Pfizer, Samsung, Microsoft, WIPO: Intellectual Property

Pfizer Inc. won a ruling that blocks generic versions of its drug Lyrica until 2018.

U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet ruled yesterday that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and other generic-drug makers infringed some claims of patents covering Lyrica. He issued an order barring the generics manufacturers from making and selling products that infringe until after the patents’ expiration.

He also ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from approving the generic forms of the drug until the patents’ expiration.

The suit was filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, in April 2009, with Pfizer alleging that patents 6,197,819 and 6,001,876 were infringed.

One of the patents was issued to Northwestern University, which licensed it exclusively to Pfizer’s Warner-Lambert unit. The university is a co-plaintiff in the case.

Lyrica is used to control seizures and to treat nerve pain, including fibromyalgia.

The case is Pfizer v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 09-cv-00307, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Samsung Asks to Restrict Apple References to Steve Jobs at Trial

Samsung Electronics Co. asked a federal judge to restrict references by Apple Inc.’s lawyers to the company’s late founder Steve Jobs at a jury trial scheduled for July 30 over mobile-device patents.

Harold McElhinny, a lawyer for Apple, told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, yesterday that he plans to show jurors two slides of Jobs during opening statements in the case. The slides include one when Jobs announced the release of the iPhone in 2007 -- an “announcement that went around the world,” the lawyer said.

“I don’t want to see an opening statement where jurors see 15 images of Steve Jobs,” Charles K. Verhoeven, a Samsung attorney, told Koh.

“Whether Mr. Jobs made a presentation is not relevant to their case” and excessive use of his image is “prejudicial to the jury,” Verhoeven said. “It shouldn’t be a popularity contest.”

The dispute over the use Apple plans to make of its iconic founder came at the conclusion of arguments and rulings over pretrial issues. In the lawsuit, Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung and Cupertino, California-based Apple, the world’s two biggest makers of high-end phones, have accused each other of copying designs and technology for mobile devices. The companies are fighting patent battles on four continents to retain their dominance in the $219 billion global smartphone market.

“I’m not doing a complete prohibition of Steve Jobs, but it needs to be relevant,” Koh said, adding that she wants to see the images Apple intends to display before she issues a final ruling.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 12-cv-00630, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more patent news, click here.


Twinings Sued Over ‘Bedtime Blend’ by Oregon Tea Company

An Oregon tea company founded by members of a Sikh sect sued Associated British Foods Plc’s Twinings North America unit for trademark infringement.

The defendant is one of the U.K.’s oldest continually operating businesses, having been active in the tea trade since 1706, according to the company website.

East West Tea Co. of Springfield, Oregon, is suing Twinings, claiming its “Bedtime” trademark is infringed. East West was previously known as Golden Temple of Oregon LLC.

A Sikh leader, Yogi Bhajan, served his students a spiced tea blend that became known as “Yogi Tea,” and the students formed a company to sell and market the tea. He licensed his name and likeness to the company, and, after his death in 2004, that license was disputed by his widow. The tea label no longer bears his likeness.

Golden Temple of Oregon changed its name to East West Tea Co. in March, as part of bankruptcy proceedings, according to the SikhDharmaWorldwide website.

In the trademark-infringement suit, East West said it’s harmed by Twinings’s sale of a “Bedtime Blend” tea. The Oregon company claims the public is confused by the name similarity, and is likely to assume falsely that an affiliation exists between the two companies.

East West asked the federal court in Eugene, Oregon, to bar Twinings’s use of “Bedtime” and “Bedtime Blend,” and for a recall and destruction of all products and promotional material bearing the allegedly infringing marks.

Additionally, East West seeks money damages, Twinings’s profits derived from the alleged infringement, and awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.

Twinings didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is East West Tea Co. LLC v. R. Twining & Co Ltd., 12-cv-01298, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Eugene).

Party Pieces Website Offerings Run Afoul of Olympics Trademarks

The family of Prince William’s wife Catherine Middleton was asked to make some changes on its Party Pieces website to avoid running into trademark problems related to the London Olympics, the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper reported.

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games asked the Middletons to make “minor changes” in some of the copy that mentioned “Games,” according to the newspaper.

The company sells a wide range of party-related products and was offering a ring toss game in the Olympic colors, the Telegraph reported.

LOCOG, which is charged with protecting intellectual-property rights related to the Olympics, has been looking at ad copy throughout the U.K. for such protected words as “gold,” “Games,” “2012,” “summer” and “London,” according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.


Microsoft, RIAA, Comcast’s NBCUniversal Lead Takedown Requests

Microsoft Corp. filed the most requests with Google Inc. to take down links to infringing content in the past month, according to a Google website.

The requests, made under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, topped 475,000 for the Redmond, Washington-based software company. The Recording Industry Association of America, a music-industry trade and advocacy group, came in second, with 427,000 takedown requests. Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal unit came in third, with 218,000.

Google lists all the websites for which takedown requests have made., an anti-copyright website, said that in the process of making this information available, the search engine company has, in effect, built the biggest database in the world of links to pirated media.

CCC Sets Up Special License for University-Affiliated Hospitals

Copyright Clearance Center Inc., the Massachusetts-based nonprofit that provides content licensing for businesses and schools, set up a special copyright license for university-affiliated hospitals.

The license, which is available to any hospital with a medical school, enables content-sharing from journals, books, blogs, newspapers and e-books. It covers the sharing of content among employees, faculty, researchers and students.

The special license was developed because university-affiliated hospitals have “unique needs” that involve both academic and corporate users and users in a shared environment, the center said in a statement.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Talk

WIPO Responds to U.S. Concerns About IT for Iraq, North Korea

The World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency, is taking another look at its technical assistance programs because of concerns raised about equipment provided to nations that are subject to UN sanctions.

In the future, any WIPO activity in a country subject to UN sanctions will be referred to the agency’s legal counsel for guidance and clearance, WIPO said in a statement yesterday.

The provision of what WIPO calls “standard IT equipment” to intellectual-property offices in North Korea and Iran that has already occurred under the organization’s business-modernization program is being referred to the appropriate UN sanctions committee, WIPO said in its statement.

WIPO promotes the use and classification of intellectual property and is mandated by its 185 member nations to provide materials to help developing countries modernize their patent offices.

The U.S. was pressuring WIPO to allow an external probe of shipments it made to Iran and North Korea because the computer technology could have been used for military applications.

On July 17, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman, members of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry asking for “unfettered access to all documents and witnesses relating to these transfers to Iran and North Korea.”

The committee has also asked the U.S. government to freeze all WIPO contributions, according to a separate July 12 letter from Ros-Lehtinen to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. plans to use “all elements of American power” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Clinton told reporters in Jerusalem. Iran has been the subject of four rounds of UN sanctions, including the supply or sale of equipment and technology, aimed at curbing the development of such weapons. The WIPO shipments may violate UN and U.S. sanctions, said Ros-Lehtinen and Berman.

Iran and North Korea were beneficiaries of “standard information-technology equipment” after meeting WIPO’s needs-assessment and validation procedures, Edward Kwakwa, legal counsel at the Geneva-based organization, said July 4.

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