Gevo, Alnylam, Megaupload, Google: Intellectual Property

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Gevo Inc., a U.S. biofuel producer backed by French oil company Total SA and specialty-chemicals maker Lanxess AG, received a patent for mechanical systems it struggled to implement at its Minnesota factory.

Patent 8,283,505, received yesterday, covers Gevo’s proprietary “platform-separation unit,” which the Englewood, Colorado-based company said lowers the cost of producing isobutanol.

Gevo halted isobutanol production Sept. 24 at its Luverne, Minnesota, plant, which wasn’t meeting goals, and shifted to ethanol while it adjusts the separation system, according to General Counsel Brett Lund. When the plant went into operation in May, the company said it would be making 1 million gallons (3.8 million liters) a month by the end of the year. It’s completed about 100,000 gallons of isobutanol since then.

“It wasn’t working at the optimal rate and cost structure,” Lund said in an interview Oct. 8. “Rather than making the changes at a big, commercial plant level, it’s much more efficient, both from a timing and cost perspective, to make those changes at a smaller, lab scale.”

Gevo processes corn into isobutanol that may be blended with gasoline or refined into jet fuel and specialty chemicals.

The company’s so-called GIFT system, or Gevo integrated fermentation technology, lets it extract isobutanol in vapor form during production, which is 16 times more concentrated than competing systems that distill it from a liquid, Lund said.

“This is the only commercially viable way to separate isobutanol as it’s produced,” he said. “The difference is in the cost. When you’re trying to make a fuel or a chemical that sells for maybe $5 a gallon, you can’t afford a costly distillation process.” Lund expects the Luverne plant to resume isobutanol production next year.

Gevo applied for the patent in January 2012 with the assistance of San Francisco’s Cooley LLP. According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Gevo has 12 issued U.S. patents and 33 published and pending patent applications.

Alnylam Says JPO Upheld Key Claims in RNAi Patent

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., an early-stage therapeutics company, said in a statement that the Japanese Patent Office upheld key claims in a patent opposed by Bio Think-Tank of Japan.

The patent, JP4095895, is related to small interfering RNA and its use in the development and commercialization of RNAi therapeutics.

Alnylam, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has an exclusive license to this and related patents for RNAi therapeutics through an agreement with Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the licensing agent for the Max Planck Society.

In the U.S., the technology is covered by patents 7,056,704 and 7,078,196. It is also patented in the European Union and China, the company said in its statement.

Mylan, Shionogi Settle Patent Suit Related to Orapred ODT

Mylan Inc., the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based generics pharmaceutical company, and Japan’s Shionogi Pharma Inc. settled a patent dispute related to the coating system used for a corticosteroid drug.

The companies resolved their dispute over Shionogi’s patent 6,740,341, according to an Oct. 5 filing in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. Shionogi, based in Osaka, sued Mylan in December 2010 after the generics company filed an abbreviated application to make a generic form of Orapred ODT.

The drug is used to treat allergies, skin conditions and some autoimmune disorders.

Settlement terms weren’t disclosed, other than the mention that there is now a license agreement in place between the two companies. Mylan said in a statement yesterday that the settlement is subject to review by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

The case is Shionogi Pharma Inc. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., 10-cv-01077, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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Megaupload Loses Bid to Dismiss Criminal Copyright Charges

Megaupload Ltd. failed to win dismissal from a criminal case accusing the Internet company and its founder, Kim Dotcom, of running a massive illegal file-sharing service.

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady in Alexandria, Virginia, said in a ruling made public yesterday that the U.S. has authority to bring copyright-infringement charges against Megaupload even though it has no offices in the country.

The ruling was a victory for U.S. prosecutors who have faced legal challenges since shutting down the company’s file-sharing website and charging Dotcom and six other individuals in January. A judge in New Zealand in June threw out warrants used to seize the Internet entrepreneur’s property, delaying Dotcom’s possible extradition by at least seven months.

O’Grady said the company could seek dismissal again depending on how the case unfolds. He also said his ruling “leaves open” argument that the indictment should be dismissed until the government is able to hand Megaupload its charging documents in accordance with federal court rules.

William Burck, a lawyer for the company, said Megaupload is still considering its options.

“Although the judge deferred a final decision on whether the case should be dismissed permanently until after the extradition process in New Zealand is completed, he made it clear that he will consider dismissing the case now on a temporary basis,” Burck, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP in Washington, said in an e-mail.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, said, “We’ll let the ruling speak for itself.”

Megaupload and Dotcom, 38, were indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “Mega Conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. If convicted, Dotcom faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment, with the U.S. seeking his extradition for a trial in Virginia.

Investigators executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight other countries and seized about $50 million in assets in connection with what they said was among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the U.S.

More than 500 servers leased by Megaupload were located in Virginia, giving the U.S. jurisdiction to prosecute the company, the government argued in court papers.

The case is U.S. v. Dotcom, 12-00003, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

Disney, Fox Seek Ruling Lime Wire Infringed Movies, TV Shows

Walt Disney Co. and other movie and TV studios asked a federal judge to rule that the file-sharing website Lime Wire LLC and its founder, Mark Gorton, induced people to illegal acts of downloading their shows and films for free.

The companies, which also include Viacom Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., seek the same judgment a federal court granted to the music industry against Lime Wire in 2010, according to a court filing in Manhattan Oct. 8.

“Users by the tens of millions were attracted to LimeWire to access -- for free -- infringing copies of virtually any type of copyrighted content,” the entertainment companies said in their motion for summary judgment.

The plaintiffs want U.S. District Judge Harold Baer to find Lime Wire and Gorton liable for inducement of copyright infringement without a trial. The movie and TV companies sued in February.

In May 2010, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood found Lime Wire and Gorton liable for inducing copyright infringement of music recordings. The site was shut down by an October 2010 court order. Lime Wire settled with the recording industry for $105 million in May 2011 during a trial in Manhattan to determine damages. The case is Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Lime Wire LLC, 12-0818, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Some Aussie Racehorse Trademarks to Belong to Racing Authority

Victoria Ltd., the governing authority for thoroughbred horse racing in Australia’s State of Victoria, decreed that horse owners who want to register a horse to race in the state must waive their rights to register the horse’s name independently as a trademark, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

All trademark applications will be filed by the racing authority instead, the newspaper reported.

The success of superstar race horse Black Caviar prompted this move because the racing authority found that the process of getting permission from her owners to use the horse’s name and racing for promotional purposes was cumbersome, even given the owners’ cooperation, according to the Herald.

Rob Hines, chief executive officer of the racing authority, said that when the trademark rights belong to the industry rather than individual owners, it removes the need to be asking permission constantly, the Herald reported.

Using Zulu Synonym for ‘Hot’ Doesn’t Change Infringement Claim

The owner of South Africa’s “hot wings” trademark says a competitor’s phrase that substitutes “shisa” -- the Zulu word for “hot” -- is still infringing the trademark, Durban’s Mercury newspaper reported.

Golden Fried Chicken, operator of the 200-outlet Chicken Licken restaurant chain, sued in the Durban High Court after learning that the Big Jo’s chain had been using “hot wings” on its menus, according to the newspaper.

When Big Jo’s changed the phrase to “shisa wings,” the infringement continued, counsel for Chicken Licken said while accusing the rival of trying to piggyback on the fame associated with the “hot wings” mark, the newspaper reported.

The court issued an order Oct. 8 barring Big Jo’s use of the phrase, and gave the chain an Oct. 25 deadline to file opposition to the order being made permanent, according to the Mercury.

For more trademark news, click here.

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