(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Obama campaign item in Trademark section.)
Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Novozymes A/S, the world’s largest maker of industrial enzymes, said it won a U.S. trial in which a jury ordered DuPont Co.’s Danisco unit to pay $18.3 million for infringing a patent related to biofuel production.
Danisco, the biggest maker of food additives and second- largest industrial enzyme producer, was found to have willfully infringed the patent, a finding that may raise the damages award, Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Novozymes said in a statement. DuPont, which bought Danisco in June, said it plans to appeal.
Novozymes sued Copenhagen-based Danisco last year in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, accusing the company of taking its technology on an alpha amylase enzyme that remains active in high temperatures. The companies make substances that break down organic materials such as grain and corn to form an alternative to fossil fuels. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in July that some Danisco products infringed the patent.
The jury rejected Danisco’s arguments that the patent didn’t adequately describe the technology in a way that let others replicate the invention. The jury said other products didn’t use the invention.
“We are confident in our position that Novozymes’s patent is invalid,” Daniel Turner, a spokesman for Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, said in an e-mail. “We remain committed to providing innovative, sustainable ingredient solutions to our customers and we respect valid patent rights of others.”
Danisco had paid Novozymes $15.3 million in 2007 to settle a patent dispute over another enzyme used in ethanol production.
The case is Novozymes A/S v. Danisco A/S, 10-cv-251, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).
Intellectual Ventures Sues Nikon Units for Patent Infringement
Intellectual Ventures LLC, the invention company founded by former Microsoft Corp. Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, sued four units of Japanese camera-maker Nikon Corp. for patent infringement.
According to the complaint filed Oct. 26 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, Nikon products infringe four patents related to digital-camera technology. Bellevue, Washington-based IV didn’t specify in its court filings which Nikon products are infringing.
IV said it initially approached Nikon in 2008 about taking a license to the patents. Nikon declined to meet with the technology-licensing company at that time, according to court papers.
In 2011, IV said it made a second approach to Nikon and its “good-faith efforts to negotiate a license” with the camera company failed.
In dispute are patents 6,121,960, issued in September 2000; 6,181,836, issued in January 2001; 6,221,686, issued in April 2001, and 6,979,587, issued in December 2005.
According to court papers, IV now claims to have a portfolio of “more than 35,000” IP assets, including 3,000 patents and patent applications stemming from the Bellevue company’s own work.
IV said in the complaint it has paid individual inventors more than $400 million for their inventions and has earned more than $2 billion from patent licensing. The closely held company has filed at least seven patent-infringement suits since December 2010, according to Bloomberg data.
Nikon didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.
The case is Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Sendai Nikon Corp., 11-cv-01025, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
For more patent news, click here.
Shaquille O’Neal Wins Infringement Suit Over ‘Shaqtus’ Trademark
A company owned by National Basketball Association player Shaquille O’Neal won a trademark-infringement lawsuit against a Phoenix-based T-shirt company and a Utah website owner.
A federal court in Las Vegas found that O’Neal’s trademarks were infringed by Michael D. Calmese and his True Fan Logo Inc. O’Neal had objected to a “Shaqtus” T-shirt and domain name.
O’Neal’s Mine O’Mine Inc. sued in federal court in Las Vegas in January 2010.
He claimed the defendants’ use of “Shaqtus” diluted the distinctiveness of his marks. O’Neal has sublicensed his marks and publicity rights to a variety of companies in the past 15 years, including Adidas AG’s Reebok unit, RadioShack Corp. and Forstmann Little & Co.’s 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc.
The Shaqtus name began being used when O’Neal played for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
In his Oct. 21 order, U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson ordered the defendants not to use the Shaqtus mark, the Shaqtus- com domain name or any similar name. Additionally, he ordered the domain registrar to transfer to O’Neal’s company the shaqtus.net domain name.
Mine O’Mine was represented by Jennifer Ko Craft, Jonathan Fountain and Michael J. McCue of Phoenix’s Lewis & Roca LLP.
The case is Mine O’ Mine Inc., v. Calmese, 10-cv-43 U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (Las Vegas).
Obama Campaign Sues Demstore.Com for Infringing Trademark Obama
Obama for America, the principal campaign committee for President Barack Obama in the 2008 election, sued a Washington retailer for trademark infringement.
