T-Mobile, Bayer, Monsanto, Boyd: Intellectual Property

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- T-Mobile US Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, said the International Trade Commission’s decision to ban the iPhone 4 as part of Apple Inc.’s patent suit with Samsung Electronics Co. won’t disrupt sales.

“T-Mobile doesn’t anticipate any impact from yesterday’s ITC order in terms of our current and future supply of Apple devices,” said Anne Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Bellevue, Washington-based mobile-phone company.

The ITC posted a notice on its website yesterday saying a potential ban would extend to older Apple products, including the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 3G that work on the networks of AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile. The iPhone 4, which first debuted in 2010, is one of Apple’s older models and isn’t among the top phones sold by these carriers, according to Canaccord Genuity.

The ITC’s import-ban order is subject to review by President Barack Obama. The president can overturn it on public-policy grounds, though that rarely happens. Apple can keep selling the devices during a 60-day review period.

That two-month period will bring Apple closer to the release of the next iPhone. When a new model comes out, often around mid-year, Apple typically pushes down the prices of its other versions and discontinues the oldest one -- in this case, the iPhone 4. The 3GS, released a year before the iPhone 4, stopped being offered by carriers in 2012.

Mark Siegel, a spokesman with Dallas-based AT&T, declined to comment on the ITC decision.

Already, the iPhone 4 is sold at rock-bottom prices by the carriers. AT&T offers the device for 99 cents with a two-year contract, compared with $199.99 for the iPhone 5. T-Mobile, which sells devices using installment plans, charges an $18 down payment for the iPhone 4 followed by $18 a month for two years.

In a filing with the agency, Samsung estimated the order would affect about 1.4 percent of the smartphones and 2.7 percent of the tablet computers sold in the U.S.

Bayer, Merck KGaA Unit Sue Actavis Over Contraceptive Patent

Bayer AG and a Merck KGaA unit sued Actavis Inc. in Delaware over a planned generic version of the birth-control drug Safyral.

“Plaintiffs are entitled to relief” from competition until patent protection ends, and Actavis was aware that its plan “constitutes an act of infringement,” lawyers for Bayer and Merck said in the complaint.

Merck & Cie, based in Altdorf, Switzerland, owns the patent, and Bayer Pharma AG is the exclusive licensee, according to the complaint. Merck & Cie is a unit of Merck KGaA, based in Darmstadt, Germany.

Bayer and Merck asked for a ruling that Actavis, based in Corona, California, infringed claims of patent 6,441,168, and are seeking damages and an injunction to bar Actavis from marketing the Safyral tablets in the U.S. before the patent’s 2020 expiration date.

Charlie Mayr, an Actavis spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Merck & Cie v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 13-cv-00978, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Monsanto to Appeal Brazil Ruling That Soybeans Patent Expired

Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, said it will appeal a ruling of a Brazil court that its patent on modified soybeans has expired.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based company said in an e-mailed statement that the patent doesn’t expire until 2014.

In October 2012 Monsanto suspended royalties for its Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil during the pendency of litigation about the patent term.

For more patent news, click here.


Boyd Gaming Sues Florida Hotel, Claims It Infringes ‘B’ Marks

Boyd Gaming Corp., operator of casinos in Nevada and seven other states, sued a Florida hotel chain for trademark infringement.

B Hotel Group LLC of Weston, Florida, is accused of infringing Boyd’s “B” trademarks. According to the complaint filed June 4 in federal court in Las Vegas, B Hotel operates properties in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

The Florida hotel company’s “B-formative” marks infringe Boyd’s marks, which the Las Vegas-based casino company said it has used since 2008. They include “B Connected,” “B Entertained,” “B Rewarded,” “B Relaxed,” “B Connected,” “B Satisfied,” and “B Recognized.”

Boyd also used the marks in an Internet domain name, www.bconnectedonline.com, the company said in its pleadings.

The casino company said that the hotel group attempted, unsuccessfully, to registered a range of “B” marks itself, including “B Pampered,” “B Social,” and “B Happy.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused to register these, Boyd said, because they were confusingly similar to the casino company’s marks, and for services similar to what Boyd offered customers.

Despite these refusals by the patent office, the hotel company is still seeking to register other marks, including “B Happy,” “B Wired,” “B Our Guest,” “B In Town,” “B On The Beach,” “B Magic,” “B Indulged,” “B Wed” and others, according to court papers.

Boyd accused the hotel company of “targeted infringement” of the casino company’s intellectual property. The casino company said it has filed oppositions to the hotel company’s trademark applications.

