Bloomberg News

Akamai, Apple, Disney, DuPont: Intellectual Property

September 04, 2012

Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM:US)’s patent claims over online content delivery networks against Limelight Networks Inc. (LLNW:US) were revived by an appeals court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ordered a lower court to reconsider whether Limelight infringed the Akamai patent. In a related decision issued Aug. 31, the court reinstated claims McKesson Corp. (MCK:US) made against closely held Epic Systems Corp. on a patent for a method of communication between doctors and their patients.

The issue in both cases was whether a company can be liable for infringing patents when various parties carry out parts of an innovation. The ruling will affect disputes over software, financial systems and medical diagnostic testing.

The Federal Circuit, sitting with all active judges, heard the Akamai and McKesson cases on the same day.

The Akamai case initially focused on whether Limelight could be found liable for direct infringement when it didn’t use all the steps. Instead, the majority said it wouldn’t address that issue and ruled on whether Limelight could lose the case if it were found to have encouraged others to use the invention.

Circuit Judge Richard Linn, in his dissent, said the majority was extending patent law beyond what Congress and the Supreme Court have allowed when it comes to indirect infringement.

San Francisco-based McKesson sued Epic over its MyChart software program, which is sold to hospitals and medical groups. Health-care providers use the software to give patients a way to access their records as well as scheduling and treatment information.

A federal judge rejected McKesson’s infringement claim, saying that Epic didn’t perform all the steps covered by the patent, nor did it control others to perform all of the steps. McKesson’s patent 6,757,898 is for a method for a health-care provider and patient to communicate with each other automatically.

The case is Akamai Technologies v. Limelight Networks, 2009-1372, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Akamai Technologies v. Limelight Networks Inc., 06cv11109, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

The McKesson case is McKesson Technologies Inc. v. Epic Systems Corp., 2010-1291, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The lower court case is McKesson Information Solutions LLC v. Epic Systems Corp., 06cv2965, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

Apple Sued by Alcatel-Lucent Trust Over Video-Compression Patent

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) was sued by a trust associated with France’s Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALU) over accusations it infringed a patent for video-compression technology.

“Apple’s products, including but not limited to the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the ‘new iPad’ by virtue of the manner in which they encode video, infringe one or more claims” of the patent, Multimedia Patent Trust said in a complaint filed Aug. 29 in federal court in San Diego.

The trust seeks unspecified damages and a court order stopping the alleged infringement.

Alcatel-Lucent, based in Paris, set up the patent trust on Nov. 28, 2006, two days before Alcatel’s purchase of Lucent Technologies Inc. The trust previously sued Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US) and DirecTV (DTV:US), among other companies, over video-compression patents. Apple is also a defendant in a separate infringement case brought in 2010 by Multimedia Patent Trust in San Diego.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Multimedia Patent Trust v. Apple, 12-02135, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego.)

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Disney, DC Comics, Sanrio Sue Party-Entertainment Store

The Walt Disney Co. sued a Southern California provider of birthday-party entertainment for trademark and copyright infringement.

Co-plaintiffs with Disney are Tokyo’s Sanrio Co. (8136), which is famous for its Hello Kitty character, and Time Warner Inc.’s DC Comics unit. The suit, filed Aug. 27 in federal court in Los Angeles, claims Party Animals LLC of Marina Del Rey, California, infringes intellectual property associated with licensed characters belonging to the three companies.

Party Animals is accused of infringing by its distribution, sale or rental of character costumers and related merchandise. Among the characters claimed to be infringed are Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Pluto, Goofy, Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel.

The Party Animals website lists “look alike characters” that include a “Green Guy,” “Princess Aurora,” “Superheroes,” and a “Brown Dog.” According to a statement on the company’s website, “Look-a-like characters are not officially licensed. We do not use or have copyrighted or licensed material, costumes or names.”

The owners of the licensed characters say they are harmed by the actions of the party company, and asked for court orders barring further infringement. Additionally they asked that the company be required to surrender for destruction all offending products and promotional material, and requested that they be transferred the party company’s Internet domain name.

The damages they seek are $200,000 for each infringed trademark, and, if the court determines that infringement is deliberate, for the damages to be increased to $2 million per mark. They also asked that awards of damages and of profits derived from the alleged infringement be tripled to punish the defendants for their actions.

The Party Animals didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is Disney Enterprises v. Jason Lancaster, 2:12-cv- 07347-DDP-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more trademark news, click here.

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

DuPont Wins Order Barring Kolon From Selling Body-Armor Fiber

DuPont Co. (DD:US), the inventor of Kevlar, won a ruling barring Kolon Industries Inc.’s sales of a competing version of the product used in protective clothing for police and the military for the next 20 years.

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne in Richmond, Virginia, in an Aug. 20 order barred Kolon from selling products in the U.S. made with its para-aramid fiber after a jury found last year that the South Korean manufacturer stole trade secrets relating to the Kevlar fiber and should pay more than $919 million in damages.

“The judge’s order sends a clear message to Kolon and others that they cannot benefit from the theft of our trade secrets,” Thomas Powell, a DuPont spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, is expanding Kevlar production to meet rising demand for armor and lightweight materials that reduce energy use. The company opened a $500 million plant in South Carolina last year to boost output of the material for use in products such as tires, auto parts and fiber-optic cables.

“Kolon is disappointed with the court’s rulings and does not believe an injunction, of any scope, is warranted either legally or factually,” Jeff Randall, a lawyer for the company, said in an e-mailed statement. “Kolon will immediately file a motion to stay the order.”

Jurors in federal court in Richmond found in September 2011 that Gyeonggi-based Kolon and its U.S. unit wrongfully obtained proprietary information about Kevlar by hiring some former DuPont engineers and marketers.

DuPont sued Kolon in February 2009 alleging it stole confidential Kevlar data. DuPont began selling the bullet- resistant fiber in 1965 and it’s used in body armor, military helmets, ropes, cables and tires. Kolon began making its own version of the para-aramid fiber in 2005.

Jurors found Kolon got access to Kevlar secrets by hiring Michael Mitcher, a former DuPont engineer who also had served as a Kevlar marketing executive.

In his order, Payne note that jurors concluded Kolon executives “willfully and maliciously misappropriated” Kevlar secrets and the company engaged in “unlawful conduct.”

As a result, Kolon is barred for a period of 20 years from “manufacturing, using, marketing, promoting, selling, distributing, offering for sale or soliciting customers for any para-aramid product,” the judge said.

The case is E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Industries Inc. (120110), 09-cv-00058, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

Penn Settles Trade Secrets Case With Sloan-Kettering Head

Trade secrets litigation involving the president of New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania, and two biotech companies has settled, according to an Aug. 31 joint statement.

The suits were related to research conducted by Dr. Craig Thompson, the president of Sloan-Kettering, that was funded by a $100 million donation from the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. The university and the foundation accused Thompson of allegedly breaching an agreement with the foundation by failing to disclose his discoveries to the institute, instead providing the information to a company he founded and publishing it in an international journal.

Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. The parties said in a statement that Thompson’s company, Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc., has entered into a collaboration agreement with the University of Pennsylvania covering the development of diagnostic products to detect the metabolism of come cancers.

The two cases are Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania v. Thompson, 12-cv-1330, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan), and Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute v. Thompson, 11-09108, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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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Companies Mentioned

  • AKAM
    (Akamai Technologies Inc)
    • $60.42 USD
    • 0.40
    • 0.66%
  • LLNW
    (Limelight Networks Inc)
    • $2.37 USD
    • 0.02
    • 0.84%
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