Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against DuPont Co. and its Pioneer Hi-Bred unit over a quicker way to develop new seeds with fewer failures.
Pioneer’s laser-assisted seed selection infringes Monsanto patents covering a method known as seed chipping, a way of testing the genetics of a large batch of seeds while maintaining their ability to be planted, Monsanto said.
The new complaint, filed June 18 in federal court in St. Louis, expands the legal battle between the two largest seed companies. Pioneer sued Monsanto in 2011 over ways to produce corn seed and a 2009 patent suit Monsanto filed against Pioneer over herbicide-resistant corn and soybean seeds is scheduled for trial next month.
“We believe this latest suit by Monsanto is without merit, and we will vigorously defend our position in court,” Dan Turner, a spokesman for DuPont, said in an e-mailed statement. “Monsanto continues to use litigation in an attempt to limit Pioneer from being an effective competitor. This tactic has not worked in previous cases, and it will not work in this matter.”
Seed chipping enables automated sampling of material from seeds without harming their viability. Researchers can cull individual seeds to choose ones that have desired traits and reject others. The process shaves months off the development cycle and eliminates waste, according to the complaint.
Monsanto said it first demonstrated its seed-chipper system in August 2007 in Illinois. Within months of the company’s patent applications being made public, Pioneer filed its own applications “which include crude, hastily hand-drawn figures and purport to describe and claim subject matter disclosed in Monsanto’s seed-chipper patent applications,” St. Louis-based Monsanto said in the complaint.
DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, is building a technology hub for its seed business in Beijing, employing about 50 researchers who will be using Monsanto technology, and is using the process to develop Pioneer’s Optimum Aquamax hybrids that are used in areas with limited water, Monsanto said.
Monsanto is seeking a court order to block further use of its inventions, and wants cash compensation for the unauthorized copying.
The case is Monsanto Co. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., 12cv1090, U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri, St. Louis.
Apple Appeals Court Ruling in Samsung Galaxy Fight Stands
Apple Inc. can renew its bid for a ban on U.S. sales of Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer after an appeals court said it will let stand a May ruling on a patent dispute between the two device makers.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday denied a petition by Samsung that it reconsider its ruling, which said that Apple could pursue the ban while a patent-infringement case is pending. Notice of the denial was posted on the court’s website.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on June 4 refused to consider Apple’s request, because the case was still before the Federal Circuit. With yesterday’s denial, the appeals court will issue an order that formally sends the case back to Koh.
Cupertino, California-based Apple claims Samsung copied the look and features of its iPad and iPhone. It has another case against Samsung in California in which it is trying to halt sales of Samsung’s newest Galaxy smartphone while that lawsuit is pending.
Apple and Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung have 30 patent suits pending in 10 countries on four continents. It’s the biggest fight in the global war for market share in smartphones and tablet computers.
The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-1105, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11-1846, U.S. District Court for the District of California (San Jose).
Apple Gets Patent on Way of Improving Mobile Device Navigation
Apple Inc., maker of the iPod and iPhone, received a patent on a method of improving mobile device navigation, even when there is interference with GPS signals.
Patent 8,204,684, which is one of 4,412 U.S. patents issued June 19, covers what Cupertino, California-based Apple calls “adaptive mobile device navigation.”
Under this system, a mobile device uses the technique of dead reckoning, which calculates a present position based on a previously determined position. Updated locations can be obtained through “turn comparison” using motion sensing and user feedback, according to the patent.
The motion sensors can be one or a combination of an accelerometer, a compass, and/or a gyroscope.
Apple says feedback can be obtained from the user through the use of photographs with “geographic tag information corresponding to locations near an estimated location of the device.”
Apple applied for the patent in January 2008 with the assistance of Boston’s Fish & Richardson PC.
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Haldopi to Use Kidexpo to Build Kids’ Copyright Compliance
Haldopi, the French government agency that administers copyrights, has said it will develop a program aimed at developing copyright awareness and compliance it plans to direct to 150,000 French children, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website reported.
