Bloomberg News

Google, Samsung, Haribo, Exxon: Intellectual Property

December 21, 2012

Google Inc. agreed to sell its Motorola Home business to Arris Group Inc. (ARRS:US) for $2.35 billion, finding a buyer for a division that sells television set-top boxes while it focuses on expanding in smartphones.

Arris, a cable-equipment maker, will pay about $2.05 billion in cash and about $300 million in newly issued shares that will give Google a stake of about 15.7 percent, the companies said in a Dec. 19 statement.

Google, which acquired the division through the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. in May, received multiple offers on Dec. 7, a person with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. Google sought a buyer for the home unit as it aims to devote more attention to mobile devices amid an accelerating rivalry with Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)

“Google never really wanted the set-top box business,” Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group in Portland, Oregon, said in an interview. “What they wanted were the mobile patents. It was very clear this wasn’t why they were buying the business in the first place.”

Pace Plc (PIC), a U.K. maker of set-top boxes and a suitor of the assets, said in a statement that it was unable to reach an agreement with Google.

Adding Motorola Home helps Arris more than triple sales, on a pro-forma basis, to about $4.7 billion for the year that ended Sept. 30, according to the statement. The company will have about 2,000 patents after the acquisition, Arris said in a presentation.

The agreement also includes provisions to cap potential liability for intellectual-property infringement. Digital-video recording company TiVo Inc. (TIVO:US) is suing Motorola Mobility and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO:US) over use of recording technology in the set-top boxes they make.

The agreement gives Arris patents in areas such as video processing and digital-rights management, plus the right to license additional intellectual property from Motorola Mobility, Arris Chief Executive Officer Bob Stanzione said. Arris sees an opportunity to sell new equipment to customers whose home cable- TV sets don’t support Internet-video delivery, he said.

Samsung Faces EU Antitrust Complaint Over Apple Patent Clash

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) faces a European Union antitrust complaint over its use of standard-essential patents in legal disputes with Apple Inc., the EU’s competition commissioner said.

“We will adopt the statement of objections very soon,” Joaquin Almunia, the bloc’s antitrust chief, said at a press conference in Brussels yesterday.

Samsung and Apple, the world’s two biggest smartphone makers, have traded victories in their patent disputes fought over four continents since Apple accused Asia’s biggest electronics maker of “slavishly copying” its devices

While regulators were “happy” with Samsung’s announcement this week that it will withdraw injunctions in Europe that seek to block sales of Apple products, Almunia said the commission will continue to investigate whether Samsung’s threats to use legal action harmed competition.

“We are dissatisfied every time that we see the launching of injunctions” involving standard-essential patents,’’ Almunia told reporters at a press conference in Brussels. “The injunctions in the Apple-Samsung case were launched; it was not only a threat.”

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea “is fully cooperating with the European Commission proceedings,” according to an e- mailed statement.

The company earlier this week said it would withdraw injunction requests against Apple in Germany, U.K., France, Italy and Netherlands involving key patents it holds for wireless communications, citing “the interest of protecting consumer choice.”

The company will continue litigation that seeks damages in intellectual property disputes.

Under phone industry agreements on standards, companies owning the rights to essential technology must usually license it to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, known as FRAND.

Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. is also being investigated by the EU for seeking and enforcing injunctions against Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Xbox gaming console, following complaints by the two companies.

The patent disputes began when Samsung released its Galaxy smartphones in 2010. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed before his death last year to wage “thermonuclear war” to prove that phones run on Google’s Android operating system copy the iPhone.

Symantec Wins Federal Jury Verdict Over Finjan Patent Claims

Symantec Corp. (SYMC:US), the world’s biggest maker of security software, won’t have to pay Finjan Inc. any royalties after a federal jury decided Symantec didn’t infringe two patents.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated about four hours following a three-week trial before also deciding yesterday that the Finjan patents 6,092,194 and 6,480,962 aren’t valid because the technology isn’t new.

Symantec “didn’t need Finjan’s technology,” said attorney David Nelson, representing the company. “We already had it.”

In 1998 and 1999, the two software makers discussed a potential merger, Nelson said. Symantec chose not to pursue the transaction because it had already developed its own innovative software, according to the lawyer.

“Symantec respects and agrees with the jury’s findings,” Cris Paden, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Symantec, said in an e-mailed statement. “Symantec takes its ability to innovate technology solutions very seriously” and will defend itself if Finjan appeals, he said.

