Bloomberg News

AT&T, Sony/ATV, Watson, Apple, CBGB: Intellectual Property

July 08, 2011

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

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Internet-service providers including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. promised to take a more active role in fighting online piracy in an agreement with the entertainment industry announced yesterday.

The ISPs, which also include Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp., will send as many as six electronic alerts to customers whose accounts are allegedly being used to download or distribute illegal movies, television shows or music, according to a news release.

Customers who receive repeated alerts may have their Internet speed temporarily reduced, or have their Web access restricted until they discuss the matter with their Internet- service provider or review “educational” information about copyright, according to a fact sheet about the program.

Internet subscribers can request an independent review before any restrictions are imposed under the agreement. The system is aimed at pirated music, movies and other content shared through online peer-to-peer networks.

The program, a voluntary set of industry best practices, is backed by trade groups representing the entertainment and media industries, including the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill May 26 targeting so-called “rogue” websites, which sell or distribute illegally copied music, movies and consumer products. The measure would allow the U.S. attorney general to seek court orders requiring U.S.-based Internet-service providers to block access to infringing sites, among other things.

The committee on June 16 approved a measure that would make illegal video streaming a felony offense in some cases. Obama administration officials also have backed the idea of making illegal video streaming a felony.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital-rights group, is concerned that “ISPs have agreed to serve as propaganda machines for big media” under the program, Corynne McSherry, the group’s intellectual property director, said in an interview.

Copyright information contained in the customer alerts may be “skewed toward draconian view of how copyright law works” and not inform people about the “fair use” doctrine allowing use of copyrighted works for limited purposes, McSherry said.

Singapore ‘Fun Pack Song’ May Run Afoul of Gaga Copyright

Organizers of Singapore’s National Day Parade are negotiating with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Group after they modified lyrics to one of Lady Gaga’s songs for the celebration, the Jakarta Globe reported.

They wrote substitute lyrics for Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” according to the newspaper. The chairman of the National Day Parade performance segment said his group is trying to secure rights to modify the lyrics, the newspaper reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Patents

Watson Wins Ruling Over Reckitt’s Patent Claims on Mucinex

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. won an appeals court ruling that clears a hurdle in the company’s effort to sell a generic version of Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc’s Mucinex cough medicine.

Watson’s version of the drug wouldn’t infringe a patent owned by Reckitt, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said yesterday. The court upheld a trial judge’s ruling, saying Reckitt’s patent requires multiple layers of the sustained-release formula for Mucinex tablets, while Watson’s version is made with a single layer.

Watson still needs U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a copy of Mucinex, Mucinex D and Mucinex DM. The medicines generated about $500 million in U.S. sales last year for Slough, England-based Reckitt, Watson said in February, citing researcher IMS Health Inc.

“We’re pleased with the decision and are awaiting final approval from the FDA,” said Charlie Mayr, a spokesman for Parsippany, New Jersey-based Watson.

The active ingredient in Mucinex, guaifenesin, has been on the market since 1952. The Reckitt patent is for an extended release formula of the chemical compound. Reckitt got Mucinex as part of its 2008 purchase of Adams Respiratory Therapeutics Inc.

The case is Reckitt Benckiser Inc. v. Watson Laboratories Inc. Florida, 2011-1231, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Reckitt Benckiser Inc. v. Watson Laboratories Inc., 09cv60609, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Ft. Lauderdale).

Mosaid Sues Sony Ericsson, HTC Over Phone Location Patents

Mosaid Technologies Inc., the Canadian semiconductor designer, sued Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (USA) and HTC America Inc. in federal court in Delaware yesterday alleging infringement of three U.S. patents for portable-telephone location technology.

In dispute are patents 5,650,770, 6,518,889 and 6,198,390. Mosaid acquired them from Hawthorne Heights LLC of San Diego in April, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Hawthorne Heights acquired the patents from Zoltar Satellite Alarm Systems Inc. of Mill Valley, California, in March 2010. Zoltar sued Motorola Inc., LG Electronics and nine other telecom-related companies for infringing those patents in June 2005 in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

The dispute was transferred to federal court in San Jose, California, in January 2006, and closed in February 2009. Neither Ericsson nor HTC was a defendant in that case.

That case was Zoltar Alarm Systems Inc., v. Motorola Inc, 5:06-00044-JW, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

After that case closed, Zoltar said in September 2009 it was auctioning the patents that were at issue.

