InterDigital, Mattel, Navistar: Intellectual Property

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court let InterDigital Inc. pursue a bid to extract patent royalties from Nokia Oyj for the third generation of mobile-phone technology.

The nation’s highest court yesterday rejected an appeal by Nokia, which contended that InterDigital couldn’t block imports of the disputed technology because it wasn’t making any products of its own. A federal appeals court had said InterDigital could press the case, one of several the company has filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Companies including Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. joined Nokia in urging the Supreme Court to take up the appeal and limit the ITC’s jurisdiction. They argued that the commission has become a favorite forum for companies whose sole business is to obtain patents and seek royalties.

“Instead of protecting American jobs from unfair trade practices, the ITC is now imposing unfair litigation practices, to the detriment of the very domestic industries it is supposed to protect,” Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Red Hat Inc. said in a court filing.

The ITC is a quasi-judicial agency whose job is to protect U.S. markets from unfair trade practices, such as infringement of intellectual property. It has the power to order products halted at the U.S. border.

InterDigital and the Obama administration both told the court it shouldn’t hear the case. InterDigital, based in Wilmington, Delaware, said in court papers that it “does not simply take advantage of others’ inventions” and “has been at the forefront of digital wireless telephony since its founding” in 1972.

The Supreme Court appeal rejected yesterday is Nokia v. ITC, 12-1352. The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain 3G Mobile Handsets and components thereof, 337-613, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Quest Enters Breast-Cancer Test Market Dominated by Myriad

Quest Diagnostics Inc., the biggest U.S. operator of medical labs, began yesterday to sell a test for two breast cancer genes, providing competition for Myriad Genetics Inc. and potentially helping to reduce costs for women fearful they are at risk of the disease.

Quest will sell the most comprehensive version of its test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for $2,500, said Richard Bender, a consultant for the Madison, New Jersey-based company. The price compares with almost $3,400 that Medicare pays for the most comprehensive version of a test from Myriad.

Myriad held a U.S. monopoly over the BRCA tests until June, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated parts of its gene patents. Immediately afterward, Ambry Genetics Corp. and another closely held company said they were entering the BRCA market. Quest is the largest competitor to move into the field.

Quest’s test “will certainly be comparable to if not better than the data provided by Myriad” in its ability to identify a harmful mutation, Bender said by telephone.

Quest’s incursion into the BRCA testing market sets up a potential legal battle with Myriad, which has various remaining patents on its tests.

“We feel we offer a test that is the gold standard in quality,” Ronald Rogers, a Myriad spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Quest’s test “does not violate any valid BRCA patent that Myriad Genetics may assert,” Wendy Bost, a Quest spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Quest said in an Oct. 10 complaint filed in federal court in Santa Ana, California, that it believes Myriad will bring a patent-infringement lawsuit if it starts selling its BRCA test products.

Myriad hasn’t yet been served with Quest’s complaint, said Rogers. “Once we receive that, we will read through it and weigh our options,” he said.

The case is Quest Diagnostics Inc. v. Myriad Genetics Inc., 13-cv-01587, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

California’s Brown Rejects Bill Allowing Biosimilar Substitutes

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have permitted pharmacists to substitute biosimilar drugs, Associated Press reported.

This bill would have permitted a pharmacist to substitute a generic form of a brand-name biological drug, such as those typically used to treat cancer and immune-system problems, according to AP.

Biosimilars differ from the more usual generic drugs in that they are similar to, but don’t replicate exactly, the brand-name biological drug, AP reported.

Brown said that the state needs to wait until federal regulators establish guidelines for the use of biosimilars, AP reported.

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Mattel’s U.K. ‘Tile’ Trademark Is Invalid, Appeals Court Ruled

Mattel Inc., the El Segundo, California-based toymaker, lost an appeal of a ruling that found one of its U.K. trademarks for the game Scrabble is invalid.

Zynga Inc.’s was sued in the U.K. for infringing the mark with “Scramble With Friends.” The San Francisco games company then asked the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice to dismiss the case on the grounds that Mattel’s tile trademark wasn’t entitled to registration.

The court agreed and granted Zynga’s request for dismissal in November. Mattel appealed that judgment to the England and Wales Court of Appeal.

In an Oct. 4 ruling, the appeals court said the lower court’s ruling was correct. The three-judge panel said that the tile mark isn’t a “sign” as required under U.K. trademark law. The mark potentially covered many signs “achievable by numerous permutations, presentations and combinations of the subject matter of the registration.”

