Bloomberg News

Mundipharma, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’: Intellectual Property (1)

July 11, 2013

Mundipharma Pty defeated a bid for the early introduction of a generic version of the pain medication OxyContin in Australia, where it has the rights to sell the drug.

Australia Federal Court Justice Steven Rares upheld the decision by the Commissioner of Patents in 2000 to extend Mundipharma’s OxyContin patent to July 23, 2014. He rejected a claim by Spirit Pharmaceuticals Pty, a maker of generic drugs, that the extension was invalid.

Spirit had argued that OxyContin isn’t a “pharmaceutical substance per se,” with the patent only referring to the drug’s active ingredient, oxycodone, making the extension invalid, according to the July 5 ruling. Spirit also argued that the application for the extension was invalid because Euro-Celtique SA, a company related to Mundipharma, was granted the extension in 2000 even though it had assigned the patent to Mundipharma Medical GmbH a year earlier.

Rares dismissed both challenges, ruling OxyContin is a pharmaceutical substance which relies on a mixture of dosages of oxycodone. The judge also said that while Mundipharma Medical had been assigned the patent, Euro-Celtique remained registered as the patentee for the drug until 2005, with the companies apparently having forgotten about the 1999 assignment.

Purdue Pharma LP, the Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker which granted the OxyContin rights to Mundipharma, in April agreed to allow Actavis Inc. (ACT:US) to sell a generic of the drug in the U.S. as early as the start of next year.

The case is Spirit Pharmaceuticals Pty v. Mundipharma Pty, NSD721/2010 and NSD1054/2010, Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Many File Applications to Register ‘IWatch’ Trademark in U.S.

Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), which has applied to register “iWatch” as a trademark in Japan, may find getting U.S. trademark registration to be more difficult.

According to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, one iWatch trademark was registered in April 2007 by a San Diego-based video company, to be used for computer software and hardware for video transmission.

A New York company filed an application in July 2007 to register the term for watches and components for watches.

A security company in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has a February 2013 application to register “Iwatch” for surveillance activities.

On June 5 a Delaware company filed a trademark application, saying it wanted to register the term for use with computer software, hardware and peripherals, wireless communications devices, global positioning system devices, cameras and cases.

OMG Electronics of Fresno, California, filed an application in August 2012, seeking the mark for use with mobile phones.

A biometrics company in San Jose, California, filed an application in February to use the term with movement sensing and measuring devices related to human activity.

As of yesterday, Apple hadn’t filed an “iWatch” application, according to the patent office’s online database.

University of Delaware Settles T-Shirt Suit With Two Students

A suit by two University of Delaware students over T-shirt designs to which their school objected has been dismissed, according to a July 8 court filing.

Benjamin Goodman and Adam Bloom of Newark, Delaware, filed suit in federal court in December, saying the school had threatened to sue them for trademark infringement.

They included images of their T-shirt designs in their complaint and asked the court to find that the school had infringed their First Amendment rights to free speech. They sought money damages.

The design hinted at an obscene phrase, and the students argued that in the past, the school had tolerated offensive costumes and a student’s membership in a white supremacist group.

They pointed to the university’s faculty handbook, which says members of the university community are free “to express opinions publicly and privately.”

The suit was dismissed with all parties’ agreement on July 8. According to court papers, they agreed that the case can’t be brought again and that all parties paid their own litigation costs.

The case is Goodman v. University of Delaware, 1:12-cv-01689-RGA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Swedish Police Seize Servers From Company That Creates Subtitles

Swedish police raided and shut down a website in that country that offered consumer-created subtitles for movies and television programs, reported TorrentFreak, a website devoted to file-sharing and copyright news.

Despite that fact that the site, Undertexter.se, was providing the user-created subtitle files for free, police seized the company’s servers, according to TorrentFreak.

Undertexter’s founder, Eugen Archy, told TorrentFreak that those who worked on the website didn’t consider their own interpretation of a film’s dialogue to be something illegal.

