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(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Adds Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. item in trade secrets section.)
Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators restarted their antitrust review of plans by Google Inc., the biggest maker of smartphone software, to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.
The European Commission set a new deadline of Feb. 13 to rule on the deal. It stopped the review on Dec. 6 to seek more information from the companies.
Regulatory reviews mean the purchase by Google is likely to close in 2012, Libertyville, Illinois-based Motorola Mobility said in November. Google plans to use Motorola Mobility’s more than 17,000 patents to protect supporters of its Android software in licensing and legal disputes with rivals such as Apple Inc. -- and also move into the hardware business.
Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, declined to comment. Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for Motorola Mobility, didn’t immediately respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.
Mountain View, California-based Google and Motorola Mobility in September received a request for additional information from the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division. China is also reviewing the deal, Shang Ming, the head of the country’s Ministry of Commerce’s antimonopoly bureau, said last month.
Apple Seeks ‘Clarifying Language’ on Patents in Kodak Loan
Apple Inc. asked a bankruptcy court to attach “clarifying language” to any order approving financing for Eastman Kodak Co.
Apple said in a filing yesterday the order should indicate that no security interests or liens will attach to patents Apple owns and has claimed ownership of until the court resolves the ownership dispute between it and Kodak.
For more patent news, click here.
Wolf Trap Sues The Barns of Rose Hill for Infringing Marks
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, which owns and operates the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in collaboration with the National Park Service, sued a Virginia performing arts venue for trademark infringement.
The suit, filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, accused The Barns of Rose Hill Inc. of infringing Wolf Trap’s “The Barns” trademarks. According to court papers, Wolf Trap registered the phrase as a trademark and has used it since 1981. It says it has made “a substantial investment” in advertising and promoting events held at its sites and using “The Barns” marks.
The Barns of Rose Hill, based in Berryville, Virginia, is also using the term “Barns” to promote services that are “virtually identical” to those offered under the mark at Wolf Trap, according to the complaint.
The addition of “Rose Hill” to “The Barns” confuses the public into thinking, mistakenly, that some affiliation or sponsorship exists between the two venues, Wolf Trap said in its pleadings.
Despite having been sent a cease-and-desist letter, Rose Hill is accused of continuing to use the infringing term, according to court papers.
Wolf Trap asked the court to bar Rose Hill from further infringement, and for an order for the destruction of all infringing promotional material. Additionally, Wolf Trap seeks money damages, Rose Hill’s profits attributable to the alleged infringement, and awards of attorney fees and litigation costs. Alleging the infringement is deliberate, Wolf Trap asked that the damages be tripled to punish Rose Hill for its actions.
The Barns of Rose Hill didn’t respond immediately to an e- mailed request for comment.
Wolf Trap is represented by James R. Davis II, Anthony V. Lupo and Ross Q. Panko of Washington-based Arent Fox LLP.
The case is Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts v. The Barns of Rose Hill Inc., 1:11-cv-01352-CMYH -JFA, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).
‘Nucking Futs’ Gets OK For Aussie Trademark Registration
Australia’s Trademarks Examiner reversed an earlier ruling and permitted the registration of the term “Nucking Futs” as a trademark, Agence France Presse reported.
Although the examiner initially found the mark inappropriate, lawyers for the company that wants to sell the product appealed, arguing the parodies for obscene words were such a normal aspect of everyday Australian speech that they couldn’t be considered offensive, according to AFP.
The lawyers characterized negative response to the application as “mere sentimental objection, or mere distaste” and said that wasn’t enough of a reason to reject the application, AFP reported.
The mark will be used for nuts to be sold only in nightclubs, pubs and other entertainment-oriented venues, lawyers said and AFP reported.
For more trademark news, click here.
Megaupload.com Charged in U.S. Criminal Copyright Conspiracy
Megaupload.com, a file-sharing website, and individuals and companies associated with it were accused of running an international criminal enterprise that caused more than $500 million in harm to copyright owners.
Charges against the seven individuals, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. were unsealed yesterday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, after four of the defendants were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand. Three of the suspects remain at large, according to a Justice Department statement.
“This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime,” according to the e-mailed statement.
Investigators executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight other countries and seized about $50 million in assets, the department said. Prosecutors allege the conspiracy generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds.
Megaupload is advertised as having more than 1 billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors and accounts for four percent of traffic on the Internet, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Kim Dotcom, 12-00003, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).
Google Says 7 Million Signed Petition Against Anti-Piracy Bills
Google Inc. said yesterday it collected more than 7 million signatures from the U.S. for its online petition to Congress during an Internet protest against anti-piracy legislation backed by Hollywood.
Visitors to Google, the world’s most popular search engine, were greeted Jan. 18 by a black box covering the company’s familiar icon, and a message that read “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the Web!”
Internet companies say the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate would promote online censorship, disrupt the Web’s architecture and harm their ability to innovate. The movie and music industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business-lobbying group, back the legislation as a means to fight piracy by websites that operate outside the U.S.
Websites are upending traditional lobbying in Washington, with the day of protest leading 13 lawmakers who co-sponsored the legislation to begin withdrawing support for the bills.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that shut the English language version of its website for 24 hours to protest the bills, said more than 162 million people saw the blackout page posted yesterday. More than 8 million U.S. readers looked up their elected representatives through the blackout page to protest the measures, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation Inc., which runs the Wikipedia site, said in a statement yesterday.
Thirteen U.S. lawmakers who co-sponsored the anti-piracy legislation, eight in the Senate and five House members, began withdrawing their support for the measures. The Senate has a procedural vote scheduled for Jan. 24 on proceeding with its bill, the Protect IP Act.
Co-sponsors who say they can no longer support the Senate legislation as written include Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Boozman of Arkansas, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire as well as Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Jan. 18 he couldn’t support the bill moving forward next week.
Republican Representatives Ben Quayle of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Dennis Ross of Florida and Democratic Representative Tim Holden of Pennsylvania said they would stop backing the House measure.
The House bill is H.R. 3261 and the Senate bill is S. 968.
For copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Treasury Code Stolen by New York Fed Programmer, U.S. Says
U.S. Treasury Department software used to track federal collections and payments was stolen by a government contractor’s employee who worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, federal prosecutors said.
Bo Zhang, 32, who worked for an unidentified technology company, was a computer programmer assigned to work on source code at the New York Fed from May until August, the U.S. said in a criminal complaint against him that was unsealed Jan. 18 in federal court in Manhattan. Zhang is a Chinese citizen, said a person with knowledge of the matter who didn’t want to be identified because the information wasn’t public.
Zhang has been in the U.S. on a work visa since 2000, said another person familiar with the matter who also didn’t want to be identified because the information isn’t public. Zhang worked previously at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp., the person said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott agreed yesterday to release Zhang on a $200,000 bond secured by a condominium located in the Flushing, Queens, section of New York City. Cott ordered that he surrender all of his travel documents and restricted his movements to parts of New York and to New Jersey, where Zhang’s lawyer said his client works.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said he hadn’t heard about the charges and declined to comment, when asked about the case at a regular briefing for reporters in Beijing today.
After court yesterday, Zhang’s lawyer, Joseph Grob, declined to comment on the charges or whether his client is a citizen of China or a naturalized U.S. citizen.
After being questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Aug. 11, Zhang admitted he stole the proprietary software code belonging to the Treasury in July, according to the criminal complaint.
Zhang told FBI agents that he copied the code onto the hard drive of a computer in his office at the Federal Reserve and then copied it to an external hard drive.
Zhang told the FBI that he knew it was wrong to take the GWA source code, according to court filings.
“He asserted that he took it for private use and in order to ensure that it was available to him in the event that he lost his job” with the New York Fed, prosecutors said.
The New York Fed detected the breach through its established security procedures and referred it to law enforcement officials, Jack Gutt, a spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement.
The case is U.S. v. Zhang, 12-mag-00108, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Teva’s Cephalon Unit Sued for Trade Secret Misappropriation
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Cephalon unit was sued for misappropriation of intellectual property by a Canadian drug-development company.
The suit, filed Jan. 17 in federal court in Philadelphia, is related to Treanda, an injectable drug used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Supratek Pharma Inc. of Montreal claims it discovered a way to make the chemotherapy agent bendamustine stable in solution and to enhance its effectiveness. Bendamustine is marketed as Treanda by Cephalon, which was acquired by Teva in October.
The Canadian company claims it has a confidentiality agreement with Cephalon under which it made disclosures about the compound it was developing. Although it gave Cephalon an exclusive license to the compound, the Canadian company said it didn’t give Cephalon ownership.
Supratek accused Cephalon of secretly filing a patent application on the compound to which it had a license. This places “a dark cloud” over the Canadian company’s technology, and was a breach of the licensing agreement, Supratek claimed.
It asked the court to order Cephalon to assign to Supratek all patents and patent applications covering all or any part of the composition at issue. Additionally, it seeks the return of its confidential information, and an order voiding any rights Cephalon may have licensed to a third party with regard to the bendamustine composition.
Supratek also asked for money damages and the transfer of Cephalon’s entire drug development program related to bendamustine, or the award of license fees and a premium royalty, in addition to attorney fees and litigation costs.
Teva had no comment on the suit, company spokeswoman Denise Bradley said in an e-mail.
The Canadian company is represented by David W. Marston and David E. De Lorenzi of Gibbons PC of Newark, New Jersey.
The case is Supratek Pharma Inc. v. Cephalon Inc., 2:12- cv-00261-EL, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
--With the assistance of Patricia Hurtado in New York, Tom Schoenberg in Washington, Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Aoife White in Brussels, Eric Engleman in Washington. Editors: Mary Romano, Peter Blumberg
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