(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Wi-Lan in Patent section.)
By Victoria Slind-Flor
March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. said it filed an additional patent lawsuit against Apple Inc. in Seoul, deepening a global legal dispute between the world’s two largest smartphone makers.
Samsung filed the suit March 7, claiming Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPad 2 infringed patents related to mobile-phone technologies for features such as displaying user interface and short messages, Nam Ki Yung, a spokesman for the Suwon, South Korea-based company said by phone yesterday.
The latest case in Samsung’s local market adds to the dispute which the two companies have been locked globally since the iPhone maker said in an April suit that the South Korean company’s Galaxy devices copied its products. Samsung had previously filed a separate patent suit against Apple in Seoul.
Steve Park, a Seoul-based Apple spokesman, declined to comment on the new Seoul case.
Samsung yesterday denied a Wall Street Journal report that Apple offered to settle some pending litigation in exchange for royalty payments. The two companies both lost patent cases against each other in a court in Mannheim, Germany on March 2.
Samsung edged out Apple as the top smartphone seller last year, according to an estimate from Strategy Analytics.
Enzo Sues Abbott, Becton, Hologic Over Gene-Mapping Patent
An Enzo Biochem Inc. unit sued Abbott Laboratories, Becton Dickinson & Co. and Hologic Inc. for allegedly infringing a patent for gene-mapping in disease diagnostics.
Enzo Life Sciences Inc., based in Farmingdale, New York, is asking for a jury trial, unspecified damages and an order to stop sales of the allegedly infringing products, according to three complaints filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.
If a court order blocking future infringement isn’t granted, Enzo should be paid “a compulsory ongoing licensing fee” by the defendants, according to the complaint.
Enzo in February sued Roche Diagnostics Corp., Life Technologies Corp. and Gen-Probe Inc. in the same court claiming infringement of the same patent -- 6,992,180 -- which was issued in January 2006.
The technology involves evaluation of DNA sequences to detect diseases or irregularities such as penicillin resistance in patients with strep infections, gonorrhea or tuberculosis, according to patent papers.
“Abbott doesn’t believe its product infringes this patent and will defend itself accordingly,” said Adelle Infante, a spokeswoman for Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott, in an e-mailed statement.
“We’ve received the complaint and are reviewing it,” said Colleen White, a spokeswoman for Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based Becton Dickinson.
Officials at Bedford, Massachusetts-based Hologic weren’t immediately available to comment on the patent challenge.
The cases are Enzo v. Abbott Laboratories, 12-cv-00274; Enzo v. Becton Dickinson, 12-cv-00275; and Enzo v. Hologic, 12-cv-00276; U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Wi-Lan Patent Claim Against LG Electronics Dismissed in U.S.
Wi-Lan Inc. lost its bid for a court ruling that LG Electronics Inc. infringed its patent for technology that permits parents to control their children’s television viewing based on program ratings.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan ruled yesterday that LG, based in Seoul, hasn’t infringed Wi-Lan’s Patent 5,828,402, which covers a method for “selectively blocking audio and visual signals.”
Kaplan said that Wi-Lan had argued only that LG may someday infringe on the patent, rather than showing that it did infringe.
“Hypotheticals regarding what another party someday might do are insufficient to show infringement when, as here, a method patent is at issue,” Kaplan wrote. “The fact that a party could infringe on a method patent is insufficient.”
The judge also dismissed trademark infringement and false designation claims by LG over Wi-Lan’s use of LG’s logo on its website.
Kathryn Hughes, a Wi-Lan spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment on the ruling. Wi-Lan, based in Ottawa, licenses technology patents to other companies.
The case is Wi-Lan Inc. v. LG Electronics USA Inc., 10-CV-432, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
For more patent news, click here.
Harley-Davidson Settles Trademark Dispute Over ‘Brando’ Boot
Harley-Davidson Inc., the largest U.S. motorcycle maker, has settled a trademark suit with the estate of the late actor Marlon Brando.
According to a March 5 court filing, the parties reached an accord on that date.
The suit, filed in June, accused the Milwaukee-based manufacturer of using the actor’s name without authorization on a boot bearing the Harley brands. The book was said to resemble those worn by the actor in “The Wild One,” a movie released in 1953. The estate -- acting through Brando Enterprises -- claimed Brando’s publicity rights were violated.
Ironically, according to the Motorcycle Views website collection of motorcycle myths, the bike Brando rode in the film wasn’t a Harley. Instead the actor, who died in 2004 at the age of 80, rode his own personal bike, which was a Triumph Thunderbird 650.
Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed in the court filing.
The case is Brando Enterprises LP v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., 2:11-cv-05473-CAS-AGR, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
For more trademark news, click here.
Sony Rivals Quizzed by EU About Higher Prices From EMI Bid
A Sony Corp.-led group’s rivals and customers were quizzed by European Union antitrust regulators examining whether its $2.2 billion purchase of EMI Group’s publishing unit would allow it to increase prices.
The EU also asked whether licenses for Sony and EMI’s music portfolio were critical for online music services, according to a copy of the questionnaire seen by Bloomberg News. The European Commission has an April 2 deadline to rule on the bid.
Citigroup Inc. agreed in November to sell EMI Group’s recorded-music and publishing businesses in separate transactions. The EU is also looking at Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group’s bid for London-based EMI’s recorded music business and quizzed companies last month over that deal.
The Sony group would gain control of EMI’s publishing rights to classics such as “New York, New York” and “Stand By Your Man,” adding to Sony’s portfolio of songs by Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the joint venture formed in 1995 that is co-owned by Sony Corp. and Michael Jackson’s estate, will oversee the new business.
The EU also asked whether music publishers use their control over online recording and publishing rights to influence rates and conditions and if companies that control both recorded and publishing rights for music tend to get better licensing deals that earn higher revenues.
Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission, declined to comment on the document. Voice-mail messages left at the London offices of Sony/ATV Music Publishing weren’t returned. Richard O’Brien, a spokesman for EMI, declined to comment.
Righthaven Loses Copyrights It Claimed Others Infringed
Stephens Media Group LLC’s attempt to enforce copyrights for its newspapers may have backfired on the Las Vegas-based publishing company.
In 2011, Righthaven LLC filed more than 100 copyright-infringement suits against people who had posted content from Stephens’ newspapers on their websites. Courts were generally unsympathetic to these claims, finding that Righthaven lacked the standing to pursue infringement claims as Stephens retained certain aspects of the control of the copyrights.
Righthaven found itself in a progressively more precarious situation after the court ordered it to pay attorney fees to a defendant it had sued. The company failed to comply with the court order, and its Internet domain name was seized and auctioned off.
On March 5, in federal court in Las Vegas, the court noted that counsel for Righthaven had failed to appear and that the clerk’s attempts to contact his office were futile.
The court then transferred all remaining interests belonging to Righthaven be transferred to the defendant. It spelled out specifically that this included the copyrights.
This would put the defendant Righthaven sued in the unusual position of owning the copyright to the content he was said to have infringed. The court did deny the defendant’s request for an order known as a “writ of bodily attachment,” which would have enabled the forced court appearance of Righthaven’s absent counsel.
The case is Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn, 2:11-cv-00050-PMP-RJJ, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).
For copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Allergan Wins Order Blocking Sales of Merz’s Botox Competitor
Allergan Inc., the maker of Botox injections for cosmetic purposes, won a court order blocking Merz Pharma GmbH from selling a rival product after Allergan claimed its trade secrets were stolen.
U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford in Santa Ana, California, issued an injunction March 6 against Merz following a trial without a jury. Guilford’s written findings and conclusions will be released March 9 with an order that will specify the length and terms of the injunction.
Guilford cited “dramatic examples of misappropriation” of Allergan’s proprietary information, saying he was troubled that some Allergan employees signed contracts with Merz and then delayed giving final notice to begin e-mailing company data to themselves.
Allergan, based in Irvine, California, alleges that Merz, as it prepared to sell Xeomin for the treatment of certain muscle spasms in 2010, in competition with Botox, targeted Allergan sales representatives who brought along confidential materials, including sales figures and customer lists.
Allergan said in a statement that it was pleased with the immediate injunction.
Allergan in 2010 sued the German drugmaker and its U.S. units as well as former Allergan sales representatives who were hired by Merz. The commercial introduction of Xeomin for cosmetic use is scheduled for March 12 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in San Diego.
Lawyers for Allergan sought a court order blocking the sale by Merz of any product competing with Botox for one year and barring the sale of Xeomin to anyone who has been an Allergan customer. Allergan also seeks the return of trade secrets.
Rick McKnight, an attorney for Merz, said that the judge’s bench ruling appears to be “encouraging settlement.”
Merz contended in the trial that the materials Allergan alleges were misappropriated were either not trade secrets, weren’t confidential, or were never seen or used by Merz employees.
In his closing argument yesterday, McKnight said the proposed 12-month ban on Xeomin sales “puts the companies out of business.”
The case is Allergan v. Merz, 11-00446, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).