Bloomberg News

Samsung, Mylan, Gannett, Oxus Gold: Intellectual Property

August 30, 2011

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

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. agreed to push back the introduction of its newest tablet computer in Australia until the end of next month, the second delay in a month in its dispute with Apple Inc. in the country.

Samsung will defer the launch of the Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer pending a hearing scheduled the week of Sept. 26. on Apple’s request for an injunction, the Suwon, South Korea-based electronics maker said in a statement. David Catterns, an attorney representing Samsung, said his client is prepared to wait until the end of September.

The decision comes four weeks after Samsung first agreed to hold off on the Australian debut of the product. The two companies, the world’s two biggest makers of tablet computers, are also locked in legal disputes in markets including the U.S., Germany and South Korea.

Samsung will continue to push for the release of the product in Australia to “ensure that consumers have a wider selection of innovative products to choose from,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

Samsung agreed at an Aug. 2 hearing to hold off on sales of the 10.1 tablet after Apple claimed the device infringed 10 of its patents, including the “look and feel” of the iPad.

Samsung said the claim was based on a U.S. model and the Australian version was different. The company last week provided Apple’s legal team with three samples of the 10.1 version intended to be sold in Australia, Steven Burley, an attorney representing Apple, told Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett yesterday.

Burley said the Australian model, which has “reduced functionality,” still violates at least two of Apple’s patents. Samsung’s Catterns said the Australian model has “different features” and doesn’t have “reduced functionality.”

The lawyers agreed to two days of hearings on Apple’s request for an injunction barring the sale of the 10.1 tablet in Australia until the resolution of the dispute, which may take months. The hearings are scheduled for Sept. 26 and 29.

The agreement to halt advertising and the sale of the 10.1 tablet doesn’t affect any other Samsung tablet or smartphone available in Australia, or other countries, the company said following the Aug. 2 hearing.

A German judge said on Aug. 25 that Apple’s intellectual rights are probably strong enough to ban the sales of the 10.1 tablet in that country.

In the U.S., Samsung is arguing that the design for the iPad can be traced back to the Stanley Kubrick 1969 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. NSD1243/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

Apple’s Legal Team Gets Smaller After Bridges’ Withdrawal

A part of Apple Inc.’s legal team representing the Cupertino, California-based company in a trademark dispute with Samsung Electronics Ltd. has withdrawn from the case, according to a court filing.

Samsung asked the court in a July 11 court filing to discharge Bridges & Mavrakakis LLP, of Palo Alto, California, from the case because of the firm’s previous representation of Samsung. The firm filed papers with the court Aug. 25 saying it would withdraw from the representation of Apple in the dispute.

The Suwon, South Korea-based company said lawyers from Bridges & Mavrakakis represented Samsung in a different infringement case involving one of the patents at issue in the Apple dispute. Bridges & Mavrakakis lawyers have worked almost 9,000 hours on Samsung patent litigation, according to the court filing.

In the past, Samsung said, lawyers from the firm “received confidential information from Samsung that is substantially related to this action.” As a result, an “irreconcilable conflict of interest required Bridges & Mavrakakis to be disqualified from representing Apple in this case,” Samsung said.

Samsung said it had, to no avail, met with the firm “on multiple occasions” to attempt to resolve the conflict issue. The Korean company had argued that it was concerned about whether Bridges & Mavrakakis had confidential information, “not whether they would use it.”

According to the case docket, Apple continues to be represented by lawyers from San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11-cv-1846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Mylan Motion to Dismiss Teva Patent Suit Denied by Judge

Mylan Inc.’s motion to dismiss a patent lawsuit by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. over the multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone was dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones dismissed Mylan’s claim that Teva’s patent for the drug was invalid, according to a filing yesterday in federal court. A trial on the patent infringement case in Manhattan is set to begin Sept. 7.

Teva, which licensed patents from Yeda Research and Development Co. for Copaxone, sued Novartis AG’s Sandoz in 2008 and Mylan in 2009 after they separately tried to win approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market generic versions of the drug before its patents expired in 2014.

Jones consolidated the cases. An earlier motion by Sandoz to dismiss the patent claim as invalid was also rejected. The Sandoz case is Teva Phamaceutical Industries Ltd. v. Sandoz Inc., 08-7611, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The Mylan case is Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. v. Mylan Inc., 09-8824, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more patent news, click here.

Copyright

Gannett Lacks Copyright to Streaming School Sports Broadcast

Gannett Co., owner of television stations and 82 newspapers, lost its copyright claims over streaming-video presentation of Wisconsin high school sports programs.

The McLean, Virginia-based newspaper chain, was appealing a ruling from a trial court in Wisconsin that found the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s exclusive license agreements with a video production company didn’t violate Gannett’s First Amendment rights.

