A federal judge in New York ruled that the Fox Entertainment Group Inc. series “Touch” doesn’t violate the copyright of author Everette Hallford.
Hallford claimed that the television show, which involves a widowed father and his autistic son, unlawfully copied his screenplay “Prodigy,” which centers on an autistic boy and an investigative journalist.
The suit, filed last March, also named several other defendants, including Kiefer Sutherland, who produces and stars in the show.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, in his Feb. 13 ruling dismissing the case, found that the show wasn’t substantially similar to either Hallford’s screenplay or an earlier novel, “Visionary.”
“Here, the average lay observer -- no matter how discerning -- would not recognize that Touch was appropriated from Prodigy because this is not ‘one of those relatively unusual cases’ where the infringing work copies the ‘particular’ or ‘same’ selections made in the copyrighted work, and the two works are different in total concept and overall feel,” Pauley wrote.
Hallford plans to appeal, said his lawyer, Joseph Nohavicka, a partner at Mavromihalis Pardalis & Nohavicka LLP in Astoria, New York. In a telephone interview, Nohavicka expressed disappointment in the ruling, while saying, “Judge Pauley listened very carefully during the arguments.”
Fox lawyer Jonathan Zavin, a partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP (1300L:US), didn’t return a call seeking comment on the ruling.
The case is Hallford v. Fox Entertainment Group Inc., 12- cv-1806, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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Tiffany Sues Costco Claiming It Sells Counterfeit Jewelry
Tiffany & Co. (TIF:US) sued Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST:US) in New York claiming the retailer sells counterfeit Tiffany diamond engagement rings at discount big-box prices not befitting the mystique of its iconic blue box.
While Costco sells high-end jewelry from Cartier, Breitling, Chanel and Movado, it isn’t authorized to sell Tiffany items, the New York-based jewelry retailer said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan.
Tiffany said it was alerted by a customer in November who saw signs offering “Tiffany” rings in a Huntington Beach, California, Costco store.
“Costco had apparently been selling different styles of rings for many years that it has falsely identified on in-store signage as ‘Tiffany,’” according to the complaint.
The Issaquah, Washington-based company, which runs more than 600 warehouse stores, has led customers to believe they were buying authentic Tiffany items at discount prices, Tiffany said. The sales “unlawfully trade off Tiffany’s goodwill and brand awareness,” it said.
Tiffany, which has sold trademarked luxury items for 175 years, is seeking to prevent further sales of counterfeit diamond engagement rings as well as unspecified damages associated with prior sales, the company said in the complaint.
“We now know that there are hundreds if not thousands of Costco members who think they bought a Tiffany engagement ring at Costco, which they didn’t,” Jeffrey Mitchell, a lawyer for Tiffany, said in a statement. “Costco knew what it was doing when it used the Tiffany trademark to sell rings that had nothing to do with Tiffany.”
Joel Benoliel, Costco’s chief legal officer, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message left at his office seeking comment about the lawsuit.
The case is Tiffany and Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 1:13-cv-01041, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Gordon Ramsay Succeeds in Application for ‘Spotted Pig’ in U.K.
Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Ltd. obtained the U.K. trademark for “The Spotted Pig” and immediately handed it over to owners of the New York restaurant and bar of the same name.
“We have been liaising with The Spotted Pig in New York for some months, and had arranged for the trademark to be passed to them once it was registered,” according to an e-mailed statement from Gordon Ramsay Holdings yesterday. “This has now happened.”
The New York venue is owned by chefs Mario Batali and April Bloomfield and a group including restaurateur Ken Friedman. It also attracted attention because of investments from celebrities such as Bono and Jay-Z.
Ramsay’s application for the U.K. trademark caused controversy after it was reported by Bloomberg News on Nov. 20 last year.
One party expressed an intention to oppose the application, and the opposition period has now expired, the Intellectual Property Office said in an e-mailed response to a query by Bloomberg News. The office doesn’t identify objectors. The right to use the name lasts for 10 years.
