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Apple, Glaxo, Nanya, Hynix, Harvard: Intellectual Property

A Paris court will rule Dec. 8 on Samsung Electronics Co.’s request for an emergency order halting Apple Inc.’s sales of its newest smartphone in France, a judge said yesterday after hearing arguments from both companies.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, says Cupertino, California-based Apple infringes its patents with its iPhone 4S. Apple has denied the claims.

Glaxo Didn’t Infringe Leukemia Treatment Patent, Court Says

Genmab A/S and partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc survived a patent-infringement claim involving a method of treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia with specific antibodies.

A federal court in San Diego entered a judgment Nov. 15 that the two companies didn’t infringe patent 7,682,612.

Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit and Biogen Idec Inc. filed the suit in March 2010, claiming Genmab’s anti-CD20 antibody Arzerra infringed the patent.

U.S. District Judge Robert T. Benitez said he made his decision based on an earlier ruling in which he defined the reach of the patent, known as a “Markman” determination.

Although Biogen and Genentech will have the chance to appeal the Markman ruling, the two companies have conceded to Genmab and Glaxo’s counterclaim of non-infringement.

Benitez said halted further proceedings in the case pending the outcome of the appeal.

The case is Biogen Idec Inc. v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC, 3:10-cv-00608, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Nanya Technology Hasn’t Received Elpida Patent Notice

Nanya Technology Corp., a maker of memory chips, is “in the process of understanding” a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Elpida Memory Inc. of Tokyo, and hasn’t yet received the notice from the court, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement to the local stock exchange yesterday.

Nanya said the case, filed by Elpida at the Intellectual Property Court in Taiwan and the U.S. International Trade Commission, has no material impact on its current operations.

Samsung Alters Tablet Design for Germany After Apple Wins Ban

Samsung Electronics Co. may start selling a modified version of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in Germany this week, Jason Kim, a Seoul-based spokesman for the company said by phone yesterday.

The South Korean company changed the computer’s frame and speaker location, Kim said. Apple won an injunction against the product in a patent dispute.

Hynix, Micron Gain on ‘Surprise’ Verdict as Rambus Weighs Appeal

Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. shares rose after a jury rejected Rambus Inc.’s allegations that they conspired to prevent its memory chips from becoming an industry standard.

The verdict, which analyst Daniel Amir of Lazard Capital Markets called a “surprise,” sent Rambus shares down as much as 78 percent on Nov. 16, the biggest one-day loss since the company went public in 1997.

Rambus said it may appeal the verdict by a state court jury in San Francisco, which voted 9-3 to reject the company’s claims that Boise, Idaho-based Micron and Hynix, based in Ichon, South Korea, are liable for colluding to manipulate prices of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips in violation of California antitrust law.

Jurors found by the same vote, after deliberating since Sept. 22, that the two companies didn’t plot to interfere with Rambus’s business relationship with Intel Corp. and drive the world’s largest chipmaker away from its collaboration on RDRAM, or Rambus-designed memory, that began in the 1990s.

“The end outcome is not what most people really anticipated,” Amir said in an interview. “They’ve continuously highlighted that this case was the case where everyone wants a front seat, this is the case where they were going to really collect.”

Rambus’s defeat Nov. 16 was its biggest setback in an attempt over more than a decade to assert it owns technology that is fundamental to the $39 billion computer memory-chip industry and get producers of the semiconductors to pay for it.

Rambus said it would have made $3.95 billion in patent royalties without the alleged conspiracy. Under California law, a jury finding of antitrust damages in that amount would have been automatically tripled to $11.9 billion.

In the trial, which began in June, Rambus claimed that Micron and Hynix acted as a cartel to derail Intel’s 1996 decision to collaborate on RDRAM as a solution to a computer-memory bottleneck.

Micron and Hynix were accused of abusing agreements made in the 1990s to manufacture RDRAM by inflating its price and suppressing availability, eventually leading Intel to turn away from adopting and promoting Rambus memory as an industry standard.

Hynix and Micron built their case on claims that the Rambus-Intel relationship was undone by Rambus’s hubris.

An Intel manager testified that Rambus refused to waive a contractual provision allowing it to block shipments of Intel processors that relied on the chip designer’s technology if certain conditions requiring Intel to promote RDRAM weren’t met. That refusal, and not collusion among the chipmakers, doomed Intel’s vital support of Rambus, lawyers for Hynix and Micron told jurors.

Infineon Technologies AG, Europe’s second-largest maker of semiconductors, was removed from the antitrust case when the Neubiberg, Germany-based company agreed in 2005 to pay as much as $150 million to settle all legal claims with Rambus.

The case is Rambus Inc. v. Micron Technology Inc., 04-0431105, California Superior Court (San Francisco).

For more patent news, click here.


Harvard Says Thumbs Down to Yale T-Shirt Design for Big Game

Harvard University shot down a Facebook-themed T-shirt design the Yale University Freshman Class Council proposed for the rival schools’ football game Nov. 18, the Yale Daily News reported.

