Bloomberg News

AstraZeneca, Microsoft, Adidas, Cummins: Intellectual Property

December 20, 2013

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN:US) lost an appeals court ruling yesterday that clears sales by South Korea’s Hanmi Pharm Co. (128940) of a competing copy of the heartburn treatment Nexium.

AstraZeneca’s patent on the drug is limited to a specifically named salt, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said in an opinion posted on its website. AstraZeneca had conceded that Hanmi’s version wouldn’t infringe the patent if the appeals court ruled in that way.

Nexium is AstraZeneca’s second-biggest product, with sales of $918 million in the third quarter. Hanmi and partner Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC have their own version of esomeprazole, the active ingredient in Nexium. Pharmacists can’t automatically swap out the Hanmi version for Nexium as they would if a generic drug were on the market, London-based AstraZeneca said in a Dec. 17 statement.

Hanmi had been banned from selling the drug pending the appeal, although the Federal Circuit lifted that order and Hanmi entered the market earlier this week.

AstraZeneca researchers found that certain types of salt worked better, and thus limited the patent to a specific class of salts, the three-judge panel ruled. Nexium is the magnesium salt of esomeprazole, while Hanmi’s version is the strontium salt.

The case is AstraZeneca AB V. Hanmi USA, 13-1490, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Microsoft, Amazon Propel Washington to Most Innovative State

The most innovative state in the U.S. isn’t California, home of Google Inc. (GOOG:US) and Stanford University, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s Washington, where Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) and Inc. are based.

California came in second and Massachusetts third in the ranking, which looked at criteria such as the percentage of professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the number of patents and public technology companies in each state.

Washington, known for rainy Seattle, abundant greenery and fleece-clad citizens, had the highest total score, not by topping any of the categories -- California is highest in patent activity and five states have more skilled workers -- but by placing near the top. That’s due to the large technology workforce, high productivity rates and plethora of public companies in aerospace, biotechnology and computer technology.

Technology enterprises make up 21 percent of Washington’s public companies, according to the ranking, while they comprise 29 percent in California and Massachusetts.

The state’s strong engineering roots go back to Boeing Co. (BA:US), the airplane maker that was based in Seattle until 2001 and still has extensive manufacturing operations in the Puget Sound area. The company attracted not just employees but also suppliers to the area, said Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill and Melinda Gates chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Microsoft’s 1979 move to the suburbs of Seattle from Albuquerque, New Mexico, attracted computer engineers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as did other area companies such as Aldus Corp., the maker of publishing-software PageMaker. Nintendo Co. (7974) chose Redmond, Washington, as its U.S. headquarters, pulling in game developers, Lazowska said.

Former employees of these companies have gone on to found local startups in and around Seattle. The availability of top engineers has attracted technology firms such as Google, Facebook Inc. (FB:US) and Inc. (CRM:US), which have set up large offices in the area.

Washington state “arguably owns the cloud,” said Lazowska, referring to computing services delivered via the Web that are offered by companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. The area also boasts a strong presence in segments such as data analytics and storage.

For more patent news, click here.


Adidas Sues More Than 100 Online Stores Over Fakes

Adidas AG (ADS), the German maker of athletic gear, filed a trademark suit in the U.S. against more than 100 defendants, named and unnamed, for offering fake versions of its products.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the company said its Adidas, Reebok and Mitchell & Ness trademarks are being used without authorization on counterfeit items sold on websites, most of which are run from China or “other foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement.”

The fakes include shoes, shorts, shirts, socks, hats, jackets and track suits, according to the Dec. 16 complaint. Herzogenaurach-based Adidas said the public is likely to assume falsely that a connection exists between the sellers and the maker of legitimate products.

Adidas asked the court to bar further unauthorized use of its marks by the defendants, and to order the transfer of the domain names for the sites accused of promoting and selling counterfeit goods.

The company also requested money damages of $2 million for each mark that is infringed and $100,000 each for pirated domain names, along with all profits from the alleged infringement. Adidas also requested awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The case is Adidas AG v., 13-cv-62712, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

Cummins Sues T-Shirt Sellers for Logo Infringement

Cummins Inc. (CMI:US), the Indiana-based maker of truck engines, sued three named and 10 unnamed defendants for trademark infringement.

The company claims the defendants are making and selling T-shirts bearing its trademarks without permission. Ready-made shirts are sold in kiosks in Indiana-area shopping malls, and they are also printed on demand through the use of iron-on transfers.

Cummins owns trademark registrations for its logo for purposes including use with clothing, the company said in its Dec. 13 complaint.

The defendants are deliberately infringing the trademarks, according to Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins. The company said it’s being harmed and customers are being misled.

Cummins asked the court for an order for the seizure and destruction of all offending merchandise, including promotional material and the iron-on transfers. The company also requested a court order barring further infringement, and awards of money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs.

The company requested that the damages by tripled to punish the defendants’ for their actions, and also seeks to be awarded all the profits derived from the alleged infringement.

The case is Cummins Inc., v. T’shirt Factory, 1:13-cv-01972, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

For more trademark news, click here.


Choice Foodservices Sues Competitor Nob Hill Over Website

Choice Foodservices Inc., a provider of pre-ordered lunches for schools and other institutions, sued a competitor and a website developer for copyright infringement.

The suit was filed Dec. 18 in federal court in San Francisco, against Nob Hill Catering Inc., of San Carlos, California, and Redwood City, California-based Elastic Teams LLC.

The company accuses Nob Hill of attempting to lure away its customers by using a copycat Web design and telling school administrators that Nob Hill’s new Lunchmaster website would look “just like” Choice Foodservices’.

Nob Hill took Choice Foodservices’ website to Elastic Teams and instructed the developer to copy it, according to court papers.

Choice Foodservices said it sent Nob Hill a cease-and-desist notice and filed an order under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with Inc. (AMZN:US), which provided Web hosting services, asking that the site be taken down. Amazon is not a party to the litigation.

Choice Foodservices is seeking money damages, any profit from the alleged infringement, attorney fees and litigation costs.

Neither Nob Hill nor Elastic Teams responded immediately to e-mailed requests for comment in the lawsuit.

The case is Choice Foodservices Inc. v. Nob Hill Catering Inc., 13-cv-05872, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Iowa Governor Calls for More Security After Seed Theft Charges

Following news of the arrest last week for trade secret theft of a Chinese national who had attended a state dinner in Iowa, Governor Terry Branstad said security at such events will be tightened, the Sioux City Journal reported.

The man arrested by federal authorities was charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont Co. (DD:US)’s DuPont Pioneer unit and Monsanto Co. (MON:US), the Journal reported.

Branstad said 1,600 people attended the dinner, and there’s no way state authorities would have been able to screen the guests well enough to detect everyone with a questionable background, according to the Journal.

The governor, who frequently visits China, said news of the plot to steal seed corn and take its secrets abroad could present future challenges to U.S.-China relations, according to the Journal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

Ebola Rising

Companies Mentioned

  • AZN
    (AstraZeneca PLC)
    • $70.53 USD
    • -0.91
    • -1.29%
  • GOOG
    (Google Inc)
    • $568.27 USD
    • -9.09
    • -1.6%
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