(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Update with Montblanc item in Trademark section.)
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. were among the companies that won a jury trial that challenged the validity of a Texas company’s patents on ways to make the Internet more interactive.
A federal jury in Tyler, Texas, said patents 5,838,906 and 7,599,985 owned by Tyler’s Eolas Technologies Inc. are invalid. Adobe Systems Inc., CDW Corp., JCPenney Co., Staples Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Google’s YouTube unit were also challenging the patents.
Eolas and the University of California, which co-owns the patents because they stem from work by Eolas founder Michael Doyle, a former university researcher, claimed some basic Internet features used their technology, including music clips, search features, maps, advertisements and embedded applications.
More than a dozen companies had been named in the 2009 lawsuit. Apple Inc., Citigroup Inc. EBay Inc. and Playboy Enterprises Inc. were among companies that settled before trial.
The case was to have been tried in phases, with the first looking at the validity of the two patents, and then subsequent trials on infringement and damages by groups of companies. Yesterday’s verdict eliminates the need for those later trials.
Testifying in the case were British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web, and Pei-Yuan Wei, who developed before Doyle an early web browser called Viola, according to Wired magazine.
Eolas, then based in the Chicago area, won a $521 million verdict against Microsoft Corp. in 2003, only to have it thrown out because the trial judge refused to let Microsoft present evidence about Viola to challenge the validity of Doyle’s first patent. The two sides settled the dispute in 2007.
The case is Eolas Technologies Inc., v. Adobe Systems Inc., 09cv446, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).
AstraZeneca Loses Battle to Bar Generic Forms of Crestor
AstraZeneca Plc lost a U.S. appeals court bid to protect its best-selling drug, Crestor, from generic competition until as late as 2021.
A judge was correct to dismiss AstraZeneca’s lawsuits against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and other generic- drug makers over patents on the cholesterol drug that expire in 2018 and 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said yesterday. The court is still considering the validity of the main patent on Crestor, which expires in 2016.
Crestor generated $6.6 billion in sales last year for London-based AstraZeneca, almost 20 percent of the company’s total revenue. The two patents cover methods of using the active ingredient rosuvastatin calcium for certain types of patients.
The generic-drug companies had sought approval to sell copycat versions only for treatments not covered by the patents. The appeals court ruled that, based on that pledge, AstraZeneca didn’t have the right to sue to block the competition.
AstraZeneca sued over the 2018 and 2021 patents after winning a ruling that upheld the validity of the 2016 patent, which covers the main compound of the drug. Arguments on the compound patent case were heard in October.
In addition to Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva, the world’s biggest generic-drug maker, the other companies sued include Apotex Inc., Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., Cobalt Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mylan Inc., Par Pharmaceutical Cos. and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
The case is AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP v. Apotex Corp., 2011-1182, -1183, -1184, 1185, -1186, -1187, -1188, -1189, and -1190, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP v. Apotex Corp., 10-338, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Nortel Networks Sues Unit to Keep Patent Documents Secret
Nortel Networks Inc., the bankrupt former maker of telephone equipment, sued its U.K. unit in an effort to keep documents related to the $4.5 billion sale of Nortel’s patents secret.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Wilmington, Delaware, ordered the unit, Nortel Networks UK Ltd., not to make public a group of documents for at least 14 days while the two units try to resolve their dispute about the information.
The unit is involved in a court action in the U.K. and wants to use the documents as part of that case.
“I have not yet seen the documents, but from the descriptions I have received, it appears that a large portion of them contain privileged information,” Gross said in court yesterday.
Last year, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. formed a joint venture called Rockstar Bidco LP and bought Nortel’s patents for $4.5 billion after outbidding Google Inc. in the biggest patent auction in history.
The bankruptcy case is Nortel Networks Inc., 09-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
For more patent news, click here.
Montblanc Sues Seeking Identity of Some Google Advertisers
Montblanc-Simplo GmbH, the German maker of luxury fountain pens, filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco to force Google Inc. to reveal identifying information about some of its advertisers.
Even after repeated complaints to Google, ads for counterfeit Montblanc pens keep popping up when the company’s trademark is used as a search term, according to the complaint filed Feb. 8. Some of the sites mimic the official Montblanc website in efforts to convince potential customers the fake goods are legitimate products, the company said.
Although Google has said it removed the offending ads and taken action against the advertisers, Hamburg, Germany-based Montblanc claims the ads continue to appear.
The German company said it seeks identifying information so it can name the advertisers as defendants in infringement litigation, either in the U.K. or elsewhere. Because the company doesn’t know the location of these advertisers, “it does not know yet who to sue,” according to the complaint.
