Bloomberg News

Samsung, Novartis, Apple, Microsoft: Intellectual Property

June 14, 2011

(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Microsoft in Patent section.)

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- A Samsung Electronics Co. affiliate filed a patent-infringement lawsuit in South Korea against Siemens AG’s Osram unit over light-emitting diode technology.

Osram Korea Co. and two Korean sales agents of the German lighting maker were sued, Samsung LED Co. said in a statement on its website yesterday. The eight patents related to the suit include LED and packaging technology used in lighting such as headlights, Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung LED said.

The lawsuits, filed with the Seoul Central District Court on June 10, were in response to Osram’s patent infringement complaints in the U.S. and Germany against Samsung related to LED technology, the Samsung unit said. The Korean company said June 8 it never infringed Osram’s LED lighting patents. Osram also filed complaints against LG Electronics Inc. over the LED technology used in televisions and lighting products.

“Osram is well prepared regarding possible steps by Samsung and is therefore relaxed about the move by the counter claimant,” the Siemens unit said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “Osram regards Samsung’s move as a typical counterattack of a defendant.”

Samsung LED is seeking a halt to the unauthorized use of its intellectual property and monetary damages, it said in yesterday’s statement, without specifying an amount. The Korean company said it plans to file more lawsuits against Osram in the U.S. and other overseas markets as “soon as possible.”

Samsung LED has about 700 U.S. patents and patent applications and about 2,000 Korean patents and applications, according to the statement.

Novartis’s Alcon Sues Watson to Block Copy of Pink Eye Treatment

Novartis AG’s Alcon unit sued Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. to prevent U.S. sales of a generic version of the drug Pataday until 2024.

Pataday is used to treat the eye infection conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye.”

Watson is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a copy of Pataday, an antihistamine known as olopatadine hydrochloride, according to a June 9 complaint filed by Alcon in federal court in Indianapolis. Alcon contends the copy would infringe three patents that expire in 2015, 2022 and 2024.

In dispute are patents 5,641,805, 6,995,186 B2 and 7,401,609 B2.

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, said in April that sales of Pataday and a related drug, Patanol, contributed to a 31 percent increase in sales of allergy products in the first quarter. In May Alcon won a court ruling that upheld the 2015 patent in a case against Toronto-based Apotex Inc. over Patanol.

In the lawsuit against Corona, California-based Watson, Alcon and Tokyo-based partner Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. are seeking a court order that would prevent the FDA from approving Watson’s application until all three patents expire. Such lawsuits are common to clarify patent rights before the generic drug enters the market.

The case is Alcon Research Ltd. v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 11cv786, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

Microsoft Objects to Nortel’s Proposed Patent Sale to Google

Microsoft Corp. objected to Nortel Networks Corp.’s proposed bankruptcy sale of more than 6,000 patents, telling a judge the deal could give the proposed buyer, Google Inc. an unfair competitive advantage.

Microsoft joined computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co., smartphone maker Nokia Oyj, and other technology companies in filing objections to the proposed auction of the patent portfolio, in which Google is the lead bidder.

Microsoft and HP said the terms of the proposed sale should be modified to protect the rights of license holders and standard-setting bodies.

Without changes, the proposed sale “would result in considerable disruption in the development and enhancement of various existing technologies and give the prospective purchaser an unfair competitive advantage,” Microsoft said yesterday in court papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Nortel, a Canadian phone-equipment maker that filed for bankruptcy in January 2009, agreed to sell the patents to Google for $900 million unless a competitor bids more at the auction, scheduled for later this month. Yesterday was the deadline for bids to be submitted.

The portfolio will give the winning bidder rights to control and license wireless-video technologies and others that may be valuable for future generations of smartphones such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry.

Whoever wins the auction must sign a purchase contract that clarifies the rights to use the patents Nortel made with companies before it went bankrupt, Microsoft, HP and Nokia said in court papers they filed separately.

The case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Helmer Sued Over Its Trademark, Trade Dress Infringement Claims

Helmer Inc., a maker of temperature-control products used for the health-care industry, was sued by a competitor over trademarks and trade dress for blood plasma thawers.

Boekel Industries Inc. of Feasterville, Pennsylvania, which does business as Boekel Scientific, asked a federal court in Philadelphia to declare it doesn’t infringe Helmer’s trademark and related rights.

Attached to the June 10 complaint is a letter sent June 1 by counsel for Helmer, alleging Boeckel’s Scientific Plasma Thawer 301000 is a “slavish copy” of a product made by Noblesville, Indiana-based Helmer.

The letter, signed by Dwight D. Lueck of Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg LLP, also complains that the Boeckel’s product is promoted “using a number of the same trademarked phrases as Helmer.”

Boekel argued in the complaint that the design of the Helmer product is generic and functional, lacking “any legally enforceable trade dress rights.”

