Bloomberg News

Spider-Man, Pfizer-Sanofi, Apple: Intellectual Property

February 21, 2012

(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics.) (Updates Apple item in Trademark section and adds EU court ruling on unauthorized use of files in Copyright.)

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” said they will pay full royalties to the show’s former director, Julie Taymor, three months after she sued for back pay.

The announcement is part of a settlement with the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the union which filed an arbitration on Taymor’s behalf. Producers of the $75 million musical continue to battle in a separate copyright lawsuit in federal court over Taymor’s role in writing the book of the musical and whether she’s owed money.

Laura Penn, executive director of the society, said she’s hopeful there will be a settlement.

“Julie should be making great theater and not in litigation,” she said in a telephone interview.

Penn declined to disclose the total royalties owed. Taymor wasn’t available for comment, said a spokesman, Chris Kanarick.

Taymor sued producers in November, claiming that they refused to pay royalties guaranteed by her contract and violated her intellectual-property rights by changing the show without her permission. As the co-writer, she said she worked on the script for more than seven years. Producers countersued last month in federal court in Manhattan.

The show formally opened on June 14 after 182 previews. Last week, its eight performances grossed $1.4 million, behind only “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon,” according to the Broadway League, a trade group,

The remaining copyright case is Julie Taymor v. 8 Legged Productions LLC, 1:11-cv-08002-RJH, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Copyright

EU Court Won’t Require Filter System for Social-Networking Site

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled yesterday that social-networking sites cannot be forced to install filtering systems to protect against the unauthorized sharing of files.

The case involved SABAM, a Belgian company that represents authors, composers and publishers of musical works and authorizes the use of those works by third parties. Netlog NV is a social-networking company that, according to SABAM, allows the unauthorized sharing of music and videos.

While the court recognized the importance of protecting intellectual property rights, imposing a filtering system would improperly require social-networking sites “to actively monitor almost all the data relating to all of its service users in order to prevent any future infringement of intellectual property rights,” according to the decision.

“It follows that an injunction would require the hosting service provider to carry out general monitoring,” which is prohibited by EU law, the court found.

The court also held that “such an injunction would result in a serious infringement of the freedom of the hosting service provider to conduct its business” and said that such a system would impinge on users’ right to “protection of their personal data and their freedom to receive or impart information.”

The case is Belgische Vereniging van Auteurs, Componisten en Uitgevers(SABAM) v Netlog NV, C-360/10.

For more copyright news, click here.

Patent

Pfizer, Mylan Settle With Sanofi Over Allergic-Reaction Device

Mylan Inc. and a unit of Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, settled patent litigation with France’s Sanofi over a device used to treat severe allergic reactions.

Sanofi may start selling the device, the Intelliject epinephrine e-cue auto injector, beginning Nov. 15, according to the settlement with Pfizer’s Meridian Medical Technologies, Mylan and Pfizer said in a statement yesterday. The sales are contingent upon final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We are pleased with this settlement,” said Mylan Chief Executive Officer Heather Bresch. “In addition to our significant efforts in this area, people with life-threatening allergic reactions will benefit from more voices in the fight” against such reactions.

The initial lawsuit was filed in January 2011 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, by Meridian, which makes the EpiPen, alleging the Intelliject product would infringe a U.S. patent. Further terms of the settlement weren’t released.

Mylan is based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and Pfizer is based in New York.

The case is King Pharmaceuticals v. Intelliject Inc., 11CV65, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). To see the patent, click: 7,794,432

Intellectual Ventures Sues AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile

Intellectual Ventures, the firm controlled by former Microsoft Corp. Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, sued AT&T Inc.’s AT&T Mobility division, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T- Mobile USA Inc. for infringement of 15 patents.

Closely held Intellectual Ventures, founded by Myhrvold after he left Microsoft in 2000, owns more than 35,000 patents and has earned more than $2 billion in licensing fees, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. The suit is the company’s eighth against several high- tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co., Canon Inc. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman; Anna Friedges, a T-Mobile spokeswoman; and Stephanie Vinge-Walsh, a spokeswoman at Sprint Nextel, all declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Melissa Finocchio, Intellectual Ventures’ chief litigation counsel, said in a statement on the company’s website that it “previously attempted to discuss licensing options with each of these companies, but none were responsive.”

Verizon Wireless wasn’t sued because it is already a licensee of the firm’s patents, said Naomi Zeitlin, a spokeswoman for the Bellevue, Washington-based Intellectual Ventures. She declined to say whether Verizon licensed the specific patents at issue in the lawsuit.

Myhrvold is a columnist for Bloomberg View, which is owned by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

The case is Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Apple Gets Partial Win Against Motorola Mobility in Germany

Apple Inc. won a partial victory in a patent case against Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. over mobile-device technology in Germany.

The Munich Regional Court granted an injunction against Motorola Mobility mobile phones that use methods for unlocking touch screens protected by a European patent owned by Apple, company spokesman Alan Hely said in an e-mailed statement.

Part of Apple’s case was dismissed, said Marcus Grosch, Motorola Mobility’s German lawyer. The court ruled that Motorola Mobility Xoom tablets don’t violate Apple’s patent, he said.

