iTunes patent suit settled

Apple has reached a pre-trial settlement on undisclosed terms

Apple has reached a settlement with a Vermont firm that claimed that Apple’s iTunes music software infringes their patent.

Court documents show that the patent owner, Mr David Contois, sued Apple in the U.S. District Court of Vermont in June 2005, accusing the company of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5, 864, 868 filed in February 1996 and relating to a computer system and method for controlling a media playing device.

According to this original court complaint, Mr Contois believed current or future Apple employees were in attendance when he first demonstrated his invention at a technology trade show in November 1996.

The case settled on 21 August 1996 only after a number of pre-trial hearings.

IANS – Japan to train Indians in IPR

Japan to provide IPR training support to Indian legal professionals

According to IANS, the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), Japan Institute of Inventions and Innovation (JIII), the IP law firm of Mohan Associates and the Office of the Controller General of Patents, India hosted a workshop in Chennia, India, on IP Information and maintenance.

At the workshop, an initiative was announced to train 20 Indian lawyers per year on Intellectual Property Rights management.

Shin-Ichiro Suzuki, executive counsellor of the Tokyo-based IP Research Centre is reported to have said:

“Over the last 10 years , we have been taking half a dozen lawyers from India, specialising in IPR, and selected by the Ministry of Commerce, to Japan for a three-week training every year.”

“We hope we will be able to support more specialists in IPR management once the training programme begins in India.”

S. Chandrasekharan, Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications, is reported to have said:

“The government is pro-actively promoting patent awareness and this workshop is part of the ongoing process of building a rights regime in India.”

Nanogen expands patent portfolio

US Patent granted for nanofabrication applications

US Patent No. 7, 060, 224 relates to nanofabrication and nanomanufacturing applications of Nanogen Inc.’s microarray technology employed in a product for molecular diagnostic applications. In particular, the patent relates to manipulation and positioning of nanoscale components to build structures.

Nanogen Chairman and CEO, Howard C. Birndorf, said:

“The ‘224 patent demonstrates the underlying strength and robustness of our basic electronic microarray technology and our commitment to continuing fundamental R&D to protect our strong IP position in the nascent and growing field of nanotechnology.”

Co-founder, Professor Michael J. Heller is reported to have said:

“It’s currently relatively easy to make various types of nanoparticles, but it’s hard to put different kinds of nanoparticles and other nanocomponents together.”

“And it’s even harder to combine nanoparticles with components of other size scales, like you would need to do in order to build an integrated sensor device, for example, that could circulate within the body, detecting disease and releasing medication as appropriate. The non-mechanical ‘pick and place’ allows for this type of integrated assembly.”

“Fabricating complex integrated devices right now usually requires that each component be built separately and then assembled. Interfaces that integrate function across the various components can be difficult to achieve.”

“Using the non-mechanical ‘pick and place’ technology described in the ‘224 patent facilitates integrated assembly of these complex structures.”

In addition to the manufacture of Nanogen electronic microarray technology, the technique of the granted patent can be applied to other areas of technology, particularly photovoltaic devices, fuel cells and batteries, but also other technologies: flat panel displays, wireless integrated devices, microcantilever sensor devices, atomic force microscope devices, integrated MEMS devices, integrated microscopic analytical and diagnostic devices, and compact, handheld medical diagnostic devices and systems.

Procter & Gamble trade mark lawsuit filed

HABA-Davion sued over a number of P & G brands

The Procter & Gamble Company (P & G) has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against HABA-Davion, Inc. for trade dress and trademark infringement involving several beauty care brands.

HABA-Davion manufactures and distributes health and beauty private label products to retailers.

The lawsuit relates to the Secret(R), Old Spice(R) Red Zone(R) and High Endurance(R) brands. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. Federal District Court in New Jersey.

P & G’s Chief Legal Office, Jim Johnson, said:

“As in other cases we have pursued successfully, this is a clear case of infringement, designed to feed on the goodwill of our brands and confuse consumers.”

“By filing this lawsuit, we are asking the court to enforce this area of law,” Johnson added. “We encourage these companies to compete fairly with us, based upon their own designs and within the letter and spirit of the law.”

SanDisk MP3 licence dispute

BBC – Electronics manufacturer SanDisk is facing a legal fight over its use of popular MP3 compression technology.

