(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with adult filmmaker in Copyright section.)
By Victoria Slind-Flor
Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Life Technologies Corp. was told by a U.S. jury to pay $52 million for infringing patents owned by Promega Corp. related to genetic testing.
The federal jury in Madison, Wisconsin, also found that Life’s infringement of the patents was intentional, closely held Promega said in a statement. That means U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could increase the award by as much as three times the verdict.
The dispute was over tests that are used to compare DNA samples for use in forensics and paternity tests. The patents cover a way to amplify certain regions on a DNA strand, called short tandem repeat, to perform the analysis.
The judge in November upheld the validity of Promega’s short tandem repeat patents, and found infringement by Carlsbad, California-based Life, Promega said.
“The court’s ruling and the jury award confirm the value of Promega STR technology and its contributions to genetic analysis in the fields of research and molecular diagnostics,” Bill Linton, chief executive officer of Madison-based Promega, said in a statement.
Promega said the technology also can be used in genetic research, bone marrow transplant monitoring and cancer analysis.
The case is Promega Corp. v. Life Technologies Corp., 10cv281, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).
Apple Asks Bankruptcy Court to Approve Patent Suit Against Kodak
Apple Inc. asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to sue Eastman Kodak Co. over allegations it’s infringing patents that Apple says cover technologies used in printers, digital cameras and digital picture frames.
Apple said in a filing Feb. 14 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that it intends to file a complaint against Kodak at the International Trade Commission and a corresponding suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan based on patent-infringement claims.
While arguing bankruptcy law doesn’t prevent the filing of infringement suits against a company in court protection, “Apple requests express authority from this court before it initiates the actions out of an abundance of caution,” the company’s lawyers wrote in the filing.
Kodak will have the right to ask the court to halt the district court case until the ITC makes its ruling, though a court order on that request “is not required before Apple commences” its lawsuits, Apple said in the filing.
Apple previously claimed it is the true owner of the image-preview patent that is the subject of infringement claims lodged against Apple and Research in Motion Ltd. The Cupertino, California-based company contends that it developed a digital camera in the early 1990s that it shared with Kodak, and that Kodak then sought the patent on the technology. Kodak has denied the allegations.
The U.S. International Trade Commission rejected the ownership arguments in a case that’s still pending at the Washington agency. Those arguments are also an issue in the lawsuit now on hold in federal court in Rochester, New York. In the Feb. 14 filing, Apple asked to move that case to Manhattan.
Apple has objected to a patent-infringement complaint that Kodak filed last month at the ITC against Apple and HTC Corp. In a Feb. 7 filing with the agency, Apple argued that the ITC shouldn’t investigate the complaint because of the bankruptcy filing and the company’s plan to sell its patents and digital camera business.
“It is against the public interest for the commission to expend its resources initiating and prosecuting an investigation when it is known, based on Kodak’s own admissions, that Kodak will be selling the asserted patents and divesting itself of the parts of its business” that are part of the ITC case.
Kodak, in a Feb. 10 response, said the bankruptcy doesn’t alter the fact that the company has invested in digital imaging technology and continues to seek licenses for its inventions. The commission is scheduled to decide by Feb. 23 whether it will institute the investigation.
Photography pioneer, which introduced its $1 Brownie Camera more than a century ago, filed for bankruptcy Jan. 19 after consumers embraced digital cameras, a technology Kodak invented and failed to commercialize.
The company, based in Rochester, listed assets of $5.1 billion and debt of $6.8 billion in Chapter 11 documents.
Andrew Dietderich, a lawyer for Kodak, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday after regular business hours seeking comment on Apple’s filing.
The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District New York (Manhattan).
For more patent news, click here.
‘Linsanity’ Reaches Patent Office as Knicks Win Streak Goes On
Linsanity has reached the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as Jeremy Lin continues to lead the New York Knicks’ winning streak.
Yenchin Chang, a 35-year-old Alhambra, California, resident, was the first of two people to file a trademark application for the term “Linsanity.” The catch phrase is being used to describe the frenzy surrounding the Knicks point guard who got a 3-pointer in the last second to seal a 90-87 win against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 14.
Chang, who like Lin is of Taiwanese descent, said he isn’t affiliated with the 23-year-old, Harvard University-educated player who has guided the Knicks to a six-game winning streak after being released by the Golden State Warriors.
“I wanted to be a part of the excitement,” Chang, who attended East Los Angeles College and who works in the import/export business, said in a telephone interview. “I’m very proud of Jeremy.”
Chang said he would be willing to sell the trademark if he gained it and Lin wanted it.
“I’ll think about it when that time comes,” Chang said. “Right now, I just want to have some fun with it.”
Chang made his filing on Feb. 7, according to the patent and trademark office website. Lin, who wasn’t drafted by any National Basketball Association team and had been signed and cut by two clubs before landing with the Knicks in December, made the first of his five consecutive starts the previous night.
Lin’s jersey is the NBA’s top online seller since Feb. 4, when he got his first prolonged action off the New York bench and had 25 points and seven assists against the New Jersey Nets. Sales of Knicks merchandise are higher than any other team since then, accounting for five of the 10 most popular items.