Yesterday’s ruling is Apple’s first win in Germany after Motorola Mobility won two out of three rulings in suits it filed against Apple in a Mannheim court. The world’s most valuable technology company was forced to briefly remove some older iPhone and iPad models from its online store in Germany earlier this month when Motorola Mobility sought to enforce its first win from December.

Motorola Mobility “has implemented a new design for the feature,” the company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “Therefore, we expect no impact on current supply or future sales.”

European and U.S. antitrust regulators this week approved Google Inc.’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. The deal arms Google with patents to protect its Android operating system, used by smartphones and tablets from companies including Motorola Mobility that compete with Apple’s products. The regulators warned they will continue to watch how the companies use patents in litigation.

The Munich case centered on Apple’s European patent EP1964022B1, which protects a method for unlocking a device in which the user swipes his finger across an image.

The case is LG Muenchen, 7 O 11395/11, 7 O 19692/11.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Apple Wins Hong Kong Ruling, Aiding China IPad Trademark Fight

Apple Inc. can use some documents filed previously by Proview International Holdings Ltd. in the Hong Kong courts, aiding the iPad maker’s efforts in a trademark dispute over the tablet computer’s name in China.

Apple’s application to use four documents filed by Proview in a case that started in 2010 was granted by Master A. Ho in a hearing today. Ho rejected another application by Apple to use documents submitted in the future by Proview, saying he couldn’t issue such a “blanket” order.

A lawyer representing Apple said the company wants the documents as it prepares to appeal a November ruling by a Chinese court that Proview’s Shenzhen subsidiary owns the iPad trademark in the nation. Since that ruling by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, Proview asked China’s customs bureau to stop imports and exports of the iPad, and asked local retailers to stop selling the device.

The lawyer for Apple told the court that the documents sought by the Cupertino, California-based company contained details of correspondence between Proview officials. The lawyer wasn’t required to identify herself during the hearing and declined to give her name when approached by Bloomberg News.

Apple was represented by the law firm Baker & McKenzie at the hearing, according to Hong Kong court information. Proview wasn’t represented at today’s hearing.

Apple started litigation against Proview over the iPad trademark in Hong Kong and China in 2010. In June 2011, a Hong Kong court granted Apple’s application for an injunction preventing Proview from selling the iPad trademark to others.

Apple said this week it acquired Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 countries, including China. Proview is refusing to honor an agreement with Apple in China, Apple said.

Roger Xie, a lawyer for Proview at the Grandall Law Firm in Shenzhen, didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment. The Higher People’s Court of Guangdong will hear Apple’s appeal on Feb. 29.

For more trademark news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

UBS Claims Two Ex-Advisers Took Customer Data to Wells Fargo

A UBS AG brokerage unit sued two former financial advisers in Chicago, claiming they took confidential trade secret information including customer account data to competitor Wells Fargo Advisers LLC.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit filed Feb. 15 by UBS Financial Services Inc. are David Kinnear and Kathleen Bakas, who allegedly resigned two days earlier to join the Wells Fargo & Co. unit. One full-time and one part-time UBS employee, all part of Kinnear’s wealth-management group, went with them, according to the complaint.

“Led by Kinnear, the team serviced accounts that generated more than $3.7 million in revenues for UBS over the past 12 months of the defendants’ employment,” UBS alleged.

The New York-based brokerage unit of Zurich-based UBS seeks a court order blocking the defendants and any Wells Fargo representative from soliciting any UBS client Kinnear or Bakas had advised while there, preventing the disclosure of any proprietary UBS information and directing its return.

UBS also seeks expedited arbitration of its claims through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which isn’t a party to the suit, couldn’t immediately comment on the case. Kinnear and Bakas didn’t immediately respond to e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is UBS Financial Services Inc. v. Kinnear, 12CH05333, Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court, Chancery Division (Chicago).

MacAndrews & Forbes, Drapkin Reach Post-Verdict Settlement

Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. and Donald Drapkin settled their remaining claims against each other after Perelman’s ex-lieutenant won $16 million at a trial in January.

“All disputes between Donald Drapkin and MacAndrews & Forbes are resolved,” David Dunn, a lawyer for Drapkin, said in a telephone interview. The terms of the agreement are confidential, he said.

The two sides filed papers in Manhattan federal court yesterday dismissing the case.

A jury deliberated for 90 minutes last month before returning a verdict for Drapkin in his breach-of-contract suit against MacAndrews & Forbes, which he left in 2007. The agreement means the court won’t consider any remaining disputes between the parties, including Drapkin’s claim for attorneys’ fees and MacAndrews & Forbes’s planned request to have the verdict thrown out.

Steven Kobre, a lawyer for MacAndrews & Forbes, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the settlement. MacAndrews & Forbes had also claimed that Drapkin tried to induce another employee to leave and had failed to turn over company documents. Drapkin had denied those charges.

The cases are Drapkin v. Mafco Consolidated Group, 09- cv-1285, and MacAndrews & Forbes LLC v. Drapkin, 09-cv-4513, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--With assistance from Andrew Harris in Chicago; Philip Boroff, David Glovin and Bob Van Voris in New York; Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware; Mark Lee in Hong Kong and Karin Matussek in Berlin. Editors: Mary Romano, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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