In addition to the identity of the advertisers, Montblanc seeks financial information, including details of bank accounts or credit cards used for purchases of relevant words through Google’s AdWords program.
In addition to Mountain View, California-based Google, 100 unnamed defendants are listed on the complaint.
Montblanc is represented by Kathy H. Dong and Vijay K. Toke of San Rafael, California-based Hiaring & Smith LLP.
The case is Montblanc-Simplo v. Google Inc., 12-cv-626, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Olympic Committee Cactus Infringed Network’s, Israeli Court Says
The Israel Olympic Committee lost a trademark battle with Israel Educational television over the mascot it planned to use at the London Olympics, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Tel Aviv District Court found the Olympic committee’s Shpitzik prickly pear mascot infringed the television network’s Kishkashta singing cactus, barred its use and ordered the Olympic committee to pay the network’s litigation costs of 50,000 shekels ($13,500), according to the newspaper.
A judge of the court said the committee “took a well-known and well-recognized character” from a children’s program and made minor alterations so it could use it for its own purposes, the Post reported.
A spokeswoman for the Olympic committee said it was studying the verdict, according to the Post.
For more trademark news, click here.
For copyright news, click here.
Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Congress Lifts Trade Secret Restriction on Vintage Aircraft Data
A section of a recently passed bill relating to the Federal Aviation Administration removes trade-secret status from vintage aircraft drawings and grants access through a Freedom of Information Act to anyone who wants to examine or copy the drawings for non-commercial purposes, according to a statement from the Aviation Foundation of America.
The provision covers more than 1,000 different aircraft types built from 1927 through 1939, according to the statement.
The measure -- the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012 -- also mandated the preservation of design data for aircraft built during that period. The data originally was submitted to the government by aircraft manufacturers as part of the approval process for aircraft for public use.
The data includes technical blueprints, engineering analyses and test data.
China Won’t Force Technology Transfers, Commerce Minister Says
China won’t force foreign companies to transfer technology to ventures with their local partners in order to gain access to markets in the world’s second-largest economy, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said.
“The Chinese government is committed to the policy of reform and opening up and welcomes and encourages, as always, foreign investment,” Chen said in a written response to questions from Bloomberg News. “Technology transfer and technology cooperation shall be decided by businesses independently and will not be used by the Chinese government as a pre-condition for market access.”
The U.S. and other Chinese trading partners have increased criticism of the nation’s investment policies. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address last month that he will create a trade enforcement unit to investigate unfair trade practices in countries including China.
Restrictions and “interventionist policies” on issues such as intellectual property rights remain a concern for American companies operating in China, Claire Reade, the U.S. trade official in charge of China affairs, said in December testimony to Congress.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, visiting Beijing this week, said he spoke to Premier Wen Jiabao about specific cases where Canadian investments weren’t being approved.
In an English translation of his comments provided by the Ministry of Commerce, Chen said that China reviewed all its laws governing foreign trade and economic issues shortly after joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 and “revised those not conforming to WTO rules and its accession commitments.”
The commerce minister’s comments were made ahead of Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S. next week. Xi is seen by analysts including Chinese University of Hong Kong Adjunct Professor Willy Wo-Lap Lam as the likely successor to President Hu Jintao.
“As the financial crisis is spreading and worsening, all countries are faced with the task of promoting economic growth and creating more jobs,” Chen said. Stronger cooperation between the U.S. and China is in the fundamental interest of both nations, he said.
DLA Piper Hires Hogan Lovells’s Japan IP Expert, Stuart Lubitz
DLA Piper LLP hired Stuart Lubitz for its IP practice, the Chicago-based firm said in a statement.
Lubitz, who is joining from Washington’s Hogan Lovells LLP, does patent litigation and transactional work for clients in the semiconductor, computer, material science and telecommunications industries. He has represented Japanese companies including Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Minolta Co. and Kyocera Corp., and domestic technology companies.
In addition to his work with the law firm, Lubitz has practiced at Ford Motor Co., International Business Machines Corp., Ampex Corp. and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
He was the first westerner to be named a director of a large Japanese company and one of the few patent attorneys to serve on the board of a company listed with the New York Stock Exchange.
Lubitz has two undergraduate engineering degrees from the University of Florida and a law degree from George Washington University.
--With assistance from Steven Church in Wilmington, Susan Decker in Washington and John Liu in Beijing. Editors: Stephen Farr, David Glovin
To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at email@example.com