Samsung, Oracle, AstraZeneca, Berjaya: Intellectual Property

Samsung Electronics Co. aims to stop Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4S handset being sold in France and Italy on patent-infringement claims, escalating the dispute between the world’s two biggest makers of smartphones and tablets.

Samsung will file motions with courts in Paris and Milan seeking the ban, each citing two patent infringements on wireless telecommunications technology, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement Oct. 5. Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S in Cupertino, California this week and aims to start sales later this month.

The move adds to legal disputes that began in April, when Apple claimed that Samsung’s Galaxy devices “slavishly” copied the iPad and iPhone. At stake is dominance in the fastest-growing segment of the $207 billion mobile-phone market, where Apple is competing against makers of handsets powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Steve Park, a Seoul-based spokesman for Apple, declined to comment on Samsung’s statement. Florence Catel, a spokeswoman for Samsung France, didn’t have any additional information on when the suit will be filed or when a hearing will take place.

Samsung plans to file preliminary injunctions in other countries after further review, it said in the statement. Apple is also one of the South Korean company’s biggest buyers of chips and displays.

“Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology,” Samsung said.

Apple this week introduced the iPhone 4S equipped with a faster processor, a higher-resolution camera and a new software interface to help it vie with Google’s Android, which powers Samsung’s Galaxy phone and tablets.

At stake is leadership in the market for smartphones, which is projected to double by 2015, when 1 billion of the handsets will be sold, according to research firm IDC. While Apple is the single biggest smartphone maker, the Android coalition leads the market, accounting for 41.7 percent. The iPhone accounted for almost half Apple’s sales in the most recent quarter.

Apple had earlier won backing from a Dusseldorf court that upheld a temporary ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany. Samsung filed an appeal against the ruling.

In Australia, Apple has delayed the release of the product for two months by seeking a temporary judicial ban.

Samsung will abandon plans to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia if it doesn’t win approval to sell it in the next two weeks, Neil Young, a Samsung lawyer, told Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett in Sydney this week. Missing the Christmas season would result in the new tablet being “dead,” he said.

Oracle Trial With Google Over Java Will Probably Be Delayed

Oracle Corp.’s trial over whether Google Inc.’s Android software infringed its patents for Java technology will likely be postponed from its scheduled Oct. 31 start, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who will preside over the trial in San Francisco, said in a court filing yesterday that an unrelated criminal trial that will begin Oct. 17 means it’s “unlikely” the Oracle-Google case can go forward as scheduled. Alsup didn’t say when the Oracle trial would be held.

Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages from the operator of the world’s largest search engine. The Redwood City, California-based company accuses Google of infringing its patents and copyrights for the Java programming language in the Android operating system, now running on more than 150 million mobile devices.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has denied the claims.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 3:10-03561-WHA, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

AstraZeneca Says It Settled Seroquel Patent Suit Against Accord

AstraZeneca Plc, the London-based pharmaceutical company that makes the schizophrenia treatment Seroquel, said it settled patent litigation against Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd.’s Accord Healthcare unit that was related to the drug.

According to a company statement released yesterday, as part of the settlement, Accord was been granted a license to enter the U.S. market on Nov. 1, 2016. Additionally, the Intas unit has agreed not to dispute the validity or enforceability of the patents that were at issue in the case.

AstraZeneca’s remaining Seroquel patent cases are ongoing, according to the company statement.

The British pharmaceutical company sued Accord in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, in February 2009. AstraZeneca claimed Accord was infringing patents 4,879,288 and 5.948,437. The case is AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP v. Accord Healthcare Inc., 3:09-cv-00619-JAP-TJB, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

U.S. Consumer Safety Commission Votes to Study Table Saws

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 5-0 yesterday to take the first steps toward regulating table saws, which have been blamed for more than 4,000 finger, hand and arm injuries a year.

The agency will examine technologies, such as those offered by closely held SawStop LLC, which can stop the blade instantly when human flesh is detected and may eventually issue a rule, Scott Wolfson, an agency spokesman said. The CPSC will seek comments from the industry and the general public before moving to a more specific proposal, he said.

Stephen Gass, founder of Tualatin, Oregon-based SawStop, first petitioned the CPSC more than eight years ago to consider his technology after being turned down by power-tool companies on licensing deals. The Power Tool Institute, which represents manufacturers such as Robert Bosch GmbH, Stanley Black & Decker Inc., Ryobi Ltd., and Techtronic Industries Co., warned that a mandatory standard could create a monopoly for Gass, who they say has locked up more than 70 patents.

“Unfortunately, for consumers, such a mandatory standard could as much as quadruple the cost of current, inexpensive saws and significantly increase the cost of professional saws on the market today,” Susan Young, executive director of the Cleveland-based Power Tool Institute, said in a statement.

Ryobi Ltd. and its U.S.-based power-tool distributor were hit with a $1.5 million personal-injury verdict in March 2010 involving the Japanese company’s failure to take a license to patent safety-tool technology.