The second filing was made on Feb. 9 by Andrew W. Slayton of Los Altos, California. An Andrew Slayton who said he used to coach Lin in high school told the New York Post that in 2010 he registered the domain names Linsanity.com and thejeremylinshow.com, where Lin-related merchandise is being sold.
Slayton, who, according to the newspaper, works as a physical education teacher at Pinewood High School in Los Altos, told the Post that Lin isn’t aware of the websites.
A message left for Barbara Hantke, director of communications for Pinewood, wasn’t immediately returned. Slayton’s telephone number isn’t listed.
Gary Krugman, a partner at the Washington-based firm Sughrue Mion, said in a telephone interview that he would advise Lin to file his own application and contest whichever of the others gets published.
“I have a feeling both of these guys are small operators,” he said. “If Jeremy comes in with a big law firm they won’t be able to hang with him.”
Roger Montgomery, Lin’s agent, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the trademark applications.
For more trademark news, click here.
AMSC Says Chinese Court Denied Sinovel Motion to Move Suit
American Superconductor Corp., a U.S. maker of wind-turbine components, said a Chinese court denied a motion by Sinovel Wind Group Co. to transfer a lawsuit to arbitration.
The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court yesterday rejected a request from China’s largest wind-turbine maker to move the case to the Beijing Arbitration Commission, Devens, Massachusetts-based AMSC said yesterday in a statement.
AMSC says Sinovel, formerly its largest customer, violated sales contracts and stole intellectual property. The civil suit is one of three seeking more than $1.2 billion in damages. A provincial court on Feb. 3 dismissed the smallest case, which will be heard in arbitration.
“Sinovel is trying to get everything to go to arbitration and not be sued in a regular court, and in this case the court said no,” Theodore O’Neill, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities Inc. in New York, said yesterday in an interview. “It’s one for Sinovel, one for American Superconductor. It continues to be a Mexican hat dance.”
The Feb. 14 ruling is for a software copyright infringement suit, seeking a cease and desist order and damages of $6 million. The decision couldn’t be independently confirmed at this time.
The earlier ruling, by the Hainan Province No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, was for a copyright infringement case seeking $200,000 in damages.
Australian Court Says Internet Radio the Same as Broadcast
Australia’s federal court has ruled that musicians and record labels are not entitled to additional payment when broadcast music is also streamed over the Internet, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Photographing Performance Co. of Australia, which had argued unsuccessfully that copyright licenses granted to commercial radio stations don’t cover Internet streaming, said it’s considering appealing the ruling, according to the newspaper.
The court, in a ruling by Justice Lindsay Foster, said the service sent out as radio waves and through the Internet is essentially the same, differing only in delivery methods, according to the Herald.
An earlier decision related to sports video streaming also said that no additional payment was required, the Herald reported.
Fraserside, Maker of Adult Films, Wins $4 Million Judgment
Fraserside IP LLP, the holder of IP rights for a more than 1,000 adult films, was awarded a $4 million default judgment in a copyright-infringement case.
The company, based in Northwood, Iowa, sued the proprietors of the pornvisit.com website in federal court in the Northern District of Iowa in July for copyright infringement. According to court papers, the website was one of the most visited on the Internet, and Fraserside’s films were viewed without authorization as many as hundreds of thousands of times.
PornVisit sold ad space on its website, which, Fraserside said, was “designed for the sole purpose of taking commercial advantage of copyrighted works without any authority whatsoever.” The website operator achieved commercial and financial advantage “without purchasing or licensing any rights from the copyright holders nor incurring the significant expense of creating and generating the content itself,” Fraserside said in its pleadings.
The website sold memberships for $3.95 for two days of access or $29.95 a month or six months for $99.95, according to court papers. Those who paid PornVisit a premium membership could download content.
The defendants in the case are Mark and Mina Faragalla of Beaumont, California, who operate PornVisit. Their site generated at least $720,000 a year in ad revenue alone, Judge Mark. W. Bennett said in a Feb. 13 order, noting that the site is now shut down.
Bennett said Fraserside demonstrated that PornVisit infringed both copyrights and trademarks and was entitled to damages. In a default judgment, he awarded the company $4 million in damages and attorney fees. Additionally, he entered a permanent order barring the Faragallas of further infringement of the Fraserside intellectual property.
The Faragallas didn’t appear in court, and didn’t respond to any court filings.
Fraserside was represented by Chad Lorin Belville of Phoenix, Arizona.
The case is Fraserside IP LLC v. Mark Faragalla, 3:11-cv-03034-MWB, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa.
For copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
UConn’s Donor List Is Protectable Trade Secret, High Court Says
Connecticut’s Supreme Court has said the University of Connecticut can refuse to identify its donors, the Hartford Courant reported.
The university had argued that its donors’ identities were a trade secret that, if revealed, could lead to other schools’ luring them away, according to the newspaper.
The high court affirmed a lower court ruling, saying easy access to the donors’ identity could harm the school’s ability to raise money, the Courant reported.
The information has been sought by a former member of the state legislature, according to the newspaper.