Imperial Tobacco, Two Sigma, Heinz: Intellectual Property

An Imperial Tobacco Group Plc unit sued a Lorillard Inc. subsidiary, NJOY Inc., Vapor Corp. and eight other makers of electronic cigarettes in the U.S., alleging they infringed its intellectual property.

Fontem Ventures BV filed nine patent lawsuits in federal court in Los Angeles on March 5, according to filings. The company asked the court to rule that its patents were valid and for the defendants to pay unspecified damages.

Sales of e-cigarettes, which generate a smoke-like vapor without burning tobacco, may reach $5 billion in the U.S. in 2015, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Industries.

The cases are Fontem Ventures BV v. LOEC Inc., 14-cv-01648; Fontem Ventures BV v. NJOY Inc., 14-cv-01645; and Fontem Ventures BV v. Vapor Corp., 14-cv-01650, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Two Sigma Analyst Indicted for Confidential Data Theft

A former analyst at Two Sigma Investments LLC, an $18 billion quantitative hedge fund, was indicted on charges he stole his firm’s confidential data, in the latest such case brought by the Manhattan district attorney.

Kang Gao, 29, of Manhattan pleaded not guilty yesterday during an arraignment before New York State Supreme Court Justice Jill Konveiser.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. filed similar charges last year against three employees of Flow Traders for allegedly stealing the Dutch firm’s electronic-trading software by e-mailing it to themselves.

The case Gao is People of New York v. Gao, 00640-2014, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).


Heinz Sues Texas Hot-Sauce Company Over Ketchup Bottle Shape

H.J. Heinz Co., the Pittsburgh-based maker of Heinz ketchup and Lea & Perrins Sauce, sued a Texas maker of hot sauces for trademark infringement.

In a complaint filed March 6 in federal court in Dallas, the company accused Figueroa Brothers Inc. of packaging its Melinda’s Habanero Ketchup in bottles that infringe Heinz’s marks. Figueroa Brothers didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the complaint.

The case is H.J. Heinz Co. v. Figueroa Brothers Inc., 14-cv-00843, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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Gawker Says Posting of Screenplay Links Didn’t Infringe Rights

Gawker Media LLC responded to Quentin Tarantino’s Jan. 27 infringement lawsuit by saying the film director failed to state a claim under copyright law and that its posting of links to a reputed Tarantino script fell under the law’s “fair use” exception for news reporting.

Tarantino sued in federal court in Los Angeles after a story Gawker ran included links to his screenplay for the film “The Hateful Eight.” He said earlier that he was abandoning plans to make the film because the screenplay had been leaked.

Gawker, a New York-based web publisher, asked the court to dismiss the suit.

The case is Tarantino v. Gawker Media LLC, 14-cv-00603, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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