A patent-buying venture that includes Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) and Sony Corp. (6758) asked a U.S. judge to keep secret some details about assets the group bought for $4.5 billion at a Nortel Networks Corp. bankruptcy auction in 2011.
A trial scheduled to start today in Wilmington, Delaware, threatens to reveal confidential information the companies gained when they bought more than 6,000 patents from Nortel, the defunct telecommunications company, the group said in court papers.
Rockstar Consortium Inc., as the venture is known, manages the patents. The company opposes a public airing of information such as who may be targeted for patent-infringement lawsuits, who may have signed license agreements and who may be licensees.
The case is Nortel (NRTLQ:US) Networks Inc., 09-bk-10138, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
3M Co. Has Received 100,000 Patents Since 1924, Company Says
3M Co. (MMM:US), the maker of Scotch Tape and Post-it notes, received its 100,000th patent, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company said in a statement May 7. The company gets about 3,000 patents a year, with more than 500 of them issued in the U.S., according to the statement.
The company’s first patent was granted in 1924.
Patent Suit Properly Dismissed Because Ex-Wife Didn’t Join Case
A lower court properly dismissed a patent suit brought by a Florida resident because his ex-wife failed to join in the suit, a federal appeals court ruled.
Mary Louise Taylor was awarded 60 percent of the proceeds from her husband James Taylor’s patent 5,806,566 in a 2011 divorce, according to court papers. When he filed a patent-infringement suit in April 2012, the company he was suing asked the court to dismiss the complaint because his ex-wife wasn’t part of the suit.
The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court, saying May 9 that James Taylor failed to establish either that his ex-wife had waived participation through an agreement with him or that she agreed to join the suit.
The case is Taylor v. Taylor Made Plastics Inc., 2014-1212, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).
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RBS Unit’s Unlicensed Use of Trade Finance Software Blocked
A Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc unit must stop using trade finance software the bank claims is critical to its business after a judge ruled the rights to it were sold seven years ago.
U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest in New York on May 9 ordered the RBS unit, ABN Amro Bank NV, which isn’t affiliated with the Dutch bank of the same name, to stop using the BankTrade platform owned by Complex Systems Inc. within a year. ABN Amro can’t use it to process any new trade finance transactions after 60 days, she said.
The software allows financial institutions to process and facilitate transactions, including letters of credit, loans, guarantees and fund transfers, according to the initial complaint filed in 2008.
Complex Systems said it licensed the use of BankTrade to ABN Amro Information Technology Services Co. in October 1997, allowing the lender to use it because of its corporate affiliation with the license-holder.
The bank lost the right to use the software 10 years later when it sold Information Technology Services and its LaSalle Bank unit to Bank of America Corp (BAC:US). for $21 billion, according to Forrest’s ruling.
The case is Complex Systems Inc. v. ABN Amro Bank NV, 08-cv-7497, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Oracle Can Pursue Claim That Google Copied Java, Court Says
Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) won a U.S. appeals court bid to revive claims that Google Inc. copied its Java programming language to develop the Android operating system, in a case that split Silicon Valley.
The shortcuts created by Java to perform basic functions like connecting to the Internet are eligible for copyright protection, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled May 9. The court reinstated a jury’s 2012 finding that Google infringed the copyrights, and remanded the case to let Google argue that it had fair use of the technology.
Oracle, the largest database-software maker, had sought more than $1 billion in damages, claiming Google used Java code without paying because it was in a rush to create Android, which has become the world’s most popular smartphone platform. The case divided the industry between companies that write interface code and those that rely on it to develop software programs.
The decision “is a win for Oracle and the entire software industry that relies on copyright protection to fuel innovation and ensure that developers are rewarded for their breakthroughs,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement.
Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Google, had no immediate comment.
The Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent law, heard the case because Oracle also claimed patent infringement. Oracle isn’t appealing the jury loss on that issue.
The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc. (GOOG:US), 13-1021, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-cv-3561, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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