URL Pharma, Facebook, Qualcomm, Teva: Intellectual Property
A URL Pharma Inc. unit sued Par Pharmaceutical Cos. (PRX) alleging infringement of 10 patents with its plans to market a generic version of the Colcrys gout treatment.
AR Holding Inc. contends in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, that Par has wrongly applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to sell its copies before the patents expire.
The Wilmington-based holding company “will be irreparably harmed by Par’s infringing activities” unless misuse of the technology is stopped by a judge, it said in court papers.
AR Holding seeks a ruling that Par, of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, infringes the patents and asks for unspecified damages and legal fees.
A spokeswoman for Par, Allison Wey, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
The case is AR Holding Co. v. Par Pharmaceutical, 12-cv- 419, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Facebook Responds to Yahoo Patent Lawsuit With Counterclaims
Facebook Inc. (FB), operator of the world’s biggest social- networking site, accused Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) of infringing 10 patents through its home page and Flickr photo-sharing service and in ads displayed throughout its site.
Facebook, which was sued by Yahoo for patent infringement last month, made the counterclaims in a federal court filing in San Francisco April 3. Facebook denied stealing Yahoo’s technology, saying its rival’s patents are either invalid or its claims legally barred and the lawsuit should be dismissed.
“While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s shortsighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation,” Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said in an e-mail.
Yahoo, owner of the most popular U.S. Internet portal, has been struggling to keep pace with Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook, which have lured away users and ad dollars. Facebook filed for an initial public offering in February that may value the business at $75 billion to $100 billion, people familiar with matter have said.
Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo alleged in its lawsuit that Facebook infringes patents covering functions critical to websites, including Internet advertising, information sharing and privacy. It’s seeking an order barring Facebook from infringing 10 patents and for triple damages.
The lawsuit followed Yahoo’s statements in February that Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, like other Web companies, must license its technology.
“We have only just received Facebook’s answer and counterclaims, but on their face we believe they are without merit and nothing more than a cynical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense,” Yahoo said in an e-mailed statement.
In its counterclaims, Facebook says its patents are infringed directly by Yahoo’s home page and Flickr and through advertisements displayed throughout Yahoo’s site on finance, sports, games and shopping services.
Facebook patents at issue in the counterclaims include those related to technologies for generating a feed of stories personalized for social network users, posting headlines and distributing user profiles over a network. The company is seeking court orders declaring that it doesn’t infringe Yahoo patents, blocking Yahoo from using its patents and awarding it unspecified damages from Yahoo.
Qualcomm, Intel Provide Source Code in Patent Fight, Apple Says
Intel Corp. (INTC) and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) have provided U.S. lawyers with source code that will help prove Apple Inc. isn’t infringing patents of Samsung Electronics Co., an Australian lawyer for the maker of iPhones said.
Attorneys in the U.S. have inspected the code and Intel and Qualcomm have agreed to provide it to lawyers involved in a patent dispute in Australia, Andrew Fox, Apple’s lawyer, said at a hearing in Sydney yesterday.
“Further non-infringing arguments can be made from that” disclosure of the source code, Fox said yesterday.
Apple and Samsung, the largest maker of mobile phones, are preparing for the start of a trial in which the companies accuse each other of infringing patents. They have filed at least 30 suits on four continents against each other in the past year after talks initiated by former Apple founder Steve Jobs to resolve the disputes broke down.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, successfully delayed the release of Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet in Australia for four months last year, claiming it infringed patents over touch screen technology and “slavishly” copied its designs. Australia’s High Court allowed the Samsung tablets to go on sale on Dec. 9.
Samsung claims some of Apple’s iPhones and iPads infringe its patents over wireless transmissions.
Apple is Samsung’s single biggest customer, responsible for 7.6 percent of the company’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The case is: Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) NSD1243/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).
Teva Sues Synthon for Patent Infringement Over Copaxone
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) sued Synthon BV for infringing seven patents in planning to sell a generic version of the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone before Teva’s patents expire.
Copaxone, used to reduce the frequency of relapses in multiple sclerosis patients, generated sales of $3.9 billion in 2011. Synthon filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking approval of a generic version of the drug, according to the complaint.
“Defendants plan to begin manufacturing, marketing, selling, offering to sell and/or importing Synthon’s generic glatiramer acetate product soon after FDA approval,” Teva said in the complaint. “Such conduct will constitute direct infringement.”
Closely held Synthon, based in Nijmegen, Netherlands, filed a document with the FDA stating that Teva’s patent claims are invalid or unenforceable and that Synthon’s drug wouldn’t infringe them, Teva said.
Fabienne Douven, a Synthon spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the company would fight the suit.
“We are committed to developing a generic alternative to Copaxone, to make this RRMS treatment, with a current high cost of around $40,000 per year for U.S. patients, more affordable and accessible,” she said, referring to relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Teva has also sued Sandoz AG and other drug companies over Copaxone.
Yeda Research, based in Rehovot, Israel, markets and licenses developments from the laboratories at the Weizman Institute of Science, according to the complaint.
The case is Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. v. Synthon Pharmaceuticals Inc., 12-2556, U.S
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
A.O. Smith Didn’t Violate Competitor’s Unprotected Trade Secret
A maker of swimming pool pumps that failed to keep its proprietary information secret was properly denied the right to sue a competitor for misappropriating its trade secrets, a federal appeals court ruled.
In 2008 Fail-Safe LLC of Aurora, Colorado, sued Milwaukee- based A.O. Smith Corp. (AOS) for misappropriating the technology it developed to prevent swimming pool pumps from sucking bathers up against pool drains and potentially drowning them.
