Merck, Teva, Movie Downloads, Poker: Intellectual Property

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a ruling that lets Merck & Co. block Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. from selling a generic form of the brain-cancer drug Temodar until 2013.

The justices yesterday turned away an appeal by Teva’s Barr Laboratories and Barr Pharmaceuticals units, which contended that a Merck patent protecting the drug was unenforceable. A U.S. appeals court had rejected that argument.

The two sides agreed last year that if Merck and its Schering unit won the court fight, Teva could begin selling copies of Temodar in August 2013, six months before the patent expires. The legal fight also affects Perrigo Co., which will eventually supply the active ingredient for Teva’s version.

Temodar, approved by U.S. regulators in 1999, generated $704 million in global sales during the first nine months of this year.

A federal trial judge last year ruled against Schering and its British licensor Cancer Research Technology Ltd., saying they took too long to pursue the patent and didn’t provide sufficient information to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit then reversed that decision, saying no one was harmed from the nine-plus years it took Cancer Research to obtain the patent. The panel also ruled that the inventor hadn’t intended to deceive the patent office when he failed to disclose a paper he had written about the compound.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, is the second-largest U.S. drugmaker by revenue behind Pfizer Inc. Teva, the world’s biggest generic-drug company, is based in Petach Tikva, Israel.

The case is Barr Laboratories v. Cancer Research Technology, 11-131.

Twitter Wins Patent Trial Over Virtual Internet Community

Twitter Inc., the biggest U.S. microblogging service, won a trial in which closely held VS Technologies LLC alleged infringement of a patent for building virtual communities.

A federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday cleared Twitter of claims made by VS Technologies, according to a statement from Twitter. The patent, issued in 2002, is for “creating an interactive community of famous people.”

Twitter, which says it has more than 100 million active users, argued that its service works differently than the VS system covered by the patent. San Francisco-based Twitter had urged the jury to find the patent invalid.

“We are gratified that a jury has agreed that this suit had no merit,” Sean Garrett, a spokesman for Twitter, said in an e-mail. “While we would prefer to compete on the Internet rather than the courtroom, we will continue to vigorously defend groundless patent lawsuits filed against us.”

VS, based in Alexandria, Virginia, had been seeking about $8.4 million in compensation, an amount Twitter said would have been unreasonable even had it lost, according to a court filing.

The case is VS Technologies v. Twitter Inc., 11cv43, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).

For more patent news, click here.


Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Movie Downloading Site

The movie-streaming website has stopped operating now that a federal district judge has entered a ruling enjoining its service. On Oct. 28 California federal judge John Walter entered a ruling stemming from a settlement between Zediva’s owners and the major motion picture studios. The settlement permanently bars Zediva from offering movies without obtaining permission from the studios and also requires Zediva’s operators to pay $1.8 million to the movie studies.

The closely held company, based in Santa Clara, California, had offered 14 rentals of new-release DVDs for $2 a movie, or $1 when ordering 10 films. That undercut what cable companies charge for on-demand and is less than the $3 that Time Warner Inc. began charging in a test of 24-hour rentals on Facebook.

In a statement, Dan Robbins, the associate general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America, said “Today there exist myriad ways for customers to watch movies legally over the Internet, from iTunes to Hulu to NetFlix to Vudu to Amazon to cable and satellite video-on-demand services, and many, many others.”

Joseph Gratz, a lawyer with San Francisco’s Durie Tangri who represents Zediva, declined to comment.

The case is Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. WTV Systems, 11-2817, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)

Disney Licenses Older Shows to Amazon’s Video Streaming Service

Walt Disney Co., owner of the ABC TV network and Disney Channel, will license a limited number of its older TV shows to Amazon’s Prime streaming video service, the world’s biggest Internet retailer said in a statement.

Disney will license more than 800 episodes of such shows as ABC’s “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Phineas and Ferb” from its Disney Channel. The titles will be available for the holidays, Amazon’s director of video content acquisition, said in the statement. The service will have almost 13,000 episodes by early next year, he said.

The newly licensed Disney content will be available on more than 300 devices, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the company said. Disney also extended its agreement with NetFlix to add older movies and TV shows for that service as well, according to a separate statement.

For more copyright news, click here.

Online Gambling

MGM, Boyd Gaming Form Online Poker Venture With Bwin.Party

MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming Corp., preparing for the U.S. to legalize online poker, agreed to form a venture with the biggest listed Internet gambling company, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc.

Bwin.Party, based in Gibraltar, will contribute technology and its PartyPoker and World Poker Tour brands to a new company that will be owned by all three. The U.S.-based company will offer online poker to U.S. players should it become legal, the companies said in separate statements.

MGM Resorts will own 25 percent of the venture, Boyd will hold 10 percent and Bwin.Party the rest, MGM Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said yesterday in an interview. The U.S. casino companies each will use Bwin.Party technology to run their own online poker services, Boyd CEO Keith Smith said.

“It’s all about preparing for the eventual opening of the market,” Bwin.Party Co-CEO Jim Ryan said in a phone interview. “There’s been an awful lot of momentum at the state and federal levels.”

Congress is considering federal regulations that would allow Internet poker while states explore their options. Casino companies are lobbying for rules would generate tax revenue and provide players a secure system that prevents under-age gambling and money laundering.

“It’s such a shadowy, amorphous market today,” Murren said in a telephone interview. “We do know that millions of Americans are gambling online, we do know that they’re gambling billions of dollars, we know that the U.S. government is deriving no benefit from this, no job creation, no tax revenue, and we know that many are at risk” from unregulated websites, he said.

The Justice Department in April indicted PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, alleging the three foreign companies circumvented a 2006 federal law barring banks from processing payments to offshore gambling websites. That prompted Wynn Resorts Ltd. to abandon an alliance announced weeks earlier with PokerStars.

Comings and Goings

Winston & Strawn Adds 2 Dickstein Intellectual-Property Lawyers

Winston & Strawn LLP, a Chicago-based law firm with more than 900 attorneys, added intellectual-property lawyers Alfred Fabricant and Lawrence Drucker from Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

The pair will work in the IP practice group at the firm’s New York office, Winston & Strawn said yesterday in a statement. Fabricant will be the group’s leader.

The new partners have represented clients based in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Both litigate in patent, trademark and copyright matters, the firm said. Their experience includes electronics, robotics and computer software cases.

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