The program will be presented at the Kidexpo children’s trade show exhibition in Paris in October, and Haldopi has invited rights-holders to participate, according to TorrentFreak.
The copyright owners are invited to “build common tools tailored to that audience and to promote legal offers,” TorrentFreak Reported.
Delhi Court to Issue Order on ‘Fashion’ Film Copyright Case
A court in Delhi, India, will issue an order June 27 in a copyright infringement case between an author and Madhur Bhandarkar, a Bollywood filmmaker, the Daily News Analysis reported.
Seema Seth, a former actress who wrote “El-Dorado,” has claimed Bhandarkar’s “Fashion” film is based on her book without authorization, according to Daily News Analysis.
Seth is arguing her case without counsel despite the court’s suggestion she receive help from the Delhi Legal Services Authority, the news service reported.
The writer said that those doing “careful reading” of her book would conclude the plot has been derived from her book.
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Battle Over St. Kilda Marks Pits Council Against National Trust
Scotland’s National Trust, a conservation charity that owns some of that country’s most remote islands, is at odds with a government council for the Outer Hebrides islands over “St. Kilda” trademarks, Scotland’s Deadline News reported.
The Western Isles Council registered the marks in the European Union, and plans to license them for a range of products related to the deserted St. Kilda islands, designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations’ UNESCO agency, according to Deadline News.
The National Trust for Scotland has appealed the trademark award to the European Court of First Instance, saying its ownership of the islands entitles it to own the trademarks, too, Deadline News reported.
A spokesman for the Western Isles Council said its ownership of the marks presents an opportunity to benefit the Outer Hebrides, according to Deadline News.
Official Trademarks for Amangwe Royal Family to Be Revealed
Official trademarks belonging to the royal family of the Amangwe clan will be made public in September, Zimbabwe’s Newsday reported.
During the Amangwe’s King Ntshosho II’s visit to Zimbabwe this month, organizers of the tour said there is a proliferation of fake miniature trademarks belonging to the clan, according to Newsday.
The Amangwe people live in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa, and the new trademarks will cover members of the royal family from all three countries, Newsday reported.
Members of the Amangwe can be identified by their use of “Ndiweni,” “Mbambo” and “Zwane’ as surnames, according to Newsday.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Survey Finds Indian Industrial Espionage Frequent, Acknowledged
More than 35 percent of companies operating in India engage in industrial espionage, according to a survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
The survey was conducted between January and May and looked at diverse sectors of the Indian economy including biotech, consumer package goods, health-care, information technology, automotive, banking, financial services, insurance, infrastructure and manufacturing. More than 200 private investigative agencies were also consulted.
Many company representatives acknowledged the prevalence of industrial espionage and the use of private investigators to learn their competitors’ trade secrets, the chamber said in a statement.
They also acknowledged using detective and surveillance agencies to spy on their employees’ lifestyles, keep track of their whereabouts, and also survey ex-employees. Companies also monitor social media to keep track of competitors’ developments, and also said they will plant spies in competitor companies, typically in low-level jobs such as receptionists or operators of photo-copying machines, the survey found.
Additionally, about 25 percent of the survey’s respondents said they have hired computer experts to install software to hack competitors’ networks and track e-mails.
The survey found that demand for gadgets used for spying has risen 30 percent. Tools include audio-video surveillance devices, and GPS tracking systems.
Erie County Releases Law Fee Rates Despite Trade Secrets Claim
New York’s Erie County has backed down from its insistence that the fees it’s paying Boston’s Nixon Peabody LLP to negotiate a lease with the Buffalo Bills football team for a county-owned stadium is a trade secret, the Buffalo News reported.
The rate for firm partners doing the negotiating is $250 per hour, lower than rates offered by seven other firms that had been seeking the business, according to the Buffalo News.
Although the firm had labeled the billing rates a trade secret, the executive director of New York’s Committee on Open Government labeled that request ‘‘unjustifiable,” the newspaper reported.
Erie County Attorney Michael Siragusa told the newspaper that three Nixon Peabody lawyers will be actively involved in the negotiations with six others available on an as-needed basis.