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Gevo, Elsevier, Micro Focus, Apple: Intellectual Property

Gevo Inc., a company involved developing the technology for biofuels, will ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate a patent issued to Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, the Englewood, Colorado-based company said in a statement.

At issue is Butamax patent 7,851,188, which was issued in December 2010. The company said it would also seek invalidation of Butamax’s patent 7,993,889, issued Aug. 9.

The technologies and process steps involved in these two patents were published in numerous scientific journals or invented by others, Brett Lund, Gevo executive vice president and general counsel, said in the company statement.

Butamax sued Gevo in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, for patent infringement in January, shortly after the first of the two disputed patents was issued. Gevo responded in March, denying all claims of infringement.

Butamax is a joint venture of DuPont & Co and BP Plc.

The case is Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo Inc., 1:11-cv-00054-SLR-MPT, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.


Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis Sued for Infringement by Bar Group

Reed Elsevier Plc’s LexisNexis unit was sued in a trademark infringement suit brought by the State Bar of Wisconsin.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 19 in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, LexisNexis is using a logo on its website that is “strikingly similar” to the bar group’s pillar icon trademark that was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in April 2011.

The bar group claims that “confusion is inevitable,” and says members of the legal profession and the public will falsely think some connection exists between and “the services offered by the State Bar.”

It asked the court to declare that the LexisNexis pillar mark infringes the bar group’s trademark, and to order an end to the infringement. It also seeks awards of litigation costs and attorney fees. The State Bar didn’t ask for an award of money damages.

LexisNexis spokesman Marc Osborn said in an e-mail that his company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The State Bar of Wisconsin is represented by James D. Peterson and Jennifer L. Gregor of Godfrey & Kahn SC of Milwaukee.

The case is State Bar of Wisconsin v. LexisNexis, 3:11-cv-00586-slc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

BAT Loses Australia Appeal for Access to Government Papers

British American Tobacco Plc lost an appeal for the release of Australian government documents the company said would help it fight a proposed law to prohibit manufacturers’ markings on cigarette packages.

Australian Federal Court Chief Justice Patrick Keane dismissed the appeal today on behalf of a three-judge panel in a ruling delivered in Brisbane.

The Australian proposal is the first in the world aimed at banning logos and color variations on cigarette packages. British American Tobacco is seeking the release of background documents for legal advice that led to the government’s decision not to go ahead with a plain-packaging law proposed in the mid-1990s.

Publication of the legal advice is protected by parliamentary privilege, the judges said in yesterday’s decision.

British American Tobacco needed the documents in its efforts to persuade members of parliament that the legislation shouldn’t be passed, Allan Myers, British American Tobacco’s lawyer, told the panel during arguments in Melbourne Aug. 3. A debate on the law is scheduled for next month, he said.

Debate on the current plain-packaging bills should be delayed until the government stops withholding the legal advice, Scott McIntyre, spokesman for the London-based cigarette maker, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

“It’s unfair on every MP who will be forced to vote on the bills without seeing the full legal picture,” McIntyre said.

British American Tobacco is considering an appeal of yesterday’s ruling to the country’s highest court, he said. The company gets about 25 percent of annual revenue from the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, according to Bloomberg data.

The government has also proposed changing trademark law to remove some protections for intellectual property. Tobacco companies have said they would use trademark law to fight the plain-packaging rule on the grounds it would deprive them of the use of their intellectual property.

Australia had considered plain packaging for cigarettes in the mid 1990s, and on Dec. 14, 1995, the government received a 13-page report from a commission that studied the proposal, Myers said. The government released a summary and also issued a response in 1997 to a separate Senate report, he said.

The background documents that led to the government’s decision not to go ahead with the earlier plan weren’t released and the government says they’re privileged and must remain confidential.

At issue is whether, with the publication of its response to the Senate report, the government gave up its right to keep the documents confidential.

The case is British American Tobacco Australia Ltd. v. Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing, VID314/2011, Federal Court of Australia (Melbourne).

For more trademark news, click here.