Washington Promotions & Printing Inc. and its Demstore.com website are accused of infringing the “rising sun” trademarks from the 2008 campaign. One of the marks features a ring with a blue top and a red-and-white-striped lower section. The “rising sun” also is used inside the zero in 2012 campaign materials.
The campaign said the marks are used without authorization and that the Washington-based company hasn’t complied with the demand letters it has been sent.
The Obama campaign asked the court for orders barring further infringement and for the seizure of all allegedly infringing merchandise and promotional materials.
The campaign also seeks money damages, including extra damages to punish the defendants for what it says is deliberate infringement, and for awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.
Steve Schwat, the owner of Washington Promotions & Printing, said he was ``really disappointed'' in the campaign for filing the infringement suit.
``I thought presidential campaigns were like the Grateful Dead, who never enforced their IP rights, but encouraged people to record their music and print their logos,'' Schwat said. ``It's the way people supported who they were.''
He said the focus of his business is grass-roots political organizers who need large quantities of materials in the campaign. ``They're frustrated when they go to the campaign website and get charged the same price per item whether they buy one or a large quantity.''
The campaign is represented by Jeremy L. Buxbaum, Christopher B. Wilson and William C. Rava of Seattle’s Perkins Coie LLP.
The case is Obama for America v. Demstore.com, 1:11-cv- 07646, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
Two Mars Hill Christian Churches Come To Understanding Over Mark
A trademark dispute between two Christian churches over the “Mars Hill” trademark was settled without litigation, Christianity Today reported.
Mars Hill Church of Seattle objected to the use of the name and a similar logo by a church in Sacramento, California, according to Christianity Today.
After the Seattle-based church sent a cease-and-desist letter, its elders said that “the way we went about raising our concerns, while acceptable in the business world, is not the way we should deal with fellow Christians” and settled the dispute through a conference telephone call, according to the publication.
While the Sacramento Mars Hill church will be permitted to keep its name, it is redesigning its logo, Christianity Today reported.
Royal Canadian Legion Tells Bikers to Remove Poppy from Logo
The Royal Canadian Legion sent a cease-and-desist letter to a military veterans’ motorcycle club for using a poppy symbol in its logo, the Toronto Sun reported.
The poppy has been a symbol of remembrance for Canadian soldiers since Canadian physician John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” was published during World War I, according to the Sun.
Captain Michael Blow, who leads the Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders motorcycle club, said the Legion demanded immediate removal of the logo, the newspaper reported.
His group raised funds for veterans that need help, Blow said, and “for the Legion to turn around and threaten me with litigation because I’m using the poppy is not morally right,” the Sun reported.
Ko Olina Says Resort Won’t Host Gambling After Application
Even though a Hawaiian resort developer’s application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office mentions that the “Ko Olina” trademark would be used for “providing casino facilities,” the developer said it has no intention of placing a casino on the property, Honolulu’s KHON-TV reported.
The inclusion of the phrase was “basically an administrative oversight, particularly given that Hawaii does not allow gambling,” KHON-TV said, citing a statement by Ko Olina Intangibles LLC issued through Sheila Donnelly & Associates.
A number of bills aimed at legalizing gambling are expected to be introduced at the state legislature in the session beginning in mid-January, according to the television station.
KHON-TV said an earlier trademark registered by Ka Olina in 2008 also mentions “providing casino facilities” and that the resort was mentioned as a possible stand-alone casino site when the legalization of gambling was under consideration in 2001.
For more trademark news, click here.
Pearson Unit Accused of Infringing Three Authors’ Copyrights
Pearson Plc’s Penguin Canada unit was sued by three Canadian authors of Chinese descent who claim their copyrights are infringed in “Gold Mountain Blues,” a book by Zhang Ling, according to the Toronto Star.
They say multiple elements of their work are copied in the book, which was released Oct. 8, according to the Star. Zhang denies the allegations, the Star said.
The book, originally published in China in 2009, has won major literary awards and is under consideration for television and movie programming, the newspaper reported.
The authors are seeking C$1 million ($1 million) apiece and say they will face significant losses when their works are published in China because of the alleged copying, according to the Star.
For more copyright news, click here.
--With assistance from Gelu Sulugiuc in Copenhagen and Susan Decker in Washington. Editors: Stephen Farr, Mary Romano
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