Bayer, HP, Nissan, Unilever: Intellectual Property
Teva, the world’s biggest generic-drug maker, said it began selling the contraceptive yesterday. Bayer, Germany’s largest drugmaker, claims Teva’s lower-cost version of Yaz infringes three patents that expire in 2014, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.
Yaz generated $782 million in U.S. sales in the 12 months ended Dec. 31, Teva said, citing IMS Health data. Teva, based in Petah Tikva, Israel, said it has the right to sell the only approved generic version on the market for 180 days, because it was the first to file an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Bayer complaint asks that Teva be blocked from selling the generic version until the patents expire.
Yaz and the related contraceptive Yasmin are the biggest prescription drugs sold by Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer. The company last month won U.S. clearance to sell a new pill called Natazia.
Bayer lost a court ruling over a patent on Yasmin last year. As a result of that ruling, Bayer and Teva’s Barr unit reached an agreement to let Barr sell Yasmin under its own label, known as an authorized generic. Barr is scheduled to begin selling an authorized generic of Yaz in July 2011, under the agreement.
Apple Products Targeted in U.S. Trade Complaint by S3
Closely held S3 filed the complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington on May 28, claiming Apple devices with image-processing systems are violating intellectual property rights. The agency, which posted a notice of the complaint on its website, has the power to block imports.
Apple, which makes some products overseas and imports them into the U.S. for sale, is pursuing or defending itself in at least four other cases before the ITC. S3, based in Fremont, California, sells 3D graphics technologies for notebooks and desktops, according to a description on its website.
Apple doesn’t comment on pending litigation, said Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for the Cupertino, California-based company. A lawyer representing S3, Thomas Jarvis of Finnegan Henderson in Washington, declined to comment on the complaint.
The ITC is a government agency that investigates claims of unfair trade practices, including violations of patents and trademarks. If the agency agrees to investigate the complaint, a decision would typically take about 15 months.
Apple’s other cases before the ITC include fights with mobile-phone companies HTC Corp. (2498) and Nokia Oyj, digital-camera maker Eastman Kodak Co. and chipmaker Elan Microelectronics Corp.
The latest complaint is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices with Image Processing Systems, Complaint No. 2737, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).
HP Gets Patent for Aerosolized Drug-Delivery System Control
Hewlett Packard Co. (HPQ), which said yesterday it will cut 9,000 jobs, received a U.S. patent for a drug-delivery technology.
Patent 7,726,303, one of 5,067 U.S. patents issued yesterday, is for a device that permits controlled ejection of drugs that are inhaled.
One technical problem with aerosolized drug delivery is that different droplet sizes may be required, depending on the target of the medication. Larger size particles tend to deposit in the mouth and trachea, while smaller particles will reach parts of the lungs, according to the patent.
Particles that are too small are more likely to be exhaled out of the body, while particles that are too large may be swallowed and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
The HP patent covers the controlled ejection of a medication through a device that can be configured to deliver the desired particle size.
HP applied for the patent in February 2003. No outside counsel is listed on the patent.
Nissan Files Six U.S. Trademark Applications for ‘IPL’
Nissan Motor Co. (7201), maker of the Infiniti luxury car, filed six applications to register “IPL” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The initials are believed to stand for “Infiniti Performance Lineup,” MotorTrend reported.
All six applications, filed April 9, specify the mark would be used with high-performance car parts or for off-road headlights.
Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, exports all of its Infiniti vehicles to the U.S., company officials said in April.
Unilever Tells Peoples Pops to Quit Using ‘Popsicle’ Mark
Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz, who do business as “People’s Pops” were told to quit using any reference to “Popsicle” on their website and in their promotional materials.
Unilever demanded they provide the company with “written confirmation of your compliance” by May 7, according to the portion of the letter posted on the People’s Pops blog.
Although the Brooklyn company, which makes frozen ice confections from sustainably grown local fruit, was named to avoid reference to Popsicle, “we’d been lazy about using the word ‘popsicle’ on our blog,” according to a recent posting.
“Can you blame us? I mean at this point Popsicle is such a ubiquitous word that it rolls off the tongue more easily than ‘ice pop,’” according to the blog posting.
Tastemaker Martha Stewart, herself a trademark owner, was more careful. In a video segment from the Martha Stewart Show posted on Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site, she makes a point of calling the company’s products “ice pops.” The patent office trademark database lists 442 entries for Martha Stewart.
Unilever is the world’s biggest ice-cream maker. In the U.S., the company makes Ben & Jerry’s, in addition to Popsicles and various single-serve ice cream confections under the “Good Humor” mark.
Nokia Goes After Second Australian Retailer for Fake Imports
Fone King of Miranda, New South Wales, was accused of importing batteries that were “substantially identically or deceptively similar” to the Finnish company’s marks, according to the Australian.
