Nortel, Monster, Thonet, Valbruna: Intellectual Property

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Patent licenses that Nortel Networks Corp. gave to its units were the subject of questioning by judges considering how to divide $7 billion raised when the defunct phone maker was liquidated.

Judges in Toronto and Wilmington, Delaware, focused on whether Nortel’s parent company gave away its rights to part of the cash when it prepared to sell assets, including thousands of telecommunications patents after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

The judges started hearing closing arguments yesterday from different Nortel-related groups that are fighting over the money, most of which was raised when Nortel’s U.S. unit sold a bundle of patents in 2011 to a group that included Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Sony Corp.

The case pits more than 20,000 former Nortel employees in Canada against bondholders in the U.S. who may collect all of their principal plus $1 billion in interest. Pensioners of Nortel’s U.K. unit are also seeking part of the cash.

Canadian lawyers asked the judges to consider how splitting the cash could affect more than 20,000 former workers in their country.

“No matter what happens, they will suffer some loss,” Mark Zigler, a lawyer for Canadian creditors, told the judges.

The case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-bk-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Velocys Bests CompactGTL in Dispute Over Gas-to-Liquid Patent

Velocys Plc, a company that turns natural gas into liquid fuel, won a patent case against competitor CompactGTL Ltd.

The suit, filed by Velocys in March 2013, concerns two patents for the Fischer-Tropsch technology used in gas-to-liquids plants, the Oxford, England-based company said yesterday in a statement. The case began in March 2013.

CompactGTL will appeal the High Court judgment, it said in a statement. Current business won’t be affected as the ruling relates to activities that have been halted, it said.

Velocys, partly funded by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, also said IR1 Group unit Red Rock Biofuels was awarded a $70 million building grant for a biomass-to-liquids plant in Oregon using the U.K. company’s technology.

Velocys and CompactGTL are working on gas-to-liquids plants with a maximum capacity of 15,000 barrels a day, about one-10th the size of the world’s largest plant, Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Pearl venture in Qatar.

For more patent news, click here.


Monster Accused of ‘Trademark Bullying’ by Montana Drink Company

Monster Beverage Co., the energy-drink maker that agreed to sell a 17 percent stake to Coca Cola Co., was sued in a trademark dispute by a smaller company that sells non-alcoholic beverages.

According to the complaint filed in Montana federal court, Monster had demanded that Victory Energize LLC of Missoula change its packaging and recall all products that Monster said infringe its trade dress.

Victory said the two companies’ products sell for different prices and accused Corona, California-based Monster of being a “trademark bully” for demanding changes in the Montana company’s product packaging. It’s seeking a court declaration of non-infringement and an award of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Monster didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The Montana case is Victory Energy LLC v. Monster Energy Co., 14-cv-00222, U.S. District Court, District of Montana (Missoula).

For more trademark news, click here.


Thonet, Artek Prod U.K. to Implement Law Extending Coverage

Germany’s Thonet GmbH and Artek Oy AB of Helsinki are among the makers of designer furniture that are pressuring the U.K. government to speed implementation of a law extending the term of copyright protection for manufactured goods to 70 years from 25 years after the death of the designer, the design-industry trade publication Dezeen reported.

The furniture companies said the 25-year term means that the U.K.’s furniture industry is undermined by the importation of copies of their designs from China, according to Dezeen.

The rest of Europe, which has the 70-year term, is also being harmed because infringing designs are imported there from the U.K., Dezeen reported.

Although the term-extension law was passed last year, the government has established a three-year transition process for its implementation, according to Dezeen.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Valbruna Seeks Import Ban on Allegedly Infringing Viraj Steel

Viraj Profiles Ltd., an Indian maker of stainless steel products, is the target of a trade-secrets complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, SteelGuru, an industry trade publication, reported.

The complaint was filed by Italy’s Acciaierie Valbruna SpA and its Valbruna Slater Stainless unit, according to SteelGuru.

Valbruna said civil claims and criminal charges relating to Viraj’s actions are pending in Italy, SteelGuru reported.

The Italian company is asking the trade commission to exclude the importation of products that are the subject of its complaint, SteelGuru said.

Viraj didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at David Glovin

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.