Illumina, AstraZeneca, Margaritaville: Intellectual Property

LadaTech LLC, a biotech company partly owned by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, won a jury verdict that rival Illumina Inc. infringed a patent for gene-manipulation techniques used in diagnosing disease.

The jury in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, also decided that patent 6,107,023, owned by Larchmont, New York-based LadaTech, is valid and enforceable, according to court papers. The jury didn’t rule on damages.

LadaTech sued San Diego-based Illumina in 2009. The trial was supervised by U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson.

“This verdict is an important reaffirmation of the importance of the LadaTech patent” Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Didier said in a statement yesterday.

Laura Trotter, an Illumina spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the verdict.

The case is LadaTech LLC v. Illumina Inc., 09CV627, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

AstraZeneca, Nycomed Antitrust Probe Ended by EU Regulators

European Union regulators dropped a probe into AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Nycomed unit over possible collusion to keep cheaper copies of medicines off the market.

“Our investigation did not enable us to conclude that AstraZeneca and Nycomed had infringed EU antitrust rules,” Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, said in an e-mail. “We are taking the issue of possible hindering or delaying of generic entry very seriously and we have several other ongoing antitrust investigations in the pharmaceutical sector.”

The EU’s antitrust agency raided AstraZeneca and Nycomed in November 2010. AstraZeneca said at the time that the inspections at its premises concerned the ulcer drug Nexium. London-based AstraZeneca lost European patent protection on Nexium sales in March 2010.

Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generic-drug producers might harm consumers. The EU opened a probe into Johnson & Johnson and Novartis AG in October and is also investigating Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and its Cephalon Inc. unit over possible efforts to hinder generic drugs.

AstraZeneca is “pleased that the commission has ceased its investigation,” Sarah Lindgreen, a London-based spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “We take compliance with all laws seriously and have a fundamental commitment to doing business in an ethical and proper manner.”

Nycomed has been “fully compliant with all applicable laws and regulations” and it was “pleased to see this confirmed by the commission,” said Tobias Cottmann, a spokesman for Nycomed in Zurich.

Apple Wins German Patent Case Against Motorola Mobility

Apple Inc. won a Munich court ruling against Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. in a case over patents protecting photo-management on mobile devices.

The ruling held that only the “zoomed in” mode in viewing photos on mobile devices infringed a patent, not the “zoomed out” mode, Motorola Mobility said in an e-mailed statement. The company doesn’t expect the ruling to effect future sales as the company has already implemented a new way to view photos, Motorola Mobility said.

Patents for Women’s Inventions Surge Record 35%

Patents granted to women increased a record 35 percent in 2010, led by inventions in the fields of surgery, data processing and computers, according to data compiled by the National Women’s Business Council.

The BGOV Barometer shows that women were listed as inventors on 22,984 patents granted in 2010, about 18 percent of the total issued to U.S.-based applicants. That’s double the share of patents women were granted in 1990, the council said in a report released yesterday to coincide with the start of National Women’s Month. Women received a third of trademarks issued to individuals or sole proprietorships, twice the share from 30 years ago, the council said.

“An increase in patent and trademark ownership may indicate growth in women-owned companies and help shed light on this under-examined topic,” said council Chairwoman Donna James.

While not all inventions or ideas become commercial products, the increase in patents and trademarks for women indicates rising entrepreneurship among women like Janine Jagger, a doctor who obtained patents on safety devices for surgical needles, and Lisa Price, who said receiving a trademark on her hair-products company, Carol’s Daughter, was key to getting funding for her business.

The 35 percent jump for patents granted to women in 2010 compares with a 28 percent increase for men. Part of the surge for both sexes in 2010 can be attributed to a 27 percent increase in the number of U.S. patents issued to applicants worldwide, as the agency sought to reduce a backlog that had reached 750,000 applications awaiting a first review by examiners.

Women were the recipients of 6,533 trademarks in 2010, which represents 33 percent of the registrations for individuals. That’s less than the peak of 7,274 reached in 2008, reflecting a drop in trademark applications because of the slow economy. The majority of trademarks are issued to large companies.

PerkinElmer Sues Waters Technologies Over Spectrometer Patents

PerkinElmer Inc., a maker of scientific instruments, sued rival Waters Technologies Corp. for patent infringement.

Patents 5,962,851 and 5,652,427 are infringed by Waters’s Premier, Synapt and Xevo mass spectrometers, PerkinElmer said in the complaint filed Feb. 29 in federal court in Boston. Mass spectrometry is an analytic technique used to determine the chemical structure of molecules.

Waters, based in Milford, Massachusetts, knew of the two disputed patents and its infringement “for years” and had sought their re-examination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the complaint.

PerkinElmer, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, asked the court to order Waters to halt its allegedly infringing activities and for awards for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Waters declined to comment on the lawsuit, spokesman Jeff Tarmy said in an e-mail.

PerkinElmer is represented by Douglass C. Lawrence, Elizabeth A. Alquist and Jonathan B. Tropp of Day Pitney LLP of Hartford, Connecticut.

