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CareFusion, Pfizer, Levi Strauss: Intellectual Property

CareFusion Corp. sued Hospira Inc. over patents for drug-delivery systems and is seeking a jury trial, damages and an order barring infringement.

Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, is using protected technology in products including the Symbiq, Plum and LifeCare brand of infusion equipment, CareFusion said in papers filed Aug. 30 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

In dispute are patents 7,171,277, issued in January 2007, and 7,835,927, issued in November 2010.

“The evidence will likely show” that Hospira has “acted with disregard of CareFusion’s patent rights, without any reasonable basis for doing so,” and should pay lost profits and royalties to San Diego-based CareFusion, according to the complaint.

CareFusion itself was sued Aug. 29 in federal court in Chicago by rival B. Braun Medical Inc. over infusion-pump patents, according to a B. Braun statement.

“We think we’ve got a strong position in this suit and our plan is to vigorously defend it,” said Hospira spokeswoman Tareta Adams in a telephone interview.

CareFusion had $3.52 billion in sales last fiscal year, and Hospira had $3.91 billion in 2010 sales.

The case is CareFusion v. Hospira, 11-762, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Pfizer Settles Lipitor Suit With Generic Maker Dr. Reddy’s

Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, settled a patent-infringement lawsuit with the Indian generic-drug maker Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. over the cholesterol-control drug Lipitor. The terms were undisclosed.

The companies settled the litigation Aug. 19, and U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark in Wilmington, Delaware, dismissed the case Aug. 29, according to court records.

“We have closed our litigation with Pfizer, but the date of entry into the market is not yet confirmed,” Kedar Upadhye, a spokesman for Dr. Reddy’s, said in a statement.

Dr. Reddy’s, of Hyderabad, India, announced the settlement yesterday in a news release. The confidential agreement is subject to review by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the company said.

Pfizer, based in New York, sued Dr. Reddy’s in December 2009 over patent 5,969,156, which covers the compound atorvastatin calcium, the Lipitor drug.

The case is Pfizer v. Dr. Reddy’s, 1:09-cv-00943, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.


RIM Opposes U.S., Canadian ‘Webkit’ Trademarks for Apple

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry mobile communications device, has filed papers with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to oppose a trademark filing by Apple Inc.

According to the CIPO database, Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM opposed Apple’s application to register “webkit” as a trademark for computer software, computer search engine software and Internet browser software.

Cupertino, California-based Apple filed its application in May 2010. The company said it’s used the mark in Canada since at least November 2003.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple filed a U.S. application to register the mark in May 2010. Both RIM and Nokia OYJ have filed papers in opposition to that application.

In Canada, RIM has until mid-November to file a statement of its reasons to oppose Apple’s registration. In the U.S., the deadline for filing the opposition is Oct. 26.

Levi Strauss’s European Trademark Claim Not for U.S. Court

Levi Strauss & Co.’s European trademark claim against a seller of the San Francisco company’s discontinued jeans was rejected by a federal court in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White said there were “compelling reasons” not to exercise jurisdiction over the company’s European trademark claim. He suggested possibilities of jury confusion, and a potential to prejudice the rights of European governments were reasons to bar Levi Strauss from pursuing those particular claims in a U.S. court.

He did say that his dismissal of the European claim wouldn’t bar Levi Strauss from pursing that claim “in the appropriate foreign tribunal.”

The case is Levi Strauss & Co v. Papikian Enterprises Inc., 3:10-cv-05051-JSW, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Hachette’s ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ Publication Can Go Ahead

Hachette Book Group Inc. persuaded a federal judge in Austin, Texas, to deny a request for an immediate halt to the publication of a romance novel the Texas Department of Transportation claimed infringed the “Don’t Mess With Texas” trademark it used for its anti-litter campaign.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said that Christine Craig’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” can be published and that he doubted the books “will fly off the shelves with such speed that sales could not be enjoined in the future should the Texas DOT prevail on its claims in this lawsuit.”

He said he wasn’t convinced that the transportation department’s suit “has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” In his Aug. 22 order, Judge Sparks noted that the publisher has a First Amendment right to choose appropriate titles for literary works” and that none of the DOT’s trademark registrations for that phrase cover books.

