over other patents and is awaiting an appeals court ruling in that dispute.

InterDigital has hired Evercore Partners Inc. and Barclays Capital to help explore a potential sale to take advantage of increased demand for wireless patents. InterDigital, whose stock has risen more than 50 percent since the July 19 announcement, has said its patents are deeper and stronger than those that Nortel Networks Corp. auctioned for $4.5 billion in bidding concluded June 30.

Samsung Electronics Co., Apple Inc. and Google Inc. have been named as potential bidders for the InterDigital patents.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Wireless Devices with 3G Capabilities and Components Thereof, 2835, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Teva Sued by GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Venture Over HIV Drug

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s largest generic-drugmaker, was sued by a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Pfizer Inc. for infringing a U.S. patent for the HIV drug Epzicom.

Teva has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for permission to sell generic Epzicom tablets in violation of a 2002 patent, lawyers for ViiV Healthcare said in an Aug. 5 complaint filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. Epzizcom is an anti-viral combination drug that can cost consumers as much as $1,000 per month.

Teva’s FDA submission “constitutes infringement” and “ViiV will be irreparably harmed” by the low-cost version of Epzicom if it’s sold before the patent expires in 2016, according to court papers.

GlaxoSmithKline, based in Brentford, England, and New York-based Pfizer announced the ViiV joint venture to combat HIV in 2009. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction to block Israel-based Teva’s U.S. sales of the drug and damages if the generic medicine is sold. In dispute is patent 6,417,191, which was issued in July 2002.

ViiV has facilities in Brentford and at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, according to court papers.

Teva spokeswoman Denise Bradley declined to comment on the suit.

ViiV is represented by Joseph J. Farnan Jr. and Brian E. Farnan of Farnan LLP of Wilmington, Delaware.

The case is ViiV Healthcare UK Ltd. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Pozen’s Patents for Migraine Drug Valid, Enforceable, Infringed

Pozen Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said a federal court in Tyler, Texas, found that three of its patents are valid and enforceable.

The court also found that they were infringed by a number of generics manufacturers. In dispute were three patents related to Pozen’s Treximet. This drug -- a combination of naproxen sodium and sumatriptan -- is used to treat migraine headaches, and is marketed exclusively in the U.S. by Pozen’s licensee GlaxoSMithKline Plc.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis found that Par Pharmaceuticals Inc., Alphapharm Pty Ltd. and Dr. Redy’s Laboratories Inc. infringed patents 6,060,499, issued in May 2000; and 6,586,458, issued in July 2004. In an Aug. 5 order he barred the three companies from selling, making or importing genetic copies until the patents expire.

Par and Dr. Redy’s were also found to have infringed patent 7,332,183, issued in February 2009. They were ordered not to make, sell or bring in generics until that patent expires.

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. earlier reached a settlement and agreed to be bound by the results of the litigation, according to the Pozen statement.

Pozen filed the suit in April 2009. The company was represented by Daniel Lee Tobey, Erin A. Thomson, Stephen M. Hash, Tracey B. Davies, and Willem G. Schuurman of Houston-based Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Collin Michael Maloney of Ireland Carroll & Kelley PC of Tyler, Texas.

The case is Pozen Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 6:09-cv-00182-LED, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

Apple Complaint Against HTC Over Flyer to Get Trade Review

Apple Inc.’s patent-infringement complaint against HTC Corp. will be reviewed by a U.S. trade agency that has the power to block imports of the Taiwanese company’s phones and new Flyer tablet computers.

The International Trade Commission said it will investigate Apple’s accusations that HTC infringed five patents related to software architecture and user interfaces in portable electronic devices, hardware for touch screens and movement sensors. Notice of the decision was posted on the agency’s website yesterday.

A trade judge last month said HTC infringed two other Apple patents, a decision subject to review by the six-member commission. If the commission agrees, it could order an import ban on certain HTC phones that run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

HTC, based in Taoyuan, Taiwan, has denied infringing any Apple patents and pledged to challenge last month’s findings. It has its own complaint pending against Cupertino, California-based Apple, with a judge scheduled to release his determination in September.

In March, HTC released the Flyer, its first tablet device in the U.S. to rival Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. The Flyer has a 7-inch screen and uses Android. The latest Apple complaint also targets HTC mobile phones including the Droid Incredible, Wildfire, EVO 4G and Desire.