The dispute arose when some Gannett newspapers decided to stream four tournament games sponsored by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. The association then asked the federal court to declare it had the right to grant exclusive licenses. Gannet had argued unsuccessfully that WIAA can’t enter into exclusive contract with a private company to broadcast entire events online, or, to raise revenue.

The appeals court said in its August 24 opinion that the implications of Gannett’s arguments were “staggering,” and that if the media company was correct, “then no state actor may ever earn revenue from something that the press might want to broadcast in its entirety.

If Gannett’s arguments were carried to their logical extreme, the appeals court said the patent licensing agreements executed by the University of Wisconsin through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation -- and the $1.07 billion such licenses have brought the university since 21928 could be at risk.

“Gannett’s claim here would cast a shadow over the commercial licensees that WARF sells but implying that the First Amendment required it to dedicate its inventions to the public,” the court said in its opinion. Likewise, the ability of high school students to record CDs and sell them to finance a school music program would also be at risk. “These examples could be multiplied almost endlessly,” the court said.

The court said that reporting on the event and streaming it aren’t the same thing. “Everyone understands there is a difference between a description of an event like the Super Bowl, Women’s World Cup or the College World Series and the right both to videotape that entertainment and then to publish it as one sees fit,” according to the appeals court’s opinion.

As far as Gannett’s copyright claim is concerned, the appeals court said that the WIAA itself is functioning as the creator and disseminator of content, not the newspapers.

The court the lower court’s holding that the WIAA has the right to grant exclusive licenses.

The lower court case is Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association v. Wisconsin Newspaper Association Inc., 3:09-cv-00155-WMC, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison). The appeal is Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association v. Gannett, 10-2627, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Oxus Gold Metallurgist Gets 12-year Sentence in Uzbekistan

A former employee of the London-based mining company Oxus Gold Plc has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly committing industrial espionage, the Voice of America reported.

Said Ashurov, chief metallurgist at a joint venture between Oxus Gold and Uzbekistan authorities, was convicted by a military court, following his arrest in March when he was trying to cross the border into Tajikistan, according to Voice of America.

A lawyer representing Oxus Gold said the charges against Ashurov are fabricated, and the metallurgist, who has health issues, could die in prison without proper health care, Voice of American reported.

Oxus Gold ended the operation of its joint venture in March following what the BBC said were “months of tensions with Uzbekistan’s authorities.”

Court Says Company Can’t Fire Employee Over Marriage

An employment tribunal in Germany’s state of Schleswig- Holsten has told a German company that its firing of an engineer for marrying a Chinese woman wasn’t justified by the company’s fear of resulting industrial espionage, the BBC reported.

The unnamed company, a supplier for the German military, suspended the engineer for security reasons three months after his December 2009 wedding, and fired him three months after that, according to the BBC.

The court said the employer violated the employee’s right to marry the person of his choice, and the alleged security risk posed by the marriage wasn’t supported by facts, the BBC reported.

Court reports don’t identify the engineer or his company, according to the BBC.

Trademark

Mississippi Sets Up Site Where Counterfeit Goods Can Be Reported

The State of Mississippi, through the Office of the Attorney General, has set up a website that is part of a campaign against counterfeit goods.

The website for the Mississippi Intellectual Property Crime Center -- mipcc.ago.state.ms.us/ -- was established with the assistance of a grant from the U.s. Department of Justice. Aim of the site is to inform the public about IP crimes and their effects on the world.

The site has a section on fakes, with photos of counterfeit goods. It also provides citizens with a place to which they can give anonymous tips about sale of possible counterfeit items.

According to the Mississippi Intellectual Property Crime Center, the sale of counterfeit goods can be linked to drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorist activity, gang violence, child labor and life-threatening health issues.

Thailand, Cambodia Both Claim Dance Gesture as Cultural Icon

Both Thailand and Cambodia are laying claim to a hand gesture used in traditional dance and shadow places as an intangible culture heritage item, the Bangkok Post reported.

The gesture, known as the “jeeb” and created by touching the thumb with the index finger and splaying the other three fingers, has been registered by Cambodia with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, according to the Bangkok Post.

Because it hasn’t ratified the Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage allowing it to submit cultural heritage items to UNESCO for listing as cultural treasures, Thailand has, so far, only begun compiling a list, according to the Bangkok Post.

Thailand’s Culture Minister Sukumol Khunploem told the Bangkok Post that Cambodia hasn’t “stolen” the jeeb to claim it exclusively because “it is normal for countries in the same region to share similar cultural traits.”

For more trademark news, click here.

--With the assistance of Don Jeffrey in New York, Joe Schneider in Sydney, and Robert Fenner in Melbourne, Australia. Editors: Mary Romano, Michael Hytha

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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