Daimler, Jazz, Zaentz, Google: Intellectual Property

DaimlerChrysler didn’t infringe patent owned by Laserfacturing Inc., a federal appeals court ruled yesterday. The dispute was over a method of welding using a laser or electron beam, covered by patent 5,595,670. The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a Texas federal court had correctly interpreted the patent.

The case was filed in Houston in January 2007 against old DaimlerChrysler before it filed for bankruptcy

The lower-court case is Laserfacturing Inc. v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., 4:07-cv-00207, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston). The appeal is Laserfacturing Inc., v. DaimlerChrysler, 09-01013, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Jazz Patent Fight With Roxane Wins Support in Federal Court

Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc won a federal judge’s support in a patent dispute over its best-selling medicine Xyrem to treat narcolepsy.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas sided with Jazz on the interpretation of most disputed terms in eight patents in its suit against Roxane Laboratories Inc., Corey Davis, an analyst for Jefferies & Co., wrote in a note yesterday. In patent cases, the judge’s interpretation of disputed terms forms the baseline for all legal arguments that follow.

“At first blush this seems like a clear win for Jazz,” wrote Davis, who is based in New York.

The case was filed in November 2010 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, triggered by Roxane’s application to the U.S Food and Drug Administration for approval to market a generic version of Xyrem. The drug brought in $233 million last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The two sides argued over how to interpret the patents in April. No date has been set for further proceedings based on the judge’s ruling, Bill Craumer, a Jazz spokesman, said.

The case is Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc., v. Roxane Laboratories Inc., 2:11-cv-06108-ES-CLW, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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Zaetz Doesn’t Want Foie Gras Producer to Use ‘Rohan’ Trademark

A producer of foie gras sued Saul Zaentz Co., seeking a court declaration it doesn’t infringe a trademark related to the name of a fictional realm in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series.

The suit, filed Nov. 13 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, asked the court to declare that D’Artagnan Trademarks LLC’s use of “Rohan’ for a type of duck it sells doesn’t infringe the Zaentz company’s IP rights. Zaentz is the holder of rights to brands associated with J.R.R. Tolkien, including “Hobbit.”

Newark-based D’Artagnan said the name “Rohan” was chosen because it’s a variation on the word “Rouen,” a city in France’s Normandy region famous for its ducks.

D’Artagnan said its intent was to use a name that “would be reminiscent of, but different from, the Rouen duck.” According to the company’s website, it sells Rohan ducks for almost $30 apiece.

It filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark, and received notice that the Zaentz company was opposed. In the Tolkein books, “Rohan” refers to a realm of Middle Earth populated by the Rohirrim, who are farmers and herdsmen famous for their horses.

According to the patent office database, Zaentz has registered “Rohan,” “Riders of Rohan,” and “Rohan Nutritional Services” for use with horse feed supplements for horses, miniature action figures and entertainment services.

D’Artagnan’s application specifies that it would use “Rohan” only for “poultry, namely duck.”

Appended to the company’s court filing is an e-mail from counsel for Zaentz, telling the foie gras company that it had considered licensing the name to D’Artagnan “and has concluded that it is not interested in doing so at this time.” The e-mail, written by Elizabeth H. Cohen of Washington’s Arent Fox LLP, said that while Zaentz “would be willing to provide a reasonable phase out period to transition to a new name,” it wanted D’Artagnan to quit using the term.

Zaentz is based in Berkeley, California. That state’s ban on the sales of foie gras went into effect July 1.

In addition to a declaration of non-infringement, D’Artagnan asked the court to state that Zaentz’s rights to the trademark are limited to horse feed, plastic figures and computer games. D’Artagnan also asked for awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.

Earlier this year Zaentz threatened to sue a U.K. pub that was using “The Hobbit” as its name.

The case is D’Artagnan Trademarks LLC v. Saul Zaentz Co, 2:12-cv-05741-DMC-MF, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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Google Wins Court Delay in Digital-Book Copyright Litigation

Google Inc. won a bid to delay a copyright lawsuit by the Authors Guild of America over the company’s plans to digitally scan millions of books while it appeals a decision that allows the plaintiffs to sue as a class.

U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan yesterday granted Google’s request to stay the lower-court trial.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is being sued over its plan, announced in 2004, to scan millions of books from public and university libraries to provide snippets of text to users of its Internet search engine.

Google sought the trial delay citing “the prospect of a class-wide defeat -- with a judgment of potentially billions of dollars -- or a greatly diminished victory,” according to a court filing. “A stay is necessary to prevent this anomalous result,” the company said.

In August U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, sitting as a trial judge in the case in Manhattan federal court, rejected Google’s request to halt the trial. He ordered proceedings to continue, noting the case was seven years old. In June, Chin had granted the case class-action status, which Google is appealing.

Maggie Shiels, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment on the stay. Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment about the ruling.

Chin in May rejected Google’s argument that lawsuits by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers should be dismissed because the groups lacked standing to sue for copyright infringement.

Google said in court papers filed last week that the class “contains millions of different books written by hundreds of thousands of authors, many of whom believe they benefit from and approve of Google Books.”

Without a halt to the lower-court case, Google said, “class members will have an incentive to opt-out if Google prevails but not if plaintiffs prevail, which would seriously prejudice Google.”

Google also said in papers filed with the appeals court last week that Chin is considering whether to grant summary judgment, or a ruling before trial, in the case.

The case is Authors Guild Inc. v. Google Inc., 12-3200, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

The authors’ case in the lower court is Authors Guild v. Google, 05-08136; the visual artists’ case is American Society of Media Photographers v. Google, 10-02977; U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Wiley Sues Over BitTorrent Sharing of ‘Six-Figure Income’ Book

John Wiley & Sons Inc., publisher of technical and scientific books, sued 48 unnamed defendants for infringing the copyright to its book “The Six-Figure Income.”

According to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, Wiley accused the unknown defendants of distributing copies of the book without authorization by using the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol.

The Hoboken, New Jersey-based publishing house claims in its pleadings that the unauthorized distribution of its book “threatens the profitability” of the company, and that “the amount of that lost revenue is enormous.”

The defendants are also accused of infringing Wiley trademarks. The unauthorized copies of the book that are circulating through the Internet could contain malicious viruses, the company says, that this could cause harm to the company’s reputation.

It asked the court to order the defendants to halt their alleged infringement, and for awards of money damages, profits derived from the infringement, and litigation costs and attorney fees.

The case is John Wiley & Sons Inc., v. John Does 1-48, 2:12-cv-05738-JLL-MAH, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

Royal Canadian Mint Sought Payment for Use of Penny Image

Although the Royal Canadian Mint stopped making pennies in May, it told a Nova Scotia-based singer he’d need permission and make a payment of C$1,200 ($1,230) to use images of pennies on the cover of his new album, Toronto’s Globe & Mail reported.

The mint backed down on the initial royalty demand after musician Dave Gunning talked about its demand on the Canadian Broadcast Corp.’s Radio One network, according to the newspaper.

Gunning’s album, “No More Pennies,” was to be “a heartfelt tribute to the passing of the penny,” the newspaper reported.

Christine Aquino, who heads the mint’s communications department, told the Globe & Mail that while it didn’t intend to halt Gunning’s efforts to honor the end of the 1-cent coin, “the issue is the use of the image” and he would have to take a license in the future.

For more copyright news, click here.

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