(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Corrects for location of Nixon Peabody firm in trademark item.)
By Victoria Slind-Flor
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Illumina Inc., whose genetic analysis tools are used in disease research and drug development, sued Life Technologies Corp. claiming infringement of one of its patents.
Life Technologies’ Ion Personal Genome Machine and Ion OneTouch System infringe Illumina’s patent 7,060,431, covering a method of “making and decoding of array sensors with microspheres,” Illumina said in a complaint filed Dec. 27 in federal court in San Diego. The company seeks a court order stopping the alleged infringement and unspecified damages.
“Defendants’ infringing acts are willful in that they have knowledge of Illumina’s rights under the ‘431 Patent, but have continued to infringe, and actively induce and contribute to infringement by others,” lawyers for San Diego-based Illumina said in the complaint.
Mauricio Minotta, a spokesman for Carlsbad, California-based Life Technologies, didn’t immediately return a call to his office yesterday seeking comment on the complaint.
Life Technologies said in a Dec. 9 statement that its Ion Personal Genome Machine in June solved Europe’s E. coli outbreak by sequencing the bacteria’s DNA in two hours. The machine is the first of its kind that translates chemical information into digital data, the company said in the release.
The case is Illumina v. Life Technologies, 3:11-03022-LAB-NLS, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).
Apple Seeks Patent on Facial Recognition for Mobile Devices
Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, is seeking a patent on a technology that could build facial recognition into portable devices.
Application 20110317872, published yesterday in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, provides for a system that can process the captured image of the face of a user who wants to access the device.
According to the application, the technology uses less of the device’s capacity than is employed in traditional biometric identification systems. It can also function in a wider range of conditions than the traditional systems.
The technology could be used to unlock a device or to make some of its functions available only to certain persons.
Cupertino, California-based Apple applied for this patent in June 2010.
For more patent news, click here.
Boston Capital Corp. Says Boston Capital Partners LLC Infringes
Boston Capital Corp., a real estate investment and advisory firm founded in 1974, sued a company with a similar name for trademark infringement.
Boston Capital Partners LLC is accused of using an Internet domain name -- bostoncapitalpartners.com -- to confuse customers into believing it is affiliated with Boston Capital Corp., according to the complaint filed Dec. 22 in federal court in Boston.
The public is deceived by the similarities of the names, according to court papers. Boston Capital Corp. said that it’s suffered harm ever since Boston Capital Partners began using the website in March 2010, and asked the court to order the company to quit using the offending domain name and any other confusingly similar names.
It also asked for the Bostoncapitalpartners.com domain name to be transferred or canceled. Boston Capital Corp. also asked for court orders for the destruction of all infringing promotional materials, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.
When accessed Dec. 29, the Boston Capital Partners website didn’t appear to be functional. Links led to a “Page Not Found” notice.
Boston Capital Corp. is represented by Gina M. McCreadie and Jason C. Kravitz of Boston’s Nixon Peabody LLP.
The case is Boston Capital Corp. v. Boston Capital Partners LLC, 1:11-cv-12298-PBS, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
‘Havel’ Trademark Registration Stirs Debate Over Airport Naming
After the company running Prague’s international airport registered “Vaclav Havel Prague International Airport” as a trademark, a debate began in the Czech Republic about whether naming the airport for the former president is the right thing to do, according to the CzechPosition.com news website.
Havel, who died Dec. 18 at the age of 75, was afraid of flying and hated go to the Prague airport, according to CzechPosition.com.
Havel’s widow and more than 70,000 others have signed a petition seeking to have the airport named in his honor, while 6,000 others have listed themselves on a petition opposing the idea, the news website reported.
The company that runs the airport applied for the trademark using the English rather than Czech spelling of Havel’s name on the grounds it could be used in international publicity, according to CzechPosition.com.
For more trademark news, click here.
‘Ghost Rider’ Belongs to Marvel, Not Creator, U.S. Judge Says
Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Entertainment won a second challenge over the ownership of its comic book characters, with a New York judge dismissing claims from the creator of “Ghost Rider” of copyright infringement.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan ruled Dec. 28 that Gary Friedrich, who conceived and wrote the 1972 story of the motorcycle-riding character with a blazing skull for a head, signed over all rights to the character to Marvel in 1971 and again in 1978.
