Bloomberg News

Samsung, Servier, NFL, Haig, Zynga: Intellectual Property

January 31, 2012

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

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. lost a patent ruling in Germany in a mobile technology case brought against Apple Inc., a week after judges rejected a similar bid by the Suwon, South Korea-based company against the iPad maker.

The Regional Court in Mannheim rejected the suit Jan. 27, Joachim Bock, a spokesman for the tribunal, said in an interview. Samsung said the ruling only relates to one of several patents asserted and doesn’t indicate whether the court may find Apple infringed other Samsung rights in Germany.

“We are disappointed that the court did not share our views regarding the infringement by Apple of this specific patent,” Samsung said in an e-mailed statement. “We will wait for the written grounds of today’s judgment, and after thorough review make a decision about a possible appeal.”

Germany has become a key venue for the lawsuits between Apple and Samsung over mobile technologies and designs since the iPhone maker last year accused its South Korean rival of copying products. Both litigants are awaiting a Dusseldorf appeals court decision next week over the design of Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet 10.1. The Jan. 27 case addressed 3 telecommunications standards.

Apple had no specific comment on the ruling, said Alan Hely, a spokesman for the company, referring to an April statement that it has to defend against Samsung’s “blatant copying.”

EU Ends Probe Into Servier Over Misleading Medicines Inquiry

European Union regulators dropped an antitrust probe into Les Laboratoires Servier for hampering an investigation into potential antitrust violations by companies seeking to keep cheaper generic medicine out of the EU market.

Servier, France’s second-largest drugmaker, was accused in 2010 of providing “misleading and incorrect” information during a probe into the pharmaceutical industry over possible delays to generic versions of patented medicines.

The European Commission closed the case because Servier’s arguments “would require significant further investigation” and would “instead focus” on competition concerns raised by “a number of pending cases, including one involving Servier,” according to a Jan. 27 e-mailed statement.

The Brussels-based antitrust agency started a probe of the pharmaceutical industry in January 2008. In a report in 2009, it found that companies use a variety of techniques to delay the introduction of generics “for as long as possible.”

This decision “confirms Servier’s position and contradicts the allegations of dissimulation that were made against the group at the time,” said Lucy Vincent, a spokeswoman for the Neuilly-sur-Seine, France-based company in a telephone interview Jan. 27.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Customs Confiscates More than 10,000 Fake NLF Jerseys in L.A.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers have seized more than 10,000 fake National Football League jerseys at the Los Angeles International Airport since September, the customs service said in a statement.

The fake goods have come in at air cargo consignment locations, according to the statement. The estimated retail value of the seized merchandise is $847,000, mainly jerseys that “typically look similar to brand name goods but are cheaper and of poorer quality,” Todd C. Owen, who heads Customs’ field operations in Los Angeles, said in the statement.

Seizures of the fake sports gear were part of 27,792 such confiscations of infringing products in the 2011 fiscal year, Customs said, a 24 percent increase of the 19,9549 seizures performed the previous year.

Carroll Shelby Settles Trademark Case With Washington Car Dealer

Carroll Shelby Inc.’s Carroll Shelby Licensing unit has settled a trademark dispute with a Washington State care dealer.

The Gardena, California-based race car company sued Shelby Supercars LLC of Richmond, Washington, in federal court in Los Angeles in August, objecting to the unauthorized use of the Shelby name.

The car dealer agreed to change its name to SSC North America, according to a statement issued by Carroll Shelby Inc. Parties on both sides also are publicly disavowing any connection between the two entities, according to the statement.

The settlement document was filed with the court Jan. 25. Neither the company statement nor the court filing reveals further details of the settlement.

The case is Carroll Shelby Licensing Inc., v. Shelby Supercars LLC, 2:11-cv-07136-CAS-AJW, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Adult Filmmaker’s Lawyer Must Pay Attorney Fees, Sanctions

A lawyer for a German maker of adult films was ordered to pay defendants’ attorney fees of $22,000 and must pay the court $500 for each day it fails to comply with the order, beginning tomorrow.

Mick Haig Productions E.K., the producer of “Der Gute Onkel,” sued 670 unnamed defendants for copyright infringement in federal court in Dallas on Sept. 21.

The defendants were accused of infringing the film’s copyright by sharing content without authorization through the use of the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol.

The film company is represented by Evan Stone of Denton, Texas.

Stone was hit with sanctions in September for issuing subpoenas to some of the alleged defendants without permission from the court. He was also ordered to pay attorney fees for three lawyers the court appointed to represent the defendants.

In the Jan. 24 order, U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey said Stone’s argument seeking to postpone the sanctions order “holds no water” and that the defendants’ request for sanctions stemmed from “abuse” the lawyer’s abuse of the discovery process.

The public interest also weighed against granting Stone a stay of the order, Godbey said.

“By his conduct, Stone egregiously overstepped his boundaries” and invaded the unnamed defendants’ privacy without the court’s authorization, he wrote.

The judge said the public “has an interest in being free from unlawful invasions of privacy by a rogue attorney.”

The case is Mick Haig Productions E.K. v. Does 1-670, 3:10- cv-01900-N, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

NimbleBit Uses ‘Thank-You Note’ to Chide Zynga for New Game

NimbleBit LLC, maker of the “Pocket Frogs” game for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, made a novel complaint to Zynga Inc. about the San Francisco-based games company’s new “Dream Heights” game.

The app company posted what it called a thank-you note to Zynga that says, “We notice you are about to launch a new iPhone game called Dream Heights. Congratulations.”

The note includes side-by-side screen shots from the “Dream Heights” and NimbleBit’s “Tiny Tower” games, pointing up their similarities, with the message, “We wanted to thank you guys for being such big fans of our iPhone game of the year Tiny Tower!”

NimbleBit closed the note by saying “Good luck with your game. We are looking forward to inspiring you with our future games.” The note was addressed to “Zynga (all 2789 of you)” from “(all 3 of us).”

Zynga didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail seeking comment.

China ‘Not Playing by Global Rules,’ Says U.S. State Department

China “is not playing by global rules” on issues such as intellectual property rights, said Robert Hormats, the U.S. State Department’s undersecretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs.

Illegal copying of software and other intellectual property must be dealt with “in a robust way,” Hormats said Jan. 27 in a radio interview from Davos, Switzerland, on “Bloomberg -- The First Word” with Tom Keene.

For copyright news, click here.

IP Moves

Winston & Strawn Hires Ex-Dickstein Intellectual-Property Partner

Winston & Strawn LLP, a Chicago-based law firm with more than 900 attorneys, hired intellectual-property lawyer Michael J. Scheer, a former partner at Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

Scheer, who specializes in patent portfolio development, will work out of the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices, where he will join the global intellectual property litigation group, the firm said Jan. 27 in a statement.

“Michael’s well-known transactional and litigation experience on complex matters is a great addition to our growing international IP team,” said Michael S. Elkin, managing partner of the firm’s New York office.

Winston, ranked by the trade magazine American Lawyer in 2010 as the 34th-highest-grossing law firm with more than $717 million in revenue, has expanded its IP litigation practice in the past months, the firm said. In October, Winston hired IP litigators Alfred Fabricant and Lawrence Drucker, also formerly of Washington-based Dickstein Shapiro.

--With assistance from Aoife White in Brussels; Karin Matussek in Berlin; and Ian Thomas and John Tucker in New York. Editors: Fred Strasser, Glenn Holdcraft.

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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