The new case is Mosaid Technologies Inc., v. Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications USA Inc., 1:11-cv-00598-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Apple Denied Court Order to Stop Amazon.com ‘Appstore’ Use

A federal judge turned down Apple Inc.’s attempt to stop Amazon.com Inc. from using the phrase “Appstore” to sell software applications for mobile devices.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton denied Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the trademark-infringement case, according to a filing July 6 in U.S. District Court in Oakland, California. Apple said it has used the term “App Store” for three years and Amazon’s use of “Appstore” would confuse consumers.

“The court finds that Apple has not established likelihood of success as to the infringement claims,” Hamilton wrote. “Apple has not established a likelihood of confusion.” The case will continue in federal court.

Apple, in a lawsuit filed in March, said Amazon began seeking software developers last September for its proposed mobile software download service, called the Amazon Appstore Developer Program. The service now offers almost 4,000 applications, according to court papers. Apple said it began selling applications for mobile devices in 2008 and had filed to register “App Store” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“We’ve asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers,” Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said in a statement on the telephone.

Amazon argued that App Store is generic and can’t be protected by trademark law.

A call to Seattle-based Amazon’s media line wasn’t immediately returned.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc., 11-1327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

CBGB Founder’s Estate to Auction Brand Tied to N.Y. Punk Club

The CBGB brand will be sold by the estate of Hillel “Hilly” Kristal, founder of the New York rock & roll club that launched the Ramones and other punk acts.

Kristal died in 2007 at the age of 75.

Streambank LLC was hired to sell intellectual property rights related to the CBGB brand, the bank said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The assets include trademarks, domain names, recordings and artifacts from the club, which closed in 2006.

The brand still resonates worldwide and could be used for new opportunities in live clubs, apparel and interactive media, Streambank said. The acronym stands for “Country Blue Grass Blues.”

“We’re expecting it to trade well in excess of a couple million,” said Jack Hazan, a principal in Needham, Massachusetts-based Streambank, which specializes in intangible asset transactions.

The club closed after it lost its lease, Hazan said.

For more trademark news, click here.

IP Moves

McCarthy Fingar Hires Transactional IP Specialist David Menken

McCarthy Fingar LLP hired David A. Menken for its intellectual property, commercial finance, real estate and corporate and general business transactions group, the White Plains, New York-based firm said in a statement.

Menken was previously a member of Menken & Weingarden PLLC, also of White Plains.

He has mainly represented clients from India and Western Europe on issues including trade secrets and information technology. Menken has an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from New York University.

Morgan Lewis Brings Jones Day’s Brett Lovejoy to IP Practice

Morgan Lewis LLP hired Brett A. Lovejoy for its intellectual-property practice, the Philadelphia-based firm said in a statement.

Lovejoy joins from Washington’s Jones Day. He does litigation and transactional work for clients in the life sciences and information-technology industries, with an emphasis on genomics, diagnostics and personalized medicine.

He has assisted clients in patent acquisition in the areas of computer-implemented technology, software, renewable energy, diagnostics, medical devices, chemistry, biochemistry and novelty products.

Before he was a lawyer, Lovejoy was a researcher at a unit of Roche Holding AG and also at the company now known as GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

He has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of California at Santa Cruz, a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a law degree from Santa Clara University.

Obituary

Federal Circuit Judge Daniel Mortimer Friedman Dies at 95

Judge Daniel Mortimer Friedman, who was the last of the original members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, died July 6 at the age of 95.

In a statement posted on that court’s website, Chief Judge Randall R. Rader called Friedman “one of the grandest and best judges ever to grace this court.”

Before he was on the bench, Friedman served as an attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1942 to 1951. He then moved to the U.S. Justice Department, where he worked in the Antitrust Division.

In 1959, he joined the Office of the Solicitor General, serving as an assistant solicitor and first deputy solicitor from 1959 to 1978. He twice served as acting solicitor general and argued 80 cases at the Supreme Court.

Friedman was named to the Court of Claims by President Jimmy Carter in March 1978 and served as chief judge until 1982. When the Court of Claims merged with the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals to create the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, he served there from 1982 until he took senior status in 1989.

Afterward, he continued to serve that court and other federal benches by assignment until his death. According to the Patently O blog, Friedman’s last patent opinion was released in January.

During his judicial career, he wrote more than 470 opinions for the Federal Circuit, more than 70 for the Court of Claims, and another 160 opinions while sitting by designation in other circuit courts.

He had an undergraduate and a law degree from Columbia University.

--With assistance from Don Jeffrey in New York, Eric Engleman and Susan Decker in Washington, Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles and Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware. Editor: Stephen Farr.

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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