The case is Texas Department of Transportation v. Craig 1:11-cv-00726-SS, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

Performer Rick Ross Sued by Rapper Askew Over ‘Teflon Don’ Mark

The rap performer who uses the stage name Rick Ross was sued for trademark infringement by a second rapper over his use of the name “Teflon Don” on an album.

The suit, filed in federal court in Memphis, Tennessee, on Aug. 29, also names Universal Music Group, its Def Jam Recording unit, and DJ Khaled, who heads the Def Jam South unit. Rapper Donald Ray Askew Jr. claims he was the first to use the name “Teflon Don,” and that both performers compete in the same market.

Askew says his brand is infringed, and asked the court for an award of $20 million.

This is the second trademark infringement suit against Ross. The performer, whose real name is William Leonard Roberts II, was previously sued by Ricky D. Ross of Los Angeles. The California plaintiff claimed his name and prior criminal image were exploited by the performer without authorization. Ricky D. Ross is the subject of a 2001 film “100 Kilos,” that focused on his life as a drug dealer.

According to the complaint in that case, Leonard, who had served as a corrections officer in Dade County, Florida, falsely claimed he had a criminal past and tried to deceive the public as to his affiliation with Ricky D. Ross.

Ross’s case against Leonard was dismissed in 2010, and he is presently appealing that dismissal.

That case is Ricky D. Ross v. William Leonard Roberts II, 2:10-cv-04428-PA-RZ, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

DuPont & Co. registered “Teflon” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to the patent office database, the Wilmington, Delaware-based chemical company has used the mark for its polytetrafluoroethylene products since 1944. The company has filed a number of infringement suits involving the Teflon mark over the years, including a November 2009 case against a record company then known as Teflon Blood.

Askew is unrepresented by counsel. His hand-written complaint appears to have been filed on a form used by prisoners. He says in the complaint that he is not in confinement.

His case against Leonard is Donald Askew Jr. v. William Leonard Roberts, 2:11-cv-02738-JDT-tmp, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee (Memphis).

IP Australia Says Improving Economy Triggering Trademark Filings

Trademark filings have increased in Australia to levels achieved before the recent economic slowdown, according to data from IP Australia.

In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, 69,003 applications were filed, up from 67,738 the previous year. The previous high was in fiscal year 2007-2008, when 68,659 applications were filed.

IP Australia said in a statement that in addition to an improved economic climate, a growing awareness of the value of intellectual property may have triggered the rise.

In a recent poll of small businesses in Australia, the percentage of respondents rating themselves as “very aware” of IP issues rose from 15 percent the previous year to 23 percent, IP Australia said.

For more trademark news, click here.


Edgartown Library Threatened with Copyright Infringement Suit

A public library in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, has been threatened with a copyright infringement suit by a private consultant who claims to hold the rights to the slogan “Frankly, We Love Our Library,” the Vineyard Gazette reported.

Danielle Pendergraft and her Holiday Public Relations have demanded the Edgartown Library Foundation quit using the phrase, which she says her company owns, according to the Gazette.

Holiday Public Relations of Edgartown has held the mark since July 2009, Pendergraft told the Gazette, and said she intends to keep the rights.

Although the Edgartown Library Foundation changed the name of its annual Labor Day fundraiser from “Frankly, We Love our Library” to “We Love Our Library,” Pendergraft told the Gazette the change was insufficient and that the library will be hearing from her legal counsel.

Minesage’s Chinese Newspaper IPad App Infringes, Court Rules

Minesage Co. Ltd. was hit with a 100,000 Chinese yuan ($15,700) fine for its application for Apple Inc.’s iPad that provides Chinese language news, China Daily reported.

The Beijing News claimed Minesage’s Chinese Newspapers app infringed copyrights on its content and layouts, according to the newspaper.

A spokesman for the Beijing News told the China Daily that legal action was pursued only after Minesage failed to respond to cease-and-desist requests.

Yuan Fuzhen of the Shanghai Intellectual Property Research Institute told the Beijing News that in light of this case, compensation for infringement should be increased because the present level “creates an imbalance between the cost of defending one’s rights and the illegal income to the infringer.”