The Colorado company said it developed a load-sensing swimming pool pump motor that would prevent the entrapment of bathers against the drain. It entered into discussions with A.O. Smith regarding a joint project.
Fail-Safe filed suit against A.O. Smith in federal court in Milwaukee after the Wisconsin company began marketing a pump that Fail-Safe claimed was based on technology disclosed during discussions between the two companies.
The trial court found that Fail-Safe hadn’t taken reasonable steps to protect the proprietary technology. Voluntarily disclosing the information also defeated Fail-Safe’s claim that A.O. Smith was unjustly enriched at Fail-Safe’s detriment.
Fail-Safe then filed an appeal, which was argued in December 2011.
The appeals court agreed with the trial court, saying that under Wisconsin law, claims for trade-secret protection must be based on “efforts to maintain its secrecy that are reasonable under the circumstances. When Fail-Safe entered into discussions with A.O. Smith, none of the information it provided was marked confidential nor did the company “make it known that it expected this information to remain confidential,” the court said.
In fact, the court said, Fail-Safe signed a one-way confidentiality agreement with A.O. Smith, “yet failed to obtain similar protection despite having protected itself with similar confidential agreements in the past.”
The appeals court said that Fail-Safe was responsibility by “failing to take any protective measures. Because A.O. Smith’s use of Fail-Safe’s proprietary information “did not violate some independent protection” the company didn’t profit unjustly from any information Fail-Safe disclosed,
The lower court case is Fail-Safe LLC v. A.O. Smith Corp., 2:08-cv-00310-JPS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee). The appeal is Fail-Save LLC v. A.O. Smith Corp., 11-11354, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Chicago).
Coppola Sues California Restaurant Over ‘A Tavola’ Trademark
Francis Ford Coppola sued the owner of Tavola Italian Kitchen restaurant in Novato, California, claiming the name infringes the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s “a tavola” trademark used to market his eateries.
“A tavola,” or “to the table,” is a registered trademark and Coppola’s favorite way to enjoy a meal, according to a complaint the filmmaker and his family trust filed April 3 in federal court in San Francisco. The expression means diners aren’t provided with menus and instead are served family-style dishes, according to the complaint.
Since 2008, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and restaurants in San Francisco and Napa Valley have used the ‘a tavola’ trademark, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued last year, according to the complaint.
“We’re struggling to stay alive, and now we have this, one of the biggest names in American history step on us?” said Anthony Pirraglia, the father of the family that owns Tavola Italian Kitchen.
Coppola’s company claims Tavola Italian Kitchen’s infringement is “likely to cause confusion” with Coppola’s trademark, especially because it is located 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Coppola’s winery.
Pirraglia said in a phone interview yesterday that his family used the word “tavola” because they liked it. The word is generic and used so widely in the restaurant business, it’s surprising Coppola was able to register it as a trademark, he said. The family picked the name nine months ago in an attempt to revitalize the restaurant, which was losing money under a different name and menu, he said.
“We’re a small 70-seat restaurant in a shopping center,” Pirraglia said. It’s “absurd” to claim that someone might drive by and in confusion think that it’s Francis Ford Coppola’s estate, he said.
Two Coppola films in the 1970s won Oscars for best picture: “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II.” Three others made in that decade were nominated for best picture: “The Conversation,” “American Graffiti” and “Apocalypse Now.”
The case is Trustees of the Coppola Family Trust v. Torg Holding Corp., 12-cv-1646, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Honduras Complains at WTO Over Australian Tobacco-Logo Ban
Honduras complained at the World Trade Organization about an Australian law that prohibits the display of tobacco companies’ logos, labels and trademarks, saying the ban violates global rules on intellectual property.
As of Dec. 1, cigarettes in Australia will have to be sold in dark brown packets, with no symbols or images and the same font for all brands. Philip Morris International Inc. (PM), Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (IMP), British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) and Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914) are challenging the law and will present their arguments against it in Canberra beginning April 17.
“Honduras has decided to take this action given that Australia’s law contravenes several WTO obligations on intellectual-property rights and technical barriers to trade, and given the serious economic consequences that this measure would have on Honduran tobacco exports,” the country’s WTO ambassador, Dacio Castillo, said in an e-mailed statement.
Yesterday’s complaint at the Geneva-based trade arbiter follows a similar move by Ukraine on March 15. The two governments say the scientific evidence on which Australia’s law is based is insufficient and that the plain-packaging rules will unnecessarily restrict trade because Australia’s public-health goal can be met by other means.
The tobacco industry employs several hundred thousand people directly and indirectly in Honduras, Castillo said, adding that “this translates into tens of millions of dollars for the economy.”
The Honduran complaint will probably be joined with Ukraine’s. The request for consultations is the first step in the case and means the governments must now hold talks for at least two months in a bid to resolve the dispute. After that, WTO judges can be asked to rule. Rulings are typically made within six months, after which either side can appeal.
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YouTube Forges Deal With Paramount to Offer More Movie Rentals
Google Inc.’s YouTube announced a deal to offer online movie rentals from Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures, adding a fifth major studio partner to the video-sharing site’s lineup.
Paramount will begin providing almost 500 titles to YouTube and Google Play, which delivers content to Android devices, YouTube said yesterday in a blog post. The new movies will be available in the next few weeks in the U.S. and Canada.
The move may represent a thawing of relations between YouTube and Viacom, which sued the site in 2007 for copyright infringement. Since then, YouTube has expanded beyond free upload-it-yourself videos into rentals of professional content. Google is counting on richer programming to compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. (NFLX), three of the top providers of digital entertainment.
“It’s still early days for us,” Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships at YouTube, said in the post. “We’ll continue adding new titles and expanding our service to more countries this year.”
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