The Pennsylvania company said that the so-called “trademarked phrases” it uses are “commonly used in the industry and are generic to laboratory equipment.” Their use by Boekel “will not cause confusion,” the company said in its pleadings.

Boekel asked the court to declare that Helmer has neither trade dress rights in its blood plasma thawer nor legally enforceable trademark rights in the phrases “rapid thaw times baskets,” “quick connect drain systems” and “optimal heat transfer with rapid, safe thawing.”

Additionally, the company seeks a declaration it isn’t infringing, and an order for the cancellation of Helmer’s application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register “quickthaw” as a trademark. Boekel also asked for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Boekel is represented by Robert R. Baron J. and Marc S. Segal of Philadelphia’s Ballard Spahr LLP.

The case is Boekel Industries Inc. v. Halmer Inc., 2:11-cv- 03774-GP, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Apple Sued for Infringement by Arizona Company Over iCLoud Mark

Apple Inc. was sued for trademark infringement by ICloud Communications LLC three days after the Cupertino, California- based company introduced its iCloud service.

In the complaint filed June 9 in federal court in Phoenix, ICloud said it has used the name since 2005 and has spent “in excess of several hundreds of thousands of dollars” advertising its name. It promotes its cloud-computing services through its website, www.geticloud.com.

ICloud, based in Phoenix, objects to Apple’s use of the name for its new platform, and for several applications the company filed to register iCloud as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The goods and services for which Apple has said it intends to use the iCLoud mark “are identical to or closely related to the goods and services that have been offered by ICloud Communications under the iCloud marks since its formation in 2005, the company said in its complaint.

The Arizona company noted that Apple has in the past been sued “for its use of various marks employing the ‘I’ prefix in connection with various wireless technology goods and services.” The complaint mentioned a 2007 trademark case in which Cisco Systems Inc. sued Apple over its use of “iPhone.” That dispute was settled in February 2007 in an agreement in which each company could use the name.

ICloud said it fears that the large amount of advertising and publicity related to Apple’s iCloud service will mean that the term will no longer be associated with the Arizona company in the mind of the public.

It asked the court to bar Apple’s use of iCloud, and seeks an order for the destruction of all Apple promotional materials using the mark. Additionally, it asked for awards of money damages, including profits derived from the alleged infringement, attorney fees, and litigation costs. It also asked to be transferred Apple’s iCloud.com domain name.

Apple didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The Arizona company is represented by Robert J. Itri and Charles E. Runyan of Gallagher & Kennedy PA of Phoenix.

The case is ICloud Communications LLC v. Apple In, 2:11-cv- 01158-DCG, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Liberty Media Sues Virginia Members of Two Bit-Torrent Swarms

Liberty Media Holdings LLC, a provider of adult-themed videos, filed two new copyright infringement cases in federal court in Richmond, Virginia.

The suits relate to unauthorized downloading of Liberty’s Corbin Fisher unit’s “Down on the Farm” film. The defendants in the case are Virginia residents who are members of a so- called “swarm” that use the Bit Torrent protocol to download and share the film. Liberty specifically identified them by a file-identifier number known as a hash.

The particular swarm is associated with a specific 37- character number, according to court papers. Each of the two complaints named a swarm identified by a different hash.

Liberty said in its court papers that it believes it will be able to identify each defendant by proper name during the legal process. In one complaint, Liberty also lists two defendants identified only by their numeric Internet Protocol addresses, while in the second, Liberty lists 22 unnamed defendants, also identified by Internet Protocol addresses.

Liberty began suing defendants associated with a specific hash number in March.

The company accused the defendants of conspiracy in addition to copyright infringement. It asked the court to order them to stop their infringement and to destroy any unauthorized copies they possess of Liberty’s content.

Additionally, Liberty seeks damages of as much as $150,000 per defendant, and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The company is represented by Kurt D. Brickman of Blackburn Conte Schilling & Click PC of Richmond.

One case is Liberty Media Holdings LLC v. Virginia Members of Swarm Sharing Hash File AE340D0560129AFEE8D78CE07F2394CB5BC9, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond). The other case is Liberty Media Holdings LLC v. Virginia Members of Swarm Sharing Hash File A3E6F65F2E3D672400A590864ED5566A088, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

For more copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Nixon Peabody Expands IP Practice with Hire from Mintz Levin

Nixon Peabody LLP hired Carol H. Peters for its IP practice, the Rochester, New York-based firm said in a statement.

Peters, a trademark and patent specialist, joins from Boston’s Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo PC.

She has done trademark acquisition work, and trademark, and patent portfolio management and enforcement. She has appeared before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Peters has an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts and a law degree from Suffolk University.

--With assistance from Susan Decker in Washington; Bomi Lim and Shinhye Kang in Seoul; from Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware; and Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf, Germany. Editors: Fred Strasser, Glenn Holdcraft.

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: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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