Bloomberg News

Lupin, Google, China Copyright: Intellectual Property

July 03, 2012

Lupin Ltd. (LPC) won an appeals court ruling yesterday that lets it continue selling a generic version of the Shionogi Pharma Inc. diabetes drug Fortamet.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Lupin had raised a substantial question of the validity of Shionogi’s patent 6,866,866, and overturned a lower court ruling that blocked sales while a patent-infringement case is pending.

The appeals court case is Sciele Pharma v. Lupin Ltd. 12- 01228, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Sciele Pharma Inc. v. Lupin, 1:09-cv-00037-RBK-JS, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Top Patent Area Silicon Valley Getting Its Own Satellite Office

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), Google Inc. (GOOG:US) and Intel Corp. (INTC:US) soon won’t have to travel across the U.S. to get patent protection on their latest inventions.

Silicon Valley, Dallas and Denver have been selected as the new homes for regional patent offices as part of an effort to cut down on a backlog of applications awaiting review, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said yesterday.

The agency, which is opening a satellite office in Detroit on July 13 and has declared a “critical need for electrical engineers,” is trying to hire more examiners to cut into the 640,000 applications awaiting a first review. By expanding beyond its Alexandria, Virginia, campus, the patent office is seeking to take advantage of a pool of engineers who understand technology and can work closer to where inventors are located.

The additional offices were authorized under an overhaul of the patent system signed into law last year. About 600 applications were submitted, and the selections were based on geographic diversity, economic impact, the local workforce and proximity to companies that are submitting applications.

“The single most important step we can take to support an economy built to last is to bring new inventions to market as quickly as possible,” said David Kappos, director of the Patent and Trademark Office.

The regional offices -- one for each time zone -- would become hubs with “a tangible impact on each city’s innovation economy,” he said.

The four offices also could develop their own expertise to reflect local communities -- Detroit for automotive, metallurgy and paints; Dallas for energy; Denver for aerospace; and Silicon Valley for electronics and biotechnology. Denver also was selected in part because it has a large number of veterans with advanced degrees, and President Barack Obama’s administration has a policy to hire more veterans, Kappos said.

The Silicon Valley area, which also includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, is the top recipient of patents, with more than 10,000 issued in 2010, agency figures show. The region comprising San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont adds another 6,290 patents, the third-most behind the New York and northern New Jersey region.

The Detroit office will add about 120 jobs to the region, and the plan is for at least one of the other offices to be online within two years, said Vikrum Aiyer, a spokesman for the patent office. Michigan residents received 3,964 patents in 2011, the sixth-highest.

The agency is hiring 1,500 examiners this fiscal year, to bring the total to 7,800 from 6,800 plus filling in for turnover.

AVT Gets Patent for Managing Vending Machines, Will Enforce It

AVT Inc. (AVTC:US), the Corona, California-based vending machine company, received a patent that covers the technology for remote control of multiple vending machines, and said it’s considering enforcing the patent against possible infringers, the Vending Times trade publication reported.

Patent 8,191,779, which was issued June 5, covers “any system that is managing multiple machines wirelessly via a control center,” AVT Chairman Shannon Illingworth told Vending Times.

AVT is in the process of sending out cease-and-desist letters to companies it thinks may be infringing the patent, according to Vending Times.

Illingworth said that it would prefer to license infringing companies because “the more operators out there with multiple machines using credit cards and being managed efficiently is good for all of us,” Vending Times reported.

Samsung Requests Stay of Nexus Sales Ban in Apple Lawsuit

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930)’s request to stay a court order barring sales of its Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the U.S. will be ruled on “shortly,” a federal judge said yesterday at a court hearing in San Jose, California.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh wasn’t more specific about when she’ll issue her ruling.

In granting the ban on Nexus sales, Koh ruled last week that although Samsung will be harmed by the order, “the harm faced by Apple absent an injunction is greater.” That decision followed Koh’s June 26 order blocking U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 computer.

The world’s two biggest makers of high-end phones have accused each other of copying designs and technology for mobile devices and are fighting patent battles on four continents to retain their dominance in the $219 billion global smartphone market.

William Price, a lawyer for Samsung, told Koh in court yesterday that Nexus sales represent 0.5 percent of the smartphone market, and that the balance of hardships Koh must weigh in deciding whether to stay her injunction tips in favor of Samsung.