Anna Troberg, a leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, told TorrentFreak the raid was a sign that content industries were resorting to “desperate measures” to preserve their business model.

France to Substitute Fines for Internet Disconnection

A government report says France will replace its present anti-piracy law that permits Internet disconnection for those suspected of copyright infringement, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.

In its place, the government would set up a system of graduated fines that would increase with subsequent infractions, according to the Guardian.

France’s highest court dealt the current law a setback when it ruled that Internet access is a basic human right, the newspaper reported.

To date, enforcement under the 2009 law has resulted in only one 150-euro ($193) fine and one 15-day disconnection from the Internet, according to the Guardian.

‘Mockingbird’ Defendant Gets Second Extension in Harper Lee Suit

The literary agent being sued by author Harper Lee over the copyright to “To Kill a Mockingbird” got another extension of time to respond to the complaint, according to a federal court filing.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet in Manhattan yesterday granted a request by Samuel L. Pinkus for a second extension of time to respond.

Lee filed the suit against Pinkus in May, claiming he took advantage of her age and infirmity to deprive her of royalties from the 1960 novel. According to a letter to the court by counsel for Pinkus, Lee filed a separate state court case in New York against him and six other defendants, complicating “coordination related to any resolution.”

In her suit, Lee asked the court to ensure her ownership of the copyright to the book and to compel forfeiture of the agent’s commissions.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” a story of racial injustice in the American South, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was made into a film starring Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for playing the lawyer Atticus Finch. It is Lee’s only published novel. The book has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

The case is Lee v. Pinkus, 13-cv-03000, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Disney ‘Mr. Young’ Copyright Complaint to Get ITC Review

The U.S. International Trade Commission will take up a copyright complaint filed by a California screenwriter and his company against Walt Disney Co.

The Washington-based commission, which can block the importation of products that infringe U.S. intellectual property rights, is typically a forum for patent disputes. The request by screenwriter Emir Tiar is the first of its kind.

Tiar, who writes as E.T. Radcliffe LLC, claimed the television show “Mr. Young,” about a student who becomes the teacher of his class, copies scripts, character analysis and episode guides he created.

The program was produced and filmed in Vancouver and aired on Canadian television and is now being imported and aired on the Disney Channel, according to the complaint.

Tiar asked the commission to block Disney from importing and airing the program.

He sued Burbank, California-based Disney in federal court in Los Angeles in October over the same program, voluntarily dismissing that case in March, according to court records.

The federal court case Tiar v. Walt Disney Co., 12-cv-09323, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Court Lifts Order Protecting Halliburton, KBR Trade Secrets

In a false claims case against Halliburton Co., a federal court in Washington lifted a confidentiality order aimed at protecting the trade secrets of the Houston-based engineering and oil-field services company.

The suit dates back to June 2005, when Harry Barko, a former subcontract administrator for Halliburton’s (HAL:US) Kellogg Brown & Root unit, claimed Halliburton and related entities and its subcontractors schemed to defraud the government. The defendants were accused of inflating the costs of building laundry facilities and providing laundry services on three U.S. military bases in Iraq.

In March 2011, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued a protective order barring the disclosure of confidential information related to proprietary, business, financial, technical, trade secret information, and commercially sensitive information or data related to the projects in Iraq.

Under the order, any party to the litigation could designate as “confidential information” anything that fell within the parameters defined by the court.

That rule was lifted in a July 8 order by U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin. He also rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case.

Gwin said a court can grant a protective order only when it is essential to shield a party from significant harm or to protect an important public interest. The defendants “have failed to show that any disclosure of particular information would cause serious harm.”

He refused to dismiss the case, saying that Barko’s claims were plausible and properly states.

Kellogg Brown & Root unit was split off from Halliburton in November 2006, and is now known as KBR Inc. (KBR:US)

The case is U.S. v. Halliburton Co., 1:05-cv-01276, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington)

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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