Aereo, Teva-AstraZeneca, Cartoons: Intellectual Property

Aereo Inc., sued by television broadcast companies to stop it from retransmitting television programs over the Internet, asked a judge in federal court in Manhattan for oral arguments on the broadcasters’ request for a preliminary injunction in what has come down to an argument over the nature of Aereo’s business.

Aereo also asked to submit a request to redact part of a report by its expert, Dr. Tasneem Chipty, because of its sensitive nature, under a protective order entered earlier in the case, according to a court filing. The requests were made in a letter Aug. 29 to Judge Alison Nathan.

Nathan on Sept. 2 granted Aereo’s requests, scheduling the oral argument for Oct. 15, and giving the company until tomorrow to file the substantive request for redaction of Chipty’s report.

The long-running copyright infringement dispute began March 1, 2012, and has already been to the U.S. Supreme Court. Broadcasters including American Broadcasting Cos Inc., Disney Enterprises Inc., CBS Inc., NBC Universal Media LLC, and Telemundo Network Group LLC sued Aereo, claiming it unlawfully retransmitted their over-the-air television broadcast programming to the public for a fee, according to a court filing. The suit claimed that Aereo performs the works publicly, within the meaning of the Copyright Act and seeks to stop the retransmissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, in a decision known as Aereo III, ruled that Aereo performs the broadcasters’ copyrighted works publicly.

The company, which now finds itself back in district court defending an injunction motion, found hope in a sentence by Justice Stephen Breyer in which he said that “behind the scenes technological differences” do not distinguish Aereo from cable companies.

Buoyed by that and other language in Aereo III, the company now argues that plaintiffs cannot succeed in stopping Aereo on the merits of their public-performance claim because Aereo is entitled to the rights of a cable company.

“Under Aereo III, Aereo’s ‘Watch Now’ function is a ‘cable system’ and Aereo is therefore entitled to a statutory license” as a cable company, and it isn’t infringing on the broadcasters’ rights, Aereo said in a court filing opposing the motion for an injunction.

The case is American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo Inc. 12-cv-01540, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Teva Says U.K. Court Invalidates AstraZeneca’s Symbicort Patent

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the maker of generic and branded drugs, said the U.K. High Court ruled in its favor on the validity of the patent covering SMART (Single inhaler Maintenance And Reliever Therapy) for AstraZeneca’s fixed dose formoterol/budesonide combination product, Symbicort, a product relating to lung health.

The court’s decision supports Teva’s European launch of its formoterol/budesonide fixed combination product, DuoResp Spiromax, Teva said yesterday in a statement.

The court agreed with Teva that AstraZeneca’s patent covering inhaler maintenance and reliever therapy “was obvious” and rejected AstraZeneca’s proposed amendments, Teva said in the statement.

“AstraZeneca is disappointed with the judgment,” Vanessa C. Rhodes, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mailed statement. The company “will seek leave to appeal against the judgment.”

Japan to Change Patent Law in Favor of Companies, Asahi Says

The government of Japan plans to change its regulations to provide that patents from inventions made during the course of work would unconditionally belong to companies, Asahi reported, without citing anyone.

Under current law, companies are required to pay inventors for patents, Asahi reported.

The Japan Patent Office plans to submit a bill to parliament next year, the newspaper said.

For more patent news, click here.


Anti-Immigrant Parody May Be Blocked on Copyright, EU Court Says

An anti-immigrant parody may be blocked by owners of the original work, the European Union’s top court ruled in a dispute over a Belgian political party’s use of cartoon characters to complain about state payments to immigrants.

A member of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang is being sued by heirs of comic book author Willy Vandersteen. The party adapted his Suske & Wiske cartoon to show the mayor of Ghent distributing coins to Arabs. The heirs say this infringed their copyright.

The EU Court of Justice said copyright owners have a legitimate interest in ensuring their work isn’t associated with a discriminatory message.

The EU court rules on points of law. Final decisions in the case are to be made by the Brussels Court of Appeal.

The case is C-201/13 Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds.

For more copyright news, click here.

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