(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Adds anti-piracy legislation item to copyright section)
Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. were accused by a group of prescription drug retailers of illegally keeping a generic version of the Effexor XR antidepressant off the market.
“Wyeth engaged in an overarching anticompetitive scheme to prevent and delay the approval and marketing of generic versions of Effexor XR,” the retailers, including Walgreen Co. and Kroger Co., said in a complaint filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey.
The retailers allege that Wyeth fraudulently obtained patents and engaged in “sham litigation” to delay generic versions of the extended release drug. They also alleged that Wyeth and the U.S. unit of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. colluded to keep Teva’s generic version off the market until June 2010.
Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for New York-based Pfizer, and Denise Bradley, a spokeswoman for Teva North America, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit after regular business hours Dec. 1.
The case is Walgreen v. Wyeth, 11-6985, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).
Research Affiliates Sues WisdomTree Over Portfolio Patents
Research Affiliates LLC, the asset-management company, sued WisdomTree Investments Inc. for allegedly infringing three of its patents.
The patents include a method for using accounting-data- based indexing to create a portfolio of assets, Newport Beach, California-based Research Affiliates said in a complaint filed Dec. 1 in federal court in Santa Ana, California.
“Our main focus is product quality and performance, but we will protect our intellectual property and the interests of our business partners when our patents are infringed,” Research Affiliates’ Chairman Rob Arnott said in a statement.
Research Affiliates, a closely held company majority owned by its employees, said $78 billion in assets are managed using investment strategies it developed. The company told WisdomTree in 2005 that it was applying for one of the patents at issue, according to the complaint.
WisdomTree responded by saying that Research Affiliates’ intellectual property rights were “speculative at best” and that WisdomTree was submitting prior public information about inventions related to the proposed patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the complaint. The office issued the patent to Research Affiliates, according to the filing.
Stuart Bell, a spokesman for New York-based WisdomTree, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
Financial products that Research Affiliates claims infringe its patents include WisdomTree Dividend Index and WisdomTree Earnings Index. Research Affiliates is seeking a jury trial and a court order to stop WisdomTree from using the methods alleged to be patented.
WisdomTree, a firm specializing in exchange-traded funds, said it manages about $11.4 billion in ETF assets. Michael Steinhardt, the former hedge-fund manager, is chairman.
Research Affiliates is represented by Palo Alto, California-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC.
The case is Research Affiliates v. WisdomTree Investments, 11-01846, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division (Santa Ana).
For more patent news, click here.
Multiple ‘Occupy’ Trademark Applications Filed at USPTO
The “Occupy” movement has spawned more than 25 different applications to register trademarks containing various permutations of the name in such phrases as “Occupy Wall Street,” according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Among the most recent applications are one filed Nov. 22 to register “Occupy Los Angeles” for use with “political action committee services.” The applicant lists only a general- delivery address in Los Angeles.
On that same date, Kop-N-Go Inc. of New York filed an application to register “Occupy Hip Hop” tor use with hats, sweatshirts and t-shirts.
A resident of Bloomington, California, filed an application that day to register “Occupy Any Wear” for use on clothing. ERB & Sons LLC of Los Angeles filed an application Nov. 21 to register “Occupy America” to be used on long and short-sleeved t-shirts.
“Occupy the Outdoors” is a trademark sought by Whitetail Institute of North America Inc. The Pintlala, Alabama-based company, which filed its application Nov. 17, appears from its website to be a producer of seeds for food plants intended to attract deer.
A mark containing “Occupy the Dance Floor” is sought by a resident of Baltimore, Maryland. He says in his application -- filed Nov. 15 -- that it will be used for T-shirts.
Other pending applications are to register “Occupy Las Vegas,” “Occupy the Vote 2012,” “Occupy Together,” and “Occupy as One.” There is also an application, filed Oct. 19 by a resident of Powell, Ohio, to register “Everywhere I Go I Occupy” as a mark, also to be used on t-shirts.
Bob Marley’s Family Sues Performer’s Half Brother for Infringing
The holders of the intellectual property rights related to the Reggae singer Bob Marley sued the late performer’s half brother for trademark infringement.
The suit, filed Dec. 1 in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is related Richard Booker’s applications to register “Mama Marley” and “Nine Mile” as trademarks in the U.S.
According to court papers, Booker operates a restaurant in Jamaica named “Mama Marley’s” and conducts tours of the Nine Mile region of Jamaica, a region of the island country associated with the late singer and where he is buried.
The IP rights holders also complain that Booker has advertised his restaurant in the U.S. and operates the Nine Mile Music Festival and the “www.bobmarleymovement.com” website they say infringe their marks. They claim that to no avail they engaged in “extensive settlement talks” with Booker over his use of the name and likeness of the late performer.
