Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Polypore International Inc.’s Celgard unit filed a patent-infringement suit against Sumitomo Chemical Co. over lithium-ion battery technology used in electronics and electric vehicles.
The complaint, filed Feb. 22 in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, claims Sumitomo is infringing patent 6,432,586, which was issued in 2002 and covers a separator in high-energy rechargeable batteries. The separators prevent short circuits that can reduce efficiency and limit safety problems from overheating.
Sumitomo Chemical makes the chemicals and materials for lithium ion batteries that use Celgard’s invention without permission, according to the complaint. The separators are used in batteries made by Panasonic Corp. for laptop computers, Celgard said in the suit.
“Celgard has a long history of innovation in lithium-ion battery separators and is a world leader in this technology,” Polypore Chief Executive Officer Robert Toth said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the investments we make in innovation.”
Tokyo-based Sumitomo Chemical has filed a trademark application to use the name “Pervio” for its separators, according to the complaint.
Polypore is seeking a court ruling that prevents the future use of the invention, plus cash compensation.
Polypore, based in Charlotte, also makes Duralife automotive batteries, and separators for health-care products like hemodialysis machines and beverage filtration machines. Weakness in the end market for electronic devices and electric vehicles were blamed for a 4 percent drop in fourth-quarter sales to $180.2 million, Polypore said Feb. 20.
The case is Celgard LLC v. Sumitomo Chemical Co., 13cv122, U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte).
Reckitt Benckiser Faces Generic Threats After FDA Rejection
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc faces competition in pharmaceuticals for the first time after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two generic variants of its Suboxone heroin-dependency drug, thwarting the company’s attempts to keep rivals away from its most profitable business.
The company said yesterday that two manufacturers have FDA approval to produce generic Suboxone tablets in the U.S. Competition could arrive within a month, according to Alex Howson, an analyst at Jefferies International in London.
Reckitt Benckiser was also hurt by the FDA’s rejection in a Feb. 22 letter of the company’s September petition asking that makers of similar medicines implement more safeguards. The FDA also asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into claims by generic drug makers of anti-competitive business practices on Reckitt Benckiser’s part.
The shadow of competition to Suboxone has hung over the Slough, England-based company since it lost U.S. patent protection in 2009. The pharmaceuticals unit generated 21 percent of profit last year, and analysts yesterday reduced their 2013 profit estimates by as much as 4 percent.
Reckitt Benckiser, which said it was “disappointed” by the rejection of its petition, has said generics would eliminate as much as 90 percent of tablet sales and up to 20 percent of the newer film-strip version, which dissolves under the tongue and has captured a 64 percent volume share in the U.S.
One of the generics will come from Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC, which said in a statement yesterday that is has received FDA approval for a generic version of Suboxone tablets, to be available in March. The other will be made by Actavis Inc. of Parsippany, New Jersey, which said in a statement it intends to begin shipping its product immediately.
Reckitt Benckiser said it’s sticking with its decision to stop producing Suboxone in tablet form next month as it weans patients onto the film-strip version, which it unveiled in 2010.
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‘Smart Ovens’ Abound, as Do Applications to Register Trademark
Breville Group Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. have both filed applications to register “Smart Oven” as a trademark in Australia, Appliance magazine reported.
Electrolux AB’s Electrolux Australia had previously applied to register the term in Australia, according to the magazine.
Samsung has also filed a U.S. application for a “Smart Oven” trademark, Appliance Magazine reported.
South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. is also coming out with a “smart oven,” according to the magazine.
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Google’s YouTube Tells Nascar It’s Unblocking Fan’s Crash Video
Following a copyright infringement claim from the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service blocked and then unblocked a race fan’s video of the crash at the Feb. 23 Daytona 500 race, the Washington Post reported.
Nascar asked for the removal of the video “out of respect for those injured,” the race company said in a statement, according to the Post report.
YouTube then put the video back up, saying “Our partners and users do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they contain content which is copyright infringing, which is why we have reinstated the videos,” according to the Post.
The fan’s video shows a race-car wheel that ended up in the stands, with race viewers waving for help, the Post reported.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Microsoft Says Its Computers Were Hit by Cyber Attack
Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, said in a statement that “a small number” of its computers were hacked in a recent cyber attack.
The computers were attacked by “malicious software” using techniques similar to those experienced and reported recently by Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc., the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its statement posted on the company website Feb. 22.
None of its customers’ computers were affected in the attack, Microsoft claims. The company is in the middle of an investigation of the attacks and said that this type of attack “is no surprise” to the company.
Microsoft said it doesn’t make any statements about such attacks during the initial information-gathering process.
‘Major’ German Companies Hit With Cyber Attacks, Official Says
Stefan Keller, the head of the German Interior Ministry’s department in charge of cyber security, told the European Police Conference that 70 percent of all major Germany companies “are threatened or affected” by cyber attacks, Der Spiegel reported.
The “overwhelming number” of attacks targeting German government agencies are coming from China, mainly Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, according to Der Spiegel.
Proposed German legislation may contain a requirement for companies that are targets of cyber attacks to report them to the government, the newspaper reported.
Presently, “it is a question of coincidence” that the government learns about attacks against German companies, Der Spiegel reported.
Sheppard Mullin Hires Dickstein Shapiro’s David A. Randall
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP hired David A. Randall for its intellectual property practice group, the Los Angeles-based firm said in a statement.
Randall, who joins from Washington’s Dickstein Shapiro LLP, is a litigator who has represented clients in patent, trademark and trade-secret disputes. His clients’ technologies include aerospace, biofuels and biochemical, software, optical communications, network systems, satellite, semiconductor, and video gaming.
He has also done patent-acquisition work and IP portfolio counseling.
Randall has an undergraduate degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Arizona and a law degree from Arizona State University.
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