Wi-Lan, AstraZeneca, FootAsylum: Intellectual Property

Wi-Lan Inc., the patent holder that suffered a setback last week when Apple Inc. won an infringement trial, said it will explore “strategic alternatives” including a possible sale of the company.

Wi-Lan will consider changes to dividend policy or other forms of return of capital, as well as “the acquisition or disposition of assets, joint ventures, the sale of the company, alternative operating models or continuing with the current business plan,” it said yesterday in a statement.

The Ottawa-based company has lost 21 percent since Apple won a patent-infringement trial on Oct. 23 and fended off a demand for $248 million in royalties for wireless technology used in mobile devices. Wi-Lan holds about 3,000 patents and relies on royalty payments for all of its sales.

“The company strongly believes in its current business strategy but does not believe that its current share price accurately reflects its strong balance sheet, the value of its signed license agreements, its business prospects or the residual value of its broad intellectual property portfolio,” it said.

The board has a wide range of alternatives including distributing capital to shareholders, Justin Kew, a Toronto-based analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald LP, said in a note to clients.

The company could pay out at least $60 million, or about 50 cents a share, or more, Kew said. He maintains a buy recommendation and a $4.80 target price. The stock has five buys, two holds and two sell ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Canaccord Genuity is serving as financial adviser to Wi-Lan, and Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP is serving as legal adviser, the company said. Wi-Lan hasn’t set a timetable for completing the review initiated by the board, it said.

The infringement case is Wi-Lan Inc. v. HTC Corp., 2:11-cv-00068, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Nokia Wins U.K. Lawsuit Against HTC Over Phone Network Patent

Nokia Oyj won a London lawsuit against Taiwanese phonemaker HTC Corp. over patent rights concerning the transmission of data over mobile networks.

Judge Richard Arnold said that HTC products had infringed Nokia’s patent EP 0 998 024. Nokia said in a statement it would seek compensation and an injunction against the sale of HTC products in the U.K.

Nokia, the Finnish company selling its handset business to Microsoft Corp., has filed more than 50 lawsuits in Europe, Japan and the U.S. in its patent fight with HTC.

“HTC is disappointed by the decision that the U.K. court has reached in this case and we will be seeking to appeal the finding immediately,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Nokia Corp. v. HTC Corp., High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC12C02909; and HTC Corp. v Nokia Corp., High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC12A02048.

AstraZeneca Wins Appeal Over Patent for Pulmicort Respules

AstraZeneca Plc won an appeals court ruling that will give it a new chance to block generic versions of the inhaled asthma medicine Pulmicort Respules.

A trial judge used an erroneous interpretation to determine that patent 7,524,834 covering the use of the drug wasn’t infringed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said. The appeals court did uphold the judge’s ruling patent 6,598,603, covering the drug itself, is invalid.

The case is AstraZeneca Plc v. Breath Ltd., 13-1352, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The lower-court case is AstraZeneca Plc v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 1:11-cv-03626, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).

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FootAsylum Tells U.K. Clothing Store It must Change Its Name

FootAsylum Ltd., a shoe retailer, told a clothing shop in the U.K.’s Derby that it must change its name or face trademark actions, the Derby Telegraph reported.

The Heywood, U.K.-based shoe chain objects to the name of Asylum, an independent clothing shop in Derby’s Westfield shopping center, according to the newspaper.

Rob Smedley, who manages Asylum, said the 20-month-old store will have to pay about 15,000 British pounds ($24,000) if it doesn’t prevail against FootAsylum in a trademark challenge, according to the Telegraph.

IP counsel Aaron Wood, of Derby’s Swindell & Pearson Ltd., told the Telegraph that Asylum has its own valuable IP rights, building up a “big following” long before FootAsylum tried to argue that its trademark was infringed.

Lewmar Fails to Win Dismissal of Trademark Infringement Suit

Lewmar Ltd., the U.K.-based marine equipment supplier, failed to persuade a federal court to dismiss a trademark case brought by a Connecticut inventor.

The suit, filed in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, in December 2009, is related to the design of the One Touch handle for a winch used to control lines on large sailboats. Donald J. Steiner, the Norwalk, Connecticut-based inventor, and his Dax Labs LLC created the handle in the early 21st century and patented it in 2006.

After it was sued for trademark infringement, Lewmar asked the court to declare it didn’t infringe patent 7,114,705, which covers the winch handle, and that it didn’t violate a covenant of good faith and fair dealing between the company and the inventor for the manufacture of the handle.

In a ruling handed down Oct. 22, U.S. District judge Dominic J. Squatrito said he wouldn’t address the non-infringement request because the inventor had not filed patent infringement charges. And he said that the inventor and his company did present a case for bad-faith dealings.

The inventor alleged a number of material breaches of the agreement between himself and Lewmar, and Judge Squatrito said there was evidence in support of the allegations in addition to internal Lewmar e-mails that could support a finding of bad faith.

According to court papers, in one e-mail Lewmar said that it had the opportunity to “kill off” the Dax handle, and describing how it “got around the Steiner patent for the Lite Touch.”

The case is Steiner v. Lewmar Inc., 3:09-cv-01976, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (New Haven).

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Apple Ordered to Pay $16.5 Million French Copyright Tax on IPads

Apple Inc. was ordered by the Paris Civil Court to pay 12 million Euros ($16.5 million) to IP rights holders as a tax on its iPad sales, AppleInsider reported.

The payment is for France’s “copie privee” tax levied from March 2012 to December 2012 against devices that can present copyrighted material, and it is intended to compensate content owners for the unauthorized use of their material, according to AppleInsider.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has said that the law mandating this payment may not accurately relate to the ratio of legal to illegal copies used on the devices, and because user studies weren’t conducted before the law requiring the payment was passed, AppleInsider reported.

France’s Council of State is reviewing the tablet rate sales for the copie privee tax, according to AppleInsider.

For more copyright news, click here.

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