Anthony Bourdain and Jamie Oliver were among chefs who criticized the application. Bourdain said the attempt to use the name was shameful.
“Gordon Ramsay registers name ‘Spotted Pig’ in England?” Bourdain said in a message posted on Twitter on Nov. 20, according to Eater.com.
Oliver responded: “April & Ken have built something very special & one day I hope they will bring it to London. We like originals,” the Daily Mail reported.
Harvard Law Review Receives a Trademark for Its Name
Apparently, it isn’t enough to be on the Harvard Law Review. Now, the name has received federal trademark protection as well.
On Feb. 12, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office included the Law Review among its new registrations. The storied journal, founded in 1887, joins a short list of others that have registered, including the Liberty University Law Review, the Florida Law Review and the Marquette Sports Law Review. According to the PTO’s website, the Harvard Business Review was registered in August.
Paul Andrew, a spokesman for Harvard, said in an e-mail that the university “regularly seeks to expand its trademark registrations in the U.S. and worldwide in order to protect the Harvard name from unauthorized use. It is not unusual to file a trademark long after it has already been in use, and merely represents our ongoing efforts to reinforce Harvard’s already existing legal rights via trademark registrations.”
The attorney of record, Peter Karol, of counsel at Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP in Boston, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the registration.
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Myriad Genetics Wins Australian Bid to Patent Human Genes
Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN:US), owner of patents for genes linked to cancer risks, won an Australian court ruling allowing it to patent isolated DNA, a first in the country, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear a similar case.
Federal Court Justice John Nicholas today in Sydney dismissed a 2010 lawsuit aimed at stopping Myriad and Genetic Technologies Ltd. (GENE:US) from patenting a gene mutation associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
The issue has divided the global medical community with groups including the Association for Molecular Pathology and the American College of Medical Genetics arguing that Myriad is attempting to get legal ownership of parts of the human body. The conflict returns to the U.S. Supreme Court this year after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit twice ruled that genes can be patented. The U.S. high court agreed on Nov. 30 to hear the Association for Molecular Pathology’s appeal.
Rebecca Gilsenan, a lawyer at Melbourne-based Maurice Blackburn, the firm representing the opponents, said after the Australian decision that they will have to review the 41-page judgment before determining whether to appeal.
“We’re really interested in the U.S. Supreme Court hearing,” Gilsenan said. “We’ll be watching it very closely.”
The Australian ruling will allow patents on anything that is artificial, without consideration of the biological material from which it derived, Luigi Palombi, a patent lawyer and author of “Gene Cartels: Biotech Patents in the Age of Free Trade,” said in an e-mailed statement.
Cancer Voices Australia, a national organization representing cancer patients, and Yvonne D’Arcy, a Brisbane resident diagnosed with breast cancer, sued Myriad Genetics (MYGN:US) and Genetic Technologies (GENE:US) to block the patenting of genes in the country.
The case is: Cancer Voices Australia v. Myriad Genetics. NSD643/2010. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).
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Apple-Samsung Judge Koh Says She May Put Patent Case on Hold
Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Samsung Electronics Co. were asked by a federal judge to agree to freeze their smartphone patent dispute scheduled for trial next year while they separately appeal an August verdict in an earlier case.
“I was going to ask if we can stay this case while the other appeal is going on,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said during a hearing yesterday in San Jose, California. Any possible resolution of the conflict will be “global” and cover technologies contested in both suits, Koh said. “I don’t know if we need two cases on this.”
Koh directed attorneys for both sides to file a status report by March 7 indicating whether they consent to putting the later case on hold. A lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, William Lee, said there are no settlement negotiations under way in the litigation.
Both companies continued to present the patents at issue in the newer case, scheduled for trial (AAPL:US) in March 2014. The lawsuit was filed last year and covers technology in newer smartphones made by both companies, including Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Apple’s iPhone 5.
The judge last month rejected Apple’s request to add additional damages to a $1.05 billion awarded against Samsung in August by a jury that found the Suwon, South Korea-based company infringed six of the iPhone maker’s mobile-device patents.
Apple is challenging a decision by Koh that allows Samsung to continue selling some products that were found by the jury to infringe Apple patents.
In a Feb. 12 filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, Apple said that Samsung has taken market share based on its “deliberate copying of Apple’s innovative iPhone and iPad products” and asked the court to halt the sales (AAPL:US). Samsung hasn’t filed a response, and an appeal of the August jury verdict hasn’t yet been filed with the appeals court.
Separately, both companies are appealing rulings requiring them to reveal financial information they want to keep secret. Apple calls the information its “treasured trade secrets,” consisting of data on specific products and market research on its customers. Arguments in those appeals are to be heard March 26 in Washington.
Last year’s case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-1846; the case scheduled for trial next year is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-cv-630; both are in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
Actavis Wins Appeal Over Two Patents for Teva’s Fentora Drug
Actavis Inc. (ACT:US)’s generic version of the painkiller Fentora wouldn’t infringe two patents owned by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA:US)’s Cephalon unit, a U.S. appeals court ruled yesterday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a finding that the generic version made by Actavis didn’t copy the way the drug is delivered into the system through a mucous membrane. The appeals court did overturn a lower court ruling that the patents are invalid, reviving the patents so Cephalon can assert them against other companies.
The infringement decision is largely symbolic as another patent owned by Cephalon prevents Actavis, which recently changed its name from Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., from entering the market until October 2019. Fentora is approved to relieve sudden episodes of cancer pain in adults already taking opioids, or morphine-like drugs.
“The decision was favorable in terms of infringement, but we still can’t launch,” said Charlie Mayr, a spokesman for Parsippany, New Jersey-based Actavis.
Teva, based in Petach Tikva, Israel, bought Cephalon in 2011. The company is asserting the two patents in this case, along with two others, in a case against Mylan Inc. that is scheduled for trial in March, said Denise Bradley, a Teva spokeswoman.
The case is Cephalon Inc. v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., 2011-1325, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Cephalon Inc. v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., 08cv330, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Google Sues BT Group Unit Over Patents for Network Services
Google Inc. (GOOG:US) sued BT Group Plc’s U.S. unit over claims it infringed four patents related to network communications, including through voice-over-Internet services.
Google, owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, filed a complaint Feb. 12 in federal court in Los Angeles. The Mountain View, California-based company seeks a court order preventing BT Americas from continuing its alleged infringements of the patents, as well as unspecified damages.
BT, based in London, accused Google in a 2011 lawsuit of infringing six U.S. patents for mobile-device technology.
“BT has brought several meritless patent claims against Google and our customers -- and they’ve also been arming patent trolls,” Niki Fenwick, a Google spokeswoman, said in an e- mailed statement. “When faced with these kind of actions, we will defend ourselves.”
Kris Kozamchak, a BT spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Feb. 12 that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The case is Google v. BT Americas, 13-00254, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
HTC Patent Victory Over FlashPoint Upheld by Appeals Court
HTC Corp. won an appeals court ruling that upholds its victory in a patent-infringement case brought by FlashPoint Technology Inc. over digital-camera features.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, without issuing a formal opinion, upheld a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission that HTC didn’t violate FlashPoint’s patent rights. Notice of the appeals court decision was posted on its website.
AstraZeneca Wins Appeal to Block Generic Copies of Seroquel XR
AstraZeneca Plc won an appeals court ruling yesterday that will help ward off some generic competition to the extended- release version of its Seroquel antipsychotic drug.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, without issuing a formal ruling, upheld a lower court decision that four generic-drug makers, including Mylan Inc., were infringing a valid patent on the recipe for making Seroquel XR. The appeals court, which heard arguments in the case last week, posted a notice of its decision on its website.
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