Counsel for Zynga argued that in registering the mark, Mattel made an “impermissible attempt to monopolize a concept of an ivory-colored three-dimensional tile of indeterminate size with a letter and a numeral somewhere on its upper face.”

The case is J.W. Spear & Sons Ltd. v. Zunga Inc., (2013) EWCA Civ 1175.

Honey Trademarks Rejected at Request Of Honey Producers’ Group

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand rejected six trademark applications related to honey’s antibacterial properties, the New Zealand Farmer reported.

The applications, filed by the director of a company in the health-supplements business, were rejected on the grounds that the requested trademarks might confuse consumers, according to New Zealand Farmer.

The applications were opposed by the Unique Manuka Fabor Honey Association, which said that labeling honey with a specific anti-bacterial level is misleading, as the claimed antibacterial compound is unstable and can degrade in the presence of light and heat, the publication reported.

A second reason the association opposed the application is that the applicant was already licensed to use one of the association’s trademarks, with which the requested marks would have competed, according to New Zealand Farmer.

While Obamacare Debate Rages, People Seek to Register Trademarks

Even though Congress is still debating measures aimed at repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, known as Obamacare, various proponents and opponents have filed applications to register trademarks related to the term “Obamacare.”

The most recent application is for the use of “Obamacares” for insurance administration. Eden Consulting Group Ltd. of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, filed that application Oct. 4.

Fiorella Insurance Inc., of Stuart, Florida, filed an application Aug. 7 to register “Obamacare Enrollment Team,” to be used for an insurance brokerage.

Trendsetter HR LLC of Rockwall, Texas, filed an Aug. 14 application, seeking registration for “Obamacare Calculator” to be used with human resource analysis and consulting services.

Ideas Unleased LLLC of New Orleans is seeking to register “Destroy Obamacare” That application, filed July 31, specifies that the trademark -- which features the image of a stethoscope with a bomb at the bell end -- would be used for t-shirts.

A resident of Cyprus filed an application in July 2012 -- and abandoned it in January 2013 -- to register “Obamacare-National Day of Protest” as a trademark.

A second application that also has been abandoned was filed in April 2010 by a resident of Greeley, Kansas. He sought to register “Obamacare: Run for Your Life,” and said it would be used on triathlon clothing. That mark was abandoned in October of that same year.

An application to register “How Obamacare works” was filed in March 2013 by a resident of Zionsville, Indiana. She said she wants to use the mark in connection with “a continuing TV talk show broadcast over television, satellite, audio and video media.”

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Navistar Sues Hearst Unit Over Truck-Service Information System

Navistar Inc., the Lisle, Illinois-based truck manufacturer, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Hearst Corp.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Chicago Oct. 11, Navistar claims that its proprietary content is being used without authorization in the publishing company’s Motor Information Systems Unit’s FleetCross website.

Navistar claims that Motor Information Systems had access to the content, reproduced it, and has displayed it without authorization.

It asked the court for an order barring further unauthorized use of the content -- which is related to truck-service information -- and for awards of money damages, profits related to the alleged infringement, litigation costs and attorney fees.

Hearst, based in New York, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit..

The case is Navistar Inc., v. Hearst Corp., 13-cv-07333, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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Trade Secrets

Google Wins Dismissal of Parts of Be In’s Trade Secrets Suit

Google Inc., creator of the world’s most used Internet search engine, persuaded a federal court to dismiss parts of a trade secrets case related to the “Hangouts” feature of the Google+ system.

Be In Inc., based in New York, sued Google in federal court in San Jose, California, in June 2012, claiming that Google used elements of its CamUp social-entertainment platform without authorization.

The company had claimed that Google introduced its Hangouts less than two months after a Google official met with Be In to discuss integrating CamUp into Google products. That meeting was covered by a nondisclosure agreement that Be In claimed was violated when Google came out with Hangouts.

Hangouts was virtually identical to CamUp, Be In had argued, and the Google product was based on misappropriated trade secrets. Be In also claimed that Google infringed its copyright and breached a contract with the New York company.

In her Oct. 9 order, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said that Be In failed to make specific claims that Google breached an obligation of confidentiality or used improper means to acquire the trade secrets. She said that Be In could file new court papers to plead additional facts to support the trade secrets claim.

While she also gave Be In an opportunity to amend its claims that Google breached a contract with the company, she dismissed claims related to an implied contract and copyright infringement.

She said that if Be In failed to improve the deficiencies in the trade secrets and breach of contract claims it pleaded, those claims would be dismissed and the company would be barred from bringing them again.

The case is Be In Inc., v. Google Inc., 12-cv-03373, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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