Zillow, Upsher-Smith, Libya, UTV: Intellectual Property

Zillow Inc., operator of the largest real-estate information website, filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against competitor Trulia Inc. over a software program that helps make home valuations more accurate.

Zillow claims Trulia is infringing patent 7,970,674, which covers its Zestimate home-valuation service. The program lets homeowners and real-estate agents update valuations by adding information specific to the property. Zillow said about a third of the 100 million homes in its database have been updated this way and it has “played a major role in Zillow’s success.”

The two competitors have been increasing their profiles as the U.S. housing market improves, and each has mobile applications on smartphones and tablet computers. Trulia is seeking to raise as much as $96 million in an initial public offering, according to a Sept. 7 regulatory filing, and Zillow shares have doubled since they first sold in July 2011.

Trulia’s search engine is used by more than 20 million people a month to look for homes, according to the regulatory filing. The company makes money through ads on the site and subscriptions.

Trulia doesn’t comment on litigation, Ken Shuman, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based company, said.

Zillow, which began its website in 2006, said in the complaint filed Sept. 12 that Trulia didn’t offer an automatic home-valuation service to users until September 2011. Its Trulia Estimates provides valuations based on recent sales of similar homes and information such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

“When Trulia first launched Trulia Estimates, it was obvious to commentators that Trulia was merely copying Zillow,” Zillow said in the complaint filed in its hometown of Seattle. “Commentators accused Trulia of being a ‘copycat’ of Zillow’s Zestimate service and predicted that Trulia’s copycat version might ‘ding’ Zillow’s Web traffic.”

Zillow is seeking cash compensation and a court order that would block further use of the patented invention.

Cheaper properties, dwindling supply and record-low mortgage costs are boosting demand for real estate and aiding a turnaround in a market that helped trigger the recession.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of prices in 20 cities climbed 0.5 percent in June from a year earlier, the first such gain since September 2010.

Sales of existing homes climbed 2.3 percent in July to a 4.47 million annual rate, according to figures from the National Association of Realtors.

The case is Zillow Inc. v. Trulia Inc., 12-cv-1549, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Upsher-Smith Files Preemptive Suit Over Auxilium’s Testim Gel

Upsher-Smith Laboratories Inc. filed a preemptive suit to challenge eight patents for Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s testosterone gel Testim, according to a Sept. 10 filing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

Upsher-Smith, based in Minneapolis, asked the court to declare that its plans to market a generic form of testosterone gel don’t infringe Auxilium’s patent rights. Patent owners often file an infringement suit when a competitor submits an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce a generic form of a drug covered by the patents.

The company asked the court to block Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Auxilium from enforcing patents against its generic product. Additionally, Upsher-Smith asked the court to find all eight of the patents to be invalid and have no enforceable claims.

The case is Upsher-Smith Laboratories Inc., v. Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., 12-cv-05648, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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Libya Loses Trademark Case Against Document Expeditor

In a case that predates the fall of the regime of the late Muammar Qaddafi in October 2011, the government of Libya has been locked in a trademark dispute with a document expediter.

The government, then known as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Hamahiriya, initiated the trademark infringement suit in federal court in Washington in November 2006. It objected to the use by Ahmad Miski of the domain names that contained variations on the phrase “embassy of Libya.”

The case was put on hold during the period of unrest in that country, and when the case was resumed, the complaint was amended to include the new name, simply “Libya” and “Embassy of Libya” as plaintiffs.

In his Sept. 6 ruling, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton dismissed Libya’s infringement allegations. He said the term was merely suggestive and not entitled to protection under U.S. trademark law. He also rejected Miski’s claim that the country had interfered with his business advantages, saying the document expediter had failed to present evidence of damage.

The case is Libya v. Miski, 06-cv092946, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

UW-Whitewater Changes Logo in Efforts to Control Trademark Use

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater adopted a new logo as a way to help regain control of its trademark, the school’s Royal Purple student newspaper reported.

A warhawk logo adopted a decade ago had been so widely embraced that there were many instances of improper and unapproved use, according to Royal Purple.

The school’s marketing and media relations department has asked campus organizations and a local bar to phase out their use of the hawk’s head logo, the newspaper reported.

UTV’s ‘Barfi’ Film Accused of Infringing Murphy Radio Trademark

UTV Software Communications Ltd.’s UTV Motion Pictures unit received an infringement notice from a radio manufacturer, the FirstPost Bollywood entertainment news website reported.

UTV’s “Barfi!” film allegedly used a baby image that is a trademark of Murphy Radio, according to FirstPost.

Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur said that the film doesn’t infringe the trademark, FirstPost reported.

Murphy Radio seeks an order halting release of the film, according to FirstPost.

For more trademark news, click here.


Paramount Loses Bid for ‘Titanic’ Infringement Dismissal

A federal judge in San Diego refused to throw out a copyright-infringement lawsuit over Paramount Pictures Corp.’s “Titanic” movie.

Princess Samantha Kennedy of Imperial Beach, California, filed a handwritten complaint in February, claiming that the movie’s script is taken from her autobiography and other writings and that the Los Angeles-based company had access to them.

She asked for damages in excess of $3 billion and the impoundment of all copies of the film.

In a Sept. 5 order, U.S. District Judge William O. Hayes gave Kennedy permission to file an amended complaint and refused Paramount’s request for a dismissal. Federal court procedural rules giving a party permission to amend a filing are “to be applied with extreme liberality,” he said.

Kennedy is still unrepresented by counsel.

The case is Kennedy v. Paramount Pictures Corp, 12-cv-00372, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Guyana Urged Not to Buy Pirated Textbooks as an Economy Measure

Guyana’s Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Guyana Trades Union Congress recommended that the nation’s government seek compulsory licenses from publishers at set royalties rather than buy pirated textbooks as it had announced, the Demerara Waves newspaper reported.

The chamber said in a statement that the government’s choice to buy pirated textbooks as an economy measure is a violation of publishers’ intellectual property rights and not a solution, Demerara Waves reported.

Lincoln Lewis, general secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, told Demerara Waves that the government’s actions puts workers’ welfare at risk and may open the gate to retaliation, according to Demerara Waves.

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Pepper Hamilton Expands IP Practice, Hires Robert A. Brooks

Pepper Hamilton LLP hired Robert A. Brooks for its intellectual-property practice group, the Philadelphia-based firm said in a statement.

Brooks, a litigator, previously practiced at Day Berry & Howard, a predecessor firm to Day Pitney LLP, and Shipman & Goodwin LLP, both of Hartford, Connecticut. He has represented clients in federal courts in disputes involving patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

He has an undergraduate degree from Bates College and a law degree from the University of Connecticut.

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