Johnson & Johnson (JNJ:US), the world’s biggest maker of consumer health products, will let generic-drug companies make and distribute copies of its HIV medicine Prezista in sub-Saharan Africa and poor countries.
J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, won’t enforce patent claims against drugmakers that copy the pill. Prezista, or darunavir, is an antiretroviral medication used to treat the immune system-destroying virus, in combination with other anti- viral drugs.
Last year, J&J sold $1.21 billion of Prezista, making it the company’s sixth best-selling drug. The agreement states that generics manufacturers can only distribute the medicine for patients living in the African and least-developed countries. About 34.2 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, including 22.9 million in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
“Intellectual property should not be a barrier to ensuring a sustainable supply of medically acceptable darunavir in the world’s poorest countries,” Paul Stoffels, J&J’s worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals, said in a statement yesterday.
Prezista is used in patients who’ve already been on and failed other HIV treatments because the virus becomes resistant to them. Yesterday’s statement didn’t identify specific countries subject to the agreement.
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Zynga Bests Mattel in U.K. Dispute Over Scrabble Tile Trademark
Zynga Inc., the San Francisco-based social-gaming company, defeated part of a trademark-infringement lawsuit brought in the U.K. by Mattel Inc.
The suit was related to the shape of the tiles used in the Scrabble word game. Mattel sued in March, claiming Zynga’s “Scramble” online game infringed four Mattel trademarks.
One of those trademarks covers the shape of the “three- dimensional ivory-colored tile on the top surface of which is shown a letter of the Roman alphabet and a number in the range 1 to 10.” Zynga contended that the U.K. trademark was improperly registered.
In its court filings, Zynga said that the registration failed to cover the “infinite number of permutations of different sized, positions and combinations of letter and number,” or the precise shape of the tile, or to state with sufficient specificity what color “ivory” actually is.
In his Nov. 28 opinion, Justice Richard Arnold agreed with Zynga. He said that the registration “amounts to an attempt to claim a perpetual monopoly on all conceivable ivory-colored tiles shapes which bear any letter and color combination on the top surface.”
To uphold that mark, he said, would allow El Segundo, California-based Mattel “to obtain an unfair competitive advantage.”
The case is J.W. Spears & Sons LTD v. Zynga Inc., EWHC3345 (CH) England and Wales High Court (Chancery Division).
Opus Dei Files Suit in Denmark Against Publisher of Card Game
Opus Dei, the network of conservative Catholic priests and laity, sued a Danish card game publisher for trademark infringement, Associated Press reported.
Dema Games ApS registered “Opus Dei Existence After Religion” as a trademark for its game in 2009, and has said that “no one entity can claim sole rights to religious concepts of any kind,” according to AP.
The 84-year-old Opus Dei, which became widely known through Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” novel, is seeking cancellation of the trademark, 300,000 Danish kroner ($52,200) in compensation and the shutdown of the website through with the game is sold, the news service reported.
The case, which was brought by the organization’s Spanish branch, is being heard in the Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court, AP reported.
Baltica Acquires ‘Bastion’ Trademark, Seven Baltic-Region Stores
AS Baltica (BLT1T), an Estonian retail clothing chain, acquired the Bastion trademark and seven retail stores operated under that name, the Tallinn, Estonia-based company said in a statement yesterday.
Bastion, an Estonian brand created in 1987, had sales of $1.4 million euros ($1.8 million) in 2011. Six of the acquired stores are in Estonia and one is in Latvia.
Financial details of the transaction weren’t disclosed.
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TD Sues Vernon Hill for Infringing Copyright to Book He Wrote
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Vernon W. Hill II, one of the co-founders of London’s Metro Bank Plc.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, accuses Hill of infringing the copyright to a manuscript to which the Canadian bank holds the copyright.
According to court papers, a book Hill wrote, “Fans! Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World,” contains “large amounts of text” that are copied verbatim from the manuscript.
TD Bank alleged that Hill signed a written agreement acknowledging that it owned the copyright to the manuscript. The bank also said that Hill filed a motion in a 2008 suit seeking to have the copyright reassigned to him. That suit, filed in the same court, was related to Hill’s 2007 termination by Commerce Bancorp, where he was president and chief executive officer.
Hill didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request to Metro Bank seeking comment on the case.
In court papers, TD Bank said the disputed manuscript was submitted to Penguin Group in 2006 for possible publication. At that time, the bank said, Hill signed an agreement in which he “unconditionally” guaranteed that the manuscript was a work for hire under U.S. copyright law.
In November, TD Bank said it learned about the publication of Hill’s book, published by Profile Books Ltd. and sold through Amazon.com’s website and others. The bank claims the book constitutes the “unauthorized reproduction, distribution, publication, public display and creation of a derivative work” of the manuscript.’’
Because Hill has filed court papers seeking to end the bank’s ownership of the copyright, the bank claims his infringement is “willful and intentional.”
TD Bank asked the court for an order barring further infringement of the copyright and for the seizure of all copies of Hill’s books. Additionally, it seeks awards of money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.
The case is TD Bank NA v. Hill, 12-cv-07188, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden). The earlier case is Hill v. Diflorio, 09-cv-03685, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Michigan Couple Stole GM Secrets for Chinese, U.S. Says
A former General Motors Co. (GM:US) engineer and her husband should be convicted of stealing the automaker’s trade secrets related to hybrid-car technology to help develop such vehicles in China, a U.S. prosecutor said at the end of their trial.
Shanshan Du, the ex-GM employee, copied the Detroit-based company’s private information on the motor control of hybrids and provided documents to her husband, Yu Qin, the government alleges. Qin used the confidential data to seek business ventures or employment with GM’s competitors, including the Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co., the U.S. said.
“Theft is at the heart of this case,” prosecutor Cathleen Corken said yesterday in federal court in Detroit in closing arguments. Acquiring the GM information was “purposeful, deliberate and criminal,” she told the jury.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers argued earlier in the trial that the information at issue wasn’t trade secrets, weren’t stolen and were useless for other companies.
The case is U.S. v. Qin, 10-cr-20454, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).
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