Bloomberg News

Amazon.com, Righthaven, Astrolabe: Intellectual Property

October 11, 2011

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

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. was sued for patent infringement over its Kindle Fire tablet computer.

The suit was filed in federal court in Tyler, Texas, on Oct. 7 by a company that has sued Research In Motion Inc. and HTC Corp. for allegedly infringing some of the same patents.

In dispute in the case against Amazon are five patents related to the functioning of hand-held computing devices. Smartphone Technologies LLC of Frisco, Texas, claims the new Amazon.com product infringed the patents and causes the company harm.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database of patent assignments, some of the patents at issue in the case originally issued to Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, California, which was acquired by the Hewlett-Packard Co. in July 2010. VentureBeat reported Sept. 29 that Amazon is contemplating buying Palm from HP.

Smartphone Technologies, which doesn’t appear to manufacture any products covered by its patents, claims it is damaged by Amazon.com’s alleged infringement, asked the court for awards of money damages, together with litigation costs.

The company didn’t request an order barring the sale or manufacture of what it claims are infringing products.

The case is Smartphone Technologies LLC v. Amazon.com Inc., 6:11-cv-00530-LED, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).

Vinum Sues Oenophilia, Claims Patent, Trade Dress Infringed

Vinum Corp., an Illinois company that specialized in wine- bottle stoppers, sued a North Carolina competitor for patent infringement.

Oenophilia Inc. of Hillsborough, North Carolina, is accused of infringing patent D437,782, which is for the ornamental design for a wine stopper. According to court papers, the device covered by the patent functions as an aerator, filter, pourer, re-corker and stopper all in one unit.

The patent covering the product was issued in February 2001. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company says it began selling “many hundreds of thousands” of the product, which is known as “Haley’s Corker,” beginning in 2001.

Oenophilia’s “Tappo Pour” product is accused of infringing the trade dress of the Vinum product, in addition to the patent. Its “mimicry damages the great and valuable goodwill inherent in the Haley’s Corker trade dress,” Vinum said in the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Chicago.

It asked the court to bar further infringement of its patent and trade dress and for an order for the destruction of all allegedly infringing products and promotional materials. The company also asked for awards of Oenophilia’s profits related to its alleged infringement, together with money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

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

Vinum Corp. is represented by Mark K. Suri and James D. Ryndak of Ryndak & Suri LLP of Chicago.

The case is Vinum Corp. v. Oenophilia Inc., 1:11-cv-07134, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Immunocellular Therapeutics Says Cancer Vaccine Patent on Way

Immunocellular Therapeutics Ltd., a Los Angeles-based biotech company, said in a statement that it has been told by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office it’s receiving approval for a patent on a cancer vaccine it developed.

The vaccine, known as ICT-107, is used to treat Glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain tumor that is difficult to treat and often has poor outcomes. The company said it is presently conducting Phase II clinical trials of about 160 patients newly diagnosed with this form of cancer.

The patent covers a vaccine based on immune cells that target tumor antigens.

Immunoellular Therapeutics is listed in the patent office database as the owner of five other patents related to cancer treatment. Two cover the detection and treatment of a kind of lung cancer, and three cover technologies dealing with ovarian cancer and myeloma.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Tecmo’s Trademark Filing Indicates Samurai Cats Game On Its Way

Tecmo Koei Holdings Co., makers of the Samurai Warriors computer games, will be coming out with a new game, a recent trademark filing indicates.

The Kanawaga, Japan-based company filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Sept. 28 to register “Samurai Cats” as a trademark.

According to the application, the mark would be used with “entertainment services, namely, providing on-line computer games; entertainment services, namely, providing on-line computer games on social networking services; entertainment services, namely providing on-line computer games on mobile phones; providing information on-line relating to computer games.”

Tecmo’s application was filed by Jason M. Vogel of Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Righthaven Tells Court It’s Rejected by All Bonding Companies

Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas entity that has filed more than 150 copyright-infringement cases, told a court it can’t raise the money to post a $34,000 bond.

In what it characterized as an “urgent motion,” Righthaven told the court Oct. 9 that none of the bonding companies will permit it to secure the bond the court said the company must post as part of an appeal.

The bonding companies Righthaven has contacted ask for “full cash payment, certain forms of collateral held by the company or irrevocable letters of credit.” Righthaven claims it is unable to meet these requirements and that all of its operator capital “is being utilized to service its monthly operating expenses.”

The defendant Righthaven sued is “clearly seeking to seize and liquidate Righthaven’s intangible intellectual property assets,” the company claimed. Righthaven said that all of its assigned copyrights “are in jeopardy of seizure and liquidation through judgment enforcement efforts by Hoehn.”

Righthaven sued Wayne Hoehn in federal court in Las Vegas Jan. 11, complaining he had posted content on his blog originally appearing in Stephens Media Group’s Las Vegas Review- Journal. The court was skeptical about Righthaven’s right to pursue copyright-infringement cases, saying the company doesn’t appear to own the copyright to the material it says is infringed, and awarding Hoehn attorney fees.

In its Oct. 9 filing, Righthaven said that if the appeals court doesn’t issue a stay order, Hoehn’s efforts to collect his attorney fee award could “dismantle the company and end its ability to operate as a going concern.” Hoehn’s lawyers have “given no indication of a willingness to accept any structured settlement payments toward satisfaction of the judgment,” Righthaven said.

The appeal is Righthaven LLC v. Wayne Hoehn, 11:16995, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco). The lower court case is Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn, 2:11-cv-00050-PMP- RJJ, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).

Astrolabe Sues Computer Scientists Over Time-Zone Clock Data

Astrolabe Inc., a maker of astrology software, sued two computer scientists for copyright infringement.

The suit, filed Sept. 30 in federal court in Boston, targets Arthur David Olson of the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute and Paul R. Eggert of the Computer Science Department of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The two computer scientists are accused of infringing the copyright for an atlas containing historical time zone information. Astrolabe objects to the scientists’ websites publication of time zone data.

Astrolabe said it has sent takedown notices to UCLA and NIH, demanding removal of what it says is unauthorized publication of its data.

So far neither institution has complied, Astrolabe said, and Eggert has “wrongly and unlawfully asserted that this information and/or data is ‘in the public domain’ in violation of the protections afforded by the federal copyright laws.”

Brewster, Massachusetts-based Astrolabe asked the court to order the two scientists to halt their alleged infringement, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Astrolabe bases its claims on its ownership of the “ACS International Atlas,” the “ACS American Atlas,” and related software programs and databases.

The case has attracted the interest of the scientific and technology community because the data is used in Unix and Linux platforms to set clocks and for time-zone updates. In a posting to a technology interest-group mailing list, Olson said the server that provides these updates has been shut down in response to the suit.

Stephen Colebourne, a developer who works with Java programs in the U.K., said in a blog posting that the result of the takedown is that “there is no longer a single central location for time-zone information for computing.”

He called for the major tech companies to step into the dispute on behalf of the two computer scientists.

Astrolabe is represented by Julie C. Molloy of East Sandwich, Massachusetts.

The case is Astrolabe Inc., v. Olson 1:11-cv-11725-GAO, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

For more copyright news, click here.

--With assistance from Catherine Larkin in Indianapolis. Editors: Glenn Holdcraft, Mary Romano

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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