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Teva, Facebook, Novartis, GE, Telecom: Intellectual Property

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. lost a U.S. appeals court bid to stop Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s sales of a generic version of the Seasonique birth-control pill.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington yesterday affirmed a lower court ruling that let Watson enter the market even as it awaits the outcome of a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Teva’s Duramed unit. Notice of the decision was posted on the court’s website.

Watson began selling a generic version of Teva’s Seasonique contraceptive in July. Teva, based in Petah Tikva, Israel, contends the copy infringes a patent that expires in January 2024, and sought to block sales until a trial on the validity of the patent.

Seasonique generated $110 million in sales in the 12 months ending April 30, Parsippany, New Jersey-based Watson said in July, citing IMS Health data. It suppresses the menstrual cycle so that women taking the drug have only four periods per year.

The case is Duramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 2011-1438, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Duramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 08cv116, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (Reno).

Facebook Patent Application Triggers Letter from Markey, Barton

In the wake of a patent application filed by Facebook Inc., Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, wrote the company, seeking information on its current practices and future intentions for tracking user activity and data.

The letter, sent yesterday to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, said experts who analyzed the application agree that the technology described contemplates tracking users on other websites.

The application 20110231240 was filed in February and published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Sept. 22. It describes a method “for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain.”

In the letter to Zuckerberg, Markey and Barton ask the company to clarify the purpose of the patent and how Facebook intends to use it. They said they also want to know just how Facebook intends to integrate the location data of its users into its targeted advertising system.

It would be “fruitful,” they said, for Facebook to explain why it filed this patent while simultaneously stating that “Facebook does not track people across the Internet.”

Markey and Barton, who are co-chairmen of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, gave Zuckerberg until Dec. 1 to respond.

Novartis Sues Watson Over Generic Version of Exelon Patches

Switzerland’s Novartis AG sued generic drugmaker Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. in federal court in Delaware alleging infringement of three U.S. patents.

The suit, filed Feb. 9 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, accusing the Parsippany, New Jersey-based generics manufacture of infringing patents 5,602,176, 6,316,023, and 6,335,031. The suit was triggered by Watson’s application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a generic version of the Novartis Exelon patch, a transdermal treatment for people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s related dementia.

In a statement, Watson acknowledged it had been sued, and said it believes that it’s the first applicant to see approval for a generic version of the drug, and should therefore be entitled to 180 days of generic market exclusivity if its application is approved.

The case is Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 1:11-cv-01112-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Go to Federal Court, Patent Claimant Told by Arizona Court

An Arizona appeals court told a state resident who claimed her employer stole her idea and patented it that her lawsuit didn’t belong in state courts, the Arizona Business Gazette reported.

Suzanne Brown sued Tucson, Arizona-based Lisa Frank inc. in state court in March 2010, saying the company “wrongfully seized possession and control” of the invention -- a child-safety oven -- and was unjustly enriched at her expense, according to the publication.

A judge in Pima County Superior Court kicked out the case, saying it belonged in federal court, and Brown filed an appeal with the Arizona Court of Appeals, according to the Arizona Business Gazette.

The appeals court agreed with the trial judge, saying that disputes over ownership of a patent belong to the federal court system, the Gazette reported.

For more patent news, click here.


GE, J&J Among 40 Companies Opposed to Expanded Web Name System

General Electric Co. and Johnson & Johnson are among 40 companies joining a coalition to oppose the introduction of potentially hundreds of Web suffixes beyond .com, according to an advertising-industry group.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit group managing the Web’s global address system under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, is preparing to consider almost any word in any language as a Web suffix, including company and brand names or terms such as .eco or .nyc. The group will accept applications from Jan. 12 through April 12, 2012, for as many as 1,000 new suffixes a year.

The Association of National Advertisers, which has criticized the program as potentially costly to businesses and confusing to consumers, said 47 industry associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have joined the coalition opposing the domain-name expansion. The group will send a petition to the Commerce Department opposing the Icann program, the ANA said in a statement.

