Bloomberg News

Abbott, Liberty, P&G, Lockheed: Intellectual Property

May 05, 2009

Abbott Laboratories (ABT:US), the maker of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, sued Johnson & Johnson (JNJ:US)’s Centocor unit over its plan to introduce a competing medicine for the crippling disease.

Abbott contends that Centocor’s new drug, to be sold under the brand name Simponi, would infringe a patent it owns that was issued in 2007. Abbott, based in Abbott Park, Illinois, wants cash and an order that would prevent further use of its invention. Centocor said it would fight the suit.

While the complaint asked for an order, called a preliminary injunction, to halt sales even before a trial is held, Abbott said it would not ask a judge to make such a ruling.

“We’re not asking the court to prevent the launch of Simponi,” said Scott Stoffel, an Abbott spokesman. “Abbott has no plans to file for a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order.”

Centocor is “making meaningful preparations” to sell Simponi and thus is “engaged in activities that infringe” the patent, Abbott said in the complaint, filed May 1 in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month approved the sale of the medicine, whose chemical name is golimumab. The drug, to be co-marketed outside the U.S. by Schering-Plough Corp., will compete with Humira and Amgen Inc. (AMGN:US)’s Enbrel.

Humira is Abbott’s biggest drug, with $4.5 billion in 2008 global sales. Centocor and New York University sued Abbott last year, claiming they were entitled to patent royalties on Humira. That case is pending in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

Annual sales of golimumab will exceed $1 billion a year, Jeff Jonas, an analyst for Gabelli & Co. in Rye, New York, said last month.

Golimumab was also approved for use against ankylosing spondylitis, a progressive form of spinal arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis often associated with the skin condition psoriasis.

“We are currently reviewing the complaint and will vigorously contest it,” Brian Kenney, a spokesman with Centocor Ortho Biotech, said in an e-mail. “We believe we have rights to all of the intellectual property we need to market Simponi.”

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will sell the drug in the U.S. Schering-Plough, of Kenilworth, New Jersey, will sell it in most countries outside the U.S.

Like Enbrel, Humira and J&J’s Remicade, the new product works by blocking TNF, or tumor necrosis factor, a germ-fighting protein that also can cause the inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

About 1.3 million people in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Arthritis Society, an Atlanta-based nonprofit group. The disease can cause long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain and loss of movement.

In dispute is Abbott’s patent 7,223,394. Application for the patent was filed in March 2001, with the assistance of Boston’s Lahive & Cockfield LLP.

Michael P. Angelini and Douglas T. Radigan of Worcester, Massachusetts-based Bowditch & Dewey LLP represent Abbott.

The case is Abbott Biotechnology Ltd. v. Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., 09cv40089, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Worcester).

Liberty Media’s TruePosition Wins $19.6 Million Patent Award

Liberty Media Corp.’s TruePosition unit, the provider of mobile-phone location equipment, won more than $19 million in enhanced patent damages from rival CommScope Inc.’s Andrew Corp. in a patent-infringement case.

In dispute was patent 5,327,144, issued in July 1994.

Andrew shipped infringing products “under a veil of secrecy” after losing a 2007 trial and should have informed its rival, U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson said in an April 30 opinion. She awarded TruePosition $10 million for infringement and $9.62 million in punitive damages.

After the verdict, Andrew Corp. continued its activities “unabated, apparently relying on the possible scenarios that the court would overturn the jury verdict,” Robinson wrote. “Defendant lost its gamble,” she said in the 25-page opinion.

The total damage amount in the case has fluctuated during appeals. The jury in 2007 awarded TruePosition $45.3 million in damages. In 2008, Robinson limited the calculation to equipment shipped to Saudi Arabia and reduced the award to $23.3 million.

In the latest opinion, she also awarded TruePosition unspecified legal fees and costs, and affirmed an injunction against infringing sales.

Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based TruePosition sued Westchester, Illinois-based Andrew in 2005 over the patent, alleging infringement in telecommunications gear sales to Saudi Arabia.

Brian Varano, a TruePosition spokesman, and Rick Aspan, a CommScope spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.

The case is TruePosition Inc. v. Andrew Corp., 05-CV-00747, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Police Suggest Patent Fight May Have Trigged Chennai Murder

A patent dispute is believed to be an element in the murder of the head of an official of the closely held Vigas Technologies, the Times of India reported yesterday.

While he was standing outdoors talking about the patent litigation with his lawyer, Divakaran Sankaran of Vikas Technologies was hacked to death in Chennai, India, by a four- member gang on May 1, the Times reported.

Inventor Somasundaram Ramkumar of the same company is asserting a patent against several international mobile phone companies, according to the Times.

Police sources in Chennai told the Times that Ramkumar had assigned his patent rights to Divakaran and suggested business disputes with unknown entities may have led to the killing.

Trademark

P&G’s Pringles Accused of Infringing Buffalo Wild Wings’ Mark

Procter & Gamble Co., the world’s biggest consumer-products company, was sued for trademark infringement by Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (BWLD:US)

The suit related to the name of a new variety of P&G’s Pringles potato chips. Buffalo Wild Wings, based in Minneapolis, claims Pringles’ “blazin’ buffalo wing” chips infringe on the “blazin’” trademark it uses for its sauces for chicken wings.

“In deciding to pick a new product name and the ways in which to describe and market its new chip, Procter & Gamble had a menu of wonderful words and themes from which to pick or mix,” Wild Wings said in its complaint filed April 28 in federal court in Minneapolis.

