Bloomberg News

Kimberly-Clark, Denizbank, Apple, Puzo: Intellectual Property

March 15, 2012

March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s Kimberly- Clark Worldwide unit sued a Swedish producer of medical supplies for patent infringement.

The suit accused Naty AB of infringing patent 5,496,298, which covers parts of a disposable diaper.

Diaper patents have a long and contentious history. In 1992, Kimberly-Clark settled a seven-year diaper patent dispute with Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) related to the two companies’ Huggies and Pampers disposable diapers that generated millions of dollars in legal fees for each company. In 2002, Procter & Gamble and Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY) settled a two-year diaper patent battle.

In 2008 LG Household & Health Care Ltd. (051900) of South Korea won an eight-year, 59 billion won ($63 million) lawsuit lodged by Kimberly-Clark Corp. alleging LG and affiliates had infringed on patents on disposable diapers.

In the newest suit, Kimberly-Clark claims Naty’s “Nature Babycare” diapers infringe at least three elements of the patent. The diapers are sold in the U.S. through online outlets including diapers.com and betterbabybums.com, according to the complaint filed March 13 in federal court in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Naty diapers are marketed as an “Eco” product that is chlorine-free and keeps oil-based plastics away from the baby’s skin.

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark says it’s been harmed by the alleged infringement and asked the court for awards of money damages and litigation costs. Additionally, it seeks an order barring future infringement of the patent.

Naty didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

Kimberly-Clark is represented by Daniel T. Flaherty and Anthony S. Baish of Milwaukee’s Godfrey & Kahn SC (1470L).

The case is Kimberly Clark Worldwide Inc. v. Naty AB, 1:12- cv-00241, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Green Bay).

Forest Sues Torrent, Watson, Glenmark Over Bystolic Generic

Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX) sued Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (WPI), Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (GNP) and two other drugmakers claiming they seek to sell a generic version of the hypertension pill Bystolic before a U.S. patent expires.

Forest, based in New York, is the exclusive licensee for the patent issued to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Janssen Pharmaceutica in 2003. The generic drugmakers filed for permission to sell versions of the drug’s 2.5-milligram, 5-milligram, 10-milligram and 20-milligram capsules, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Bystolic, a once-daily treatment, contains nebivolol hydrochloride and is used for the treatment of high blood pressure. The drug was introduced in the U.S. in 2008.

Glenmark “believes it is the first company to have filed a substantially complete” application with the FDA to sell a generic version of the drug, the Mumbai-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. subsidiary of Ahmedabad, India-based Torrent declined to comment on the case. Charlie Mayr, a spokesman for Parsippany, New Jersey-based Watson, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The case is Forest Laboratories Inc. v. Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (TRP), 12-00305, U.S. District Court District, of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Turkish Units of Dexia, NBG Fight Similarly Named Porn Websites

Denizbank AS (DENIZ), the Turkish lender unit of Dexia SA (DEXB), and Finansbank AS (FINBN), owned by National Bank of Greece SA, filed complaints at the World Intellectual Property Organization to stop websites with pornographic content that have similar names.

The two lenders asked the Geneva-based organization, a United Nations agency, to remove the websites that start with their names and have “.xxx” domains, according to the WIPO’s website.

The complaints were first reported by FinansGundem.com, a Turkish news portal. Denizbank’s website is www.denizbank.com and that of Finansbank is www.finansbank.com.tr.

The .xxx domain was approved for use last year. While the extension isn’t mandated for pornographic content, companies in the adult industry got priority in claiming addresses.

Apple Asks Hong Kong Court to Continue IPad Case Against Proview

Apple Inc. (AAPL), fighting over the rights to the iPad name in China, asked a Hong Kong court to continue a parallel case against Proview International Holdings Ltd. (334), which says it owns the trademark.

“Their application was about testimony they wanted to exclude,” Sun Min, a director of Proview International, said after a pre-trial hearing in the High Court yesterday. Sun didn’t comment on the content of the testimony after telling the court that Proview, a failed Hong Kong-listed display maker, opposes Apple’s request.

Apple is awaiting a ruling by a court in Guangdong province, China, on whether it or Proview owns the rights to the iPad trademarks in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. The Cupertino, California-based company also filed a lawsuit in Hong Kong against Proview founder Rowell Yang and his companies for conspiring to breach their sale agreement.

A Hong Kong court in July issued an order preventing Proview from selling the trademarks.

