Bloomberg News

Perrigo, Nokia, Obama, Tufts: Intellectual Property

December 05, 2008

Perrigo Co. (PRGO:US), the biggest U.S. maker of non-prescription, store-branded drugs, said it settled a lawsuit brought by Schering-Plough Corp. for patent infringement over a generic version of the Clarinex allergy medicine.

Perrigo will be allowed to market a generic of the medication starting July 2012 under the settlement, the Allegan, Michigan-based company said in a statement. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

In October 2006, Schering-Plough sued a dozen generic-drug companies, including Mylan Laboratories Inc. and India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP), to block a low-cost version of the Clarinex medication.

Clarinex, which first received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in December 2001, is the successor to the allergy pill Claritin, now available without a prescription. Clarinex is not available without a prescription. Global Clarinex sales were $240 million in the second quarter.

A representative from Kenilworth, New Jersey-based Schering-Plough didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

In dispute are patent 6,100,274, issued in August 2000, and patent 6,979,463, issued in December 2005.

The case is Schering Corp. v. Zydus Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 06cv4715, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

Nokia Renews Multiyear Patent License with Research In Motion

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, renewed a patent license agreement with Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry device.

The multiyear accord includes an up-front payment and royalties to Nokia, the Espoo, Finland-based company said yesterday in a statement. The agreement includes GSM, WDCMA and CDMA2000 technologies.

Nokia didn’t disclose further financial terms.

For more patent news from yesterday, click here

Copyright

Mattel Wins Order Barring Sales of Infringing MGA Bratz Dolls

Mattel Inc. (MAT:US), the world’s biggest (MAT:US) toymaker, whose products include the Barbie doll, won a court order banning MGA Entertainment Inc. from making and selling Bratz dolls that were found to infringe Mattel copyrights.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson in Riverside, California, granted Mattel’s request Dec. 3 to stop MGA from making most of its multiethnic fashion dolls that have contributed to a drop in Barbie sales since being first sold in 2001.

A jury earlier found that a designer came up with the Bratz name and characters while he was working for Mattel and secretly took the idea to MGA. The jury awarded Mattel $100 million in damages, 5 percent of the $2 billion the toymaker sought.

“Mattel has established its exclusive rights to the Bratz drawings, and the court has found that hundreds of the MGA parties’ products, including all the currently available core female fashion dolls Mattel was able to locate in the marketplace, infringe those rights,” Larson said in his ruling.

The judge also granted Mattel’s request to order MGA not to use the name “Bratz.” El Segundo, California-based Mattel asked for an injunction against MGA after a two-phase trial.

MGA, based in Van Nuys, California, said in a statement yesterday that Larson’s injunction was too broad and inconsistent with “the limited jury verdict.” It said it will appeal.

Closely held MGA said in court papers that a ban on Bratz sales would be “lethal” for the company. Bratz sales through June were $3.1 billion, according to evidence at the trial. MGA said its Bratz profit was $405.4 million, while Mattel claimed it was as much as $777.9 million.

“We will seek to stay enforcement of this order until our appeal is resolved so we can maintain the over 1,500 people that MGA employs, and continue to give our consumers a product they desire,” MGA Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian said in the statement.

Larson said his order won’t go into effect until after he has ruled on both sides’ post-trial motions. A hearing on those motions is set for Feb. 11.

“We’re extremely pleased that the court granted Mattel’s motion for an injunction and ordered MGA to stop selling Bratz products that infringe on Mattel’s rights,” Robert A. Eckert, Mattel’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. The ruling “underscores what Mattel has said all along -- that MGA should not be allowed to profit from its wrongdoing,” he said.

Mattel argued that all Bratz dolls infringe its copyright (MAT:US) because they use the same “sculpt” based on Bryant’s drawings. Bryant settled with Mattel weeks before the start of the trial in May. The terms weren’t disclosed.

MGA claimed that the jury found that only the first generation of Bratz dolls, which are no longer in production, infringed Mattel’s copyright.

In a separate order specifying which dolls MGA won’t be allowed to sell, Larson made exceptions for dolls he identified as “Cloe’s younger sister,” “the younger version of Yasmin,” and “the younger Alicia,” if they are packaged separately from infringing dolls. The judge made further exceptions for dolls he identified only by exhibit number.

Barbie remained the top girls’ toy this year, the National Retail Federation said Nov. 19, and Bratz was in fourth place.

Bratz dolls sell for as little as $9.99 at Toys “R” Us Inc.’s Web site, and the line has many different accessories and related licensed items priced at $40 to $50. Barbie dolls and accessories are in a comparable range, although Toys “R” Us has some items in that line for as much as $250.

Sales of both lines slid this year in the face of new competitors including Jakks Pacific Inc.’s Hannah Montana dolls and Mattel’s own High School Musical products, said Sean McGowan, a Needham & Co. analyst in New York who rates (MAT:US) Mattel a “strong buy.”

“Mattel still has to make dolls kids want,” McGowan said in a phone interview yesterday. “It’s not just a matter of getting rid of your competitors.”

The case is Bryant v. Mattel, 04-09049, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Riverside).

Obama Web Site Operates under ‘Creative Commons’ License

President-elect Barack Obama has embraced the “creative commons” copyright concept.

His change.gov Web site says all material on the site is, unless otherwise indicated, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Visitors to the site who post material must agree to grant a “non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world” for their submissions, according to the site’s stated IP policy.

