A federal judge set 9.56 cents per chip as the value of contested patents used in wireless computer network technology in a case by patent-holder Innovatio IP Ventures LLC against electronic device makers Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO:US), Netgear Inc. (NTGR:US) and Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI:US)
The ruling issued Oct. 3 by U.S. District Judge James Holderman in Chicago stops short of fixing damages in the two-year-old litigation because the parties agreed to allow him to determine the royalty value before considering whether the patents were valid or infringed.
“The court hopes that by doing so, the possibility of settlement will be enhanced because the parties will be better able to evaluate the potential risks and benefits of expending additional resources in the litigation,” Holderman said.
Innovatio IP, based in Chicago, accuses the defendants, which also include Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ:US), Dell Inc. (DELL:US) unit SonicWALL, and businesses that bought Wi-Fi devices made by the manufacturers, of infringing its portfolio of patents.
Holderman, citing an April ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle in a patent dispute between Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings unit and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US), said the payment rate was based in part on an agreement by the patents’ original owner, Broadcom Corp. (BRCM:US), that they were essential to Wi-Fi technology and that license fees should be fixed at reasonable and non-discriminatory, or RAND, terms.
Attorneys for Innovatio IP and for Cisco said it was too soon to estimate potential damages.
Innovatio IP “still has a number of hoops to jump through before they can get anything,” Mark Chandler, general counsel for San Jose, California-based Cisco, said in a phone interview.
Holderman presided over a non-jury trial last month, during which he heard evidence on the RAND rate to which Innovatio IP would be entitled, and limited, if it proved infringement, he said in his ruling.
The case is In re Innovatio IP Ventures LLC, 11-cv-09308, in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
23andMe’s Patent Slammed for ‘Designer Babies’ Potential
The Center for Genetics and Society, an advocacy group based in Berkeley, California, asked a genetics-testing company to disavow its newly issued patent or to use it to bar others from the technology it covers.
Patent 8,543,339, which was issued Sept. 24 to 23andMe Inc., covers gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations.
Prospective parents can select the donors of their future child’s genetic material based on a wide range of genetically determined characteristics, such as propensity for certain kinds of diseases, as well as eye color, muscle performance, and personality characteristics, according to the patent.
The Center for Genetics and Society said this technology would enable prospective parents to “go shopping for designer donors in an effort to produce designer babies.”
In its Oct. 2 statement, the center said that the patent office “made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus from which to choose a future child’s traits.”
Such a project would be “ethically and socially treacherous,” Marcy Darnovsky, the center’s executive director said in the statement.
She warned that this project could foster the “false belief” that biology trumps social, economic and environmental conditions in influencing our health and well-being.’’ It also could again raise the specter of eugenics, she said. The practice of eugenics is specifically barred by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
23andMe, based in Mountain View, California, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for a response to the center’s statement.
Application for the patent was filed in December, 2009, with the assistance of Van Pelt Yi & James LLP of Cupertino, California.
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Alibaba’s Ads for Electronic Hookah Device Said to Infringe
Alibaba.com, a Chinese business-to-business e-commerce company, was sued for trademark infringement by a company that produces electronic smoking devices.
In the complaint filed Sept. 30 in federal court in Santa Ana, California, Fantasia Distribution Inc. said Alibaba.com is running ads for electronic hookahs made by Fantasia’s competitors but featuring the “Fantasia” trademark.
Fantasia also said the ads contained photos of its disposable electronic hookah products, and, in one instance, a photo of a Fantasia employee it claimed was lifted from its website.
The Anaheim, California-based company said that, to no avail, it put Alibaba.com on notice that the infringement was occurring and asked the removal of such ads.
Fantasia said although an Alibaba.com representative said the offending listings would cease, they haven’t. It claims to be harmed by Alibaba.com’s actions and said the public is likely to assume falsely that a connection exists between Fantasia and the hookahs sold by its competitors.
The company asked the court to order Alibaba.com to quit running the allegedly infringing ads, and for awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.
John Spelich, an Alibaba.com spokesman, said in an e-mail that the company hasn’t seen the complaint and would reserve comment until it’s reviewed.
The case is Fantasia Distribution Inc., v. Alibaba.com Inc., 8:13-cv-01533, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).
Cadbury’s Purple Reign Ended by U.K. Court in Nestle Appeal
Nestle SA (NESN) won a U.K. Court of Appeal ruling in a trademark case against Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ:US)’s Cadbury unit over purple packaging for milk chocolate.
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, got a reversal of an October 2012 decision that ruled the color purple was distinctive to the maker of Dairy Milk bars. The ruling allows Nestle, and any other confectioners, to sell chocolate products with the same colored wrapping.
Cadbury, the U.K.’s biggest chocolate maker, used a pale mauve color as early as 1905 and its packaging has featured purple and gold dating back to 1920, according to the company website. The dispute dates back to 2008, when Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle opposed Cadbury’s initial application for a color trademark.
The trademark applied for “lacks the required clarity, precision, self-containment, durability and objectivity to qualify for registration,” Judge John Mummery said in the ruling handed down Oct. 4.
Cadbury is studying the ruling and will consider whether to appeal, it said in an e-mailed statement.
“Our color purple has been linked with Cadbury for a century and the British public has grown up understanding its link with our chocolate,” Cadbury said.
Mondelez, which also makes Oreo cookies, was created in a split of Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT:US) last year. The Deerfield, Illinois-based Mondelez had a 20.5 percent share of the western European chocolate confectionery market in 2012, according to Bloomberg Industries data.
“We believe this was the right outcome from a legal perspective,” James Maxton, a spokesman for Nestle, said in an e-mailed statement.
The case is Societe Des Produits Nestle v Cadbury U.K. Ltd. in the U.K. Court of Appeal, civil division, case no. A3/2012/2702
Taipei Zoo Plans to Register Baby Panda’s Name as Trademark
The Taipei Zoo, in an effort to leverage the popularity of its three-month-old female panda, said it will register her name as a trademark, the Taipei Times reported.
The panda’s name is Yuan Zai, which is also the name of a company’s glutinous rice products, according to the newspaper.
To avoid confusion, the zoo said the name it will register is “Giant Panda Yuan Zai,” the Times reported.
The mark would be used on toys, stationery, postcards, trinkets and other souvenirs, according to the newspaper.
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Comcast Tells TorrentFreak It Sometimes Acts Without Court Order
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US), the cable television and Internet service provider, told the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website that it doesn’t necessarily wait for a court order before terminating the account of subscribers who are caught multiple times infringing copyrights.
The Philadelphia-based company, which is a member of the Copyright Alert system that warns infringers, said that court orders aren’t necessary because termination is a requirement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, TorrentFreak reported.
Under the DMCA, service providers are required to take action against “persistent pirates,” according to TorrentFreak.
The Copyright Alert system requires member Internet service providers to keep a log of the number of infringement notices sent to repeat infringers, TorrentFreak reported.
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