The rights holders -- Marley’s widow and nine of his 11 children -- asked the court to bar further trademark infringement by Booker, and for an order cancelling Booker’s “9 Mile Music” trademark and barring the registration of several pending trademark applications. Additionally, they seek awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.
They are represented by Bruce G. Hermelee of Hermelee & Geffin LLC of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The case is Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Ltd. v. Richard Booker, 1:11-cv-24326-MGC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Ft. Lauderdale).
For more trademark news, click here.
Anti-Piracy Group BREIN Accused by Composer of Infringing
Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland, the Dutch anti-piracy group known as BREIN, has itself been accused of copyright infringement by a musician who said the group is using his work without permission, the anti-copyright Torrent Freak website reported.
Melchior Rietveldt was asked by BREIN to compose music for an anti-piracy video to be shown at a local music festival, and is now objecting to its use by the organization in other contexts, according to Torrent Freak.
He found his music included in an anti-piracy message embedded in a DVD of one of the Harry Potter films, Torrent Freak reported.
The composer is seeking at least 1 million Euros ($1.4 million) in compensation for what he says is unauthorized use of his work, according to Torrent Freak.
Lawmakers Float Alternative to Google-Opposed Online Piracy Bill
U.S. lawmakers are circulating an alternative approach to Hollywood-backed anti-piracy legislation after Internet companies including Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. objected to the bills.
Under the draft proposal from a bipartisan group of Senate and House members, U.S. intellectual-property holders could petition the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate foreign websites accused of trafficking in pirated content and counterfeit goods. The commission is an independent agency set up to protect U.S. markets from unfair trade practices.
“We’re going to be able to handcuff the bad actors that are selling fake movies and Viagra,” Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who helped draft the proposal, said in an interview Dec. 1. “This is a model that gets us a chance to go after them without doing so much damage to the architecture of the Internet.”
Anti-piracy bills in the House and Senate have pitted the nation’s biggest Internet companies against the U.S. film and music industries, which want the government to do more to halt the online sale of goods such as knockoff watches and illegally copied music. Web companies say the proposed legislation would require them to police the Internet, undermining the growth of the U.S. technology industry.
The House bill would let the U.S. attorney general seek court orders requiring U.S. Internet-service providers, search engines, payment processors and ad networks to block or cease business with websites linked to online piracy. The measure, introduced in October by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, also would give intellectual- property holders ways to compel payment and ad services to sever ties with such websites.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved in May a similar bill, S. 968, known as the Protect IP Act. Both the House and Senate measures have multiple co-sponsors from both parties. Wyden has threatened to block the Protect IP Act from reaching a vote in the full Senate.
Under the alternative proposal, the International Trade Commission would be authorized to issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites that could be used to force payment processors, such as Visa Inc. or PayPal Inc., and online advertising networks to cease providing services to such websites.
The trade agency has the power to block imports of products found to infringe intellectual property rights, can propose tariffs on products to counter subsidized imports and investigates trade-related issues for Congress and the president.
Wyden said the group intends to circulate the draft and request feedback, and introduce legislation in the coming weeks.
The alternative proposal was signed by 10 lawmakers from both parties, including Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mark Warner of Virginia; Republican Representatives Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah; and Democratic Representatives Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren of California.
The House bill is H.R. 3261.
For more copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Colorado Holds Hearing on Fracking Formula Trade Secrets
Colorado’s oil company regulators are to hear testimony today about the confidentiality of formulas for fluids used to fracture underground rock structures in the search for oil, the Coloradoan reported.
Governor John Hickenlooper has proposed a new rule that would mandate disclosure of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which many oil-exploration companies maintain should be exempted as trade secrets, according to the Coloradan.
Some environmental groups contend it’s vital to disclose these chemicals as some of them could contaminate drinking water, according to the newspaper.
Under the proposed rule, energy companies would have to disclose their fracking formulas on a publicly accessible website, the Coloradoan reported.
Hogan Lovells Expands China IP Group With Perkins Coie Hire
Hogan Lovells LLP hired William “Chip” Fisher for its IP practice, the Washington-based firm said in a statement.
Fisher, who joins from Seattle’s Perkins Coie LLP, does counseling and litigation in the areas of patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. He’s represented clients whose technologies have included e-commerce systems, electronic financial transaction systems, network traffic management, secure data networks, electronic media, and digital rights management. He has also previously practiced at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC of Portland, Oregon.
He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and will work from the firm’s Shanghai office.
Fisher has an undergraduate degree in Chinese from the University of Massachusetts, a master’s degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University, and a law degree from Boston University.
--With the assistance of Don Jeffrey in New York, Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. Editors: Peter Blumberg
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