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P&G, Samsung, Google, Apple: Intellectual Property

Procter & Gamble Co., the world’s largest consumer-products company, sued a manufacturer of private-label products for patent infringement.

The suit, filed July 20 in federal court in Cincinnati, accused Team Technologies Inc., of Morristown, Tennessee, of infringing three patents related to tooth-whitening products.

Procter & Gamble said the “Oral Care Whitening Dental Strips” Team Technologies sells to Rite Aid Corp. infringe patents 5,891,453, 5,894,017, and 7,122,199. Another allegedly infringing tooth-whitening product produced by Team Technologies is sold to CVS Caremark Corp., the company said in its pleadings. Neither CVS nor Rite Aid is named as a defendant.

Team Technologies didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment. According to the company website, Team Technologies produces a range of dental-related products including toothbrushes, denture adhesives and cases for orthodontic appliances.

P&G said it’s harmed by Team Technologies actions, and that by providing instructions on how to use its private-label tooth-whitening products, the Tennessee company is inducing others to infringe the patents.

The Cincinnati-based consumer products company asked the court to bar further infringement by Team Technologies, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Claiming the infringement is deliberate, P&G asked the court to triple the damages award to punish Teach Technologies for its actions.

The case is Procter & Gamble Co., v. Team Technologies Inc., 1:12-cv-00553-SJD, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati).

Samsung’s Challenge to Galaxy Nexus Ban to Be Heard Aug. 20

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has agreed to Samsung Electronics Co.’s request to expedite appeal of a patent dispute with Apple Inc.,

The suit is over patents covering mobile phone technology. According to an order issued June 20 by the Washington-based court, oral arguments will be heard Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. at the court.

Samsung is appealing order that blocks U.S. sales of Galaxy Nexus phone until patent case filed by Cupertino, California-based Apple is heard. On July 6 that same court issued a temporary order permitting the continued sale of Galaxy Nexus phones.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-1507, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The lower court case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 5:12-cv-00630-LHk, U.S District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Myriad Defends Patent Claims on Genetic Material in Court Case

Myriad Genetics Inc., owner of patents related to genes linked to hereditary cancer risks, is trying to claim legal ownership of a product of nature, the American Civil Liberties Union told a U.S. appeals court Friday.

“We need to be sure that natural things and all natural laws are available to all mankind,” Chris Hansen, an ACLU lawyer representing research groups said.

The central legal issue in arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is whether isolated DNA is ineligible for patent protection as a product of nature.

“The patent claims reflect not naturally occurring, but human-made compositions that were the product of human ingenuity,” said Myriad lawyer Greg Castanias. “This is not the patenting of a natural product or something so close to a natural product that it can’t be patented.”

The Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent law, last year said isolated DNA can be entitled to patent protection. It was ordered by the Supreme Court to reconsider that ruling in light of a decision by the high court in March, in a separate case, that limited the ability to obtain patents on certain diagnostic tests.

In its decision last year, the Federal Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of Salt Lake City-based Myriad’s isolated DNA claims.

President Barack Obama’s administration argued that there should be limits on the types of genetic material that can be covered by patents. Justice Department lawyer Melissa Patterson said that changes to isolate the specific gene were insignificant.

In a typical case before the Federal Circuit, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will present the government’s arguments. Patterson declined to say whether the patent office agreed with the administration’s position.

In the Supreme Court’s March 20 decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for a unanimous court in warning against “tying up the use of the underlying natural laws.”

The Myriad dispute has split the medical community. Some scientists argue they have been stymied in their quest for new medicines and treatments because they fear coming up against demands for royalties or letters demanding they stop using patented inventions.

Companies like Genomic Health Inc. and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. argue they can’t attract investment dollars if they can’t protect their research from competitors.

The case is Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad, 10-1406, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Association for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 09-cv-4515, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more patent news, click here.


Google Said to Face EU Demand for Mobile in Antitrust Settlement

Google Inc. is being urged by European Union regulators to include mobile applications as part of an offer to modify its search engine and end an antitrust probe, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Google made a proposal to the European Commission earlier this month to respond to EU concerns that the operator of the world’s largest search engine discriminates against rivals. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said last month that he would send Google a formal antitrust complaint if the company’s commitments were unsatisfactory.

Regulators want Google to extend the offer to mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers, according to the people who can’t be identified because the negotiations aren’t public. Google is concerned that the EU request may make it more difficult for users to use its search apps, one of the people said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under growing pressure from global regulators probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and antitrust agencies in Argentina and South Korea are also scrutinizing the company.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, said in an e-mail that the company continues to work cooperatively with the commission.

In 2010, the EU’s antitrust agency began investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting competitors’ ads. While Microsoft Corp. and partner Yahoo! Inc. have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post last year, citing data from regulators.

Apple Seeks to Register ‘Mountain Lion’ Mark in U.S., Hong Kong

Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, is seeking to register “Mountain Lion” as a trademark, according to two recent filings made with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to the patent office database, Apple filed applications July 9 to register “Mountain Lion” and “OS X Mountain Lion.” Apple said in its application it’s used “Mountain Lion” since Jan. 12, and that the terms would be used for computer operating-system software and application development-tool software.

Apple has also filed applications to register “Mountain Lion” as a trademark in Hong Kong, and spelled out a broader range of uses, including for television receivers and monitors, CNET News reported.

For more trademark news, click here.


World Digital Dismisses Case Over Heavy Metal Band’s Album

The licensee for the copyright to a recording by a heavy metal band has dismissed the infringement case it brought against 80 unnamed defendants.

World Digital Rights Inc., a Panamanian company, filed the infringement suit in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida, April 20. The suit was related to what it said was unauthorized sharing through the use of the BitTorrent protocol of “This Is Where It Ends,” a recording by the band All Shall Perish.

According to court papers, the record label -- Nuclear Blast GmbH -- licensed the recording to World Digital Rights in March.

Nuclear Blast, based in Donzdorf, Germany, has been in business for 25 years, according to the company’s website. It lists All Shall Perish as one of its bands, and provides links to three albums recorded by All Shall Perish.

The anti-copyright website TorrentFreak reported April 29 that the band had no idea an infringement suit was filed. Its manager told TorentFreak that “the band wasn’t consulted whatsoever” and was confused about what it considered “awful” action against its fans.

Nuclear Blast didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail seeking clarification of its relationship to World Digital Rights.

In the complaint, World Digital said it had hired a Germany company, SKB UG, to identify the Internet Protocol addresses of those who allegedly shared the album without permission. SKB has forensic software named “Torrent Logger” that scans the peer-to-peer networks looking for what are allegedly infringing transactions, according to court papers.

The company asked the court to order each defendant to halt the allegedly infringing actions, and for awards for as much as $150,000 per defendant, in addition to attorney fees and litigation costs.

In a July 12 court filing, World Digital asked that the case be dismissed. No explanation was given.

The case is World Digital Rights Inc. v. John Does 1-80, 2:12-cv-00225-UA-SPC, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Ft. Myers).

For more copyright news, click here.

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