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RIM, Apple, Vermillion, Ikea, RIAA: Intellectual Property

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, said it is assisting London police investigating the use of the company’s messaging service by rioters to plan disturbances.

“Police have got very extensive monitoring of the BlackBerry Messenger model,” Stephen Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, told reporters yesterday. “A lot of people who are seeing those messages are forwarding them to police.”

David Lammy, the U.K.’s intellectual-property minister, called yesterday for a suspension of BlackBerry service to prevent its use among rioters to communicate plans, according to a statement from his office. Kavanagh has said technology is being used to organize people and undermine the police, who must adapt their policing style to deal with it.

The riots and looting throughout the city, which began Aug. 6 following a protest over the shooting and killing of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan by police, have resulted in dozens of officers being injured and at least 525 arrests, with people as young as 11 being apprehended for looting. After a third night of violence, police will also review the role of messages sent using other popular networking systems, including Twitter Inc.

Research In Motion, based in Waterloo, Ontario, posted a message on its official U.K. Twitter account saying, “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”

BlackBerry messenger is “significantly less encrypted compared to the BlackBerry e-mail that corporations are using,” said Leif-Olof Wallin, an analyst at Gartner Inc., based in Sweden. “Any kind of cryptographer should be able to crack it without the involvement of RIM to be honest.”

Social media have been used to coordinate demonstrations against Middle Eastern regimes, campaign for Saudi women’s right to drive and for lower prices for cottage cheese in Israel. In the U.K., the use of Twitter and mobile phones by troublemakers may help authorities identify them and restore calm in the capital, Steve O’Connell, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said by telephone.

Twitter spokeswoman Rachel Bremer declined to comment. The San Francisco-based company’s policy is to require a subpoena or court order before giving law enforcement private information about users, according to guidelines on its website.


Apple Says It Won Order Against Samsung Galaxy Tablet in EU

Apple Inc. said it won a temporary order that prevents Samsung Electronics Co. from distributing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the European Union, except the Netherlands.

A district court in Dusseldorf, Germany, granted the injunction, the dpa-AFX news service reported, citing unidentified people involved in the court negotiations. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet confirmed the report in a phone interview yesterday.

Apple contends that Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablet computer “slavishly copy” the iPhone and iPad. Apple is also seeking a court order to block sales in the U.S. until a trial can be held on patent-infringement claims. In Australia, Samsung has agreed not to introduce a version of its Galaxy tablet computer until an Apple lawsuit there is resolved.

The dispute between the companies began in April when Apple sued Samsung in the U.S., claiming that the Galaxy products imitated Apple designs and technology. Samsung, which supplies memory chips for Apple, has retaliated with lawsuits in South Korea, Japan, Germany and the U.S.

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” Huguet said, reiterating comments made by the company in April. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

A spokeswoman for Samsung in Germany, Annika Karstadt, said she couldn’t confirm the European Union injunction. “We’re looking into it,” Karstadt said when reached by Bloomberg News.

Flagstar Retains Sanctions Against Patent-Owning Company

Flagstar Bancorp Inc. convinced a federal appeals court that it’s entitled to the almost $500,000 in sanctions and attorney fees awarded in a patent-infringement case.

The Washington-based Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the judgment against Eon-Net LLP was appropriate in light of the patent-owning company’s actions in a series of infringement suits.

Eon-Net, based in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, sued Flagstar for patent infringement in 2005 in federal court in Seattle. According to court papers, a companion company to Eon-Net began suing over the disputed patents in 1996, and ultimately more than 100 suits were filed.

In most cases, Eon-Net offered to settle for a licensing fee based on the defendant’s annual sales, with fees ranging from $25,000 to $75,000. The appeals court said it became apparent why the vast majority of defendants chose to settle, because the low settlement value allowed the company “to continue to collect additional nuisance value settlements.”

Since Eon-Net doesn’t make any products based on its patents, the appeals court said the company “placed little at risk” when filing infringement suits. The companies it sued faced high costs if they sought to fight the suits because they “often possess enormous amounts of potentially relevant documents that are ultimately collected and produced.”