It asked the court to bar further infringement of its marks, and to order the patent office to cancel registrations for infringing marks attained or sought by the hotel company. Additionally, Boyd asked for awards of money damages, including extra damages to punish the hotel company for its actions, and for attorney fees and litigation costs.

B Hotel Group didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Boyd Gaming Corp. v. B Hotel Group LLC, 2:13-cv-00981-GMN-CWH, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

Walgreen ‘Teamcare’ Trademark Dispute Moved to Federal Court

Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, succeeded in having a trademark case moved from state court in Florida into federal court.

Teamcare Pharmacy Services Inc. of Florida’s Seminole County sued Walgreen in state court April 30, claiming the Deerfield, Illinois-based drugstore company infringed the “Teamcare” trademarks. Specifically, the Florida company objected to ads for a Walgreen store in Orlando, Florida, that used the phrase “Team Care Pharmacy” and “Team Care” in its advertisements.

Additionally, Teamcare objected to an automated phone message for the Orlando Walgreen pharmacy that said “Thank you for calling Team Care pharmacy, operated by Walgreens.”

Teamcare said it has used the term “Teamcare Pharmacy” in Florida since 2000, and that it has been harmed by the drugstore chain’s use of a similar phrase. Customers are likely to be confused because of the name similarity, Teamcare claims.

The Florida company seeks money damages, and awards of litigation costs and attorney fees, and a court order barring further use of “Team Care” by Walgreen.

Walgreen responded to this complaint May 30 by saying in court filings that Teamcare waited too long to file a complaint as the drugstore chain had used the term for more than four years, and that there has been no actual or potential confusion between the two companies’ offerings.

Additionally, Walgreen said the term “teamcare” is generic or descriptive, and not distinctive enough to acquire protection under trademark law. Walgreen also claimed that the two companies’ services weren’t competitive.

The Illinois company then asked that the case be moved to federal court because the dispute qualified for that venue under federal court rules. The case was refiled in federal court in Orlando May 31.

The case is Teamcare Pharmacy Services Inc. v. Walgreen Co., 6:13-cv-08444-CEH-TBS, U.S. District Court, Central District of Florida (Orlando).

KTM Wins Permanent Order Against South Dakota Bike Dealer

KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG, the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, persuaded a federal court in South Dakota to issue an order permanently barring one of its former dealers from using the company’s name in its Internet domain names.

The company’s KTM North American unit filed suit May 1 against Cycle Hutt Inc. of Mead County, South Dakota. The dealership was accused of violating the terms of a 2004 agreement covering the use of three KTM trademarks.

Cycle Hutt refused to transfer the ktm.com domain name to the Mattinghofen, Austria-based company and offered to sell it for $7 million, according to court papers. When KTM refused, litigation ensued. That case settled with the transfer of that and other domain names and an agreement by Cycle Hutt to not use the KTM name.

KTM on May 1 filed a new suit claiming that Cycle Huttt transferred its business to Sturgis Cycle Hutt LLC of Sturgis, South Dakota, which included some domain names incorporating “KTM.”

Cycle Hutt didn’t respond to the new complaint, according to court papers.

On May 3 the court granted a temporary order barring further infringement of the KTM marks. The court followed this up June 4 by issuing an order barring any use of the KTM name and the use of “dealer” or “dealership” on any of the defendant’s websites unless they are used in connection with an actual dealership agreement with a third party.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken said there was “no adequate remedy at law to compensate for the harm caused” by the defendants’ business practices in handling KTM products. The court found it “in the public interest to prevent defendants’ unlawful trademark infringement,” he said.

The case is KTM North America Inc. v. Cycle Hutt Inc., 5:13-cv-05033-JLV, U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, Western Division (Rapid City).

For more trademark news, click here.


Fox Turns Down Ad Criticizing Commentators for Copyright Reasons

News Corp.’s Fox News has used a copyright claim to avoid running an ad refuting critical remarks some of its male news commentators made about a Pew Research Center study about working mothers, the Washington Post reported.

UltraViolet, a self-professed anti-sexism group, “had tried to run an ad using footage of the specific newscasters and asking for their firing,” the newspaper reported.

Fox said under its copyright rules, they couldn’t air an advertisement that uses their own content, according to the Post.

The 30-second ad singles out Fox for criticism and advocacy, and doesn’t use the programming for commercial gain, thus qualifying for copyright law’s “fair use” provisions, Professor Clay Calvert of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications told the Post.

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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