Rhonda Sue Mikhail, a Fone King manager, told the Australian that Nokia gave her company no warning, and didn’t explain how the products were fakes.
In May, a similar dispute Nokia had with a retailer from Perth was settled, according to the newspaper.
Mint Seeks to Register ‘America the Beautiful’ Quarters Mark
The U.S. Mint warned the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. that it cannot use “America the Beautiful,” with the series of 25-cent coins with national park symbols on the reverse unless it notes the phrase is a trademark, CoinNews.Net reported.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury applied to register the phrase as a trademark in September, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. The mark is to be used for collectible coins, commemorative coins, monetary coin sets for collecting purposes, coin albums, coin holders and coin wrappers.
In March, the treasury department’s U.S. Mint revealed the designs for the first five quarters in the America the Beautiful series. They honor Hot Springs, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon national parks and Mt. Hood National Forest. The Yellowstone quarter is to be released near the park’s Old Faithful Geyser today, according to a government statement.
The earlier program, which featured state symbols on quarters’ reverse, was expected to generate $6.2 billion in revenue for the U.S. Mint. According to the patent office database, the mint has two registered trademarks, for “United States Mint Treasury” and “United States Mint American Legacy Collection.”
The database contains a number of abandoned applications from the mint for “50 state quarters” and similar phrases. At one time, the mint registered “Ft. Knox Collection,” which was canceled in 2006. Previously the mint sought to register “Reflecting the Richness of a Culture” and “Heroes Reflecting the Richness of a Culture,” before abandoning those applications.
Libya’s Trademark Office Back in Business, Issues Registration
Libya issued its first trademark registration in 30 years, Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property said in a website posting.
The Libyan Trademark Office previously canceled all trademark applications filed between 1981 and 2002 and required new filings.
Vuitton Ads Barred in U.K. for Production-Process Inaccuracy
The ads, for Louis Vuitton handbags, showed workers stitching a handbag handle and creating the folds of a wallet. The standards group received three complaints alleging the ads falsely implied the products were handmade.
The ad standards group said Vuitton failed to produce evidence “that demonstrated the extent to which Louis Vuitton products were made by hand,” the ads were misleading.
Vuitton argued the ads images were an “homage to the craftsmanship which was carried out every day” by the company’s artisans. The luxury-goods company claimed that models in the two ads “were instructed on technique and posture by Louis Vuitton artisans during the photo shoots to ensure accuracy.”
Republican Congressional Candidate Accused of Infringement
Cecile Bledsoe, a Republican candidate for a congressional seat in Arkansas’s 3rd District, received a cease-and-desist copyright infringement notice from Walker Productions, a company that produced ads for her opponent Steve Womack, the Arkansas Times reported.
Bledsoe allegedly used material from Womack ads in her commercials in a way that “goes far beyond ‘Fair Use,’” Walker Productions President Rick Walker told the Arkansas Times.
The ad agency said it will seek a court order barring use of the materials and money damages, according to the newspaper. Bledsoe’s attorney is reviewing the allegations, the newspaper reported.
Billion-Dollar Lawyer Desmarais Trolls for Patents
John Desmarais, a former top earner at the 1,500-lawyer firm Kirkland & Ellis, spent more than 15 years representing some of the world’s largest patent owners. Now he’s one of them, and he’s gearing up to slay the kinds of companies he once defended.
Desmarais, 46, in December bought a portfolio of 4,500 patents from Micron Technology Inc. (MU), the biggest U.S. maker of computer-memory chips. Yesterday he opened the doors of a new law firm, New York-based Desmarais LLP, which will look for potential infringers of the patents owned by Round Rock Research LLC, his new patent-holding company.
The move is a leap from one side of the patent world to the other: from big-firm lawyer to small-firm chief, and from a champion of companies that makes real products to leading one that simply owns patents.
“It’s a huge change,” said Desmarais, who withdrew from Kirkland’s partnership and the firm’s management committee in December and left in May. “I never just get my toes wet doing something different. I jumped in with both feet.”
Round Rock is the second-largest owner of patents among so-called nonpracticing entities, or companies that don’t sell the technology or services for which they hold patents, according to PatentFreedom, a group that keeps a database of patent holdings.
Those companies are sometimes referred to as “trolls,” a phrase coined by a former Intel Corp. (INTC) executive. The largest nonpracticing entity is Intellectual Ventures Management LLC, started by a former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) executive, with from 10,000 to 15,000 groups of patents, according to PatentFreedom.
Desmarais said he bought more than 800 patents on chipmaking technology, as well as patents on photo imaging, telecommunications and search engine technology, plus the largest single cluster of radio frequency identification patents.
Litigation by nonpracticing entities has been on the rise, says PatentFreedom, with 75 percent of their 3,100 legal actions coming since 2003.
“We’re not taking the approach of having ridiculous demands and assuming there will be litigation,” said Desmarais. “I think our approach will be a lot more reasonable.”
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