Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apple, Sanofi, Teva, Nordstrom, SinoHub: Intellectual Property

Apple Inc. said it will defend seven iPhone application developers that were accused of patent infringement by Lodsys LLC. The lawsuit and “threats to other Apple developers adversely affect the value of Apple’s license and its business with the developers,” the company said in a June 9 filing to a federal court in Marshall, Texas. Apple asked the court for permission to intervene, saying the developers may not be able to “effectively represent Apple’s interests in this case.” Closely held Lodsys on May 31 accused the
developers of infringing two patents for ways to interact with customers through the apps. Apple said it has a licensing agreement with the Texas company that also covers the app makers. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said it wants the chance to argue that Lodsys had already been paid once for the technology and wasn’t entitled to a second payment for the same use of the inventions. The infringement claims “are based substantially or entirely on the developers’ use of products and services that Apple is authorized to provide under the license and which Lodsys claims embody the patents in suit,” Apple said. Apple said it needs to be able to protect agreements it has covering more than 425,000 apps. “This litigation has fundamentally disrupted Apple’s relationships with the developers and with other developers, and places in jeopardy the revenue that Apple derives from those relationships,” the company said. Lodsys, which had sent letters to the developers last month demanding licensing fees, said in a posting on its website that it sued faster than it planned after Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell demanded Lodsys stop sending such letters. “Apple appeared to give the developer community what they wanted,” Lodsys said on its website. “Unfortunately for developers, Apple’s claim of infallibility has no discernible basis in law or fact.” The companies targeted in the complaint are Combay Inc., maker of Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem; Iconfactory Inc., maker of Twitterrific for the iPhone, iPad and Mac; Shovelmate, developer of 69 Positions; Quickoffice Inc., maker of Quickoffice Connect; Richard Shinderman, who made Hearts and Daggers; Wulven Game Studios, maker of Shadow Era; and Illusion Labs. The case is Lodsys LLC v. Combay Inc., 11cv272, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall). Sanofi’s Viehbacher Says Canada’s Patent System Behind U.S. Sanofi Chief Executive Christopher A. Viehbacher said Canada’s patent system is inadequate for pharmaceutical companies, the Montreal Gazette reported. Viehbacher, interviewed at the International Economic Forum of the Americas conference in Montreal, told the Gazette that Canada’s patent system “isn’t anywhere near being equivalent to Europe or the U.S.” He said, and the Gazette reported, that what he perceives as the inadequacies of the Canadian patent system sends the world a signal about whether Canada “is really a country that’s dedicated to research or not?” Sanofi-Aventis lost Canadian patent protection for Altace, a cardiac drug, in 2006, causing a decline in revenue, the Gazette reported. AstraZeneca Loses Ruling Over Nexium-Related European Patent Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and 12 other generic- drug makers won a challenge at the European Patent Office to invalidate one of the patents on AstraZeneca Plc’s ulcer treatment Nexium. The European patent agency’s opposition division overturned the patent June 9 after a three-day hearing due to a “lack of inventiveness,” Danielle Wagner, a spokeswoman for the Munich, Germany-based EPO said in an interview. The setback for AstraZeneca comes as it defends some of its European patents for Nexium at a U.K. trial against Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. and two years after it settled related litigation in the U.S. Generics makers are vying for a share of Nexium’s $4.97 billion in annual sales, which made it AstraZeneca’s second-best selling drug last year. AstraZeneca will decide about its next steps once it has reviewed the decision, said Isabelle Jouin, a spokeswoman for the London-based company. She declined to comment on how the decision affects Nexium’s protection against generics. The EPO will publish its written decision within the next two months. AstraZeneca then has the right to appeal. Other opponents of the patent, which was granted in 2009, include Novartis AG’s Hexal and Sanofi’s Zentiva. In dispute is European patent EP1020461. For more patent news, click here. Trademark Nordstrom, Dillard’s Sued Over Magnetic Snap Trademark Nordstrom Inc. of Seattle, Dillard’s Inc. of Little Rock, Arkansas, and three other retail chains were sued for trademark infringement by a maker of snap fasteners. Romag Fasteners Inc. of Milford, Connecticut, said the retailers are selling handbags with magnetic snap fasteners that are falsely labeled Romag products. According to the complaint filed June 9 