Bloomberg News

Sanofi, Roll Global, Heineken, WWE: Intellectual Property (1)

May 21, 2013

Sanofi (SAN) won a U.S. appeals court ruling yesterday that revives a patent-infringement claim over generic versions of the allergy drug Allegra.

A trial judge erred in interpreting a patent on the drug that covers a process to make the active ingredient in the medicine, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said in an opinion posted on the court’s website. The appeals court remanded the case for further proceedings based on the new understanding of what the patent covers.

In dispute is patent 5,750,703, which was issued in May 1998.

The case is Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Amino Chemicals Ltd., 11-1335, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court cases are Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, 2:04-cv-01077-GEB-MCA, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 2:04-cv-01078-GEB-MCA, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

CEA, BSA Line Up in Support of Patent-Ownership Disclosure Bill

The Consumer Electronics Association endorsed a measure that would require ownership data to be attached to U.S. patents.

The Arlington, Virginia-based trade group of consumer-products manufacturers said it approved the End of Anonymous Patents Act, which was introduced May 16 by U.S. Representative Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat.

The measure -- H.R. 2024 -- would require disclosure of any change of ownership to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office within 90 days of the change. The disclosure would include any party with the legal right to enforce the patent, as well as any parent company or controlling entity.

Any party that failed to disclose this information would have damages available only from the date at which this information is made public.

In a statement issued at the time he introduced the bill, Deutch said that so-called patent trolls “go to great lengths to conceal the relevant ownership and interests involved,” adding that the ownership information would “bring much-needed transparency to our patent system.”

The CEA said in its statement that patent trolls -- also known as “non-practicing entities” because they don’t produce products or provide services covered by the patents --“penalize innovators and drive up prices for consumers.”

The Business Software Alliance, a Washington-based trade group whose members include Intel Corp. (INTC:US), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC:US), also endorsed the proposed legislation. In its statement, the BSA said if enacted, the bill will “improve technology adoption and licensing by making it easier for potential users of patented inventions to identify and connect with patent holders so they can agree on terms.”

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Roll Global Unit Sells ‘Cuties,’ Will Shed ‘Wonderful’ Oranges

Billionaire Stewart Resnick’s Roll Global’s Paramount Citrus unit is divesting itself of the “Cuties” trademark used for mandarin oranges, the company said in a statement.

The brand will go to Sun Pacific, a 44-year-old producer grower based in Pasadena, California. Previously Sun Pacific and Paramount jointly owned the brand.

Paramount Citrus will partner with Fresno-based Fowler Packing to build a new brand for mandarins, according to the statement. They will be sold under the same “Wonderful” label used for pistachios, almonds and pomegranates, the company said. The Wonderful brands are part of Roll Global.

Next year Paramount Citrus will also being selling Texas red grapefruit under the “Wonderful” label,’’ the company said.

The “cuties” name was the subject of a trademark suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles last year. Paramount sued Sun Pacific’s Califia Farms unit, claiming its sale of juice under the “Cuties” trademark violated their licensing agreement. Paramount dismissed the case in April 2012.

That case was Paramount Citrus Packing Co. v. Califia Farms LP, 2:12-cv-02415-R-RZ, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Cancellation of Heineken’s Russian ‘Krusovice’ Mark Barred

The Moscow Commercial Court refused to terminate trademark registration for Heineken NV (HEIA)’s “Krusovice” trademark, the Russian Legal Information Service reported.

Moscow-based AquaLife, a beverage company that is a parallel importer of the Krusovice beer -- which is brewed in the Czech Republic -- had sought the mark’s cancellation so that it could use the name, according to RAPSI.

Russia’s Supreme Commercial Court said in November than parallel imports are illegal, RAPSI reported.

AquaLife is also seeking termination of Diageo Plc (DGE)’s “Guinness” trademark in Russia after a Russian appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling barring AquaLife’s parallel import of Guinness, according to RAPSI.

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

WWE ‘Entrance-Music’ Copyright Suit Stays in Texas, Court Says

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. must face copyright claims in Texas, a federal court ruled.

Composer James D. “Papa” Berg of Irving, Texas, sued the Stamford, Connecticut-based sports-entertainment company in federal court in Dallas in July. He claimed the company was making use of his music without authorization.

Berg composed a series of works used as entrance songs for wrestlers as they come into the arena. He said in his pleadings that he learned that WWE had improperly registered the works under the company’s name, which diverted the royalty stream.

He claimed that the company was using this music without his permission on a round-the-clock cable channel, and as ring tones fans could buy.

WWE had sought to have the suit moved out of Texas, saying it didn’t have enough of a presence in the state to justify trying the case there. U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle disagreed, saying in her May 15 order that WWE failed to show good reason why the case would be better tried in Connecticut.

She said that the company’s wrestling-match programs are available in Texas, and that WWE products are offered for sale in the state, with the company knowingly benefited from Texas. She said that Texas “has a definite interest in insuring that one of its citizens be able to prosecute his claims at home.”

Judge Boyle did reject some of Berg’s claims, saying they were already covered by his copyright-infringement allegations.

The case is Papa Berg Inc. v. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE:US), 3:12-cv-02406-B, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

McCartney Concert Ticket Pre-Sales Trade Secret, City Claims

The city of Orlando, Florida, said the promoter of the May 18 concert featuring former Beatle Paul McCartney has insisted that information about buyers of pre-sale tickets at face-value prices is a trade secret, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The musician performed at a city-owned venue and Barbara Peterson, president of the state’s First Amendment Foundation, told the Sentinel that this is enough reason to release the data.

An editorial writer for the newspaper argues that ticket pre-sales -- driven by concert promoters and the music industry -- puts the average consumer at a disadvantage, with as much as 80 percent of tickets for an event already sold before public sales are announced.

At a recent Taylor Swift concert at the facility, more than 80 percent of the tickets were pre-sold to members of the singer’s fan club, season ticket-holders for the Orlando Magic, American Express cardholders, and media and VIPS, the newspaper reported.

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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