Kodak, Dr Pepper, EFF, Dow Chemical: Intellectual Property

Eastman Kodak Co., the 132-year-old camera and film company, sued Fujifilm Corp. for patent infringement.

The suit, filed Jan. 13 in federal court in Rochester, New York, accuses the Japanese company of infringing five patents related to digital imaging.

According to court papers, Fujifilm’s FinePix cameras infringe the patents. Kodak also objects to the importation of user manuals and components for the camera, saying they also infringe.

Rochester, New York-based Kodak asked the court for orders barring future infringement, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees, and litigation costs. Claiming the infringement is deliberate, Kodak asked the court to triple the monetary award to punish the Japanese company for its actions.

In a statement released Jan. 13, Kodak said to no avail it has “long been in discussion with Fujifilm” about taking a license to the disputed patents that cover, the company claims, “pioneering digital imaging technology.”

More than 30 other companies have already taken a license including LG Electronics Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., and Nokia Oyj, Kodak said.

In dispute are patents 5,493,335, 6,292,218, 6,573,927, 6,441,854 and 5,164,831.

The case is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Fujifilm Corp., 6:12-cv-06025, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Rochester).

Apple Loses Ruling in Patent Case Against Motorola Mobility

Apple Inc. lost a ruling in its efforts to block imports of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. phones that run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Motorola Mobility didn’t violate Apple’s patent rights, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Theodore Essex said in a notice Jan. 13 on the agency’s website. The findings are subject to review by the six-member commission, which can block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

Motorola Mobility, which agreed to be bought last year by Mountain View, California-based Google for $12.5 billion, was accused by Apple of infringing three patents, including two that cover touch screen technology. The case is part of a broader battle that Cupertino, California-based Apple has waged across four continents against makers of phones that run on Android, which the company claims copies features of the iPhone.

Apple last month received a mixed ruling in a trade commission case against Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC Corp., and is awaiting a decision on additional complaints against HTC and Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co.

While Apple is the largest manufacturer of smartphones, accounting for about 29 percent of the market, Google’s Android operating system, which is licensed for free to device makers, powers more than half the smartphones in the world, according to data from Gartner Inc. and Nielsen Holdings NV.

Motorola Mobility, spun off from Motorola Inc. last year, filed three patent-infringement lawsuits and an ITC complaint in October 2010 targeting Apple’s iPhone, iPad and MacBook computers. Apple retaliated about three weeks later with an ITC complaint that zeroed in on Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility’s phones.

One Apple patent issued in October 2010 and expiring in 2019 is for devices that can react to different types of manual input, such as tapping, sliding or pinching. A second, issued in February 2010 and expiring in 2024, is for a touch panel that can recognize multiple touches by the fingers of a user.

The third patent, which was issued in 1995 and expires in 2013, is for a way to add components without having to run an installation program or rebooting.

A trade commission judge in Motorola Mobility’s case against Apple is scheduled to release his findings April 23. . The Apple case is In the Matter of Mobile Devices and Related Software, 337-750, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.


Dr Pepper Settles Trademark Dispute With Regional Bottler

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. and one of its regional bottlers have settled a trademark dispute related to the beverage’s history and the use of cane sugar in its formula.

The beverage company, based in Plano, Texas, filed suit in June in federal court in Sherman, Texas, accusing Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dublin, Texas, of infringing Dr Pepper trademarks by using a bottle with an unauthorized modified label.

The public was confused by the different label, and other bottlers’ sales were negatively affected by the Dublin bottler’s actions, according to the complaint.

The product is a soft drink first made 116 years ago in Waco, Texas. The defendant was the first bottler of the product, according to court papers.

The regional bottler, unlike many others, refused to switch to high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, and also didn’t use beet sugar. According to the response it filed Sept. 12, Dublin Dr Pepper had always used only cane sugar, and as a result its product was sought out by Dr Pepper aficionados worldwide.

A comparable battle was fought in federal court in Dallas between PepsiCo Inc. and a Texas company that imported made-in-Mexico Pepsi manufactured with cane sugar. That case ended with an order barring the Texas company from importing and selling products made in other countries bearing the Pepsi marks.

That case was PepsiCo Inc. v. Marroko USA LLC, 3:09-cv-00338-B, I.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

In the case brought by Dr Pepper Snapple, the regional bottler claims that the beverage company tacitly approved its actions, including the special label indicating its product is “Dublin Dr Pepper.” Dr Pepper Snapple has “reveled and openly welcomed the free exposure and increased name recognition provided by Dublin Dr Pepper,” the bottler said in court papers.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. According to a Jan. 12 court filing, the companies have a confidential settlement agreement. They agreed to dismiss the case and each side is bearing its own litigation costs.

The companies did issue a joint statement at the time the settlement agreement was filed. They said that under the agreement, the regional bottler will quit producing Dr Pepper and that the beverage company has bought the bottler’s sales and distribution operations and the right to distribute Dr Pepper in the bottler’s distribution territory.

Dr Pepper will also make and distribute Dr Pepper sweetened with cane sugar in the regional bottler’s former territory and will also sell it in other parts of Texas. The cane-sugar version will be bottled and canned in what the beverage company called “distinct, nostalgic packaging.”

The regional bottler will still operate its museum and its “Old Doc’s Soda Shop,” which will sell officially licensed Dr Pepper merchandise, according to the statement.