The new complaint is In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices and Related Software, 337-797, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). Apple’s earlier case against HTC is In the Matter of Certain Personal Data and Mobile Communications Devices and Related Software, and the HTC case against Apple is In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices, 337-721, both ITC.

For more patent news, click here.


Bodum Coffee Plunger Design Wins Protected Status in Australia

Bodum Group, the Switzerland-based kitchen-appliance maker, won an Australian trademark-infringement suit that protects the design of its Chambord Coffee Plunger, joining products including the Coca-Cola Co. bottle whose distinctive shape is protected against copies.

An Australia appeals court ruled yesterday that DKSH Australia Ltd., a unit of importer-exporter DKSH Group, broke the Trade Practices Act by importing and selling a copy of the Bodum coffee plunger, overturning a trial judge’s decision.

“The court’s decision is one of the first in Australia to protect the shape and features of a product from imitation,” said Katrina Rathie, an intellectual property partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques which represented Bodum.

The appeals court ruling may end a six-year legal fight over DKSH’s importing of a Euroline coffee plunger, whose design had been determined to have been a copy of Bodum’s Chambord version. In addition to Coke bottles, courts in jurisdictions outside Australia have also ruled that Unilever NV’s Jif Lemon and Numatic International Ltd.’s Henry vacuum cleaner are unique designs protected against copies, Rathie said.

“We’re staggered by this,” Tony Michaels, the business unit manager of consumer goods at DKSH in Melbourne, said today in a phone interview. “We’re extremely surprised that it could be overturned.”

DKSH had been selling the Euroline product for 25 years, Michaels said.

The company hasn’t decided whether to appeal to the High Court of Australia, the country’s top court, he said.

The trial case is Peter Bodum AS v. DKSH Australia Ltd. NSD472/2008. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

Augusta National Claims Masters Marks Infringed by Computer Game

Augusta National Inc., which operates the Georgia golf course where the Masters Tournament is played every year, sued a U.K. maker of golf-simulation software for trademark infringement.

The suit against CustomPlay Games Ltd. was filed in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, on Aug. 5. Co-defendants are Red Chain Games Ltd. and Dean Baker.

According to court papers, Baker, of Warwick in the U.K., owns and operates both companies. Augusta National claims Baker’s golf-simulation games display and infringe the golf course’s trademarks, particularly a line drawing of a map of the U.S., with a golf flag planted in the approximation of the course, and the word “Masters” above the map.

The golf course management says it’s been in discussions with Baker since June 2009, and despite promises to cease the alleged infringement, the misuse of the company’s intellectual property continues.

The CustomPlay website is presently not functioning, and the Red Chain Games website has no contact information.

Augusta claims it is harmed by the game companies’ actions and that the public is likely to believe falsely that some affiliation exists with the two entities.

It asked the court to bar the use of its trademarks by the defendants and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Augusta is represented by Theresa Conduah of Atlanta’s Alston & Bird LLP and Timothy E. Moses, Christopher A. Cosper and Patrick J. Rice of Hull Barrett PC of Augusta.

The case is Augusta National Inc. v. CustomPlay Games Ltd., 1:11-cv-00119-JRH-WLB, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia (Augusta).

For more trademark news, click here.


Florida Celebrity-Photo Seller Can Sue in California, Court Says

The operator of a celebrity-gossip website has focused its promotional efforts sufficiently on the California market for it to be subject to the jurisdiction of a federal court in that state, a federal appeals court ruled.

Miami-based Mavrix Photo Inc.’s copyright-infringement suit against an Ohio company can go ahead in federal court in Los Angeles, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in an Aug. 8 ruling. Earlier, a federal district judge there dismissed the case finding Brand Technologies didn’t have enough of a presence in California for the case to go forward.

The disputed photos were of pop singer Fergie and her boyfriend Josh Duhamel on vacation in the Bahamas, according to court papers. Duhamel and Fergie have since married. Mavrix specializes in celebrity photos, according to the company website.

The appeals court said Brand used the copyrighted photos “as part of its exploitation of the California market for its own commercial gain.” The site on which the photos were displayed without authorization contained advertisements targeting Californians, and Mavrix suffered harm in that state, the court said.

The lower court case is Mavrix Photo Inc. v. Brand Technologies Inc., 2:09-cv-02729-PSG-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

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