The world’s most-valuable technology company started litigation in 2010 against Proview, the same year it introduced the iPad tablet. It lost the case last year in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where a court ruled that Apple hadn’t properly acquired the trademarks because the Proview entity that owned them wasn’t involved in the sale agreement.

On Feb. 29, the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong heard Apple’s appeal. A ruling is expected within three months.

Proview has asked China customs authorities to block imports and exports of the tablet computer. Roger Xie, Proview’s lawyer, has said Proview also filed requests to retailers to halt iPad sales.

Apple will sell the newest version of its iPad, featuring a higher-resolution display and a faster processor, beginning March 16. The product is the second-biggest revenue contributor for the company.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Australia Leagues Challenge Singtel Sport Rebroadcast Ruling

The Australian Football League, which governs the most popular spectator sport in the country, and the National Rugby League are waging a court battle to protect broadcasting rights valued at more than a billion dollars.

The two sports organizations asked a federal appeals court in Sydney yesterday to overturn a judge’s ruling that cleared the way for Singtel Optus Ltd. (CWO) to show sporting events over mobile devices with only a slight delay and without having to pay for broadcast rights. Optus calls the service “TV Now.”

The AFL signed a five-year, A$1.25 billion ($1.3 billion) agreement last year with Seven West Media Ltd. (SWM)’s Seven Network, Foxtel, Australia’s biggest pay television operator, and Telstra Corp. for exclusive broadcast rights to its games. The NRL is in talks with broadcasters on a new deal that would run from 2013 to 2017. Both agreements are at risk of dilution, as are those for this year’s London Olympic Games, if the rebroadcasts are allowed and other operators adopt similar technologies.

TV Now, which Optus started in July last year, allows the phone company’s customers in Australia’s mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to record free-to-air television programs, including AFL and NRL games, and play them back on computers, Apple Inc. iPads, and most 3G mobile devices.

Optus, the Australian unit of Southeast Asia’s biggest phone company Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (ST), picks up free- to-air TV digital transmissions of 15 signals, including the free-to-air networks of Channel 7, Channel 9 and Channel 10. Those broadcasts are converted into four types of video files, such as QuickTime for playback on Apple devices, which are stored on the company’s servers, effectively cloud storage.

Optus customers can record selected programming, which is streamed to their devices. The company offers 45 minutes of recording time for free and as much as 20 hours for A$9.99 a month. The recorded shows can be viewed within two minutes of their airing on Apple devices.

Federal Court Judge Steven Rares last month rejected the argument, ruling the user of the phone, computer or tablet made the recording, much as people used to do with video cassette recorders or with digital video recorders.

The case is National Rugby League Investments Ltd. v. SingTel Optus Ltd. NSD201/2012 Federal Court of Australia, Full Court (Sydney).

‘Godfather’ Author’s Son Files Counterclaim Against Paramount

Paramount Pictures Corp.’s interpretation of a 1969 agreement with “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo is costing his estate more than $10 million, the novelist’s son and estate executor said in court papers.

Paramount, a unit of New York-based Viacom Inc. (VIA), sued Anthony Puzo last month to prevent the publication of a new sequel to his father’s novel, “The Godfather,” which it says wasn’t authorized. Anthony Puzo countersued Paramount, claiming the movie studio interfered with a publishing contract and breached its 1969 copyright agreement with his father.

Paramount sued “to disregard its contractual promises to Mario Puzo,” Anthony Puzo said in a March 12 filing in Manhattan federal court. He asked a judge to terminate Paramount’s rights under the agreement and award additional unspecified punitive damages.

“Paramount has tremendous respect and admiration for Mario Puzo and his legacy,” the studio said in an e-mailed statement. “We are only seeking to adhere to the terms of the deal that were agreed upon by Mr. Puzo himself.”

The proposed sequel would be the third. Paramount claimed in its complaint that after Puzo’s death in 1999, it agreed to let Bertelsmann AG (BTG)’s Random House unit publish a single sequel, “The Godfather Returns,” in 2004. The estate published another novel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” in 2006 without Paramount’s approval, the film studio said in its complaint.

Anthony Puzo argued that the contract between Paramount and his father excluded book publishing rights.

The first film based on the original novel, a family saga about New York gangsters, was released in 1972 and won Academy Awards for best picture, actor and adapted screenplay. Puzo shared credit for the screenplay. Francis Ford Coppola directed the three “Godfather” movies.

The case is Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Puzo, 12-cv-1268, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For copyright news, click here.

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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