Ineos Group AG, the largest chemicals maker in the U.K., is taking legal action against China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP:US) for alleged misuse of trade secrets.
A unit of the state-owned company known as Sinopec has “broken a long-established technology agreement which, together with trade-secret misuse by other Sinopec companies, has enabled development” of acrylonitrile plants in China without Ineos’s consent, the company said in a March 21 statement.
The case is the latest brought against Chinese companies for copyright or patent infringements. American Superconductor Corp., a U.S. supplier of wind-turbine parts, said last month that two cases filed in China will be heard in court.
Acrylonitrile is a component in carbon fiber, which is used in cars and aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It’s also used in plastics for toys and computer monitors.
Sinopec officials in Beijing, Hong Kong and London didn’t respond to repeated calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Ineos is pursuing parallel actions in Beijing and through an arbitrator in Sweden, according to the Rolle, Switzerland-based company.
Unwired Planet, Lenovo in $100 Million Patent Sale, License
Unwired Planet Inc. (UPIP:US), a Reno, Nevada-based provider of Internet-based communication infrastructure software and applications, sold a group of patents to Beijing’s Lenovo Group Ltd. (992) for $100 million in cash.
The deal also includes a license to Unwired’s patent portfolio, the company said in a statement. Among the patents sold are those covering 3G and LTE mobile technologies.
BlackBerry Tells Judge Typo Copied Keyboard in IPhone Case
BlackBerry Ltd. (BB) argued March 21 that Ryan Seacrest’s Typo Products LLC copied its keyboard before a judge who said two of the Canadian smartphone maker’s three patents in the case appear to be valid.
Waterloo, Ontario’s BlackBerry sued Los Angeles-based Typo Jan. 3, alleging patent infringement. Typo’s external case for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s with an integrated keyboard infringes BlackBerry’s design and copies its inventions, the company said in a Jan. 22 court filing.
Typo said the lawsuit lacks merit and the patents aren’t valid and can’t be enforced, according to company statements and court filings.
The case is BlackBerry Ltd. v. Typo Products LLC, 14-00023, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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USPTO Says No to ‘Washington Redskin Potatoes’ Trademark
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected a Virginia resident’s application to register “Washington Redskin Potatoes” as a trademark on the grounds that the term “redskin” could bring contempt to Native Americans.
The patent office’s March 17 notice said that even though the notion of “redskin” with potatoes has a different connotation, combining it with “Washington” gives it a disparaging connotation.
Native American groups are seeking cancellation of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins trademark on the grounds that the team name contains a disrespectful slur.
Danaher’s Fluke Donates Equipment to Hobby Store After Seizure
Danaher Corp. (DHR:US)’s Fluke unit offered a hobbyist-oriented electronics store a shipment of its electronic meters to replace Chinese meters that U.S. Customs seized because they looked too much like the Fluke products.
In a statement on Facebook Inc. (FB:US)’s social media site, Everett, Washington-based Fluke said that while enforcing its trademarks protects the look and feel of its products, the company understands “how troubling” the seizure was for a small company serving the needs of hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers.
Sparkfun Electronics, based in Boulder, Colorado, is free to sell the Fluke equipment on its site or donate it to hobbyists, Fluke said in its statement.
Fluke said it was taking this one-time action because “we believe in the work of SparkFun supporting the maker and education communities.”
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Cameron, Fox Persuade Writer to Drop ‘Avatar’ Copyright Claim
James Cameron, the director of the 2009 film “Avatar,” won the dismissal of a copyright lawsuit brought in Canada’s Federal Court by a screenwriter who claimed the film used content from his 1996 screenplay, the CBC reported.
Emil Malik decided March 20 to drop his claims against Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox, according to the CBC, saying he realized after the first day of testimony in the copyright suit that the film had been created “independently.”
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