Dainippon, Google, Apple, Dogfish: Intellectual Property

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co.’s Sunovion won an appeals court ruling that Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd.’s generic version of the sleep aid Lunesta would infringe a patent that expires next year.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said yesterday the trial judge erred in ruling the Dr. Reddy’s version didn’t infringe the patent, which covers eszopiclone, the active ingredient in Lunesta. The opinion was posted on the court’s website.

Lunesta generated $136 million in sales during the first quarter in North America and China, Osaka-based Dainippon Sumitomo said in a July 31 statement. The company has reached settlements with other companies over the sleep medicine, including one with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. that enable low-cost versions to enter the market before the patent expires.

The case is Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 13-1335, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 09cv1302, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

Google, Microsoft Urge Changes to Avoid Abuse at EU Patent Court

Google Inc., Microsoft Corp and at least 12 other companies urged the European Union to change draft rules that will guide the way the bloc’s first patent court operates.

“We appreciate that Europe has long worked toward a unified patent system, and we hope the proposed new system will be a significant step forward,” the companies, including Apple Inc., said in a letter sent to EU institutions yesterday. “We are concerned” that aspects of the draft rules “may undermine these benefits by creating significant opportunities for abuse.”

EU ministers in February approved plans to set up the first patent court, paving the way for a common patent system after a decades-long deadlock on the plans. Costs for getting patent protection in Europe could be cut by more than 30,000 euros ($40,443) under a new common patent system, the European Commission, the EU’s executive agency has said.

One of the companies’ concerns is that the rules aren’t clear enough on when or how it will be decided whether a particular patent is valid and that this “could undermine, rather than promote, innovation in Europe.”

Apple Loses $3 Million Patent-Infringement Verdict in Japan

Apple Inc., maker of the iPod and iPhone, was ordered to pay 330 million yen ($3 million) to a Japanese inventor in a patent-infringement case, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.

The click-wheel controller Apple has used on its Ipods in Japan was found to infringe a patent on technology invented by Norihiko Saito, according to Kyodo News.

The order came down yesterday from the Tokyo District Court, according to the news service.

For more patent news, click here.


Dogfish Head Tells Texas Brewery to Quit Using ‘Namaste’ Mark

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc., a brewery in Milton, Delaware, posted a statement on its website that it’s “searching for a friendly solution” to a trademark dispute with a convenience store and brewpub in Austin, Texas.

The Delaware brewery objects to Austin-based Whip-In’s use of “Namaste Brewing” as a name for its brewery operations. “Namaste” is a word used as a greeting in India.

Dogfish Head registered “Namaste” as a trademark for beer in February 2012, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The brewery said it has sold its Namaste beer throughout the U.S. for five years and that “there is no point in having a trademark unless we actively defend it.” If Dogfish Head doesn’t defend its ownership of the mark, “anyone can name a beer Namaste,” according to the statement.

The brewery said it is seeking to resolve the issue “brewer to brewer” without resorting to legal action. The company said it has given Namaste Brewing “several creative solutions” to alleviate any hardship the company might have in phasing out the name.

Dogfish Head said Whip-In sells some Dogfish Head beers, including Namaste beer. Whip-In’s Namaste Brewing makes a range of beers with Indian-themed names, including Ganeshale, Shivastout, Lakshmi Hefe and KaliDurgale.

The patent office database lists other “Namaste” trademarks, including one registered in May 2012 for use with digital media, a mark registered in April 2012 for use with hair-care products, a May 2007 registration as a trademark for knitting needles, a mark registered in October 2005 for use with bedding and mattresses and a March 2000 registration for use with travel agency services.

Chanel Awarded Control of Websites That Sold Fakes

Chanel SAS won control of 50 Internet domain names through which counterfeit versions of its products were sold.

The French luxury fashion company sued in federal court in Houston in July 2012, alleging that fake versions of its handbags, wallets, earrings, dresses, watches, sunglasses, shoes and other products were being sold to Texas residents through the 50 websites. The items were marked with copies of the legitimate Chanel trademarks.

Chanel asked the court for orders barring further infringement and blocking access to the accused websites.

In an order issued yesterday, U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller granted Chanel’s request for a permanent order against the websites’ operators and transferred the sites to the French company’s control.

Customers paid for goods they bought through the website by using EBay Inc.’s PayPal payments-transfer service. The judge ordered that any funds in PayPal accounts associated with the seller of the counterfeit items be transferred to Chanel. He also awarded the company $62,000 in attorney fees and litigation costs. He noted that the defendants never answered the complaint or appeared in court, so granted Chanel’s motion for a default judgment.

The case is Chanel Inc., v. 2012 Handbagsonline.net, 4:12-cv-02085, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

For more trademark news, click here.


Dentist Claims Critical Website Infringes His Copyrights

A New York dentist who sells a product aimed at combating mouth and dental odor on cable television shopping channels sued the operator of a website that criticizes him, alleging copyright infringement.

The dentist, Thomas Connelly, claims that the website www.thomasconnellydds.com makes use of his photo and name without authorization. The website contains critical statements about Connelly and his dental practice, he said in the complaint filed Sept. 23 in federal court in New York.

He said that he filed takedown requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the website was taken down. The website resurfaced in June and was altered using images of the dentist he said were stolen from his www.drconnelly.com website.

At that time, Connelly was raising capital for a company in which he has an ownership interest, 32 Oral Care LLC. His breath-freshening product, 32 Oral Care, is sold on the Shopping Channel, a cable-shopping channel owned by Rogers Media Inc. of Toronto.

He said he was courting an investor who was interested in putting $12 million into 32 Oral Care. The potential investor, who was to receive a 50 percent stake, read the critical website and canceled the investment.

Connelly asked the court to bar further infringement of his copyrights and assign him the thomasconnenellydds.com domain name, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The critical website had a notice posted yesterday saying, “This site has stepped out for a bit.”

The case is TCP IP Holder Inc. v. Cohen, 13-cv-06692, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Alaska Fracking Rules Won’t Protect Trade Secrets, Group Says

Alaska Oil and Gas Association, a petroleum industry trade group, told the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that proposed new regulations on hydraulic fracturing would provide no trade-secret protection, according to North Dakota’s Jamestown Sun newspaper.

The trade group is objecting to requirements that would mandate full disclosure of chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing fluid used to crack open layers of rock and release oil and gas, the Jamestown Sun reported.

Alaska fracking regulations are more strict than those imposed by other states, the trade group said, according to the newspaper.

Cathy Foerster, who heads the commission, said it would accept comments on the regulations for three more weeks, the Jamestown Sun said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

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

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