The case is PerkinElmer Health Sciences Inc., v. Waters Technologies Corp., 1:12-cv-10385, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For more patent news, click here.


Margaritaville Settles Trademark Dispute with Martiniville

Margaritaville Enterprises LLC, the island-themed company associated with singer Jimmy Buffett, settled a trademark dispute with a restaurant operating under the name Martiniville, according to court filings.

Margaritaville, based in Palm Beach, Florida, sued Martiniville in federal court in Tampa, Florida, in September, claiming its “Margaritaville” and “Fins” trademarks were infringed. Martiniville, of Holmes Beach, Florida, used a name “similar in sight, sound, meaning and commercial impression” to Margaritaville’s marks, according to court papers.

Buffett’s company also objected to the decor of the Martiniville restaurant, and its use of “Fins” as the name of its bar. Martiniville’s trademark application to register what Buffett’s company viewed as potentially infringing trademarks was also objectionable, Margaritaville said.

Counsel for Margaritaville on Feb. 27 filed a request with the court to dismiss the case, saying the dispute was being settled. U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew filed a dismissal order on Feb. 29. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

The case is Margaritaville Enterprises LLC v. Martiniville LLC, 8:11-cv-02218-SCB-TBM, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa).

For more trademark news, click here.


Yahoo May Win Clash Over U.K. Soccer Data, EU Court Says

Yahoo! Inc. may win a bid to access annual schedules of the English and Scottish soccer leagues, the European Union’s highest court said.

Soccer leagues may not be able to claim copyright protection for match schedules, the Luxembourg-based EU court said in a ruling yesterday. The U.K.’s Court of Appeal must make a final decision on the matter.

“A football fixture list cannot be protected by copyright when its compilation is dictated by rules or constraints which leave no room for creative freedom,” the EU court said in a statement on yesterday’s ruling. “The fact that the compilation of the list required significant labor and skill on the part of its creator does not justify, in itself, it being protected by copyright.”

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, and a number of betting companies that want to access the information, are at loggerheads with the soccer leagues over whether their lists’ data is protected by copyright. While Yahoo’s U.K. unit argued the data isn’t protected and can be published without payment, the English and Scottish leagues said they own the rights to the data on the annual fixture lists and can charge for its use.

A London court in 2010 ruled the data is protected by copyright under the EU’s database law. The case is now pending at the Court of Appeal in London, which last year referred the case to the EU tribunal for guidance.

Yahoo “considers the judgment a whole-hearted endorsement of its position that there is no copyright in football fixture lists,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Football DataCo, which is responsible for the Premier League and Football League fixture lists, is “confident” the U.K. court will uphold database protection for the match listings, “which provide much-needed revenue at all levels of the professional game,” David Folker, the company’s general manager, said in an e-mail.

The European Gaming and Betting Association, a group that represents Unibet Group Plc and Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, said the ruling “puts an end” to Football DataCo’s copyright claims on fixture lists used by a number of media companies and betting companies.

The case is: C-604/10, Football DataCo Limited, Football Association Premier League Ltd, Football League Limited, Scottish Premier League Limited, Scottish Football League, PA Sport UK Limited v. Yahoo UK Limited, Stan James (Abingdon) Limited, Stan James Plc, Enetpulse APS.

MathWorks Software Licenses Probed by EU Antitrust Regulators

MathWorks Inc., a maker of product-design software for engineers, is being investigated by European Union antitrust regulators over its refusal to supply a rival with information to help it make compatible products.

The European Commission said it will check whether closely held MathWorks rejected a competitor’s request for end-user licenses and interoperability information to prevent it from “reverse engineering” or analyzing software code to make products that worked with MathWorks’ Simulink and MATLAB software, used in car design and other industries.

Microsoft Corp. was fined 899 million euros ($1.2 billion) by the EU and ordered to provide data to competitors to allow servers to connect to computers using the Windows operating system. MathWorks in 2002 settled a U.S. antitrust case that examined whether it colluded with Wind River Systems Inc. to eliminate a rival for design software.

“As in the Microsoft case, the issue of software interoperability is central to this investigation,” regulators said in a statement. “The opening of proceedings means the commission will examine the case as a matter of priority.”

MathWorks, based in Natick, Massachusetts, didn’t immediately respond to a call and e-mails before normal business hours. The company makes software used by engineers to design computerized control systems for anti-lock brakes on cars, guidance systems for unmanned spacecraft and aircraft flight controls.

EU regulators said last year that they were reviewing the practices of producers of computer-aided design software.

For copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Arent Fox Adds Pharmaceutical Patent Specialist David Wallace

Arent Fox LLP hired W. David Wallace for its intellectual-property practice, the Washington-based firm said in a statement.

Wallace, who does patent litigation and acquisition work, joins from Merchant & Gould of Minneapolis. His clients’ technologies have included pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, organic and inorganic chemistry, polymers, cosmetics, foods, biotechnology and medical devices.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell University, a master’s degree in natural science from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University. He has represented manufacturers of generic drugs in disputes arising under the Hatch-Waxman Act.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE