Bloomberg News

‘Harbaugh Bowl,’ Subway, Verizon: Intellectual Property

January 28, 2013

AbbVie Inc. (ABBV:US), the drug unit that split from parent Abbott Laboratories (ABT:US) on Jan. 1, sued Indian generic drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP) for infringing a U.S. patent for Zemplar, used to treat kidney patients.

AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Illinois, contends Mumbai- based Sun intends to market a low-cost version of the drug before patent 5,597,815 expires in 2016, according to papers filed Jan. 24 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Plaintiffs will be substantially and irreparably damaged and harmed” if the infringement isn’t stopped by a judge, AbbVie said in its complaint.

Abbott spun off AbbVie to let investors choose between a medical products company that makes devices, diagnostics and nutrition products, and AbbVie, a drugmaker based largely around Humira, a best-selling rheumatoid arthritis injection that generated $7.93 billion in 2011.

Uday Baldota, a Sun spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is AbbVie v. Sun, 13-cv-00138, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

NFL Harpoons ‘Harbowl,’ ‘Harbaugh Bowl’ Trademark Applications

An Indiana man who filed applications last year to register “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl” as U.S. trademarks said he abandoned his applications in response to pressure from the National Football League, ESPN reported.

Roy Fox of Pendleton, Indiana, filed his applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February 2012, in anticipation that the brothers Jim and Harbaugh, who, respectively, coach the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, might go head to head at this year’s Super Bowl game, according to ESPN.

He said he was contacted by the league even before the season started, and was told that the NFL feared the marks could be confused with its own, and that he had no affiliation with the Harbaugh brothers, whose teams are set to compete in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, ESPN reported.

The applications are now abandoned, and Fox said that the league didn’t respond to his requests to compensate him for the costs of filing the applications and for season tickets to the Indianapolis Colts games and an autographed photo of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to ESPN.

Fake Nike, NFL, NBA Gear Found in Raids in New Orleans Suburb

A resident of the New Orleans suburb of Kenner was arrested for allegedly selling counterfeit Nike Inc. (NKE:US), National Basketball Association and National Football League gear, New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

He was accused of selling fake goods at a flea market in Kenner after an undercover investigator bought what turned out to be a fake NFL jersey, according to the Times-Picayune.

Fake Nike, NFL, and NBA goods were also found in a raid at the seller’s home, the Times-Picayune reported.

With the Super Bowl game set for Feb. 3 in New Orleans, the NFL typically ramps up trademark-enforcement efforts in the contending teams’ home cities and the city that is the site of the game, according to the Times-Picayune.

Subway’s Aussie Unit Says ‘Footlong’ Is Only a Trademark

Subway Restaurants’ Subway Australia unit responded to complaints that its “Footlong” sandwiches may measure less than 12 inches by saying “Footlong” is only a trademark, “a descriptive name,” ABC News reported.

Subway Australia said in a posting on its page on Facebook Inc.’s social media site that “Footlong” is “not intended to be a measurement of length,” according to ABC News.

An Australian Subway customer posted a photo of his “Footlong” sandwich that was only 11 inches long to Subway Australia’s Facebook page, with the note “subway pls respond,” ABC News reported.

Subway said in a statement to ABC News that although the company is committed to supplying a consistent product, “length however may vary slightly when not baked to our exact specifications.”

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

UMG Fails to Win Dismissal of ‘Dancing Baby’ Copyright Suit

Universal Music Group’s motion to dismiss a case brought by a mother over a video of her dancing toddler has been rejected by a federal court in San Jose, California.

Stephanie Lenz of Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, sued the music company in July 2007 after Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site removed a video she posted. Universal had objected to Lenz’s use of Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy” to accompany her brief piece showing her toddler dancing, and filed a takedown request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

She claimed that copyright law’s “fair use” provision permitted her use of the music.

In March 2012 the court ruled that Lenz -- who is being assisted by the San Francisco-based digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation -- didn’t file the suit in bad faith. Universal at that time had also asked for a dismissal of the case.

In a Jan. 24 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel rejected the music company’s request to dismiss the case. He said that Universal has failed to establish that Lenz is barred from collecting damages if she prevails in her claim that her use of the music fell within the boundaries of fair use.

He said, however, that she failed to demonstrate any damages based on the loss of YouTube’s hosting services and the chilling of her free speech.

Lenz’s 30-second video is presently available on YouTube.

The case is Lenz v. Universal Music Group Inc., 5:07- cv-03783-JF, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Unlocking Phone to Change Wireless Carriers Limited by U.S. Rule

Beginning Jan. 26, U.S. consumers were not to be allowed to unlock new mobile phones purchased from wireless providers, under a change in U.S. rules backed by carriers led by Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (T:US)

The Library of Congress’s Copyright Office, as part of a periodic review, said altering software to let one carrier’s phones work on other networks wouldn’t be among activities that expressly permitted under copyright law. The rule change was announced last October.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, with members including the four largest U.S. mobile carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S:US) and T-Mobile USA Inc. -- had argued that “locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry’s dominant business model” involving handset subsidies and contracts, Librarian of Congress James Billington said in the notice.

Consumers can still choose to buy unlocked phones that will work with multiple carriers, giving them an alternative, Billington said. Partly because of that possibility, unlocking newly purchased phones doesn’t merit an exemption under copyright law, he said. Consumers who bought phones before the change can unlock their handsets, according to the rule change.

The new restriction represents a misuse of copyright law, Sherwin Siy, a vice president with the Washington-based policy group Public Knowledge, said in an interview.

The change removes legal protection that has allowed consumers to unlock their phones and doesn’t explicitly make the act illegal, Mitch Stoltz, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, said in an interview.

“You will not have this shield in the event you’re sued,” Stoltz said. “It may go to court some time, and then it will be up to a judge.”

CTIA said in a filing with Library of Congress that subsidies “depend on ensuring that the handset will be used, as contemplated, with the carrier’s service.”

Circumventing barriers to unauthorized use “will have significant adverse effects on the wireless industry and on the public,” the Washington-based trade group said in its February 2012 filing.

Amy Storey, a spokeswoman for Washington-based CTIA, didn’t immediately supply a comment.

California Accuses Two Clothing Firms of Using Pirated Software

California Attorney General Kamala Harris accused two foreign apparel makers in lawsuits of gaining an unfair competitive advantage over American companies by using pirated software in clothing production.

Pratibha Syntex Ltd. of India and Ningbo Beyond Home Textile Co. Ltd. of China violated California’s unfair competition law by failing to pay licensing fees for software manufactured by companies including Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE:US) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC:US), Harris said in a complaint filed Jan. 24 in state court in Los Angeles.

The unpaid fees gave Pratibha Syntex and Ningbo Beyond Home Textile a “significant cost advantage in the low-margin business of apparel manufacturing,” Harris said in a statement. The suits target companies whose “unlawful actions are eroding California’s garment industry and placing California companies that legally pay for computer software at a disadvantage.”

Since 2010, units of Ningbo have shipped approximately 713,000 pounds of apparel products into California, while Pratibha has shipped more than 19,000 pounds into the state, according to the statement.

California’s apparel manufacturers, which are largely based in Los Angeles County, employed more than 580,000 people last year and generated more than $5 billion in annual revenue since 1990, according to the statement.

Representatives of Pratibha Syntex and Ningbo Beyond Home Textile didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the complaints.

The cases are California v. Ningbo Beyond Home Textile Co., BC499771, and California v. Pratibha Syntex Ltd., BC499751, California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles.

For more copyright news, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at vslindflor@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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  • ABT
    (Abbott Laboratories)
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