Kodak, DuPont, HTC, Dow Jones: Intellectual Property

Eastman Kodak Co. failed to persuade a judge to rule that Apple Inc. has no interest in a group of patents that Kodak is putting up for sale as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper in Manhattan said the dispute could be resolved as part of a lawsuit in Kodak’s Chapter 11 case.

“An adversary proceeding will permit the parties to raise issues in an orderly and expeditious fashion and preserve all of their just rights,” Gropper said at the hearing.

Kodak is planning to sell patent assets and said in court papers that it needed the order to aid in the sale. Apple has claimed ownership of the patents and is trying to “delay and derail” the sale plans, Kodak said.

Andrew Dietderich, an attorney for Rochester, New York-based Kodak, said after the hearing that the company would file an adversary proceeding against Apple.

The bankruptcy case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District New York (Manhattan).

DuPont, BP Win Temporary Halt to Rival’s Sale of Isobutanol

A joint venture between DuPont Co. and BP Plc won a court order temporarily preventing a competing biofuel company from trying to sell isobutanol produced at a plant that came online last month.

U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson, in Wilmington, Delaware, issued an order June 12 limiting Gevo Inc. from shipping the chemical, used in making biofuels, to new customers. The company can continue selling isobutanol to Sasol Chemical Industries Ltd. and the U.S. Air Force, Robinson said.

Gevo is involved in several patent lawsuits with Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, which DuPont, a specialty chemical maker based in Wilmington, and U.K.-based oil company BP, own.

“This order provides protection for markets of key interest to Butamax,” Butamax Chief Executive Officer Paul Beckwith said in a statement.

Gevo, based in Englewood, Colorado, built a biofuels plant in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce renewable additives that can be sold to oil refiners that make diesel and jet fuel. The Minnesota plant can also produce ethanol, according to court papers.

Robinson said the limits on Gevo will remain in place until she issues a decision on a related request for a preliminary injunction.

The order means Gevo can’t pursue new customers, Brett Lund, Gevo’s general counsel, said in an interview yesterday.

“Our business model is to sell into jet-fuel and chemical markets,” Lund said. The judge “is just saying ‘Don’t go beyond your business model,’ and that’s fine,” he said.

The ruling on Butamax’s request for a preliminary injunction could come in two to three weeks, Lund said.

Last year, Gevo asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review the validity of a Butamax patent for a fuel additive, questioning who was first to invent the technology.

The case is Butamax (TM) Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo Inc., 12-cv-70 U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

HTC Ends Appeal of U.S. Patent Ruling Win by Apple on Phones

HTC Corp. dropped its appeal of a U.S. International Trade Commission patent case over mobile-phone technology that it lost against Apple Corp., according to a notice posted on the court’s website.

The trade agency in February said that Apple wasn’t violating HTC’s patent rights over a way to control how mobile phones manage power supply. HTC sought the dismissal of its appeal May 31 and the request was granted yesterday, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

“We respect the ruling and have made the decision to focus on other pending cases at this time,” HTC said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The companies have other cases against each other pending at the trade agency, and HTC is appealing a finding that it infringed an Apple patent, according to court and trade agency dockets. In the case won by Apple, some of HTC’s phones were held up at the U.S. border last month to ensure the company had removed a feature for data detection that was found to violate Apple’s patent.

In a separate case Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC filed against Apple, an ITC judge on June 8 threw out five of the patents, leaving three remaining. HTC had obtained the five patents from Google Inc., whose Android operating system is the most popular platform for mobile devices.

“We believe the judge’s decision is erroneous as a matter of law and will appeal the ruling to the Commission,” HTC said yesterday. “We are confident in our ownership of the patents, and that Apple infringes our intellectual property. We look forward to presenting our case on the remaining patents to the judge at trial later this year.”

Cupertino, California-based Apple, which developed its own operating system for the iPhone and iPad, is trying to curtail the growth of Android. Apple has patent-infringement disputes at the trade agency with Android-device makers Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings, now a unit of Google, as well as HTC.

The HTC case against Apple is In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices, 337-721 and the newer HTC case is In the Matter of Electronic Devices with Communication Capabilities, 337-721. Both cases are filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Microsoft Plans to Patent Emotionally Charged Advertising

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, is seeking a patent on a method of targeting advertisements on the basis of a computer user’s emotion.

Application 20120143693, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office June 7, is related to the use of emotional tags in advertising. Users’ online activities are obtained and the users are hit with advertisements based on the emotional state related to that activity, according to the application.

Microsoft said users’ online activity is processed to “identify a tone of content.” The computer system also receives indications of the users’ reactions to the content.

The computer system would then decide which ad with the “highest monetization value” to deliver to the user, based on that user’s presumed emotional state.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft filed the application for this patent in December, 2012.

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Cision Settles Copyright Infringement Case Brought by Dow Jones

Cision AB, a Swedish media-services provider, settled a copyright infringement case with News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co. unit.

The settlement for an undisclosed amount restricts Cision from redistributing original content from New York-based Dow Jones, Cision said June 12 in a statement. The settlement will affect second-quarter earnings and Stockholm-based Cision now forecasts a loss before interest and taxes of 10 million kronor ($1.4 million). Underlying earnings before interest and taxes, excluding the payment and legal fees, is forecast to be 35 million kronor in the quarter, Cision said.

Cision on March 8 said it had received a “threat from a major U.S. publisher” of a damages claim based on alleged infringement of rights and that the effect on full-year earnings could be significant. The company said 11 days later it would cancel its dividend proposal to the annual general meeting as well as a share buyback plan.

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Weet-Bix Maker’s ‘Granola’ Trademark Claim Rejected by Court

Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Co., a food company owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has lost a trademark challenge involving the word “granola,” Australia’s Brisbane Times reported.

The Melbourne-based food company that’s known as the maker of Weet-Bix cereals had claimed that while “granola” is a generic term in the U.S., it had a “boutique” meaning in Australia and distinguished its products from those of its competitors, according to the Times.

Irrewarra Sourdough Bakery of Geelong, Australia, successful argued that the term was widely used as a purely descriptive term in that country, the newspaper reported.

Justice Janet Jagot of Australia’s federal court noted that the term has appeared in Australia’s dictionaries since 2004 and said and has had enough time to “percolate into the consciousness of Australians,” according to the Times.

Japanese University Gets Blue-Field License From Boise State

Boise State University has licensed its blue-surface playing field to a Japanese university.

The Idaho school has enforced its trademarks related to the blue-colored surface in the past, suing a bail bond company that was promoting itself through the use of blue-turf rally towels and T-shirts with a blue-turf image.

The deal with Japan’s Hosei University marks the first time the distinctive blue field and orange end zone trademark has been licensed internationally, the school said in a statement. Both schools use blue and orange as school colors. Boise State said it has the only non-green football field among the National College Athletic Association’s Division 1 schools.

Hosei’s new field was dedicated June 1. The school is a football powerhouse in Japan, and has won that nation’s collegiate championship several times.

For more trademark news, click here.

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