in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, among the products that infringe are handbags made by Fossil Inc. Romag sued Richardson, Texas-based Fossil in the same court last November, claiming their products infringed the Romag trademarks and also patent 5,722,126, which covers the magnetic snap fasteners. U.S. District Judge Christopher F. Droney issued an order Nov. 20 in that case, temporarily barring Fossil from selling any bags with the counterfeit Romag snaps. That case is set for trial some time after April 30, 2012, according to Bloomberg data. That case is Romag Fasteners Inc., v. Fossik Inc., 3:10-cv- 01827-CFD, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (New Haven). In the case against the retailers, Romag asked the court for an order barring the sale of infringing items, and for their destruction. Additionally, the company seeks money damages, including extra damages to punish them for their actions, and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs. Romag doesn’t allege they infringed the patent in dispute in the other case. Romag is represented by David R. Schaefer and Sean M. Fisher of Brenner, Saltzman & Wallman LLP of New Haven, and Norman H. Zivin of New York’s Cooper & Dunham LLP. The case is Romag Fasteners Inc., v. Dillard’s Inc, 3:11- cv-00929, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut (New Haven). SinoHub Applies to Register ‘Topolo’ as Chinese Mark for Phones SinoHub Inc., a Shenzhen, China-based developer of software, said in a statement that its application to register “Topolo” as a trademark was accepted by government authorities. The company plans to use the mark as a brand for mobile phones to be sold in China, the company said. Under Chinese IP rules, SinoHub can use “Topolo” as an unregistered mark for one year, after which it will be eligible for final approval as a protected registered trademark. In the same statement, SinoHub said it’s submitted an application to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to sell phones under that brand. Government approval for the sale license may take as long as two months, according to the statement. For more trademark news, click here. Copyright Apple EULA Gets Dramatic Reading by Actor Richard Dreyfuss Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, received a tweaking on the website for its software licensing. CNET asked actor Richard Dreyfuss to do a dramatic reading of Apple’s end-user license agreement. Four different sound files are posted on the website, including one about the duration of the license that is done in a Dr. Strangelove-like German accent. In his own voice, Dreyfuss reads the section of the license warning against the use of the software “in the operation of nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems, or air traffic control systems, or life support machines or other equipment in which the failure of the Apple software could lead to death, personal injury or severe physical or environmental damage.” CNET said that with Dreyfuss’ blessing it’s releasing the recordings under the Creative Commons Attribution License so that users can remix them if desired. Google, WIPO Team up for Web-Based Rights-Management System Google Inc., creator of the most used Internet search engine, is partnering with the World Intellectual Property Organization to set up a music-registration program for 11 West African countries. WIPO, a United Nations agency, said in a statement that a new Web-based system for the collective management of copyright and related rights would be developed and expanded. The system would help rights societies in the relevant countries identify works and interested parties, to make cross-border licensing easier. The countries involved in the project are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. WIPO Director Francis Gurry said in the statement that the new system will enable a rights holder to register a work one time and have that information stored across all the member countries. Diabe Siby, who heads Senegal’s copyright office, said the project “has the potential to enable developing countries to participate more fully and effectively in the benefits of the global music industry.” Participation in the system is voluntary, according to the WIPO statement. Google is the technology partner in the Web- based system. For more copyright news, click here. IP Moves Foley Adds Former USPTO Official to Its IP Practice Group Foley & Lardner LLP hired Tony Y. Hickey for its IP practice, the Milwaukee-based firm said in a statement. Hickey joins from the U.S. patent and Trademark Office where she was deputy chief of staff. There she was a senior adviser on executive policy, legislative and USPTO operational issues. She has also served as an intellectual property attache for the USPTO in Mexico City where she advises embassy officials and U.S. companies doing business in Mexico on IP protection. During her time at the USPTO, Hickey also worked as a trademark examining attorney, and argued before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

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