International Business Machines Corp. (IBM:US) racked up more U.S. patents than any other company for the 20th straight year, helped by increasing contributions from its researchers in other countries.
IBM’s 6,478 patents in 2012 mark a record for the company, research firm IFI Claims Patent Services said in a statement. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Tokyo-based Canon Inc. (7751) ranked second and third. Google Inc. took a spot in the top 50 for the first time, with 15 more patents than Apple (AAPL:US) Inc.
About 30 percent of IBM’s patents were produced by inventors outside the U.S., up from 22 percent in 2010. Research centers in Germany, Japan, Canada, the U.K. and Israel were especially productive, the Armonk, New York-based company said. The percentage of its patents coming from overseas is expected to continue growing as newer labs in Brazil and Kenya ramp up, said Manny Schecter, IBM’s chief patent counsel.
“Intellectual property flows from where markets are flourishing,” he said in an interview. “You’ll see upticks in the amount of technology and intellectual property which we generate outside the U.S.”
IBM’s flow of patents lets the computer-services giant produce about $1 billion a year in licensing revenue. The intellectual property also gives it the freedom to move into new businesses with less risk of being sued over technology.
Still, some other technology companies get much higher royalty revenue from a smaller number of patents. Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM:US), a designer of mobile-phone chips, made $6.33 billion (QCOM:US) in technology licensing in the most recent fiscal year -- even though it’s not in the top 10 of IFI’s list.
Apple, whose innovations helped revolutionize computing and mobile phones, also isn’t one of the biggest recipients of U.S. patents. The maker of the iPhone and iPad spends about half as much as IBM on research and development.
Even so, Apple made gains in this year’s list, jumping to No. 22 from 39th place. Google, Apple’s biggest rival in smartphone software, rose to 21st place. Both companies are embroiled in lawsuits (AAPL:US) over intellectual property -- along with other mobile-phone makers such as Samsung -- giving them more incentive to increase their store of patents.
IBM, which has more than 430,000 employees worldwide, invests about $6 billion in R&D each year. With more than 67,000 patents since 1993, about half of which are active, it is easier for the company to avoid courtrooms, Schecter has said. Eight thousand inventors in 46 states and 35 countries contributed to last year’s patents.
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EU’s Almunia Says Google May Be Diverting Traffic to Its Sites
Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s dominance of the Web-search market in Europe concerns regulators there, despite the company’s recent settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Joaquin Almunia told the Financial Times in an interview.
Almunia, the European Commission vice president with the responsibility for competition, said an investigation of Mountain View, California-based Google is continuing and “my conviction is that they are diverting traffic” to their own sites, the Financial Times reported.
He has said that he will give the search-engine company until the end of January to come up with a settlement that will assuage antitrust concerns, according to the Financial Times.
Almunia said Google officials are handling the European Commission’s investigation better than other antitrust targets in the past, and that the company “has learned the way these kind of cases should be done,” the Financial Times reported.
Ikea’s Planned India Expansion May Hit Trademark Roadblocks
Ikea of Sweden AB’s plans to open retail stores in India may face trademark roadblocks, India’s Business Standard reported.
According to the newspaper, three Indian companies registered with that country’s Registrar of Companies to use the same brand name.
Ikea Home Decor Private Ltd., a furniture manufacturer, has been registered since July 2011, and two other Indian companies have earlier registration dates than that, the Business Standard reported.
Although the Swedish furniture giant could go to Indian courts and claim the registrants were trying to trade on Ikea’s goodwill and fame, this could take a long time if the other companies have actually registered trademarks, Business Standard reported.
MLS Application to Register ‘Cascadia Cup’ Mark Irk Soccer Fans
Major League Soccer has responded to Pacific Northwest soccer fans’ concerns over a trademark application by promising to meet three fan groups, the SounderAtHeart.com blog reported.
The league is seeking to register “Cascadia Cup” as a trademark, even though fan groups own the trophy and came up with the idea for the award, according to the blog.
The application was filed with the aim of halting potential exploitation of the term “by parties unaffiliated with the league and its supporters,” the league said in a statement, the blog reported.
The league said it understood there were some fan concerns about how the use of the mark would be managed, and hoped the forthcoming meeting with the leadership of the fan groups would assuage fears, according to the blog.
Brabham Name, Trademark Back in Auto-Racing Family’s Hands
A German court has resolved a trademark dispute between a family associated with Formula 1 auto racing and a German who registered the family’s name in Germany, the Motorsport.com auto-racing news blog reported.
Registration of the Brabham trademarks have now reverted to the family, which includes triple Formula 1 World Champion Jack Brabham, according to Motorsport.com.
A third generation of racing Brabham’s is “coming up through the ranks,” David Brabham told Motorsports.com, and the ruling will “help future plans for the Brabham brand.”
A monitoring system has been set up to look for any attempts worldwide to register the Brabham name without the family’s consent, Motorsport.com reported.
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Gazprom Unit, Rostelecom Sued Over Use of Blur Song in TV Ad
Gazprom OAO (GAZP)’s NTV unit and Russian telecommunications operator Rostelecom were sued for copyright infringement over alleged unauthorized use of “Song2” from the British band Blur, the Russian International News Agency reported.
The court has been asked to force Rostelecom to publish the text of an earlier infringement ruling related to the music’s copyright, and to order payments of $115,100 from Rostelecom and $16,435 from NTV, according to the news agency.
Rostelecom was accused of using the song in an advertisement, and NTV was sued for allegedly running that ad on its television channel, the news agency reported.
The suit was filed by SGBA Music Publishing, a unit of Gala Records, Russia’s first privately owned music recording company, according to the news agency.
Faulkner Literary Rights, Northrop Grumman Settle Dispute
A copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by the owners of the rights to the late William Faulkner’s work against Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC:US) has been settled, according to a court filing.
Faulkner Literary Rights LLC sued the Falls Church, Virginia-based defense contractor for copyright infringement in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi, in October. The rights holder objected to the use of a Faulkner quote in an advertisement.
“We must be free, not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it,” is taken from a 1956 Faulkner essay, “On Fear: The South in Labor,” according to court papers. The Faulkner rights holder claims the quote was used without permission.
Nobel laureate Faulkner, a novelist who wrote about his native Mississippi, died in 1962. He was also the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.
Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. According to the court filing, each party was to pay its own litigation costs, including legal fees.
The case is Faulkner Literary Rights LLC v. Northrop Grumman Corp., 12-cv-00732, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson).
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Fish & Richardson Hires Two IP Litigators From Goodwin Procter
Fish & Richardson PC hired two new members for its IP litigation group, the Boston-based firm said in a statement.
The new hires -- R. David Hosp and Mark S. Puzella -- joined from Goodwin Procter LLP, also a Boston firm.
Hosp and Puzella both handle copyright, trademark, false- advertising and licensing disputes. Among clients they have represented are Aereo Inc., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., Monotype Imaging Inc. and Iconics Inc.
Puzella has an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a law degree from Northwestern University. Hosp has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from George Washington University.
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