Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s first region-wide patent system could be in place by early 2014 after EU lawmakers broke a decades-long deadlock on plans to make the protection of inventions in Europe cheaper and easier.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted yesterday in favor of three proposals that will create a patent valid across 25 of the EU’s 27 nations, the language system to go with it and a specialized patent court system.
Costs for getting the protection could be cut by more than 30,000 euros ($39,000) under the new system, the European Commission, the EU’s executive agency, said. While a European patent valid across the EU’s 27 nations costs about 36,000 euros, this could be cut to about 5,000 euros under the so-called unitary patent. A unified patent court with specialized judges would also be established under the plans.
Attempts to reach an agreement on an EU patent in the past have faltered over the language regime to be used. The EU has 23 official languages and numerous compromise proposals in the past have failed to satisfy political demands or risked increasing translation costs for companies. The commission proposed a compromise deal after governments failed to reach consensus on which languages should be legally binding. EU leaders in June agreed on the seat of the new patent court, clearing the last hurdle to an agreement.
The closest thing to an EU-wide patent at the moment is for companies to file an application with the Munich-based European Patent Office, which isn’t part of the EU and has 38 member countries. Once granted, the patent breaks up into a bundle of national patents which companies must defend in each individual country.
Applications for the unitary patent would still be made through the EPO and once granted would be valid across the 25 EU participating nations.
Spain and Italy challenged the EU’s decision in March 2011 to move forward with a common patent system under a mechanism called enhanced cooperation whereby member states can work together as long as at least nine agree. The two countries had objected to the plan largely over language concerns.
An advocate general at the EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest court, said in a non-binding opinion yesterday that the court should reject Spain’s and Italy’s challenges.
The commission said the first unitary patent could be granted as soon as April 2014, if at least 13 EU nations have ratified the draft agreement on the new Unified Patent Court by November 2013.
Arczar Files Six Patent Suits Related to Computer Vision Systems
Arczar LLC, a patent-licensing company based in Marshall Texas, filed five patent infringement lawsuits Dec. 10 against a range of defendants.
The company sued toymaker Hasbro Inc., Nintendo of America Inc., Ikea North America Services LLC, ZipRealty Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.
Although the suits are all slightly different, the disputed technology in each relates to vision systems. Sony is accused of infringing five patents, Arczar claims Nintendo infringed two and Ikea is accused of infringing one, as are ZipRealty and Hasbro.
Arczar specifically objected to Hasbro’s Lazer Tag system, the Sony Playstation Vita, the Nintendo 3DS, the Ikea catalog mobile application, and Emeryville, California-based ZipRealty’s real-estate mobile application, claiming each infringed at least one of the patents at issue.
The patent-licensing company seeks awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Last week, Arczar sued San Francisco-based Yelp Inc., accusing the social-network user-review website company of infringing one of the same patents.
The suits were all filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, a judicial district some patent lawyers say is favorable to plaintiffs in patent-infringement suits.
The cases are Arczar v. Sony Computer Entertainment LLC, 12-cv-787; Arczar v. Nintendo of America Inc., 12-cv-786; Arzcar v. Ikea North American Services LLC, 12-cv-785; Arczar v. ZipRealty Inc., 12-cv-788; Arczar v. Hasbro Inc., 12-cv-784; and Arczar v. Yelp Inc., 12-cv-639, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).
Bio-Key Settles Patent-Infringement Suit Brought by Blue Spike
Bio-key International Inc., a developer of biometric fingerprint identification technology, said in a statement yesterday that it settled a patent case with Blue Spike LLC of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
Blue Spike sued Bio-key in federal court in Tyler, Texas, in August, claiming that four patents related to monitoring and analyzing signals were infringed.
Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. Wall, New Jersey-based Bio-key said only that the parties reached an agreement which resulted in dismissal of all claims asserted in the litigation.
The suit is one of more than 60 pending cases brought by Blue Spike.
The case is Blue Spike LLC v. Bio-key International Inc., 12-cv-531, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).
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Chrysler Sued for Trademark Infringement by Moab Industries
Chrysler Group LLC was sued for trademark infringement by an Arizona company that customizes off-road performance motor vehicles.
According to the complaint filed Dec. 7 in federal court in Arizona, Moab Industries LLC of Prescott, Arizona, objects to Chrysler’s use of “Moab” with a particular Jeep model. The auto-customizer said it has used “Moab” and “Moab Industries” since 2005, and that Chrysler’s Jeep-branded vehicles are among those most frequently brought in for customization.
Additionally, Moab says it buys and customizes Jeeps for resale.
The Arizona company registered its “Moab Industries” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February 2011, it said in its pleadings.
Moab said that it exchanged “multiple e-mail messages” and met with Chrysler officials in efforts to solve the dispute. It also objects to an application Chrysler filed in June 50 register “Moab” as a trademark in connection with motor vehicles.
That application was denied in a Sept. 3 patent office action on the grounds it would cause consumer confusion, according to court papers.
Moab claims it’s been injured by Chrysler’s actions and that consumers are likely to get the “false and misleading impression” that some connection exists between Chrysler and Moab Industries.
It asked the court to bar Chrysler’s use of “Moab,” and for an order for the destruction of all packaging and promotional materials bearing the “Moab” mark.
Additionally, Moab seeks awards of money damages, gross profits the automaker derived from its alleged infringement, litigation costs and attorney fees.
Chrysler didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.
The case is Moab Industries LLC v. Chrysler Group LLC, 12-cv-8247, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Prescott).
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TekSavvy Warns Customers Voltage Pictures Seeks User Information
TekSavvy Solutions Inc., a Chatham, Ontario-based Internet service provider, has sent precautionary notices to more than 1,000 customers, warning them about a request it received from a Los Angeles movie studio for personal information, Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported.
Voltage Pictures sent the request to TekSavvy shortly after Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act went into effect, according to the newspaper.
The request is part of Voltage’s look into possible copyright infringement activity related to unauthorized downloading of its films, the Globe and Mail reported.
Voltage said in federal court that it hired Canipre, a digital forensics firm, to monitor traffic on the BitTorrent file-sharing network looking for illegal downloading, according to the newspaper.
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