In that case, the plaintiff claimed that Hiroshima-based Ryobi knew, ever since a November 2000 meeting of a power-tool trade group, that a technology existed to detect the proximity of human flesh to a saw blade and stop the saw instantly.

The jury found that Ryobi and its distributor sold a product that was defectively designed, and that plaintiff Carlos Osorio lacked full knowledge of the product’s defect and danger. Although Home Depot Inc., which sold the saw, was also a defendant, the jury found no liability on the retailer’s part.

Ryobi appealed, and the lower court ruling was upheld by an appeals court yesterday. At the time of the lower court ruling, the Oregonian newspaper reported that 60 similar cases were pending nationwide.

That case was Osorio v. One World Technologies Inc., 1:06-cv-10725-NMG, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston). The appeals court case is Osorio v. One World Technologies, 10-1824, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

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EA Files Application for Two ‘Style Empire’ Trademarks for Games

Electronic Arts Inc., the Redwood City company known for its sports-oriented computer games such as Madden NFL, may be looking far from the sports world for its next game if a recent filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is any indication.

According to the patent office database, EA filed two applications Sept. 26 to register “Style Empire” as a trademark. The marks are for computer game software and an online computer game.

The Joystiq website, which follows computer game development, speculates that the marks will be used with “a casual and/or social game” or a “new massive multiplayer rhythm dress-up motion game.”

The applications were filed by Vineeta Gajwani, EA’s in-house IP counsel.

Berjaya Acquired Borders Trademark Rights for Malaysia

Berjaya Corp. Bhd has acquired all rights to the Borders trademarks in Malaysia, the country’s Sun newspaper reported.

The mark was acquired from the liquidators of Borders Group Inc. and was approved by the bankruptcy court in New York, according to the Sun.

As a result of the acquisition, Malaysia will be the only country in Southeast Asia where Borders still operates, the newspaper reported.

The rights acquired cover both Internet-based retail businesses and brick-and-mortar stores, according to the Sun.

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Copyrights for Foreign Works Scrutinized by U.S. High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court grappled with a challenge to a federal law that gave new copyright protection to millions of foreign-produced books, movies and musical pieces that once were in the public domain.

In an hour-long argument yesterday that touched on the work of Jimi Hendrix, Aaron Copland and William Shakespeare, the justices signaled they are divided over the constitutionality of the 1994 statute, which aimed to harmonize U.S. copyright law with rules in other countries. The measure applied to works that had been excluded from the American copyright system for various reasons.

The case has implications for the U.S. film and music industries, which are urging broad copyright protection, and Google Inc., which is asking the court to ensure the availability of works that are central to its digital-book project. The court’s ruling will affect rights to works by Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and C.S. Lewis, according to opponents of the law.

Justice Stephen Breyer emerged as a skeptic of the law, pointing to what he said was a “treasure trove” of foreign-produced literature and music that groups are working to post on the Internet.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the other side, saying the measure gave foreign composers like Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich copyright protection for “the same limited time as Aaron Copland,” the late American composer.

The 1994 law is being challenged by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists and movie distributors who say they will lose access to important material. Leading the group is Lawrence Golan, a music professor at the University of Denver who sued in 2001.

The group’s lawyer, Anthony Falzone, said the law “took millions of works out of the public domain, where they had been for decades.”

Congress approved the law to meet obligations stemming from the so-called Uruguay Round of international trade talks. The motion-picture and music industries pushed for the provision to secure reciprocal copyright protection for American works abroad.

The measure, known as Section 514, applied to foreign works that were excluded from American protection, in some cases because the U.S. didn’t have copyright relations with the author’s home country and in other cases because the U.S. hadn’t yet recognized copyrights on sound recordings. The law gave those authors the copyright protection they otherwise would have had.

The Obama administration is defending the law, arguing that Congress has the constitutional power to remove works from the public domain. Donald Verrilli, making his first argument before the court since being sworn in as U.S. solicitor general, today called the law “essentially the price of admission to the international system.”

The case is Golan v. Holder, 10-545.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Akin Gets Texas Magistrate, McDermott Litigator for IP Group

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP added two lawyers to its IP practice group, the Washington-based firm said in a statement.

The two new hires are Charles Everingham IV and David M. Stein.

Everingham is a former magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Texas, a popular venue for patent-infringement cases. He handled more than 75 of the hearings that determined the scope of a patent, commonly known as Markman hearings. He presided, by stipulation of the parties, over more than 200 civil cases, the majority of which were IP disputes involving complex technology.

Before he was selected as magistrate judge in 2000, he served for seven years as permanent law clerk to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward of that same judicial district.

He has an undergraduate degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a law degree from Baylor University.

Stein, who joins from Chicago’s McDermott Will & Emery, is a litigator who headed his former firm’s East Texas practice group. He has represented clients in IP disputes related to semiconductor devices and processing, medical devices, sporting goods and business methods.

He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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