German officials seized MP3 players from SanDisk’s booth at the IFA show in Berlin after an Italian patents firm won an injunction against the company.

Italian patents company Sisvel alleges that SanDisk refuses to pay licensing fees it needs to playback MP3 files.

SanDisk also faces a lawsuit brought by Sisvel in a German court, but denies that its products infringe patents.

SanDisk has recently launched new MP3 players based on flash memory, with capacities of up to 8GB, in an attempt to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iPod nano.

But a raft of new products were removed from the company’s stand at the IFA show in Berlin after Sisvel applied for an injunction, Sisvel told the BBC News website.

‘No progress’

According to Giustino de Sanctis, head of Sisvel’s US-based subsidiary Audio MPEG, SanDisk’s refusal to purchase an MP3 licence leaves them out of step with some 600 other manufacturers and software developers. “By definition you have to follow the standard,” Mr de Sanctis said.

Mr de Sanctis said the fact that SanDisk players were able to play MP3 files meant the company was legally required to purchase a licence.

“It is just not possible to do it any other way,” he said.

Mr de Sanctis said the Berlin criminal court issued an injunction against SanDisk and officials visited the company’s booth at the IFA show to seize and remove MP3 players.

“We are not getting anywhere with them,” Mr de Sanctis said, explaining the decision to apply for an injunction.

“We have 600 licensees and we have to protect their rights, and the rights of the patent holders,” he added.

Sisvel’s founder Roberto Dini told the website that SanDisk could gain an unfair edge over competitors and could potentially offer trade customers at the high-profile German show a lower price for its MP3 players.

“This is unfair competition,” Mr Dini told

Complex compression

SanDisk, which is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flash memory products, acknowledged that it was facing a legal challenge over its MP3 players.

However, the company would not comment on Sisvel’s claim to have won an injunction in Berlin.

In a statement, SanDisk confirmed it is facing legal action in a court in Mannheim, Germany – a separate action also brought by Sisvel – but defended its audio technology.

“SanDisk is showing that its MP3 players operate a technology which is completely different from a certain audio data transmission and reception techniques that has been patented for Philips and others many years ago.”

“An expert opinion from one of the founders of MP3 digital audio compression substantiates SanDisk’s position. SanDisk is not infringing any patent in the pending litigation.”

The MP3 compression algorithm emerged in the 1990s following development efforts by two sets of technology companies and institutes.

Sisvel and its US subsidiary Audio MPEG issues MP3 licences on behalf of Dutch firm Philips, a French firm and a German research institute.

Another firm, Thomson, issues licences on behalf of a second group of developers.

Warning from Minister

Minister warns Intellectual Property pirates that “the UK is no longer a safe place for you

In a keynote speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) today, UK Minister for Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury will say that to meet the challenge of Intellectual Property (IP) theft by organised crime groups, the Patent Office has developed the National IP Crime Strategy, which brings together enforcement agencies and industry to tackle IP theft nationally. This in turn has led to the development of TellPat, a national database for recording counterfeiting and piracy activities, which will provide strategic information for spot raids at markets and other venues across the country throughout the year.

Lord Sainsbury said:

“We want to provide in the UK the best possible conditions for business and our communities to innovate and grow. We don’t want Intellectual Property crime to harm society either in lost jobs or poor quality products. And we are determined to stamp this out. The clear message to IP criminals is that the UK is no longer a safe environment for you. Our joint intelligence will lead to more surprise raids, in more locations, and we will take action against all those who are involved.”

The first of a series of raids has already taken place at Wembley market at the end of 2005 which netted more than 1.5 million pounds-worth of counterfeit goods. As a result approximately 34 people are being prosecuted, with intelligence also passed to other agencies for action.

In a paper for IPPR, also published today, Lord Sainsbury describes the strength and importance of the UK’s Intellectual property system in the global economy. The paper also emphasises the importance of a robust IP system which is able to balance the needs of creators and consumers and which creates the right conditions to support genuine innovation.

Lord Sainsbury argues:

“The UK IP system awards an inventor in his garage or the composer in his bedroom as much as a big pharmaceutical company or a superstar. They are awarded the same rights and the same conditions and privileges.”

