Apple, Google, Disney, Comcast: Intellectual PropertyEllen Rosen
Apple Inc. didn’t infringe a patent owned by Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit over mobile-phone technology, a U.S. appeals court ruled Jan. 10.
The ruling, posted on the website of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, affirms a victory Apple won at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Motorola Mobility had unsuccessfully claimed Apple infringed six patents in a case before the ITC. The sole patent on appeal involves a way to control the delivery of data to applications on a wireless device. The three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit said the commission was correct to rule that Cupertino, California-based Apple used a different technique.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, inherited the case when it bought Motorola Mobility in 2012 for $12.4 billion. The purchase was made in part to get Motorola Mobility’s trove of more than 17,000 patents, which Google hoped would be used to counter attacks that its Android operating system was infringing Apple and Microsoft Corp. patents. Thus far, the strategy hasn’t resulted in a significant legal victory against either company.
The patent in this case also has been asserted against Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.
The case is Motorola Mobility LLC. V. U.S. International Trade Commission, 13-1666, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The ITC case is In the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-745, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).
Technology Patent Case Accepted by Top Court at Google’s Urging
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a patent ruling that Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. say threatens to open information-technology companies to new infringement lawsuits.
The justices on Jan. 10 said they will hear an appeal by Limelight Networks Inc., which is fighting a suit by Akamai Technologies Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over Akamai’s patented method for redirecting requests for Internet content to ensure access during periods of high demand. The companies compete with one another in that field.
A federal appeals court said Akamai could sue Limelight even though no single company performed every aspect of the patented method. Akamai says Limelight takes all but one step and induces its customers to perform the final step.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, ruled that Limelight could be sued for inducing infringement. The ruling marked a change for the Washington-based court, which had previously barred such suits.
Google, Cisco, Oracle Corp., Red Hat Inc., Symantec Corp. and Xilinx Inc. are backing Limelight, which is based in Tempe, Arizona. Those companies said in a court filing that the decision would leave technology companies vulnerable because products like smartphones “can be used in an almost infinite combination of ways by other companies and consumers.”
The Obama administration also urged the nation’s highest court to intervene and rule for Limelight.
Akamai, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told the Supreme Court it shouldn’t hear the case. The company said the rule overturned by the Federal Circuit allowed circumvention of patents “in the form of contrived ‘non-infringing’ multiple-actor scenarios.”
The Supreme Court is already preparing to consider another technology patenting case in its current term, which runs through June. In that case, the court will decide when software can be patented.
Akamai won a $45.5 million jury award at an earlier stage in the litigation. In a separate part of its ruling, the Federal Circuit said a trial judge was correct to set aside that award.
Drugmakers including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc. sided with Akamai at the appeals court level.
The case is Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, 12-786.
Daiichi Sankyo Wins Dismissal of Apotex Suit Over Drug Patent
Daiichi Sankyo Co. won dismissal of an Apotex Inc. lawsuit that sought a court finding that its plan to market a generic form of the blood pressure drug Benicar didn’t infringe a Daiichi-held patent.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago said that because Daiichi had disclaimed the patent over which Apotex sued, there was no legal controversy over which she could rule. Her decision was released Jan. 10.
Apotex sued Tokyo-based Daiichi in 2012. A finding of non-infringement would have enabled it to compete sooner with generic drug maker Mylan Inc., which also plans to bring a form of Benicar to market.
While Daiichi disclaimed the patent and in 2006 asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to de-list it, the agency never acted on that request, the judge said.
The case is Apotex Inc. v. Daiichi Sankyo, 12-cv-9295, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
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Broadcasters Get U.S. Supreme Court Review in Bid to Stop Aereo
Broadcasters will get a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in their fight to stop Aereo Inc., the company that is threatening the industry’s decades-old business model by selling live television programming over the Internet.
The justices on Dec. 10 agreed to hear an appeal by media companies including Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, 21st Century Fox Inc., Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and CBS Corp. They contend that Aereo, which is backed by Barry Diller, is violating their copyrights by using thousands of dime-sized antennas to obtain broadcast signals without paying fees.
A federal appeals court in New York ruled that Aereo, which provides broadcast signals to subscribers after capturing them with thousands of small antennas, isn’t violating broadcasters’ copyrights. Broadcasters say the ruling created a blueprint that might let cable and satellite providers avoid paying “retransmission” fees to carry programming. With those fees estimated to exceed $4 billion this year, some broadcast companies say they may convert to cable channels if Aereo isn’t shut down.
The lower court decision “is already transforming the industry and threatening the very fundamentals of broadcast television,” the broadcasters argued in their appeal.
Aereo joined the broadcasters in urging Supreme Court review, saying the company needs legal clarity so it can pursue plans for growth. In separate cases, two federal trial judges ruled that another company’s similar system was a copyright violation.
Litigation has “created uncertainty that undermines Aereo’s efforts to expand its footprint and further develop its business,” the New York-based company told the court. Aereo, which offers service in 10 cities, said Jan. 8 that it has raised $34 million to fund expansion.
Under its normal scheduling practices, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in April and rule by early July.
The case is American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, 13-461.
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Dow Jones Accuses Ransquawk of Misappropriating Its News
News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, accused the Ransquawk financial news aggregation service of illegally redistributing news from its DJX subscriber service.
Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd., Ransquawk’s U.K.-based owner, republishes on its website and through audio broadcasts Dow Jones’s news headlines within seconds after they appear on DJX, according to the complaint filed Jan. 9 in federal court in Manhattan.
“Because Ransquawk distributes news copied verbatim from DJX in competition with DJX without incurring the costs Dow Jones incurs to originate the news, Ransquawk is able to offer its products and services at a substantially lower price than Dow Jones can offer similar products and services,” according to the complaint.
The company seeks at least $5 million in damages for misappropriation of “hot news” as well as for interfering with contractual relationships by obtaining the news without a DJX subscription, according to the complaint.
Representatives of Real-Time Analysis & News didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with Dow Jones in providing financial news and services.
The case is Dow Jones & Co. v. Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd., 14-0131, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)
For more copyright news, click here.
Coca-Cola Pomegranate Drink Targeted in New High Court Case
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a rival drink-maker can sue Coca-Cola Co. for allegedly deceiving consumers about the amount of pomegranate juice in one of its beverages.
A federal appeals court barred the suit by Pom Wonderful LLC, saying Food and Drug Administration regulations authorize the Coca-Cola product’s name. The label on the drink says “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices,” with the first two words appearing in larger letters.
Pom Wonderful says the label is misleading because the drink contains only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice. Apple and grape juice constitute 99 percent of the juice, Pom Wonderful says.
The appeals court ruling “undermines the transparency that health-conscious consumers rightly expect so that they can make informed decisions about what they eat and drink,” Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful said in an e-mailed statement.
Coca-Cola says the label accurately tells consumers that the product is a blend of fruits and tastes like pomegranate and blueberry.
“We are confident our labeling fully complies with applicable FDA regulations, as the lower courts have consistently found,” the Atlanta-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
The legal question is whether the Lanham Act, which authorizes false-advertising suits, can apply even when the FDA regulates a product.
A San Francisco-based federal appeals court threw out the suit saying, “we must respect the FDA’s apparent decision not to impose the requirements urged by Pom.”
The case is Pom Wonderful v. Coca-Cola, 12-761. For trademark news, click here.