ArcelorMittal, Bayer, OxyContin: Intellectual Property

ArcelorMittal USA LLC, part of the world’s biggest steelmaker, sued units of OAO Severstal, Russia’s second-largest steelmaker, and Nisshin Steel Holdings Co. for allegedly infringing a patent for metal used in auto parts.

Michigan-based Severstal Dearborn and West Virginia-based Wheeling-Nisshin Inc. misappropriated technology for the high-strength, aluminum-coated metal, the U.S. arm of Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal said in a complaint filed April 16 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

ArcelorMittal “has the sole and exclusive right and license” under the patent, and Severstal and Nisshin should pay damages after a jury trial, the company said in the complaint.

Nisshin President Toshinori Miki didn’t answer the phone at the company’s offices in Tokyo before regular business hours.

“For the past three years, Severstal has successfully defended itself” against ArcelorMittal claims, and “it will continue to successfully defend itself against this most recent complaint,” Katya Pruett, a Severstal spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed message.

The lawsuit joins a similar action also filed yesterday in the same court by ArcelorMittal against AK Steel Holding Corp. over the same patent.

Barry L. Racey, an AK spokesman, didn’t return calls and e-mails seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is ArcelorMittal USA LLC v. Severstal Dearborn LLC, 13-cv-00686, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). The case against AK is ArcelorMittal v. AK Steel, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To see the patent in the lawsuit, click: RE44,153.

Bayer Claims Syngenta’s Appear Fungicide Infringes Its Patent

Bayer AG’s CropScience unit, maker of the Chipco Signature fungicide, filed a lawsuit claiming Syngenta AG’s Appear product uses its patented technology and falsely claims to be a superior product.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer, in a complaint filed April 16, asked a federal court in North Carolina to order the infringement and marketing pitch stopped, as well as cash compensation for any loss of sales or reputation.

The dispute is over a fungicide that includes the compound phthalocyanine, used on citrus plants, golf courses, park lawns and roses.

The patent, called “fungicidal compositions for the enhancement of turf quality,” was first issued in 1997. Bayer last week said it was beefing up its turf and ornamentals management, including appointing a product manager for fungicides.

Syngenta, based in Basel, Switzerland, is the world’s largest maker of crop chemicals. Fungicides accounted for $3 billion in sales last year, or 23 percent of Syngenta’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company is scheduled to announce first-quarter earnings today.

Syngenta doesn’t comment on pending litigation, Paul Minehart, a company spokesman, said.

The case is Bayer CropScience Inc. v. Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, 13-cv-00316, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.

FDA Bans Generic Copies of Purdue Pharma’s Older OxyContin

Generic-drug companies will be barred from making copies of older versions of OxyContin that don’t have tamper-resistant qualities, U.S. regulators said.

The Food and Drug Administration determined April 16 that closely held Purdue Pharma LP, maker of a reformulated OxyContin, pulled previous versions of the popular painkiller without abuse-deterrent measures from the market for safety or effectiveness reasons. The determination will keep generic drugmakers such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Impax Laboratories Inc. from making copies of the older version.

Generic drugmakers had been waiting for the expiration this week of a patent on the original OxyContin. Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma pulled that version from U.S. pharmacy shelves and replaced it with a tamper-resistant formulation in August 2010 after reports of widespread abuse. The newer drug is still under patent protection.

Endo Health Solutions Inc. is seeking a similar determination from the FDA regarding its old painkiller Opana, which the Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania-based company had pulled and reformulated with abuse-deterrent features. Impax currently sells a generic version of the original Opana.


Trump School Must Show Malice to Prove Defamation, Court Rules

Trump University must show that an ex-student knew she falsely accused the school of deceptive practices before the school can sue for defamation, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco held yesterday.

The school, which promises to teach developer Donald Trump’s “insider success secrets,” must show that the ex-student acted with malice when she alleged in letters to the Better Business Bureau and other entities that it engaged in high-pressure sales tactics, trickery and “a gargantuan amount of misleading, fraudulent, and predatory behavior,” the judges said.

“Trump University is not a public figure because Donald Trump is famous and controversial,” the court said. “Trump University is a limited public figure because a public debate existed regarding its aggressively advertised educational practices.”

The ex-student, Tarla Makaeff, who paid $34,000 in enrollment fees, sued the school in 2010 on behalf of herself and other students alleging deceptive business practices. The school countersued, alleging defamation.

Makaeff sought dismissal of the school’s claims under a law that protects people from frivolous lawsuits meant to quell free speech over public issues. A federal judge denied her request, saying Trump University wasn’t a public figure and had a reasonable chance of success on its defamation claim.

The appeals court said that as a public figure the school must be held to a heightened standard of proof and show Makaeff acted with malice when she criticized Trump University.

The panel sent the case back to the trial judge and said that if Trump can’t make such a showing, “it has no possibility of success on the merits” and the defamation claim should be thrown out.

Jill Martin, an attorney for Trump, said the company will ask for a rehearing by the full appeals court and that Makaeff “must be held accountable for her defamatory statements.” Eric Issacson, a lawyer for Makaeff, didn’t immediately reply to e-mail and voice-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.

Trump University, founded as an online school for business professionals, later became the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

The appeal is Makaeff v. Trump University, 11-55016, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco). The original case is Makaeff v. Trump University LLC, 3:10-cv-00940, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Art World

Kravis Resolves Claims Against Bryant Over Johns Works

Henry Kravis, the co-chairman of KKR & Co., and art collector Donald L. Bryant Jr. agreed to resolve claims that Bryant reneged on an agreement to donate paintings by Jasper Johns to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Kravis sued Bryant in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in January, claiming he went back on an agreement to donate the paintings they jointly owned to MoMA after the two collectors took turns displaying the works in their homes.

Kravis, his wife Marie-Josee, MoMA and Bryant, in a court filing dated April 16, asked a judge in Manhattan to approve a proposed consent order and final judgment resolving Kravis’s claims and counterclaims filed by Bryant.

The proposed order would amend an agreement among the three parties to allow the Kravises to possess the artworks until Feb. 16, 2014, when they would be given to Bryant. The two parties would then have alternating rights of possession every 12 months. The works are to be donated to MoMA after the death of the owners.

Bryant in a court filing last month said he “never impliedly or expressly repudiated the promised gift of his interest” in the art to MoMA and that he confirmed to Johns his intent to donate the works to the museum. Bryant said he was preparing to transfer possession of the works to Kravis in January when the lawsuit was filed, and that the art was delivered on Jan. 30.

The case is Kravis v. Bryant, 150705/2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

Law Firm Moves

Goodwin Procter Expands Technology Companies Group

David W. Van Horne Jr. has joined Goodwin Procter LLP in its San Francisco office as a partner in its technology companies group.

According to a statement from the firm, Van Horne will focus on emerging growth companies as well as venture capital funds. He has experience in corporate formation and governance issues, in addition to mergers and acquisitions. Van Horne joins Goodwin from Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigan LLP, where he was a partner as well.

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