“The choices the Artic Monkeys made are a case in point. They successfully built up their fan base by giving away their music via the Internet. Having built customer demand, they have now been signed by an independent record label and their debut album has become the fastest selling one in UK chart history, selling 360,000 copies in a week. This is a very novel use of IP – effectively giving away their music to create customer demand and grab the attention of record companies. They could only do this because of the flexibility and robustness within our copyright system.”

Google Talk under fire

Google is being sued for its voice over IP part of the Google Talk program

Rates Technology, Inc., a New York company is suing Google for patent infringement. The lawsuit relates to the Google Talk instant messaging and chat program. In particular, Rates Technology alleges that the Voice-over-IP (VoIP) part of the Google Talk program infringes two US patents held by Rates Technology relating to minimising long-distance call costs through use of the Internet.

As reported in CNET news, Rates Technology is alleged to be a patent holding company and does not have a competing product, but instead makes money out of filing patent infringement lawsuits.

Google has stated that they believe the lawsuit is without merit and that they will defend it vigorously.

Rates technology President, Jerry Weinberger, is reported to have said that Rates Technology has also sued Vonage and Cablevision for patent infringement. One-time technology usage fees have been paid by Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco, Lucent and others, and Rates Technology is in discussions with eBay over their Skype technology, presumably relating to the SkypeOut part of their service.

Mr Weinberger is reported to have said:

“When a VoIP call can be transferred to the regular PSTN (telephone network), the switching of that call infringes our patent.”

Mobile e-mail patents: Microsoft sued

Visto sues Microsoft for patent infringement over Windows Mobile platform.

Mobile e-mail solutions vendor sues Microsoft for use of allegedly infringing technology in its Windows Mobile 5.0 platform.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in Texas, Visto has complained that Microsoft has infringed 3 of its patents. To make matters more interesting, NTP, the company that sued Research In Motion (RIM) for alleged patent infringement, has acquired an equity interest in Visto as well signing a licensing agreement with them.

Launched last summer, one of the features of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 is an ability to connect directly to a Microsoft Exchange server, thereby enabling users to have direct access to e-mail and other classes of information. It is this ability, to receive e-mails delivered to mail servers located behind corporate firewalls, which Visto claims to have developed first and patented.

In a statement, Brian A Bogosian, CEO of Visto, stated:

“Microsoft has a long and well-documented history of acquiring the technology of others, branding it as their own, and entering new markets”

“In some cases, they buy the technology from its creator. In other cases, they wrongfully misappropriate the Intellectual property that belongs to others. For their foray into mobile e-mail and data access, Microsoft simply decided to misappropriate Visto’s well-known and documented patented technology.”

“Innovative companies have been pommeled out of existence or into minor players after Microsoft decided to enter their markets. Netscape and RealNetworks are among the best known examples. Courts around the world have ruled time after time against Microsoft, saying that it has acted either inappropriately or in violation of the law, especially concerning how they have treated competing companies. We will not let that happen to Visto.”

Amendment to TRIPS

Pharmaceutical patent flexibility for developing countries

At a General Council meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an amendment was agreed to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

The amendment allows governments of developing nations to initiate manufacture of patent-protected pharmaceuticals without obtaining consent from the patent proprietor.

The amendment is designed to make it easier for poorer countries to obtain generic versions of pharmaceuticals when there is an imminent outbreak of an infectious disease.

The amendment (Article 31bis) is in three parts, the first of which allows pharmaceutical products to be made under compulsory licences and exported to countries lacking productions capacity.

Director-General, Pascal Lamy, is reported to have said:

“The agreement to amend the TRIPS provisions confirms once again that members are determined to ensure the WTO’s trading system contributes to humanitarian and development goals as they prepare for the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.”

“This is of particular personal satisfaction to me, since I have been involved for years in working to ensure that the TRIPS Agreement is part of the solution to the question of ensuring the poor have access to medicines.”

Google is to make available for download classical literary works

Google is to make available for download classical books via their Google Book Search site.

The works provided are out of copyright due to their age and can be downloaded and printed for subsequent reading. Google is reported to have stated:

“Users can search and read these books on Google Book Search like always, but now they can also download and print them to enjoy at their own pace. We do not enable downloading of any books under copyright.”