The appeals court agreed with the trial court that Eon-Net “pursued baseless infringement allegations in bad faith and for an improper purpose.”

The disputed patents related to a system and method of inputting information from a document, storing portions of the input document information in memory and formatting the information for use by a computer program.

The lower court case is Eon-Net LP V. Flagstar Bancorp., 2:05-cv-02129-RSM, U.C. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle). The appeals court case is Eon-Net V. Flagstar Bancorp, 09-01308, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Vermillion to Get Patent on Test for Peripheral Artery Disease

Vermillion Inc., a biotechnology company that develops diagnostic tests for human disease, will be awarded a patent for a method of diagnosing peripheral artery disease, the Austin, Texas-based company said in a statement.

The company said it received notice from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the office is about to issue a patent for the use of Beta-t microglobulin as a marker for peripheral artery disease.

According to statistics from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, about 8 million people in the U.S. have peripheral artery disease, including between 12 percent and 20 percent of those who are age 60 or older.

Vermillion said the patent will be the fourth the company has received related to the diagnosis of peripheral artery disease. The company has one product on the market, the OVA1 test for evaluating potential ovarian cancer.

For more patent news, click here.


Ikea to Discuss Look-Alike Chinese Store With Lawyers

Ikea of Sweden AB said it’s consulting with lawyers over an apparent knock-off store that opened in Kumming, China, The U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.

The store, called “11 Furniture,” sells modern-looking furniture and has Ikea’s yellow-and-blue color scheme, according to the Daily Mail.

Kumming is the same city in which fake versions of Apple Inc.’s stores were found earlier this year, the Daily Mail reported.

The Chinese name for 11 Furniture sounds very much like Ikea’s Chinese name, according to the Daily Mail.

For more trademark news, click here.


Bakery Drops ‘Scarborough Fair’ Tribute Bread After Complaint

Fairway Café to Go changed the title of one of its breads after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the pop duo Simon & Garfunkel, the Toronto Sun reported.

The bread, previously known as the “Scarborough Fairway” bread, will be renamed “Fairway’s Herb Wreath,” because of concerns over potential copyright infringement, according to the newspaper.

The bread’s name -- chosen because the loaf contains the herbs parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme -- was intended to be a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” song, the Toronto Sun reported.

The bakery opened Aug. 8 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to the Sun.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

RIAA Names Former General Counsel Cary Sherman to Top Post

The Recording Industry Association of America named Cary Sherman chairman and chief executive officer, the Washington-based advocacy group for the recorded-music industry said in a statement.

Sherman replaces Mitch Bainwol, who resigned to become chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Before he was named to RIAA’s top post, Sherman served as president, and, before that, general counsel of the organization. He was previously outside counsel to RIAA and a partner in Washington’s Arnold & Porter LLP.

In the RIAA statement, Sherman said he was looking forward to work on “setting the legislative agenda at both national and state levels, working to protect and promote intellectual property in the U.S. and throughout the world, coordinating with law enforcement on both physical and digital theft, and representing the industry in negotiations and before government tribunals to empower new business models and standards.”

He has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a law degree from Harvard University.

Lathrop & Gage Expands Boston IP Practice With New Hires

Lathrop & Gage LLP added two new intellectual-property practitioners to its Boston office, the Kansas City, Missouri-based firm said in a statement.

Sean M. Coughlin, who previously practiced at Boston’s Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo PC, does patent acquisition and patent-related transactional work. He has represented clients in the biochemistry, biofuel, organic chemistry, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, pharmaceutical, stem-cell and medical-device industries.

He has an undergraduate and a master’s degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a law degree from Georgetown University.

Steven M. Mills, who previously practiced at the Boston firm then known as Mills & Onello LLP, has worked as a design engineer for RCA Corp. and Raytheon Co.

He does patent and trademark acquisition work for clients whose technologies include electronics, computer software and hardware, semiconductors, mechanical devices and medical diagnostics.

He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a second undergraduate degree in liberal arts from Stonehill College and a law degree from Suffolk University.

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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