Bloomberg News

J&J, Samsung, General Motors: Intellectual Property

April 05, 2013

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ:US), the world’s largest seller of health-care products, didn’t infringe a doctor’s patent on heart devices, a U.S. appeals court ruled in throwing out a $482 million jury verdict the man won.

The trial court erred in its interpretation of the patent owned by Bruce Saffran and, under the correct definition of key terms, J&J’s Cordis unit wasn’t using his invention, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said yesterday in an opinion posted on its website.

Saffran’s patent deals with ways to treat injured tissue with the use of a permeable barrier. While Saffran’s invention focused on broken bones, he argued the invention also was used in stents, the tiny mesh tubes that prop open heart arteries after they are cleared of fat. The Cordis stents, sold under the name Cypher, were a metallic mesh with a coating of the drug sirolimus that slows the regrowth of plaque.

The appeal focused in part on whether Saffran’s invention was limited to a continuous sheet that contains the bone fragments and can be configured to deliver a drug to the treatment site. J&J said that its drug-coated stents weren’t made that way.

The drug layer “is akin to paint on a chain-link fence, not a continuous sheet wrapped around the mesh, and open holes remain between the struts of the accused devices,” the three- judge panel ruled.

J&J, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company that pioneered the market for heart stents, exited the business in 2011 after losing ground to Boston Scientific Corp. (BSX:US) and Abbott Laboratories and amid falling prices for the devices.

Saffran had won a $431 million verdict against Boston Scientific over the same patent, which later increased to $501 million with interest. That case was later settled for about $50 million. Abbott, which had also been sued by Saffran, filed court papers urging the federal circuit court to overturn the J&J verdict. In its filing, Abbott said that if the appeals court adopted the patent interpretations requested by Cordis, “Saffran’s infringement case cannot proceed against Abbott.”

The case is Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson, 12-1043, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson, 07-cv-00451, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).

Samsung Presses Apple Rivalry With Best Buy Mini Stores

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), stepping up a battle with Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), will staff mini-stores at Best Buy Co. (BBY:US)’s U.S. locations to showcase how its tablets, smartphones and televisions work together.

Starting April 8, the Suwon, South Korea-based electronics maker will open 500 Samsung Experience Shops inside Best Buy, taking up about 460 square feet of prime space near the front of the retailer’s largest stores, Samsung said in a statement yesterday. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Samsung, stung by Apple lawsuits accusing the company of “slavishly” copying products, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to prove to consumers it can innovate as effectively as its U.S. competitor. Samsung will hire its own staff to demonstrate new features on the upcoming Galaxy S4 phone, and show how content can be transferred to its smart TVs, laptops and tablets, said Ketrina Dunagan, vice president of retail marketing for Samsung Mobile’s U.S. unit.

“This effort is the last of a three-legged stool, from products to marketing and now retail,” Dunagan said in an interview.

Best Buy’s largest U.S. stores typically measure about 40,000 square feet. The companies plan to add smaller Samsung spaces by June at about 1,000 other Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations, Dunagan said.

The Samsung Experience Shops are a direct challenge to Apple, maker of the iPhone, which leads smartphones sales in the U.S. with 38 percent of the market versus 21 percent for Samsung, according to a March 6 research report from ComScore. Samsung leads worldwide with 40 percent of the 545.2 million smartphones shipped in 2012, according to researcher IDC.

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

General Motors Again Seeks to Register ‘Chevelle’ Trademark

General Motors Co. (GM:US) filed applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a brand that it last used in the 1970s.

From 1964 through 1977, GM’s Chevrolet division used the name “Chevelle” for its mid-sized cars. The automaker submitted an application in October 1963 to register the mark for use with automobiles. That mark, which was registered in July 1964, is now defunct.

The new GM applications are for the use of the mark with badges for automobiles, clothing, floor mats and toy cars.

GM previously submitted an application to register “Chevelle” for automotive purposes in 2003 and later abandoned that application, according to patent office data.

