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Bayer, Apple, News Corp., Allergan: Intellectual Property

India’s government for the first time will allow a generic-drug maker to produce and sell cheaper copies of a patented cancer medicine, a decision that pressures brand-name manufacturers to lower prices.

Natco Pharma Ltd. received a so-called compulsory license to make Bayer AG’s Nexavar, which goes by the generic name sorafenib, and will have to sell it at a 97 percent discount to Bayer’s existing product, India’s Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks said yesterday in a statement on its website.

The ruling marks the first time India, the world’s second-most populous nation, has permitted a generic-drug maker to manufacture copies of a medicine that is protected by patents in the country. More patients could potentially gain access to cheaper versions of other patented treatments, such as new HIV drugs, in India, international aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement.

Under a World Trade Organization agreement known as Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights or TRIPS, member countries can use these compulsory licenses to ensure access to affordable medicines, MSF said. Governments can grant compulsory licenses to allow a company to make a patented product or use a patented process without the consent of the patent owner.

Bayer is “disappointed” with India’s decision to issue a compulsory license, the company said in an e-mailed statement. “We will evaluate our options to further defend our international property rights in India.”

The drug is used for the treatment of advanced stage kidney and liver cancer. Nexavar, which sells for more than 280,000 rupees ($5,605) a month in India, can extend the life of a kidney cancer patient by four to five years, the patent office said.

Under the terms of the license, Natco can charge a maximum of 8,800 rupees for a monthly dose of 120 tablets. The company would have to pay 6 percent of its sales revenue to Bayer as royalty and supply the drug at no cost to at least 600 needy patients each year, the patent office said.

Cipla Ltd., India’s third-biggest drugmaker, also sells a generic version of the treatment for 28,000 rupees a month and had sales of about 90 million rupees last year, Hitesh Mahida, a Mumbai-based analyst at Fortune Equity Brokers, said in an interview. The drugmaker, which began selling the drug in 2010, is locked in a patent dispute with Bayer in the Delhi High Court, he said.

Apple, Motorola Mobility Discussed Patent Settlement, EU Says

Apple Inc. held talks with Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. at the end of last year on a potential cross-licensing settlement to end a dispute over smartphone patents, according to a European Union document.

Apple and Motorola Mobility had discussions in late 2011 to license each others’ patents “possibly to the benefit of all Android” smartphone manufacturers, according to the document on the EU’s website, referring to Google Inc.’s operating system for smartphones and tablets. The companies “also discussed the scope of any potential settlement” after Google completes its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

Apple and Motorola Mobility have sued each other in the U.S. and Europe over technology used in smartphones, a market that researcher IDC said grew 55 percent last year. Apple also filed an antitrust complaint with EU regulators after it said Motorola Mobility violated a pledge to license industry-standard patents on fair terms.

Apple told EU regulators that Motorola Mobility initially wanted it to license the company’s full patent portfolio in order to gain access to Motorola Mobility’s standard-essential patents, said the document which summarized the European Commission’s antitrust review of Google’s bid for Motorola Mobility.

Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for Motorola Mobility in San Diego, declined to immediately comment. Alan Hely, a spokesman for Apple in London, didn’t immediately respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

“Apple also argues that its refusal to accede to this demand led Motorola Mobility to sue Apple in an attempt to exclude Apple’s products from the market,” according to the EU document, published March 9 on the EU website.

Motorola Mobility, which has said it’s been in licensing talks with Apple since 2007, has previously said it licenses its patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms which it offered to Apple.

Google has said it would seek a royalty fee of no more than 2.25 percent of the net cost of devices using its patents, and would try to resolve any disputes through negotiation before asking courts to block use of the Motorola Mobility technology.

Yahoo! Sues Facebook Over Patents Related to Advertising

Yahoo! Inc. accused Facebook Inc. in a federal court lawsuit of infringing patents related to Internet advertising and information sharing.

Yahoo’s attorneys, in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose, seek a court order barring Facebook from infringing 10 patents, plus awards of triple damages.

Yahoo, owner of the most popular U.S. Internet portal, said in February that Facebook must license its technology, pointing out that other Web companies have licensed its intellectual property. Yahoo is looking for ways to revive growth after losing ground to Facebook in the display advertising market and trailing Google Inc. in Web searches.

“We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights,” Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said Feb. 27 in an e-mailed statement.

Yahoo lost its No. 1 spot to Facebook last year in the U.S. market for display advertising, which includes video and graphically-based marketing messages, according to EMarketer Inc. In January, Yahoo reported fourth-quarter revenue of $1.17 billion, excluding sales passed on to partner sites. That fell short of analysts’ estimates of $1.19 billion.

Larry Yu, spokesman for Facebook, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

For more patent news, click here.


Trademark Applications Increase 6.5 Percent in 2011, WIPO Says

The number of international trademark applications in 2011 grew 6.5 percent over those filed the previous year, the World Intellectual Property Organization said in a statement yesterday. WIPO is a United Nations agency responsible for promoting intellectual property protections worldwide.

China led with the greatest number of applications filed by one country, followed by Germany, France, the U.S. and Switzerland. Russia had the largest growth rate in applications, filing 35.6 percent more applications than the previous year.

The most popular class for registration was packages and containers for the transportation or handling of goods, followed by clocks and watches, furnishings, household goods, and means of transports.

For more trademark news, click here.


E-Book Publishers Need to Make Changes to Settle Probe, EU Says

News Corp.’s Harper Collins and four other publishers probed by European Union need to address regulatory concerns before they can settle the antitrust case, the EU’s competition commissioner said.

Joaquin Almunia, the antitrust chief, told reporters yesterday that a settlement was only possible if the publishers were “ready to remove” the cause of EU objections regarding sales restrictions. No talks on a settlement are currently taking place, he said.

The European Commission last year opened an investigation into Apple Inc.’s deals with e-book publishers Harper Collins, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre, CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, Pearson Plc’s Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan division that may restrict sales.

The U.S. Justice Department is discussing a possible settlement with some companies involved in its probe of Apple and publishers over e-books prices, according to a person familiar with the matter last week.

The investigation is important to regulators “because the e-books market is growing very fast and we have an interest to avoid collusive practices,” Almunia said.

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Allergan’s Trade Secrets Misappropriated; Judge Bans Xeomin Sale

Trade secrets belonging to Allergan Inc. were misappropriated by Merz Pharmaceuticals LLC, a federal judge in Santa Ana, California, has ruled.

The trade secrets were related to sales and relationships with physician customers for Irvine, California-based Allergan’s Botox and Juvederm products. U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford said there was “overwhelming circumstantial and direct evidence” that Merz improperly was in possession of Allergan’s confidential material. He also said it was clear that Allergan faces “a substantial threat of impending injury” because Merz had this information.

In an order issued March 9, he ruled that it was in the public interest to bar Merz from using and disclosing Allergan’s trade secrets, and to forbid the sale of Merz’s competing Xeomin product for 10 months.

Merz was also ordered to use “industry standard forensic tools” to search for Allergan trade secrets in its physical offices and in electronic data sources. Merz is required to report to the court the status of its actions six, 12 and 18 months from Judge Guilford’s March 9 order.

The case is Allergan Inc. v. Merz Pharmaceuticals LLC, 8:11-cv-00446-AG-E, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

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