Nortel, IBM, DuPont, Danone, Renault, `Yeah Right': Intellectual Property
Nortel Networks Corp., the insolvent Canadian phone-equipment maker, may get as much as $1.1 billion for technology patents that analysts say would benefit potential bidders including Research In Motion Ltd.
The Toronto-based company has about 4,500 patents granted and more than 1,000 applications for designs pending, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data, said Peter Conley of MDB Capital Group LLC, who estimated their value. They would be a “natural fit” for BlackBerry maker RIM, he said.
“Patent estates of this size don’t come along that often,” said Conley, who is managing director of Santa Monica- based MDB, an investment bank specialized in intellectual property. “This is the equivalent of acquiring the IP of a large technology company. If you could buy that for a billion dollars, it would be a bargain.”
Nortel’s patents would give buyers technology used in wireless networks that support data-hungry smartphones like Apple Inc.’s iPhone. A sale would add to the more than $2.8 billion Nortel has raised from selling assets in bankruptcy and be a boon to creditors, said Ehud Gelblum, a New York-based Morgan Stanley analyst.
Nortel said this month it has started soliciting bids for the patents.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009 after posting a loss of $5.8 billion in 2008. The company has since auctioned off businesses, and the patents are among the last assets left, according to court papers.
Even with a discount to account for Nortel’s insolvency, the patents are worth $750 million to $1.1 billion, said Conley, the intellectual-property banker. His valuation is based on an estimate for types of patents, multiplied by the number in the portfolio and discounted for the age of the patents.
Scott McKeown, a patent lawyer with Oblon, Spivak, McCLelland, Maier and Neustadt in Alexandria, Virginia, said a sale price of at least $750 million for the patents is reasonable, especially as they include Nortel’s Long Term Evolution, or LTE, technology for the newest wireless networks, called fourth generation.
Nortel has yet to decide whether a sale, licensing, some combination of the two or another alternative is the best decision, said spokeswoman Moody. She declined to comment on how many LTE patents Nortel has or on the estimate for their value.
RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, attempted to block Ericsson AB’s $1.13 billion purchase last year of Nortel’s code- division multiple access, or CDMA, technology, on which most mobile phones in North America run, saying the deal would deprive Canada of vital technology.
Ericsson, based in Stockholm, would be interested in pursuing more Nortel patents, Mark Henderson, head of the company’s Canadian unit, said last August. Patricia Maclean, a company spokeswoman in Canada, said Ericsson had nothing to add.
Cisco Systems Inc., the world’s biggest maker of networking equipment, may also be interested in Nortel’s patents, according to Conley. The San Jose, California-based company has cited Nortel 3,200 times in its patent applications, Conley said, citing U.S. patent office data.
David McCulloch, a Cisco spokesman, declined to comment.
IBM Seeks Patent for Traffic-Signal Auto Engine-Stop Technology
International Business Machines Corp. filed an application for a U.S. patent on a technology to increase fuel economy.
Application 20100125402, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office May 20, is for a technology that will permit traffic signals and railroad crossing signals to turn off the engines of waiting cars.
This method would be used to increase fuel economy, according to the application. Calculations would be made to determine whether more fuel would be saved by turning off and restarting the engine or permitting it to run while the vehicle is stopped.
Communication between the vehicle and the signal can be accomplished by utilizing wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, cellular network, or satellite communications, according to the application.
Armonk, New York-based IBM applied for the patent in November 2008, with the assistance of Suiter Swantz pc llo of Omaha, Nebraska.
Film Funder, Distributor Sued over ‘Torture Room’ Rights
Moviebank LLC, a closely held company that finances feature films, was sued for copyright infringement by an Arcadia- California-based film company.
Randles Films LLC accused Moviebank of infringing the copyright to “Brainwashed: the Torture Room.” According to the Internet Movie Database, the film has been renamed “Pledge of Allegiance,” and was written by Eric Forsberg, who also wrote “Snakes on a Train,” and “30,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
According to a review posted on the database, “Pledge of Allegiance” is “culled from the descriptions of torture and tactics used on those released or interviewed at Gitmo and Abu Graib.” The review says the film “weaves a chillingly realistic tale of the plausible, sadistic, and alarmingly unchecked torment; exacted in the name of Homeland Security.”
Codefendant with Moviebank is Echo Bridge Entertainment LLC of Beverly Hills, California, an independent content- distribution company. Quantum Releasing LLC of Burbank, California, a distributor of independent films and television programs, is also a defendant. The complaint, filed May 25 in federal court in Los Angeles, also lists 10 unnamed defendants.
Randles Films claims the defendants “wrongfully created copies” of the disputed film, and distributed and sold them without authorization. The film company claims it’s lost income and profits and the value of its rights have been diluted by the defendants’ actions.