Under the injunction, “every sale to us is a lost sale,” Price said. “Every sale of that phone in the market is not a lost sale to Apple -- there’s no evidence of that. It impacts us much more.”

Josh Krevitt, a lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, told Koh that there is “loads” of evidence proving Apple is suffering direct harm from Nexus sales. In Samsung documents shared in an exchange of pretrial evidence gathering, the company shows the Nexus is “designed to take sales from the iPhone,” Krevitt said.

Samsung accounts for 29.1 percent of global shipments of smartphones, according to market research firm IDC. Apple is second with 24.2 percent, IDC said.

Outside courtroom battles, Samsung and Apple have a close business relationship. Samsung is one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, making parts including semiconductors and screens. About 7.6 percent of Samsung’s revenue comes from Apple, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 12- cv-00630, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The tablet case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-1846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Google Outlines Proposals to EU to End Antitrust Probe

Google Inc. outlined proposals to European Union regulators in an effort to end an antitrust investigation into allegations that the operator of the world’s largest search engine discriminates against rivals.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt sent EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia a letter responding to the probe, the EU said in a statement. The settlement offer addresses the “four areas the European Commission described” as potential concerns, Google spokesman Al Verney said in a separate e-mail. Details of the proposals weren’t disclosed.

Almunia in May asked Google to make an offer to settle concerns it promotes its own specialist search services, copies rivals’ travel and restaurant reviews, and that agreements with websites and software developers stifle competition in the advertising industry. He said last month he would send Google an antitrust complaint, that could lead to a fine or limits on conduct, if the proposal was unsatisfactory.

“Three of the four areas are relatively easy to address,” Greg Sterling, a senior analyst at Opus Research, said in a statement. “The ‘concern’ about placement of ‘Google content’ in search results is more problematic given that it goes to the heart of Google’s ability to control its search experience and algorithm.”

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is under increasing pressure from global regulators probing whether the company is thwarting competition in the market for Web searches. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and antitrust agencies in Argentina and South Korea are also scrutinizing the company.

In 2010, regulators began investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting competitors’ ads.

While Microsoft Inc. and partner Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US) have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post last year, citing data from regulators.

Microsoft, maker of the Bing search engine, Foundem, a U.K. shopping website, and other companies filed complaints with the EU that triggered the probe.

“We hope the proposals reflect a greater willingness to end Google’s anti-competitive behavior than has its consistent rejection of the concerns that Mr. Almunia identified after collecting evidence for nearly two years,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer for the FairSearch Coalition, a group that represents Microsoft, Expedia Inc. (EXPE:US) and Foundem.

Riverina Citrus Marks May Be Acquired by Commercial Entity

Although New South Wales’ regional citrus growers’ body is in the process of liquidation, some commercial entities have expressed interest in acquiring the Riverina Citrus trademarks, Australia Broadcast Corp. reports.

The State Primary Industries Minister will have the power to decide what happens to the marks that had belonged to the group that produces 30 percent of Australia’s citrus, according to ABC.

A liquidator handling the Riverina Citrus windup told ABC the growers’ group’s IP “has created a little bit of interest out there in the market as to whether it is available for purchase.”

Sustainable Palm Oil Group Seeks Wider Adaption of Trademark

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is seeking to expand the adoption of its trademark beyond the 61 licenses already issued to 13 countries, the Borneo Post reported.

Those who use the mark certify that oil palm cultivation doesn’t damage the tropical forests from which it is harvested or the people who live in those regions, according to the Borneo Post.

The growing demand for palm oil, which is used in a wide range of products including cosmetics, soap, margarine, cookies and chocolate and, potentially, biofuels, has created risks to habitat protection, according to the Borneo Post.

Darrel Webber, secretary general of the roundtable, said the use of the trademark brings an awareness of the environmental issues to consumers and can boost the demand for the certified product, the Borneo Post reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

China Copyright Center Expands Offerings, Licenses Staged Works.

The Beijing International Copyright Trade Center has expanded to provide copyright licensing and protection for staged performances, the AsiaOne website reported.

While Chinese older performers didn’t worry about the protection of their work, younger performers have expressed “irritation and frustration” when seeing their work copied without authorization, according to AsiaOne.

The trade center lists plays on its website that are available for licensing, as well as casts of performers and crews, Asia One reported.

Directors of various Chinese performing arts groups told AsiaOne they are now encouraging their members to seek copyright protection for their work.

For more 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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