Eastman Kodak Co. won more time to negotiate and propose a reorganization plan that would allow the 132-year-old photography pioneer to exit bankruptcy.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper yesterday extended until Feb. 28 Kodak’s exclusive control of its Chapter 11 case, rejecting a request by a group of creditors to let other parties submit reorganization plans.
Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, plans to sell a portfolio of patents and some money-losing businesses and exit bankruptcy by mid-2013. The company has said it will build a profitable business around its commercial printing division.
Kodak has proposed borrowing $793 million to operate while under court protection and to fund its exit from bankruptcy. Centerbridge Capital Partners, GSO Capital Partners, UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among second-lien creditors participating in the financing, Kodak said Nov 12. The agreement requires court approval.
Funding is conditional on selling the patent portfolio for at least $500 million, progress in the sale of two business units and the resolution of the company’s U.K. pension obligations, Kodak said.
Another group of second-lien creditors opposed giving Kodak more time to file a reorganization plan and expects to oppose the financing as well, Michael Stamer, an attorney for the creditors, told Gropper yesterday. The group is concerned that another group of lenders won’t have a chance to offer a competing loan package, Stamer said.
Kodak Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez has been selling businesses to help fund a turnaround after seeking Chapter 11 protection in January.
The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
AstraZeneca Responds to Adverse Seroquel Patent Ruling
AstraZeneca Plc is “disappointed” with a court ruling invalidating a patent for a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, the company said in a statement Nov. 13.
The London-based pharmaceutical company was responding to a ruling by the Federal Patent Court in Germany that found the formulation patent for Seroquel XR (quitiapine fumarate) prolonged-release tablets to be invalid.
The patent had been challenged by Teva Deustschland GmbH, Hexal AG and Accord Healthcare Ltd., AstraZeneca said.
The ruling is limited to Germany and isn’t binding in other countries.
London-based AstraZeneca said it sold $82 million worth of Seroquel XR in Germany for the first 10 months of 2012.
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Rosneft Claims Siberian Gas Station Chain Infringes Mark
Rosneft OAO, Russia’s state-owned energy company, claims its trademarks are being infringed by a chain of gas stations in Siberia, the Moscow Times reported.
The case is being pursued as a criminal matter, in addition to a civil dispute involving an estimated 784 million rubles ($24.7 million), according to the newspaper.
The chain, based in Novokuznetsk and not named by the newspaper, is accused of using a logo similar to Rosneft’s.
Police investigators told the Times the Siberian company’s logo was so similar to the state-owned company’s “that they are almost identical.”
Texas A&M Player Manziel Seeks ‘Johnny Football’ Trademark
Johnny Manziel is trying to trademark the term “Johnny Football,” even as National Collegiate Athletic Association rules prevent the Texas A&M quarterback or his family from profiting from the mark while he’s a college athlete.
The Manziel family is working in conjunction with the university to protect the trademark, the player’s likeness and the freshman’s eligibility, said Shane Hinckley, assistant vice president of business development at the College Station, Texas-based school.
Jay Jordan of the Tyler, Texas, law firm of J. Bennett White is representing the family. He said in a telephone interview that he couldn’t discuss legal or other strategies.
“We’re exploring every avenue and believe several are open to us with regard to protection of ‘Johnny Football,’” he said.
Jordan wouldn’t say whether the family planned to use the mark commercially or apply for extensions once their ownership of the mark is granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments of College Station, Texas, filed a “Johnny Football” trademark application with the federal agency on Nov. 1. Jordan said the party is unrelated to the Manziel family and that the application would be opposed.
“Efforts are ongoing to eradicate those who seek to pirate the mark,” he said, declining to say whether Manziel has had talks with the university about a co-licensing agreement. Hinckley said the university wouldn’t profit from the trademark.
Stephen R. Hollas, the attorney listed on the Reynolds Family Investments application, didn’t return a message left at his office.
NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro didn’t immediately return a message left at his office seeking comment on what an athlete can and can’t do with a trademarked term. The Indianapolis-based governing body bars players from profiting off their athletic achievements.
Manziel, 19, skyrocketed to prominence after the 15th-ranked Aggies defeated top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 10. Texas A&M climbed to ninth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after that win.
The school’s website is taking pre-orders for Manziel’s No. 2 jersey, which wasn’t printed prior to the season because he wasn’t a consensus starter. The most prominently displayed football jersey on the site’s retail link is No. 12, which represents the team’s crowd, known as the 12th Man. The university holds a trademark on that phrase.
Manziel was at the center of “Manziel Mania” while a multisport star in high school in Kerrville, Texas. No one used “Johnny Football” until he emerged as the starting quarterback at A&M.
YouView Loses Appeal of U.K. IPO’s Denial of Trademark
YouView TV Ltd., an Internet-connected TV service, has a name that is too “confusingly similar” to the Your View telecommunications firm, the U.K.’s High Court of Justice ruled.
Justice Christopher Floyd affirmed a determination by the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office, saying he was “unable to see any error of principle” in the hearing officer’s approach in her May 2012 refusal of YouView’s application to register its trademark.
In his Nov. 11 ruling, he said wasn’t persuaded by YouView’s argument that consumers would be able to distinguish between “YourView” and “Your View” because one mark was one word and the other was two. He said the hearing officer’s finding that the two phrases were aurally similar “was a matter for judgment and I do not disagree with her assessment.”
The case is Between YouView TV Ltd. and Total Ltd., in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (2012)WQHC 3158 (CH).
Ford Files Application for ‘Black Label’ Trademark for Lincolns
The Ford Motor Co., the 109-year-old automaker, has applied to register “Lincoln Black Label” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. patent and trademark office.
The application, filed Oct. 15, specifies that the term will be used with passenger automobiles.
A number of other companies have used black labels to indicate exclusive or expensive qualities, such as Jose Cuervo Black Medallion tequila, and Johnny Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky.
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Black Keys Settles With Home Depot, Pizza Hut Over Song Use
The Black Keys reached settlements with Home Depot Inc., Pizza Hut Inc. and two advertising firms over allegations that the companies used the rock band’s songs in commercials without permission.
“The parties to this action have reached a settlement agreement in principle that will result in the voluntary dismissal of this action,” U.S. District Judge Otis Wright said in a court filing in Los Angeles Nov. 13.
The Black Keys, a duo comprising Patrick Carney and Daniel Auerbach, sued in June, alleging the unauthorized use of their songs “Lonely Boy” in a Home Depot ad and “Gold on the Ceiling” in a Pizza Hut ad. The group also sued Interpublic Group of Cos. and its Martin Agency unit.
Wright set a settlement hearing for Jan. 7. He said the hearing will be canceled if the parties file a proposed order of dismissal.
Home Depot, based in Atlanta, is the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer. Pizza Hut is a unit of Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands Inc.
The cases are Auerbach v. Pizza Hut, 12-05385, and Auerbach v. Home Depot, 12-05386, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
Apple Files Appeal of Chinese Copyright-Infringement Verdict
Apple Inc., maker of the iPod and iPhone, filed an appeal of a Chinese copyright infringement verdict, Xinhua reported.
The petition appealing the infringement verdict by the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court was filed Nov. 13, according to Xinhua.
The court had ordered Cupertino, California-based Apple to pay Encyclopedia of China Publishing House 520,000 yuan ($83,500) in damages for allegedly using part of a digital version of the encyclopedia without permission, Xinhua reported.
The newspaper reported that the digital version was offered through Apple’s App Store.
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