It asked the court to bar the defendants from future infringement and for an award for all profits they realized from their allegedly unauthorized acts. Additionally, the film company seeks an award of money damages, attorney fees, litigation costs and an order for seizure and destruction of all unauthorized copied of the film.
The case is Randles Films LLC v. Quantum Releasing LLC, 2:10-cv-03909-SJO-SS, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
DuPont Goes After Record Company for Using ‘Teflon’ Trademark
DuPont Co., the 208-year-old chemical company, sued a Los Angeles-based record company for trademark infringement.
Teflon Blood Records Inc. is accused of infringing DuPont’s “Teflon” trademarks, used for the company’s fluoropolymer products. The chemical company says it’s been using the name since 1944, and registered a number of Teflon marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office beginning in 1946.
It objects to the record company’s use of “Teflon,” and its inference that Teflon is a bullet-proof substance.
Teflon Blood’s logo of a pulsating heart wrapped in a so- called bulletproof vest “is likely to cause confusion to the consuming public as to the use and applications for DuPont’s Teflon” fabrics and resins, the company said in the complaint transferred May 25 to federal court in Los Angeles from federal court in Denver.
Despite having been sent multiple cease-and-desist letters, the record company continues to use the Teflon mark without authorization, DuPont said in its pleadings. The president of Teflon Blood told DuPont his company doesn’t intend to comply with the chemical company’s requests, according to court papers.
Teflon Blood’s principle recording group is Black Judah, a reggae dancehall band, according to the company website. The chemical company claims it’s suffering “great damage to its business, good will, reputation, profits and the strength of its Teflon mark” due to the record company’s unauthorized use of the mark.
Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont asked the court for attorney fees, litigation costs, money damages of as much as $1 million for each counterfeit mark, and for an award of Teflon Blood’s profits stemming from its alleged infringement. Additionally, the company seeks a court order barring any unauthorized use of its Teflon mark, and the seizure of all offending material.
The case is E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. v. Teflon Blood Inc., 2:10-cv-02908-R-E, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
Danone Defeats Glanbia in Irish Trademark Battle over ‘Essensis’
The suit stems from the brand name “Bifidus Essensis” Paris-based Danone used for a yogurt culture used in its Activia yogurts, according to the DairyReporter.com.
Although Dublin’s High Court ruled against Danone in 2007, the country’s Supreme Court determined that ruling was “unduly narrow,” the website reported.
Glanbia, which produced the Yoplait Essence product that was the subject of the dispute, said it will “review its legal options,” according to the website.
Renault’s ‘Zoe’ Name Choice for New Car Drawing Zoes’ Ire
Renault ZA, the Paris-based automaker, is receiving opposition from its proposal to brand its new zero-emission car “Zoe” to be released in 2012, the BBC reported.
The word, which means “life” in Greek, is a popular girls’ name, and women named Zoe are petitioning the company reconsider its choice, according to the BBC.
A lawyer for one woman named Zoe told the BBC that if Renault didn’t reconsider its name choice, he would sue the company.
Renault said the name isn’t yet a “definitive choice,” according to the BBC.
Asia Pacific Tells Church To Halt Use of ‘Yeah Right’ Trademark
Bethlehem Community Church was told its sign “Atheists have nothing to worry about! Yeah right” was infringing the “yeah right” mark the Singapore-based company was using for its Tui brand beer, according to the Herald.
The church had used a variety of slogans incorporating “yeah right” on its own billboards for eight years, according to the newspaper.
A church official told the Herald he thought the phrase “yeah right” was a New Zealand colloquialism and couldn’t be protected by trademark law, the Herald reported.
Hong Kong Pop Singer Won’t Sue Food Shop Owner for Infringement
A dispute with the owner of a salted duck shop related to the owner’s attempt to register his shop’s name as a trademark, according to ChannelNewsAsia.
The shop’s name contains the words “Liu De Hua,” which is Lau’s name in Mandarin, the website reported.
While Lau’s did initially oppose the trademark registration on the grounds that association with pressed salted duck would defame singer’s name in addition to infringing, its statement said it wouldn’t interfere with people’s using their own names or registering trademarks, according to ChannelNewsAsia.
Indian Patent-Outsourcing Firm to Hire 100 More Lawyers for Delhi
The company, which already has more than 450 lawyers, will place the new hires in its facilities in Delhi, India, according to the Business Standard.
Delhi was chosen because of the large number of lawyers available there and the improvements in the city’s business infrastructure, Sanjay Kamlan, Pangea3’s co-chief executive officer told the Business Standard.
In addition to patent work, Pangea3 also does litigation and electronic discovery services, the Business Standard Reported.