The site bears a warning that infringers’ access to the site will be terminated. Rashad Hussein is listed as the designated agent on the transition team to whom takedown notices may be sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Culp Sues SRA, Claims Its ‘Congo’ Fabric Pattern Infringed

Culp Inc. (CFI:US), a maker of upholstery fabrics and mattress tickings, sued a New York-based competitor for copyright infringement.

SRA LLC is accused of copying one of Culp’s fabric patterns “Congo by Culp Inc.,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in North Carolina on Dec. 3.

SRA is selling fabric in the “Viper” pattern, which is “identical or substantially similar” to the Culp Congo pattern, according to court papers. Culp, based in High Point, North Carolina, claims SRA had access to the Congo design and deliberately chose the Viper name to “confuse and deceive customers” about the origins and qualities of the Fiber fabric.

Culp accuses SRA of offering its Viper fabric as a substitute for the Congo pattern. The company asked the court to order SRA to stop selling works that are copies of the Congo design and for an award of all of the New York company’s profits relating to the alleged infringement.

It’s also requesting that the court order the impounding of all Viper fabric or any other SRT products that infringe the design, and the destruction of all infringing fabric.

Culp also asked for attorney fees and unspecified money damages, and requested that they be tripled to punish SRA for its actions.

John Mark Wilson of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Moore & Van Allen represents Culp.

The case is Culp Inc., v. SRA LLC, 1:08-cv-00873, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina.

For more copyright news from yesterday, click here

Trademark

LAN Sues Ohio Air-Freight Company for Trademark Infringement

LAN Airlines SA (LAN), Chile’s largest air carrier, sued a Cincinnati-based air-freight company for trademark infringement.

Land Cargo Air LLC, the Ohio company, is accused of adopting a name -- LAN Cargo Air -- that infringes the Chilean company’s trademarks and confuses consumers, according to the complaint filed Dec. 1 in federal court in Miami.

The airline has had registered U.S. trademarks since 2001, the company said in its pleadings. Land Cargo Air has acknowledged the validity of the trademarks, yet has continued to use the infringing name for its air-freight services in Florida, according to court papers.

LAN also offers air-cargo services, and Florida is one of the cities where the airline operates.

The Chilean airline asked the court to find that the air cargo company infringes its trademarks, and to order an end to any infringing use of the marks. It also seeks destruction of any signs and other promotional materials bearing the name “LAN.”

The airline also seeks attorney fees and court costs, and other unspecified relief.

Mia Burrous Fraser and Scott A. Kane of Cleveland’s Squire, Sanders & Dempsey represent the Chilean airline.

The case is LAN Airlines SA v. Land Cargo Air LLC, 1:08-cv-23322-ASG, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

Pinkberry Wins Court Order Barring Yogurt Shop’s ‘Yoberry’ Name

Pinkberry Inc., a Los Angeles-based chain of frozen-yogurt shops, won a court order barring a competitor from using the name “yoberry.”

The chain, which has more than 30 outlets in California and New York, sued Seattle-based Yoberry Inc. for trademark infringement in federal court in Seattle in September. Pinkberry accused Yoberry of deliberately choosing a name for its yogurt shops that would trade on the California company’s fame and confuse potential customers about whether the two companies were connected.

In the ruling handed down Dec. 1, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart ordered Yoberry to quit using “Yoberry,” or any mark that uses the word “berry” “in a non-descriptive manner.” The Seattle company is required to change its signs, uniforms, décor, menus and promotional materials.

Any Yoberry-marked goods or promotional materials that remain 30 days after Robart’s order are to be destroyed, he said.

Henry C. Wang of Reed Smith, and Lynn M. Engal of Seattle’s Summit Law Group represented Pinkberry. Yoberry’s lawyer was Kevin S. Costanza of the Seed IP Law Group of Seattle.

The case is Pinkberry Inc. v. Yoberry Inc., 2:08-cv-01360- JLR, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

For more trademark news from yesterday, click here

Technology Transfer

Electric Truck Takes License to Tufts University Battery IP

Electric Truck LLC has taken a license to intellectual property developed at Tufts University for technology to recharge vehicle batteries while they are being driven.

Terms of the license weren’t disclosed in the joint statement issued by the Boston-based university and Electric Truck of Greenwich, Connecticut.

The technology was developed with the university’s School of Engineering by Ronald Goldner, a Tufts emeritus engineering professor, and his colleague Peter Zerigian. Their research was partially funded by the Argonne National Laboratory. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Goldner is a named inventor on 11 issued U.S. patents.

The technology covered by the license could increase by 20 to 70 percent the miles per gallon or total driving range performance of such hybrid vehicles as Honda Motor Corp. (7267)’s Honda Civic, Ford Motor Co. (F:US)’s Ford Escape, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Toyota Prius; and Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA:US)’s and Phoenix Motor Cars Inc.’s electric vehicles, according to the statement.

Closely held Electric Truck designs, develops, and markets alternative energy technology solutions for the transportation industry.

For Bloomberg articles by lawyers on intellectual property Topics click here.

For daily Bloomberg legal analysis click here

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.


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Companies Mentioned

  • PRGO
    (Perrigo Co PLC)
    • $151.59 USD
    • 1.14
    • 0.75%
  • MAT
    (Mattel Inc)
    • $35.25 USD
    • -0.17
    • -0.5%
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