Micro Focus Brings Infringement Suit Against Aussie Police

Micro Focus International Plc has sued the New South Wales Police for copyright infringement, according to the Australian.

The police are accused of making almost 10,000 unauthorized copies of Micro Focus software and distributing it to third-party agencies, the Australian reported.

Its license from Micro Focus authorized the police to make unlimited copes, law enforcement officials claim, and the Australian reported.

The police could potentially be required to allow outsiders to examine its computers in the process of litigation, according to the Australian.

Apple Seeks to Register ‘Hello From Cupertino’ Trademark

Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and the iPhone, applied to register am image and the phrase “Hello from Cupertino, CA” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The image is of a canceled stamp with a flying eagle design. The cancellation mark is two concentric circles, between which the text is placed.

The Cupertino, California-based company said it plans to use the trademark for electronic mail and messaging software.

The application was filed Aug. 15.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Yardi’s Trade Secrets Case Against RealPage Can Go Ahead

Yardi System Inc.’s trade-secrets suit against a competitor can continue, a federal court in Los Angeles said.

The Santa Barbara, California-based software company sued RealPage Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for misappropriating documentation and other proprietary information, and for copyright infringement. Yardi claimed RealPage got into a passwords-protected client support website without authorization, using passwords belonging to Yardi customers, consultants and employees.

Closely held Yardi makes software used for property, investment and construction management in the real estate industry.

RealPage filed its response in March, alleging antitrust violations and interference with its customers on Yardi’s part.

In an Aug. 11 ruling, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright rejected RealPage’s antitrust and customer-interference claims. He said the trade secrets claims from Yardi could go ahead.

Wright also said that that RealPage could amend its claims and refile within 30 days of his order.

The case is Yardi Systems Inc. v. RealPage Inc., 2:11-cv-00690-ODW-JEM, U.s. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

IP Moves

Fox Rothschild Adds Three IP Practitioners to Los Angeles Office

Fox Rothschild LLP acquired Chan Law Group LLP of Los Angeles, the Roseland, New Jersey-based firm said in a statement.

All three members of the Chan Law Group are moving to Fox Rothschild’s offices in Los Angeles. They are Thomas T. Chan, Lisa A. Karczewski and Steven S. Hanagami.

Chan does IP-related litigation, mediation and transactional work for clients in the technology and entertainment industries, and with issues relating to China. He previously served as general counsel to Lee Data Corp.

He has an undergraduate degree and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Karczewski does both patent-acquisition work and litigation. She’s represented clients in the aerospace, biomedical, energy, materials science, mechanical and polymer chemistry industries in federal courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

She did a law clerkship in the Office of Patents & New Technology at the California Institute of Technology NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Before Karczewski was a lawyer, she was a research assistant at the William Beaumont Hospital Research Institute and a medical research technician at the Tulane University School of Medicine Endocrine Polypeptide & Cancer Institute at Tulane University Medical Center.

Karczewski has an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.

Hanagami does both patent-acquisition work and litigation. He’s represented clients whose technologies include electronics, and mechanical and material sciences. He’s also done trademark litigation.

Before he was a lawyer, he was a technical manager at Keyes Fiber Col., an engineer at Lever Brothers CO., and a project engineer at ICI Americas Inc.’s Stuart Pharmaceuticals unit.

Hanagami has undergraduate degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles and California State University Fullerton, and a law degree from George Washington University.


Elizabeth Pignatello, Trademark Lawyer, Dies in Plane Crash

Elizabeth Pignatello of Washington’s Cameron LLP died Aug.7 at the age of 39 in the crash of a small private plane in Virginia.

She was a former trademark examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and practiced IP and securities law with her firm.

The plane in which she was flying was piloted by Lt. Colonel Shannon Beebe, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and an Africa expert who was stationed at the Pentagon. According to ABC affiliate WJLA, he and Pignatello had been dating for about a year. He also died in the crash.

Pignatello had an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Washington College of the Law.

She is survived by her two children, her mother, father and stepfather. Her memorial was held Aug. 15 at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

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