The shirt said “How to be Successful at Harvard. Step 1: Drop Out” with Facebook Inc.’s thumbs-up icon and “Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Damon and 69 others like this” beneath, a reference to some famous Harvard dropouts, according to the Daily News. Zuckerberg is chief executive officer of Facebook, Bill Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corp. and Damon is an actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter.

The design was submitted to Yale’s licensing program, which told the council to send it to the Harvard Trademark Program for approval as well, the newspaper reported.

Harvard objected to the use of celebrities’ names in connection with the school’s, so the design was changed to say those who “like” the idea of dropping out of Harvard “also like Social Networks, Personal Computers and Roads Not Taken,” the Daily News said.

Chinese IP Authorities Reject ‘Fracognac’ Mark for Second Time

The Chinese Trademark Office again refused to register the term “Fracognac” for a Chinese wine company, the China Wines Information website reported.

Both times the application was submitted by the Shenzhen Yin Yun Wine Co. the trademark office said the use of “Fra,” recognized as an indication of French origin, together with “Cognac” would mislead the public, according to China Wines.

France’s Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac and Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualite opposed the registration, China Wines reported.

Chinese law forbids registering trademarks that suggest a specific geographic origin for goods that come from elsewhere, according to China Wines.

Sazerac, Kentucky Distillers Settle ‘Bourbon Trail’ Dispute

Sazerac Co., a closely held New Orleans distillery, and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association settled an infringement dispute over the “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” trademark six weeks before a trial was to begin, the Associated Press reported.

The distillers’ group sued Sazerac for allegedly infringing its “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” to promote two distilleries not affiliated with the association, AP said.

Sazerac, which originally was a member of the association, quit in 2009 because of a trademark dispute, AP reported.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, according to AP.

For more trademark news, click here.

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. was accused by Lemko Corp. of misappropriating trade secrets on technology for locating emergency callers on mobile-phone networks.

An engineer employed at Lemko who created computer codes that calculate mobile-phone locations left in 2006 to work for Motorola Mobility, which lacked the position-determining technology, according to a complaint filed Nov. 17 in Illinois state court in Chicago. The engineer was hired for her “access to and knowledge of Lemko’s trade secrets,” including the source code, the company alleged.

Motorola Mobility exported technology developed by the engineer to a business it set up in China, where it was incorporated into mobile phones, according to the complaint. Motorola Mobility also destroyed computer files showing use of Lemko’s computer code and fired the engineer in 2008, Lemko alleged.

Lemko, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, seeks compensation for the loss of royalties and other unspecified damages.

Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, is being acquired by Google Inc., which isn’t named in the suit.

Christa Smith, a Motorola Mobility spokeswoman, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message seeking comment about the lawsuit.

The case is Lemko Corp. v. Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., 2011L12432, Illinois Circuit Court, Cook County, Law Division (Chicago)

Intelligence Panel Probing Huawei, ZTE Plans for U.S

A U.S. congressional committee opened an investigation into the possible security threat from Chinese phone-equipment makers such as Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. seeking to expand in the U.S.

The probe will focus on whether the expansion gives “the Chinese government an opportunity for greater foreign espionage” and imperils the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, Republican Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the panel’s top Democrat, said in a statement yesterday.

The investigation is part of increasing U.S. government scrutiny of economic espionage by China. U.S. intelligence officials called China the world’s biggest perpetrator of economic espionage in a Nov. 3 report that said the theft of sensitive data in cyberspace is accelerating.

“The fact that our critical infrastructure could be used against us is of serious concern,” Rogers, of Michigan, said in yesterday’s release.

Huawei, China’s largest maker of phone-network equipment, established its U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, in 2001. The company’s efforts to expand in the U.S. have run into opposition from lawmakers over its alleged links to China’s military. Huawei has denied the links.

The U.S. Commerce Department said last month that it barred Huawei from participating in a nationwide emergency network, citing national security concerns, prompting the company to ask for an explanation.

Huawei welcomes “an open and fair investigation,” William Plummer, a Washington-based spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail.

ZTE, China’s second-biggest maker of mobile-phone equipment, said Nov. 9 that it will introduce a tablet computer in the U.S. next year.

“ZTE is wholly committed to transparency and will cooperate in addressing any questions regarding our business,” Mitchell Peterson, a U.S.-based spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Wang Baodong, a Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

IP Talk

LES Calls for Entries in IP-Licensing Business Plan Competition

The Licensing Executives Society Inc., an organization of technology-transfer professionals, is sponsoring an intellectual property licensing competition.

Teams of graduate and post-doctoral students are invited to submit a comprehensive business plan with a core intellectual property licensing component. Entries will be judged on factors including attractiveness of the venture, intellectual property strategy, the quality of the product or service offered, market opportunity and investment potential, the Alexandria, Virginia-based group said in a call for entries.

Registration opens Nov. 16, with a Jan. 31, 2012, deadline. Business plans must be submitted by Feb. 29. The winning team will be announced at the LES meeting in Boston May 16 and receive a $10,000 grand prize.

Contestants will get comprehensive feedback throughout the competition from IP business leaders, LES said.

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