Hitachi, Gilead, Amazon, Facebook: Intellectual Property

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected Hitachi Ltd.’s bid for a new trial in a case involving TPV Technology Ltd. and its Top Victory Electronics Taiwan unit.

In a trial last year, Tokyo-based Hitachi sought as much as four years of royalty payments from Hong Kong-based TPV on sales of high-definition televisions.

A federal jury in Marshall, Texas, said that TPV, the world’s fourth-largest maker of LCD TVs, didn’t infringe four Hitachi patents and that two of them were invalid.

The dispute is over inventions related to an industrywide standard for a process to transmit digital audio and visual signals, as well as program data, over the air. Hitachi claimed that televisions made by TPV and its units infringed the company’s patents.

TPV sells TVs under its own brands AOC and Envision, according to information on the company’s website. It also took over Royal Philips Electronics NV’s television operation in 2012. The company denied infringing the patents and claimed at least some of them were invalid.

Neither Deanne Maynard, a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, nor Jeff Plies, a partner at Dechert LLP, who are among the attorneys listed on the docket representing Hitachi, responded to e-mails seeking comment. An e-mail to the Hitachi press department also wasn’t answered.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP represented TPV. In a statement, Mark Samuels, the vice chairman of the firm and part of the TPV team, said, “The case was a complex technical one of significance to the digital television manufacturing industry, and we are pleased to see that our client’s position has been fully vindicated by a jury, the trial judge and now by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Also on the O’Melveny team were partners Brian Berliner and Vision Winter, with partner Jonathan Hacker leading the appeal in the Federal Circuit.

The Federal Circuit heard arguments Sept. 10 in the case and affirmed the lower-court ruling yesterday without issuing a formal opinion.

The district court case is Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co. v. Top Victory Electronics (Taiwan) Co., 2:10-cv-00260, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Federal Circuit Upholds Verdict Favoring Symantec Over Finjan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has rejected Finjan Inc.’s quest to overturn a jury verdict finding that two of its patents were invalid.

Finjan sued Symantec Corp., the world’s biggest maker of security software, claiming infringement of two patents for methods that protect computers for malware. Finjan, with offices in San Jose, California, and Netanya, Israel, also sued Websense Inc. and Sophos Inc. in 2010 over the patents.

A jury in 2012 found after a three-week trial that the Finjan patents weren’t valid because the technology wasn’t new.

The appellate court heard arguments in the case on Sept. 9 and yesterday affirmed the jury’s decision without issuing an opinion.

“Finjan’s original case was filed in 2010 and this CAFC ruling was the most recent outcome in the process to reverse a lower court’s finding of invalidity on claims in the two patents,” Phil Hartstein, Finjan’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We continue to believe in the value of our patents and concurrently in the court’s adjudication of the issues at present. Finjan has post-appeal options available; however, we will take time to make an appropriate decision.”

The case is Finjan Inc. v. Symantec Corp., 13-1682, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is Finjan v. Symantec, 10-cv-00593, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Actavis Sued by New York State Over Alzheimer’s Drug Switch

Actavis Plc was sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is trying to stop the drugmaker from swapping one version of its Namenda Alzheimer’s drug for another.

The Dublin-based company’s plans to discontinue the immediate-release version of the medication and switch patients to an extended-release version with patents that expire later violate state and federal antitrust laws, Schneiderman said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan.

The switch would destroy the market for generic versions of Namenda IR once that drug’s patent expires next year, because patients would have to switch back from the extended-release version if they want to get the cheaper generic version of the original, according to the complaint.

Actavis picked up Namenda when it bought Forest Laboratories Inc., a $28 billion acquisition that closed in July. The latest patent on Namenda XR, the slow-release version, extends through September 2029, David Belian, a company spokesman, said earlier this month.

“A drug company manipulating vulnerable patients and forcing physicians to alter treatment plans unnecessarily simply to protect corporate profits is unethical and illegal,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed on the court’s electronic docket.