Dr Pepper Snapple is represented by Van Harold Beckwith and Jonathan Robert Mureen of Houston’s Baker Botts LLP, together with Clyde Moody Siebman and Lawrence Augustine Phillips of Siebman Reynolds Burg & Phillips LLP of Sherman, Texas.

Dublin Dr Pepper is represented by Richter Darryl Burke, Samuel Franklin Baxter and Steven D. Wolens of McKool Smith PC of Dallas.

The case is Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. v. Dr Pepper Bottling Co., 4:11-cv-00398-MHS-ALM, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Sherman).

For more trademark news, click here.


British Student Loses Extradition Fight With U.S. Over Website

A British student whose website gave people access to copyrighted movies and TV shows lost a U.K. ruling to avoid being extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

Richard O’Dwyer, whose TV Shack website triggered a U.S. lawsuit, said he would appeal the ruling, according to a televised press conference after the decision was issued in London Jan. 13. O’Dwyer had argued the extradition was invalid because his actions aren’t a crime in Britain.

O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Ben Cooper of Doughty Street Chambers, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

EFF, Fish & Richardson Seek Sanctions in Copyright Suit

Lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Boston’s Fish & Richardson say they will seek sanctions against a maker of astrology software that sued two computer scientists for copyright infringement.

Astrolabe Inc. filed suit Sept. 30 in federal court in Boston, targeting Arthur David Olson of the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute and Paul R. Eggert of the Computer Science Department of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The two computer scientists were accused of infringing the copyright for an atlas containing historical time zone information. Astrolabe objects to the scientists’ websites publication of time zone data.

Brewster, Massachusetts-based Astrolabe asked the court to order the two scientists to halt their alleged infringement, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Astrolabe bases its claims on its ownership of the “ACS International Atlas,” the “ACS American Atlas,” and related software programs and databases.

The case has attracted the interest of the scientific and technology community because the data is used in Unix and Linux platforms to set clocks and for time-zone updates. In a posting to a technology interest-group mailing list, Olson said the server that provides these updates has been shut down in response to the suit.

Stephen Colebourne, a developer who works with Java programs in the U.K., said in a blog posting that the result of the takedown is that “there is no longer a single central location for time-zone information for computing.”

He called for the major tech companies to step into the dispute on behalf of the two computer scientists.

In a notice posted on its website Jan. 12, San Francisco-based EFF called the suit “bogus,” saying that facts aren’t copyright protectable.

Noting that Olson took the updates offline, EFF said the case “would be laughable but for the dangerous consequence” and noted the “shock and dismay of the many users and developers who relied upon the updates.”

Astrolabe has never served the complaint on the two scientists. After filing the suit, “perhaps realizing the absurdity of its legal position, however, Astrolabe didn’t bother to take that next step, leaving Olson and Eggert in legal limbo.”

The motion to be filed asks for sanctions against Astrolabe, saying the company’s suit is frivolous and factually baseless. Astrolabe has “no factual basis to allege that the defendants copied” anything protectable under copyright law, according to court papers.

Lawyers for the two scientists asked for award of attorney fees in addition to sanctions. “Sanctioning Astrolabe and its counsel for this conduct will affirm defendants lawful and selfless efforts on behalf of Internet users worldwide and deter similar misconduct in the future,” they argued.

Astrolabe is represented by Julie C. Molloy of East Sandwich, Massachusetts, who didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The scientists are represented by Adam J. Kessel and Olivia T. Nguyen of Fish & Richardson PC and Corynne McSherry and Mitchell L. Stoltz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The case is Astrolabe Inc. v. Olson 1:11-cv-11725-GAO, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Dow Scientist Gets 5-Year Term for Trade Secret Theft

A former Dow Chemical Co. research scientist was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing trade secrets and selling them to Chinese companies.

The sentence against Wen Chyu Liu, also known as David W. Liou, was handed down Jan. 12 by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A jury in February convicted Liu of perjury and conspiring to steal Dow trade secrets. He was indicted in 2005.

Liu, 75, of Houston worked for Dow from 1965 to 1992. At its Plaquemine, Louisiana, facility he had access to secrets related to the manufacture of chlorinated polyethylene or CPE, used in the making of vinyl siding, electrical cable jackets and industrial hoses, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement Jan. 13.

“Liu traveled extensively throughout China to market the stolen information, and evidence introduced at trial showed that he paid current and former Dow employees for Dow’s CPE-related material and information,” the department said.

He paid one Dow worker $50,000 for a process manual and other product-related information, the U.S. said.

Liu’s lawyer, Frank Holthaus of Baton Rouge, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

“The technology that Mr. Liou was convicted of stealing belonged to Dow,” the Midland, Michigan-based company said in an e-mailed statement Jan. 13. “Because of his education and position within the company, Mr. Liou knew of its immense value.”

Dow called the theft and sale of its intellectual property “a complete betrayal of the trust imparted to Mr. Liou as a Dow employee.”

A former Dow AgroSciences LLC researcher, Kexue Huang, was sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison last month after pleading guilty in two consolidated cases to stealing trade secrets to benefit a Chinese university. The Huang prosecution was separate from the Liu case.

The Dow Chemical case is U.S. v. Liu, 05-cr-00085, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge). The Dow AgroSciences cases are U.S. v. Huang, 11-cr-00163 and 10-cr-00102 U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

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