Finjan, with offices in San Jose, California, and Netanya, Israel, sued Symantec as well as Websense Inc. (WBSN:US) and Sophos Inc. in 2010 over patents for protecting computers and networks from “hostile downloadables,” according to court papers. The jury also ruled in favor of Websense and Sophos, saying they didn’t infringe, either.

Paul Andre, a lawyer representing Finjan, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the verdict.

The case is (0276662D:US) Finjan v. Symantec, 10-cv-593, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Haribo Wins Dispute With Lindt Over Foil-Wrapped Bear, AP Says

Haribo GmbH of Bonn, Germany, persuaded a regional court in Germany that its “Goldbaer” (Gold Bear) trademark was infringed by Lindt & Spruengli AG (LISN), Associated Press reported.

The maker of Gummy Bear candies had objected to Lindt’s sale of a gold foil-wrapped chocolate bear, even though it was called “Lindt Teddy,” according to AP.

The court said that people would naturally refer to the Lindt chocolate bear as “Gold Bear,” and infringe the Haribo marks, AP reported.

Lindt, based in Kilchberg, Switzerland, has argued that no one would mistake its product for the well-known gummy bears, and that its packaging for the chocolate bear was akin to what it used with its chocolate bunnies at Easter, according to the wire service.

NZ Chain’s ‘MacGowans’ Registration Barred, Dominion Post Says

Mill LiquorSave, a New Zealand chain of discount liquor stores, lost its bid to register “MacGowans” as a trademark for whisky-flavored spirit, New Zealand’s Dominion Post reported.

The Scotch Whisky Association had opposed issuance of the mark, claiming consumers could be fooled into thinking that the product was real Scotch whisky, according to the newspaper.

Justice Stephen Kos of the High Court of Wellington said in his ruling that “MacGowans” wasn’t even capable of being labeled as “spirits” because it was only 13.9 percent alcohol, well below the 37 percent requirement for a product to be designated spirits in that country, the Post reported.

Brenda Kelly of the liquor chain told the court the product wasn’t whisky, “a spirit or a wine,” even though the trademark application had specified the mark would be used for a “whisky- flavored spirit,” according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Psychic Carmen Harra Sued by Fred Fontana Over Biopic Screenplay

Carmen Harra, a self-described “intuitive psychic” who has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show,” was sued for copyright infringement by a California screenwriter/producer.

Fred Fontana, who wrote “Florida Road” and produced the independent film “Girl’s Best Friend,” is involved in a dispute with Harra over a screenplay based on the psychic’s life.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Harra hired Fontana in December 2011 to rewrite “Decoding Her Destiny: The Carmen Harra Story.” He said the understanding was that he would receive a $13,000 advance, with the balance of his fee to be paid out of the first money investors put into the film. He was also to be employed as co- producer, he said in his pleadings.

Despite the fact that investors have put money into the film, Fontana said he hasn’t been paid any more money, even though he has finished completely rewriting the screenplay and has “performed a substantial amount of production work.”

He said in the complaint that although Harra doesn’t own his script, she has been attending film festivals and shopping the screenplay to potential investors, producers and other members of the entertainment industry without his authorization.

Fontana is the registered owner of the copyright to the screenplay, according to a copyright registration certificate filed along with the complaint.

He asked the court for at least $2 million in damages, together with all profits derived from the alleged infringement of his copyright. Additionally, he seeks $2 million for alleged trademark infringement, and another $2 million each for claims of breach of contract, breach of oral contract and fraud.

Fontana asked the court to declare him the owner of the copyright and to bar further unauthorized use of his screenplay.

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

The case is Fontana v. Harra, 2:12-cv-10708, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Full Public Release of EPA Report on Exxon Mobil Plant Unlikely

Full details of an Environmental Protection Agency inspection of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM:US)’s facilities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are unlikely to be released to a New Orleans-based environmental watchdog group because of trade-secret concerns, New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade had requested the details of the inspection following a leak in June of naptha at the plant, a petroleum byproduct with more than 31,000 pounds of the carcinogen benzene, according to the Times-Picayune.

Larry Gottesman of the EPA said a full version of the report is protected as confidential business information, according to the newspaper.

Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Stephanie Cargile told the Times- Picayune that “internal safety incidents are evaluated, an appropriate team is selected to conduct the investigation, and recommendations are followed up on until resolution.”

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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