Bloomberg News

Bristol-Myers, Disney, Google, Steele: Intellectual Property (1)

May 09, 2013

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY:US) sued Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s Genentech unit seeking a court order that it doesn’t infringe patents used to make treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The patents, known as “Cabilly” after one of the inventors, are invalid and aren’t infringed by colon cancer and melanoma treatments New York-based Bristol-Myers sells in the U.S., the company’s attorneys claimed in a complaint filed May 3 in federal court in Oakland, California.

The Cabilly patents, which have been the subject of high-profile legal disputes, were characterized as “a bottleneck” with respect to antibody-expression technologies by Ulrich Storz, a patent counsel with Dusseldorf, Germany’s Michalski Hüttermann & Partner.

Writing in the Landes Bioscience Journal mABS, Storz said that U.S. companies using these technologies must either “go through this bottleneck or face legal action, either as a claimant (e.g., in an invalidity action or a non-infringement action) or as a defendant (e.g., in an infringement action).”

Bristol-Myers Squibb said it filed the suit “to lift the cloud created by the imminent threat of defendant’s enforcement of the Cabilly patents against the plaintiffs,” according to the complaint. “Without declaratory relief the threat of enforcement of the Cabilly patents poses a substantial risk to the plaintiffs as well as to patients, nurses and doctors now using Erbitux and Yervoy.”

Erbitux, made by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY:US)’s ImClone unit, is approved in the U.S. to treat colon cancer and head and neck tumors and sold by Bristol-Myers in the U.S. Yervoy, a melanoma treatment, is manufactured and sold by Bristol-Myers in the U.S.

“We remain confident in the validity and enforceability of the Cabilly patents and we believe that the lawsuit is without merit,” Nadine Pinell, a Genentech spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Eli Lilly filed a similar lawsuit over the Cabilly patents in March.

The case is Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Genentech, 13-cv-02045, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Disney Withdraws ‘Dia de los Muertos’ Trademark Application

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US) withdrew the applications it filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register “Dia de los Muertos” as a trademark, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Burbank, California-based company said the filings were aimed at protecting a forthcoming film about the Mexican religious holiday known as Day of the Dead, the newspaper reported.

The studio told the Times it was changing the name of the film and therefore didn’t need the trademark protection.

A petition opposing the registration was put on the Change.org website May 7 and by yesterday morning, it had more than 19,000 signatures, according to the newspaper.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Google Asks Appeals Court to Reject Class-Action Authors Suit

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) asked an appeals court to reject class-action status for a $3 billion lawsuit by authors claiming that its project to digitize millions of books from libraries violates their copyrights.

Lawyers for Google and three writers who sued, including Jim Bouton, the author of “Ball Four,” argued their case yesterday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

Google seeks reversal of a lower-court order granting class-action certification. The judges said they would make their ruling later.

“Plaintiffs cannot claim to represent the many class members who benefit from and approve of Google Books,” Seth Waxman, a lawyer for Mountain View, California-based Google, told the judges.

The Authors Guild, which represents writers, and individual authors sued Google in 2005, charging that the Internet search engine operator was digitizing books from libraries without seeking permission from copyright owners or paying fees.

Judge Denny Chin rejected a negotiated settlement by the parties in 2011. Attempts to renegotiate the deal failed, and the litigation resumed.

Chin granted class certification last year to all authors residing in the U.S. who have at least one book in Google’s project.

A class-action suit makes it possible for all those who meet the criteria to sue together rather than separately, increasing the chances of a settlement.

“Let’s get it adjudicated on a class basis, not piecemeal, book by book,” Robert LaRocca, a lawyer for the authors, told the judges.

Google said in court papers it has digitally scanned more than 20 million books worldwide and that Internet searchers would be able to view “snippets” of each book online.

The case is Authors Guild v. Google, 12-3200, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

Defcad Offers Rights-Free Plans for 3-D Printed Plastic Weapons

Defcad, the website operated in conjunction with the “Liberator” gun made using 3-D printing technology, now offers downloadable plans for a wide range of weapons to be made the same way. The Liberator, which is made solely from 3-D printed plastic and a household nail, has been successfully fired.

Cody R. Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, is behind Defcad. Wilson’s Austin, Texas-based Defense Distribution says it is the home of a project “to create freely available plans for 3-D printable guns.” The website includes poet John Milton’s “Areopagita,” published in 1644 in opposition to the licensing of books and censorship.

According to the website, Defcad is aimed at being a search engine for 3D printing. Among the downloadable plans it offers are silencers, ammunition, basic and Russian grenades, and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The site hosts firearms-related files and makes them available because “when we say freedom of information, we mean it.” No uploaded files will be censored unless they contain “malicious software” according to the Defcad site.

