VirnetX, Becton Dickinson, Mt. Gox: Intellectual Property

VirnetX Holding Corp. won a $368 million jury verdict against Apple Inc. in 2012, and soon found itself under attack.

Not just by Apple, which a jury said infringed four VirnetX patents by using them in the iPad and iPhone without paying.

A company that said it has no affiliation with the case, New Bay Capital LLC, petitioned to have the U.S. government cancel the patents and made VirnetX an offer: Give us 10 percent of the jury award, and we’ll back off.

New Bay uses a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review process started 20 months ago as a low-cost alternative to litigation. While the reviews have become the third-most popular forum for patent disputes, behind courts in Texas and Delaware, they have raised questions about whether third parties such as New Bay are acting as hired guns for litigants or prospectors for cheap cash who shouldn’t be able to challenge patents.

New Bay Vice President Joel Rothman, a patent lawyer in Boca Raton, Florida, declined to discuss the demand for a share of the verdict. In court papers, New Bay’s lawyers said it was part of normal settlement discussions.

The case is one of 1,204 petitions filed since the agency’s “inter partes” reviews started in September 2012 through May 21, 2014, twice the amount the agency expected.

Appeals Court Says Hearing-Aid Patent Technology Isn’t Obvious

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office properly rejected challenges to two sections of a disputed patent involving a hearing aid with an audio processing module worn behind the ear, a federal appeals court said.

The challenge to patent 7,016,512 was brought by K/S HIMPP, a Danish company that licenses patents related to hearing aids. The company said sections of the patent covered a technology that was obvious and therefore not entitled to patent protection.

The patent, which belongs to Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Hear-Wear Technologies LLC, was issued in 2006.

After the Danish company filed its challenge, the patent office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences took another look and decided not to reject the disputed patent claims. K/S HIMPP filed an appeal, asking that the patent office’s action be reviewed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled on May 27 that the Danish company failed to submit adequate evidence that the disputed section of the patent was obvious.

The case is K/S HIMPP v. Head-Wear Technologies LLC, 13-01549, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Ex-Becton Dickinson Engineer Enters Guilty Plea in Secrets Case

A former staff engineer at Becton, Dickinson & Co. pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, May 28 to trade-secrets theft and attempted trade-secrets theft.

Ketankumar Maniar of Mahwah, New Jersey, was accused of stealing secrets for a disposable self-injected pen used to deliver drugs. According to court papers, he downloaded 8,000 files belonging to the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based company, intending to deliver them to competitors or use them to set up his own business.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Maniar faces as long as 10 years in prison for each of his two offenses and must pay a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Sept. 23.

The case is U.S. v. Maniar, 14-cr-00291, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).


Mt. Gox Exchange to Put ‘Bitcoin’ Mark on Sale, Telegraph Says

Trademarks and an Internet domain name belonging to Mt. Gox KK, the operator of a defunct Japanese Bitcoin trading platform, are to go on sale, the Telegraph reported.

Mt. Gox registered marks in both the European Union and Japan in 2012, with the aim of keeping others from registering the concept of bitcoins and the word itself, according to the Telegraph.

Once the company applied for the marks, it said they could be used freely by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, the newspaper reported.

The sellers hope to generate at least 100 million yen ($982 million) through the sale of the trademarks, according to the Telegraph.

University of Alabama Prevails in ‘Houndstooth Mafia’ Scrimmage

The University of Alabama settled a trademark dispute with an Alabama company that creates goods for fans of the school’s football team.

The suit, filed in federal court in September 2013, was over the “houndstooth mafia” mark registered and used by Smiths Station, Alabama-based Houndstooth Mafia LLC.

The mark was a play on a houndstooth-patterned fedora worn by the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, who coached the team from 1958 to 1982.

Under terms of the settlement, the owners assigned the mark to the school and agreed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office erred in permitting their registration.

The case is Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC, 13-cv-01736, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama

For more trademark news, click here.


Isla Vista Killer’s Video Has Audio Removed for Copyright Issues

Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing service has stripped the soundtrack from the video in which Elliot Rodger outlined a plan to slaughter students at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the New York Daily News reported.

Rodger posted his video before he killed seven people, including himself, and injured 13 others near the college campus in Isla Vista, California, May 23, according to the newspaper.

The audio was removed because it used music without authorization, according to the Daily News.

For more copyright news, click here.