Nigeria Copyright Infringement Issues Focus of ‘No Music Day’

Broadcast stations throughout Nigeria were requested to devote programming today to discussions of the rights of musicians and other artists instead of playing music, the Music Industry News Network reported.

The Copyright Society of Nigeria designated today as “No Music Day,” intended to draw national attention to widespread infringement in the music industry, according to Music Industry News Network.

“No Music Day” was first observed in Nigeria in 2009 following a weeklong hunger-strike campaign waged by Nigerian performers in protest of copyright infringement, Music Industry News Network reported.

The annual event has focused public attention on infringement issues, and promoted vigorous copyright enforcement actions in Nigeria, according to Music Industry News Network.

For more copyright news, click here

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

TCW Rests Case in Gundlach Trial Over Trade Secrets, Fees

TCW Group Inc. rested its case in the trial that pits the asset-management firm against its former chief investment officer, Jeffrey Gundlach.

Former TCW president Bill Sonneborn, now chief executive officer of KKR Financial Holdings LLC, was the last witness TCW called to support its claims that Gundlach and three other former employees stole TCW’s trade secrets to start DoubleLine Capital LP, the rival asset-management business Gundlach set up 10 days after TCW fired him in December 2009.

“I encouraged him to terminate Jeffrey,” Sonneborn told the jurors, recalling an August 2009 conversation he had with TCW CEO Marc Stern. Sonneborn, who had left TCW in 2008, said he told Stern that Gundlach was becoming a disease or a cancer for the company. Sonneborn said Stern was unwilling to fire Gundlach at that time because he was too important for TCW.

TCW, the Los Angeles-based unit of Societe Generale SA, sued Gundlach, 51, in January 2010, after more than half of its fixed-income professionals joined DoubleLine. TCW’s damages expert told jurors in California state court in Los Angeles that the company suffered $344 million in damages from Gundlach’s alleged interference with contracts and $222 million from a claimed breach of fiduciary duty.

Gundlach, who had worked at TCW for 25 years and was named Morningstar’s Fixed Income Manager of the Year in 2006, countersued, saying TCW fired him to avoid having to pay management and performance fees for the distressed-asset funds his group managed and that went “through the roof.” Gundlach seeks about $500 million.

DoubleLine called its first witness yesterday, Paul Deitch of Oaktree Capital Management LP, who testified that Oaktree helped set up DoubleLine in December 2009 and got it up and running in exchange for an equity stake in the company.

DoubleLine’s people were far from ready to start an investment company when he first met with them the week after Gundlach was fired, Deitch said.

Gundlach, who testified for four days, has denied that DoubleLine used any of TCW’s trade secrets or proprietary information and said that the success of his funds was due to “experience and thinking” rather than to analytical systems.

Cris Santa Ana, a former managing director of Gundlach’s mortgage-backed securities group at TCW, testified that Gundlach instructed him in September 2009 to start backing up data that “might be useful to have” in case Gundlach was fired. Santa Ana is a co-defendant and cross-complainant with Gundlach.

Gundlach’s fixed-income group managed more than half of TCW’s $110 billion assets under management before he was fired.

Stern testified he became suspicious in September 2009 and started checking Gundlach’s e-mails. Stern said he discovered that Gundlach and people from his group were copying TCW files and looking for office space.

TCW claims it fired Gundlach because he was allegedly stealing trade secrets and confidential information as he secretly set up a rival firm. DoubleLine has argued that Stern started looking into alternatives for Gundlach as early as June of 2009, after Stern returned to active management and before Gundlach’s people copied any TCW files.

TCW acquired Metropolitan West Asset Management LLC on Dec. 4, 2009, the day Gundlach was fired.

Stern told the jurors that in January 2010 he was forced to cut the fees for the distressed-asset funds that Gundlach had managed and to allow clients to withdraw their investments from the funds.

Although they normally wouldn’t be allowed to do this, it was allowed because of pressure generated by Gundlach’s comments to the investors after he was fired. Brian said.

The case is Trust Co. of the West v. Gundlach, BC429385, California Superior Court Los Angeles County (Los Angeles).

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