The “Chevelle” mark was also registered in 2003 by a band.

BasicNet’s ‘Jesus Jeans’ Mark Attacked by Jesus Surfed

BasicNet Spa (BAN)’s U.S. “Jesus Jeans” trademark should be canceled, a company that makes and sells religiously themed surf wear argued.

Jesus Surfed Apparel Co., based in Ormand Beach, Florida, filed an application to register “Jesus Surfed” as a trademark in May. BasicNet’s Jesus Jeans unit opposed the registration, saying that the public would be confused by the name similarity.

On April 1, Jesus Surfed submitted its response, saying the opposition is dubious, noting that when BasicNet filed its trademark applications, it said the name “Jesus” was already “highly diluted” when it came to marks for clothing.

Jesus Surfed said BasicNet, based in Turin, Italy, told the patent office that consumers could readily distinguish between its marks and other registered “Jesus” marks for clothing.

Jesus Surfed is calling for the patent office to cancel trademark registrations for Jesus Jeans, saying the use of the brand is sacrilegious when used in the Italian company’s ads that feature “sexually suggestive images adorned with parodied text from the Old and New Testaments.”

Jesus Jeans’ ads have been condemned by the Catholic Church, Jesus Surfed said in its filing. The “Jesus Jeans” trademark also makes a “‘false connection with a person,’’ which is barred under U.S. trademark law, the Florida company said.

Music Copyright Society’s Royalty Collection Legal, Court Rules

Nigeria’s Federal High Court ruled that the Music Copyright Society Nigeria is a lawful collector of copyright royalties, according to Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper.

The court also said that a police raid on the society’s office and the arrest and detention of its officials was unconstitutional and illegal, the Guardian reported.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission had been feuding with MCSN over royalty collections, according to the Guardian.

MCSN’s status is related to both Nigeria’s constitution, and to deeds of assignments, contracts and powers of attorney the original copyright owners have given to the society, the court ruled and the Guardian reported.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Google, SACEM, Universal Music Reach YouTube Distribution Accord

Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s YouTube video-sharing service reached an agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group and France’s France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music, MusicWeek reported.

The accord covers the use of Music in SACEM’s and Universal Music Publishing’s repertoire in videos to be distributed via YouTube in 127 countries, according to MusicWeek.

SACEM is the first authors’ society to make an agreement on such a large scale with YouTube, MusicWeek reported.

Universal Music Chairman Zach Horowitz said the agreement will bring ‘‘proper remuneration” to the artists it represents, according to MusicWeek.

Zookal’s Textbook Rental Model Infringes, Publishers Claim

An Australian company that rents textbooks to college students is facing copyright-infringement claims from publishers, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Zookal, founded in 2011 by students from the University of Technology, Sydney, rents textbooks on a semester basis for less than half their retail price, according to the newspaper.

The Australian Publishers Association alerted its lawyers to its claims that Zookal is infringing copyrights, according to the Herald.

Zookal Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Haider told the Herald that he wasn’t aware of any infringement and his company would be “happy” to rectify any problem, the newspaper reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

U.K. Agricultural Handbook No Longer Protected as Trade Secret

A U.K. seed handbook previously protected as a repository of trade secrets is now being made available to growers and industry, according to a statement from that country’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

The handbook was previously limited to a number of members of NIAB and the Arable Group, the organization said.

It contains seed standards, seed certification areas and crop areas, historic meteorological data and other useful information for cereals, oilseeds, pulses, grasses, maize, potatoes and sugar beets.

The handbook’s content was classified as a trade secret because it covered a wide range of information on seeds, agronomy and markets, according to the NIAB statement.

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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Companies Mentioned

  • JNJ
    (Johnson & Johnson)
    • $99.2 USD
    • 0.50
    • 0.5%
  • BSX
    (Boston Scientific Corp)
    • $11.61 USD
    • 0.24
    • 2.07%
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