Judge Accused Porno-Infringement Lawyers of ‘Moral Turpitude’

A federal judge hearing a copyright case involving alleged unauthorized downloading of adult films said four of the lawyers involved in a series of related cases “suffer from moral turpitude unbecoming an officer of the court.”

In a May 6 order, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II said that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier of Chicago’s Steele Hansmeier PLLC; and Paul Duffy and Brent Gibbs of Mill Valley, California’s Prenda Law Inc. committed “brazen misconduct” and “relentless fraud” in their pursuit of alleged infringers.

Wright outlined what he said was the four lawyers’ strategy of accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video, then settling for a cost “calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense.”

For the individuals accused of infringement, Wright said “resistance is futile. Most reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloading porn.”

As a result, “copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow starving attorneys, in this electronic media era, to plunder the citizenry.”

The judge said the copyright owners showed little desire to proceed in these lawsuits when faced with a “determined” defendant.

In addition to referring the four lawyers to the discipline committees of their various state and federal bar associations, the judge said he would refer their actions to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California and to the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service, and will inform all judges before whom they have pending cases.

The lawyers and the copyright owners also must pay attorney fees of more than $81,000 to one unnamed defendant in the case.

In an interview with AVN Media Network, which covers the adult-film industry, Steele said he would appeal the ruling. He said that he wasn’t an attorney in the case at issue and “have never practiced law in California.”

He said that “hundreds” of judges around the country have ruled on similar cases and have thrown out “crazy conspiracy theories” brought by defense counsel, which includes the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

He said with respect to the discipline-committee referrals, “the Illinois Bar is well aware of this type of litigation. I have had inquiries from the office of the Illinois State Bar and have satisfied their requests in the past.”

Earlier, Steele filed a defamation suit, first in Florida state court and then in federal court, against defendants who criticized his handling of a copyright-infringement suit against them.

He said in that suit that if the allegations made against him were seen in the light of day, they would prompt those who knew the plaintiffs “to suggest (or intervene and force) intensive psychological therapy.”

He filed a dismissal of that case March 6 without giving any reason.

That case was John L. Steele v. Paul Godfread, 1:13-cv-20744-JAL, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

The case in which he and the other lawyers were sanctioned is Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe, 2:12-cv-08333-OLDW, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Advanced Cyber Attack Tools Seen as Readily Available to Hackers

Advanced cyber attack tools have become readily available for use by foreign governments and terrorists to infiltrate or cripple U.S. computer networks, two federal law enforcement officials told a congressional panel.

Dozens of countries now have sophisticated cyber espionage capabilities and terrorists want to ‘Joseph Demarest, ‘digitally sabotage” U.S. power grids or water supply networks, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s cyber division, said in prepared testimony for a Senate hearing yesterday.

President Barack Obama and intelligence officials have said one of their top policy priorities is preventing cyber attacks that could disrupt banks, telecommunications networks, utilities or other vital services. Lawmakers have renewed their efforts to advance cybersecurity legislation after Congress failed last year to pass a bill. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing yesterday on how the government and private sector are responding to cyber threats.

The advanced cyber tools that Symantec Inc. has found recently being used for attacks include large scale data breaches that last year exposed about 93 million identities, “watering hole attacks” that target visitors to legitimate websites and the use of an estimated 3.4 million bot zombies around the world last year, according to the testimony of Cheri McGuire, Symantec’s vice president for global affairs and cyber-security policy.

Cybersecurity threats posed by foreign governments and terrorist groups against U.S. networks are growing, Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said in prepared testimony for the hearing. “

To help prevent attacks, the Justice Department is establishing cells of cybersecurity specialists “to focus on particular high-priority cyber targets,” Durkan said. She said one cell is operational, without providing details.

There’s been “an uptick” in cyber attacks against U.S. electric companies this year, Carl Herberger, a vice president for the network security firm Radware Ltd. (RDWR:US), said in a phone interview.

Information-technology systems at three different electric companies were temporarily knocked off-line by cyber-attacks this year, said Herberger, whose company is based in Tel-Aviv with offices in New Jersey. He declined to discuss specifics or name the companies.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that groups in China and Russia are responsible for electronic intrusions into U.S. computer networks and the theft of intellectual property, Durkan said.

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

  • BMY
    (Bristol-Myers Squibb Co)
    • $48.42 USD
    • 0.50
    • 1.03%
  • LLY
    (Eli Lilly & Co)
    • $62.53 USD
    • -0.09
    • -0.14%
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