“With all these potential words and themes, and only constrained by the unlimited reach of the human mind’s creativity, Procter & Gamble chose words and themes such that the only conclusion to be drawn is that Procter & Gamble intended to use the success of and goodwill attributing to Buffalo Wild Wings’ “blazin’” mark and products,” the company said in its court papers.

Wild Wings noted that the label for the new Pringles product even makes reference to sauce, saying, “This crisp is kickin’ with a buffalo sauce as wild as it is fierce.”

The term “Buffalo wings” refers to deep-fried chicken wings coated with a spicy sauce. They derive their name from Buffalo, New York, where they were developed.

Buffalo Wild Wings, which has a chain of more than 575 sports-bar chicken restaurants in 40 states, was founded in 1982, according to the company Web site. The company has used “blazin’” as a trademark for its flavored sauces since 1994 and registered its trademark in July 2005, according to court papers.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble was sent a cease-and- desist letter in July 2008 and has refused to quit using “blazin’” with its Pringles product, Wild Wings said in its complaint.

Consumers are confused by P&G’s use of the name, and the consumer-products company is attempting to trade on the good will of Wild Wings, according to court papers.

Wild Wings asked the court to order P&G to quit using the word “blazin’” with the worlds “buffalo,” “wing” or “sauce,” or with images of a buffalo, buffalo wing or sauce.

Additionally the company asked for attorney fees and money damages.

Wild Wings is represented by Lora Mitchell Friedemann and Joshua R. Williams of Minneapolis-based Fredrickson & Byron PA.

The case is Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., v. Procter & Gamble Co. (PG:US), 0:09-cv-00999-ADM-SRN, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.

Krispy Kreme ‘Dough-Vo’ Said to Infringe Arnott’s ‘Vo-Vo’ Marks

Arnotts Ltd., an Australian bakery chain, has threatened Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (KKD:US) with litigation over a jam-filled doughnut, BBC News reported.

Krispy Kreme’s iced Dough-Vo doughnut is accused of infringing Arnott’s 103-year-old trademark for its Iced Vo-Vo biscuit, as cookies are known in Australia, according to the BBC.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme’s Dough-Vo is a limited edition raspberry-filled doughnut with pink frosting and coconut and is sold in Australia, the BBC reports.

John McGuigan, who heads Krispy Kreme’s Australian operations, told the BBC that his company’s product doesn’t infringe and “I think people know the difference between a doughnut and a biscuit.”

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Lockheed Martin’s Trade Secrets Case Opens Against L-3

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s trade secrets case against L-3 Communications Corp. (LLL:US) goes to trial in Atlanta this week.

New York-based L-3, which own a government contract to upgrade and modify submarine-hunting aircraft, is accused of misappropriating Lockheed’s data in order to win the bid. L-3, formerly known as Raytheon E-Systems, was given access to the data for limited purposes in 1997.

Using that data to win a bid against Bethesda, Maryland- based Lockheed was a breach of a nondisclosure agreement that L-3 signed, according to the complaint filed in federal court in April 2005.

L-3 won the contract in December 2004. Lockheed’s suit may have been part of a strategy to gain momentum in the international market, an aerospace consultant suggested when the case was filed.

“Lockheed is late to the aftermarket game. It never was a priority for them, and now they are doing their best to catch up,” said consultant Richard Aboulafia of the Fairfax, Virginia-based Teal Group.

The case is Lockheed Martin Corp., v. L-3 Communications Corp., 1:05-cv-00902-CAP, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

IP Moves

Strook Hired Media and Entertainment Specialist John M. Gatti

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP hired John M. Gatti to head its entertainment and media litigation practice, the Los Angeles-based firm said in a statement yesterday.

Gatti joins from Miami’s Greenberg Traurig LLP. He has also worked at Santa Monica, California’s Alshuler, Grossman, Stein & Kahan, which was acquired by Bingham McCutchen in 2007.

Among his litigation clients were Contender Partners LLC, 944 Media Inc., former child actor Brock Pierce, Downey Studios LLC, boxer Lamon Tajuan Brewster, Infotopia Inc., and Sunset Health Products Inc., according to Bloomberg data.

He successfully represented producer Alan Ladd Jr. against Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio in a dispute over film licensing revenues. That case was Alan Ladd Jr. V. Warner Brothers Pictures Inc., BC300043, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County.

Gatti received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Southern California.

Obituary

Howrey IP Practice Head Cecilia Gonzalez Dies at Age of 53

Cecilia H. Gonzalez, vice chairman of Washington’s Howrey LLP and co-chairwoman of its IP practice, died yesterday, the firm said in a statement. She was 53 and died of complications from breast cancer.

She had been a partner in the firm since 1986 and had represented technology clients in a wide range of IP disputes, both in federal court and before the International Trade Commission.

She had been named one of 20 “Elite Women” by Hispanic Business Magazine for 2008 and was honored as a “Top IP Litigator” by Legal Times newspaper, and one of the 50 most- influential women lawyers in America by the National Law Journal.

She was born in Caracas in 1955 and received an undergraduate degree from McGill University and her law degree from Georgetown University.

Gonzalez is survived by her husband, Stephen Foster. Donations in her memory may be made to the Washington Jesuit Academy, which provides tuition-free middle-school education to disadvantaged boys.

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

  • ABT
    (Abbott Laboratories)
    • $42.43 USD
    • 0.84
    • 1.98%
  • JNJ
    (Johnson & Johnson)
    • $102.63 USD
    • 1.41
    • 1.37%
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