“Either of those contractual transfers would be sufficient to resolve the question of ownership,” Forrest wrote. “Together, they provide redundancy to the answer that leaves no doubt as to its correctness.”
Copyright challenges to Marvel characters from their creators have threatened to undermine Marvel’s movie projects based on those creations. “Ghost Rider,” a 2007 film starring Nicolas Cage, grossed $115.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. A sequel is scheduled to be released next year.
In July, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan dismissed an ownership claim to the Incredible Hulk and X-Men by the heirs of Jack Kirby, the superheroes’ co-creator.
Kirby, who died in 1994, also created or co-created the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. His heirs said their father was a freelance artist paid by the page who received no benefits from Marvel. Stan Lee, who worked for Marvel as an editor, is credited as co-author of the Hulk.
McMahon said Kirby’s creations were works-for-hire and as such belonged to Marvel.
Forrest, in her ruling, said she didn’t need to determine whether the Ghost Rider was a work-for-hire because it was clear Friedrich granted Marvel the rights to the character in his contracts.
The case is Gary Friedrich Enterprises v. Marvel Enterprises, 08-cv-01533, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Third Degree Films Says Defendants Within Court’s Jurisdiction
Third Degree Films Inc., a maker of adult films based in Chatsworth, California, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against 216 unidentified defendants in federal court in New York.
Many film infringement cases with large numbers of unnamed defendants have been rejected, with courts saying the film companies are on fishing expeditions and lack enough information about the defendants.
To head off this criticism, the complaint specifies that the company has used its “best efforts” to make sure that all the people it sued actually live in the court’s geographic area. The data to locate the defendants was cross-referenced with commercially available databases to make sure all the defendants reside with the court’s jurisdiction.
Third Degree did add the caveat that the technology it used to identify defendants’ locations “is considered very accurate, but not necessarily accurate in all cases.”
The defendants are accused of infringing the copyrights to the film “Illegal Ass 2” by using the BitTorrent data-transfer protocol. Third Degree said that all the defendants used the identical file whose digital fingerprint it was possible to identify using cryptographic methods.
The company said it is harmed by the defendants’ actions and seeks an award of money damages. Additionally, the company asked for an order requiring the destruction of all infringing copies of the film within the defendants’ possession, and an order barring any additional infringement.
Third Degree also asked for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.
The company is represented by Mike Meier of the Copyright Law Group of Fairfax Virginia. The firm’s Internet domain name is CopyrightDefenseLawyer.com.
The case is Third Degree Films Inc. v. Does 1-216, 1:11-cv-09618-PAE, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Universal’s ‘Fast Five’ Leads List of 2010’s Most Pirated Films
Universal Pictures Ltd.’s action thriller “Fast Five” was the most pirated movie in 2011, according to a list compiled at the TorrentFreak website.
TorrentFreak is a website focused on news related to file sharing and the BitTorrent protocol.
“Fast Five” was pirated more than 9 million times, according to TorrentFreak, followed by “The Hangover II,” with 8.8 million, “Thor,” with 8.3 million, and “Source Code,” with 7.9 million instances of piracy..
BitTorrent said it tracked a variety of sources, and included in the total are versions of the film that were sent out by unauthorized videotaping in theaters.
“Fast Five” was nowhere near the record in the number of unauthorized downloads. TorrentFreak said that honor was won by “Avatar,” which was downloaded more than 16 million times. In general, TorrentFreak said, the average number of downloads is lower than in 2010. The drop may be explained by the increase in legal alternatives to unauthorized downloading, according to TorrentFreak.
For more copyright news, click here.
Rothwell Figg Name Partner G. Franklin Rothwell Dies at 85
G. Franklin Rothwell IV, name partner in a Washington-based IP firm, died Dec. 25 at his home in Naples, Florida, at the age of 85.
Rothwell was the founder of two IP specialty firms. One is the Washington-based firm today known as Sughrue Mion PLLC. At the time of his death he was a partner in Washington’s Rothwell Figg Ernst & Manbeck PC, a firm he helped establish in 1981.
He had an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri and a law degree from George Washington University.
Rothwell is survived by his wife, two sons, one daughter and four grandchildren. A memorial will be held Jan. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Michael K. Young Faculty Conference Enter of the George Washington University Law School.
Rothwell Figg has posted a list of charities to which his family has requested memorial donations be made.