“This unprecedented, united opposition to Icann’s top-level domain expansion program clearly demonstrates the enormity of the dissatisfaction across the Internet stakeholder community,” ANA President Bob Liodice said in a statement. “We implore Icann to discontinue its efforts to roll out this ill-conceived, unwanted and destructive program.”

New Zealand IP Office Refuses Trademark Registration for ‘111’

Efforts by emergency service providers to register “111” as a trademark in New Zealand were thwarted by that country’s Intellectual Property Office, Television New Zealand reported.

Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Ltd. objected to the registration, saying reserving the number for emergency use only could stop people from using it for a wide range of goods and services, according to Television New Zealand.

Telecom receives 2.7 million 111 calls per year, with only 36 percent related to a genuine emergency, the news service reported.

Assistant Commissioner of Trademarks Jenny Walden said another reason for the refusal is that under New Zealand law, trademark must be used in commerce, and the fire, police and ambulance services don’t quality as commercial entities, according to Television New Zealand.

Telefonos de Mexico Wins ‘Auditorio TelMex’ Trademark Challenge

Telefonos de Mexico SAB, Mexico’s largest fixed-line telephone company, persuaded a federal appeals court to uphold a ruling blocking the registration of the “Auditorio Telmex” trademark by someone not related to the company.

In its ruling yesterday, the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that an appeal board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office properly rejected Andrews Gutierrez Estrada’s application.

Estrada said in his application that he planned to use the mark in connection with entertainment-related services. The court noted that Telefonos sponsors a large concert arena in Guadalajara, Mexico, as “Auditorio Telmex” and that it would be “unlikely that any resident of Mexico would not know of the Telmex Mark.”

The board had found Estrada’s responses to its queries to be “disingenuous and lacking in crediblity” including his assertion that he had no knowledge of Telefono’s use of the Telmex marks even though he has lived within 10 miles of the Auditorio Telmex since 1980.

In any case, Telefono had established prior right to the Telmex mark in the U.S, through its telephone calling cards in advance of Estrada’s application, the appeals court said.

The court considered all of Estrada’s arguments “and find them unpersuasive,” according to the court ruling.

The case is Andres Gutierrez Estrada v. Telefonos de Mexico SAB, 2010-1588, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

For more trademark news, click here.


Missourian Pleads Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement

A resident of St. Louis, Missouri, who pleaded guilty to copyright infringement was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison, the St. Louis Post reported.

Saidou A. Dia, who admitted to making as many as 300 unauthorized copies of films per week, also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender when he moved from Ohio to Missouri, according to the newspaper.

Federal agents raided four locations in St. Louis in May, and seized 6,456 pirated movies and said Dia had also been involved in making illicit copies of films in Ohio in 2008, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Previously Dia had been convicted in Ohio in 2005 of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, according to the newspaper.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Jenner & Block Hires Partners From Hogan Lovells in Los Angeles

Jenner & Block LLP, a U.S. law firm with about 470 attorneys, hired six partners from the Los Angeles office of Hogan Lovells US LLP for its commercial entertainment and media litigation group.

Jenner & Block said in a statement that it hired Richard L. Stone, an antitrust and copyright lawyer in the media and entertainment industries; Kenneth D. Klein, a contract and antitrust attorney; Carissa C.W. Coze, a corporate transactions specialist; Amy M. Gallegos, who specializes in entertainment and media industry commercial litigation; intellectual property and entertainment litigator Julie Ann Shepard; and David R. Singer, an entertainment and media litigator. All will work in the Los Angeles office of the Chicago-based firm.

Jenner & Block will increase its total number of lawyers in the Los Angeles office from 20 to 26, said Rick Richmond, a managing partner in Los Angeles. The group has recently represented News Corp. and many of its current and former subsidiaries, such as Fox Broadcasting Co., Dow Jones & Co., Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., and MySpace Inc., the firm said.

Hogan Lovells US LLP is affiliated with Hogan Lovells International, which has 40 offices and more than 2,300 attorneys, the firm said.

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