Gilead, Baseball, Quantum Sail: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) -- Gilead Sciences Inc.’s patent for the blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is being challenged by a medical-aid charity, which claims the intellectual-property protection allows the company to charge “unsustainable” prices.

The legal action was filed with the European Patent Office in Munich, Doctors of the World said in a statement. The group said overturning the patent would open up access to cheaper versions of the medicine.

Gilead has been under pressure from lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad to justify its prices for the medicine, which can cost as much as $1,000 a day before discounts. A court in New Delhi last month overturned the decision by the nation’s patent authority to reject patent protection for Sovaldi.

Cara Miller, a spokeswoman for Foster City, California-based Gilead, declined to comment in an e-mail.

Sovaldi changed hepatitis C treatment when it was approved in 2013. Previous therapies relied on shots given weekly for a year and cured only about half of patients with the most common U.S. strain, called genotype 1. The drugs also caused side effects that included fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 130 million to 150 million people are chronic carriers of hepatitis C. Within the EU, 7.3 million to 8.8 million people are believed to be infected. In the U.K., 215,000 people are estimated to have chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and liver failure, Doctors of the World said.

A successful challenge to the patent might limit or wipe out the IP protection in 34 European nations. The patent was granted by the EPO in May 2014 and Gilead has at least one other patent application related to the drug pending at the Munich-based agency.

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Trademark

MLB Teams May Be Near Settlement With Evolution Over Logo

A trademark dispute between two Major League Baseball clubs and Washington’s Evolution Finance Inc. may be on the verge of settling, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs objected to the letter “W” logo that Evolution tried to register as a trademark.

Evolution, creator of the CardHub online credit- and gift-card marketplace, filed an application in October 2012, saying it wished to use the mark in connection with the creation of an online community for users seeking financial information.

The company said it began using the mark in commerce in February 2012.

In a February 2013 filing with the patent office, the ball clubs said they each had used a “W” as a logo long before Evolution. They said the public would be confused and the teams’ reputations damaged should Evolution’s mark be registered.

The trial period over the mark was set to close on March 11. The teams asked in a filing with the patent office that the date be extended for 60 days, saying “significant progress has been made toward a resolution of this matter.”

Microsoft Files U.S. Trademark Application for ‘Windows 365’

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software company, applied to register “Windows 365” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Redmond, Washington-based company said it will use the mark with telecommunications services; electronic storage of files and documents; the provision of education, training and entertainment services; and computer services, as well as software.

When Microsoft introduced Windows 10 Jan. 21, the company said it initially would make the product available as a service. Vice President Terry Myerson said the product could be thought of as “one of the largest Internet services on the planet.”

The PC Perspectives computer-news website suggested that the “Windows 365” brand would be used for a subscription-based version of Windows 10.

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Copyright

Nebraskans Sentenced to Probation in Criminal-Copyright Case

A Nebraska couple who got divorced during the course of their prosecution was sentenced to probation for criminal copyright infringement.

William Cayou and his ex-wife, Holly Cayou, pleaded guilty in November. Each was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $1,500 restitution, according to court filings.

In his plea agreement, Cayou acknowledged that he had downloaded movies from the Internet from a website that didn’t charge for them. He said he burned copies of the films onto DVDs and gave them to his wife to sell. He also sold some himself for $5, he said.

According to a Feb. 9 filing, the court accepted William Cayou’s plea agreement and imposed the sentence. His ex-wife’s guilty plea and sentencing took place Jan. 12.

The case is U.S. v. Cayou, 14-cr-00191, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska (Omaha).

Lego Says Knockoffs Threaten Success of Toys for Girls

Lego A/S has been on a roll, with a hit movie, Star Wars-branded sets and a new line of toys that has attracted girls to a product traditionally targeted at boys.

It’s that last success, the Lego Friends line, that’s causing the company concern. Lego has accused three companies of making knockoffs of the products and is asking the U.S. government for help.

Lego Friends, which features girls in settings including a shopping mall, beach house and pet salon, has been growing 20 percent a year since it was introduced in 2012. It came after more than four years of research and a $40 million marketing blitz to get girls interested in the plastic building blocks that have been a mainstay of toyboxes for decades.

Before Lego Friends, only 9 percent of the toy’s primary users were girls, according to a survey by the closely held Danish company.

In a complaint filed Feb. 6 with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, Lego asked the panel to block imports of what it says are copycat products from three companies: LaRose Industries LLC of New Jersey, maker of Lite Brix; Canada’s Mega Brands Inc., which sells “My Life As” toys; and Florida-based Best-Lock Construction Toys Inc., which markets “Fairy Tale High.”

The six-member ITC is set up to investigate allegations of unfair trade practices, including unauthorized uses of U.S. intellectual property. It has the power to block the import of products made overseas that violate U.S. patents.

Lego is seeking an import order that would cover not only the three companies but any other business making copies of its toys.

The ITC typically completes investigations in 15 to 18 months -- more quickly than a federal district court -- and has the power to order U.S. customs officials to block items at the border.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Toy Figurines and Toy Sets, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Quantum’s Membrane Sail Design Isn’t Trade Secret, Court Says

A Michigan-based designer of high-performance sails failed in its trade-secrets complaint against a former licensee.

In a Jan. 19 opinion, a federal judge said Quantum Sail Design Group LLC’s claim that Jannie Reuvers Sails Ltd. of Cape Town, South Africa, had misappropriated trade secrets about membrane sales couldn’t go forward because the secret was widely known. The sails are used for racing yachts.

U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist said it appeared that any advantage Quantum had against competitors didn’t lie in a protectable trade secret. Instead, he said, it was in “expertise gained from experience needed to build a top quality membrane sail.”

Experience and expertise “cannot be protected as a trade secret,” he said, adding that courts have found workers entitled to the unrestricted use of general information acquired during their employment.

The case is Quantum Sail Design Group LLC v. Jannie Reuvers Sails Ltd., 13-cv-00879, U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

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

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