Representatives of Actavis didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is People v. Actavis Plc, 14-CV-7473, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Gilead Licenses Hepatitis Therapy in India Amid Price Criticism

Gilead Sciences Inc. licensed seven India-based makers of generic drugs to bring cheaper versions of Sovaldi to 91 countries, expanding the reach of a hepatitis C drug that is sold for $84,000 in the U.S.

The agreements allow Cadila Healthcare Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Hetero Labs Ltd., Mylan Laboratories Ltd., Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., Sequent Scientific Ltd. and Strides Arcolab Ltd. to make Sovaldi, Gilead said in a statement.

The drug’s pricing has drawn criticism from pharmacy benefit managers, as well as questions from U.S. senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden, who have demanded to know how Gilead came up with the figure. The agreements in India were announced amid protests from activist groups that said the licenses failed to cover key high-burden nations like China, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand.

“Our view is that the competition and the capabilities of these partners will bring down the price,” Gregg Alton, an executive vice president at Foster City, California-based Gilead, said at a news conference in New Delhi.

Gilead chose Indian partners with “the capability of large-scale manufacturing, high-quality manufacturing and low-cost manufacturing,” Alton said. They have “the ability to supply the markets we’re talking about.”

The U.S. drugmaker plans to sell its branded version of Sovaldi in India at a cost of $900 for 12 weeks of therapy, Alton said. The drug will probably reach that market by the end of next year if clinical trials are run, and Gilead is in talks with the Indian regulator to waive the trial requirement.

As many as 150 million people in the world live with chronic hepatitis C infection, according to the World Health Organization.

The licenses announced yesterday also allow the generic manufacturers to produce an experimental pill that combines Sovaldi with another Gilead hepatitis drug.

Gilead’s application for a patent for Sovaldi in India is being challenged by Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma Ltd. on the grounds that the therapy “lacks novelty” and isn’t an “inventive step,” according to a filing with the patent office.

The Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, a group of scientists and lawyers, has opposed the patent on similar grounds, saying that Sovaldi is based on “old science, existing compound,” according to a statement last year.

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Internet

Hachette Writers Turn to Amazon Board to End Book ‘Sanctioning’

Hachette Book Group writers are taking their fight with Amazon.com Inc. directly to the online retailer’s board.

Hundreds of writers with a group called Authors United signed a letter addressed to Amazon’s 10 directors, insisting the board must act to end its “sanctioning” of books through actions such as refusing pre-orders, delaying shipping and reducing discounts. The dispute became public this year as Hachette and Amazon sparred over e-book pricing in contract negotiations.

The writers said the actions have cut Hachette authors’ sales -- of all formats of books -- through Amazon.com by at least 50 percent, and in some cases as much as 90 percent. The missive follows a letter signed by more than 900 writers and published in the New York Times last month, urging readers to contact Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos. Amazon, which Forrester Research estimates controls 60 percent of the e-book market, says sales of digital titles go up when prices are cut, lifting total revenue.

Sophie Cottrell, a spokeswoman for New York-based Hachette, declined to comment. Mary Osako, a spokeswoman at Seattle-based Amazon, didn’t respond to e-mailed messages seeking comment.

Amazon appealed directly to authors in a letter in July, offering them all of the proceeds from the sale of any e-book during the dispute.

Facebook Unveils Plans to Work on Software With Google, Twitter

Facebook Inc. unveiled an initiative to jointly develop software with other companies, making it easier to collaborate and share technologies.

Google Inc., Twitter Inc., Square Inc. and other companies are joining the effort to develop programs that can be shared for free, called TODO for “talk openly, develop openly.” Facebook announced the group yesterday at a conference in San Francisco for developers of large-scale computing and software systems.

The TODO project fits into a broader strategy by Facebook to offer its technology to other companies in an attempt to reduce development expenses and connect more people to the Internet. Facebook introduced Open Compute in 2011 to share the designs for more efficient and low-cost computing systems, such as servers and network switches. The approach contrasts with that of Google and Amazon.com Inc., which have kept their hardware designs to themselves.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net. Charles Carter, Andrew Dunn

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