March 21, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – THX Ltd. filed a lawsuit against Apple, Inc. in California federal court claiming that the technology giant is infringing its patent that covers technology for narrow-profile speakers.

The complaint filed in San Francisco alleges that various Apple devices, including the popular iPhone 4 and the iPad, infringe U.S. Patent Number 7,433,483.  The ‘483 patent covers technology for narrow-profile speakers that can be used in small devices to improve sound without the need for external speakers.

San Rafael, CA-based THX told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White that Apple is “among other things, making, using, importing, offering to sell, and/or selling in the United States products covered by one or more claims of the ‘483 patent…including but not limited to Apple’s iPhone4 and later models, as well as its iPad, and iMac products.”

THX’s patent, titled “Narrow profile speaker configurations and systems” was granted in 2008 and covers speakers that are meant to be used in small electronic devices including computers and flat-screen devices.  According to the patent description, the speakers can also be used in cars.  The narrow-profile speakers emit sound through a narrow opening and the size of the opening modifies the shape of the sound waves, altering the sound emitted, according to the patent description.

THX claims that Apple has been making and importing various electronic devices that infringe its ‘483 patent and that Apple’s patent infringement will cause irreparable harm to THX and therefore the technology giant must be stopped immediately.

“Apple’s infringement of the ‘483 patent has cause and will continue to cause THX both monetary damage and irreparable harm for which it has no adequate remedy at law.”

THX is seeking a declaratory judgment that Apple has infringed the ‘483 patent, a permanent injunction prohibiting Apple from continuing to infringe the patent, damages, prejudgment interest, costs and attorney fees.

THX is a cinema acoustics company started by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.  THX began after Lucas realized that the state-of-the-art technology used to record sound while filming was being lost on cinema audiences, as theaters were using antiquated acoustic technology incapable of playing the sound the way the producers had envisioned.

The company went on to revolutionize the way movies are heard on both the big screen and more recently on devices in the home.  Today the company is known for its certification standards for cinema sound quality.

 

February 28, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Qualcomm, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. told the Federal Trade Commission that Google is seeking injunctions to prevent competitors from selling goods that infringe its stand-essential patents, even though Google made an agreement with the FTC that it would not seek injunctions against companies that are willing to license the patented technology.

Qualcomm, Microsoft, Ericsson and  Apple all made public comments last week saying that Google is not living up to the promises it made in its deal with the FTC regarding how it handles the standard-essential patents it obtained when it bought Motorola Mobility Inc.

Google’s settlement with the FTC included a provision that prohibits Google from pursuing injunctions against companies that are willing to license the patents.  Apple and Microsoft, both of which have been in patent licensing wars with Google, said that Google is still seeking injunctions against them and using the threat of injunctions as a tool in negotiating past licensing fees.

“Google continues to pursue injunctive relief against Apple in federal court and seeks to exploit the injunction it obtained and enforced against Apple in Germany,” Apple said.

Microsoft requested the FTC clarify the pending consent decree to demand Google to abandon all injunctive relief actions that have already been filed.

“We assume that Google’s refusal to withdraw its pending claims for injunctive relief means that it interprets the proposed order to permit it to continue its existing claims for injunctive relief, notwithstanding the commission’s public statement to the contrary,” Microsoft said.  “Clarification of the decree in this regard would be appropriate.”

The companies expressed concern that if the consent decree were to be adopted for all standard-essential patent owners there would be far-reaching consequences and the companies urged the FTC to limit the proposed consent decree just to Google’s case.

“Ericsson believes that the specific procedures described in the order, if widely adopted, may cause unintended and undesirable consequences,” Ericsson said.  “Unnecessary restrictions on the availability of injunctive relief against unwilling licensees may discourage companies such as Ericsson from contributing to open standards.”

Trade groups such as the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Intellectual Property Owners Association also opposed the consent decree.  The groups expressed concern that the consent decree limits the patent owners’ First Amendment right to seek injunctive relief from the courts in the case of infringement.

February 20, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – eBay Inc. was sued in the Southern District of California in San Diego for allegedly infringing patents that cover technology related to the display of auction information online.

Patent-holding company Advanced Auctions LLC took issue with the way in which eBay displays price and time information for auctions held on its website.  Advanced Auctions specifically pointed to the technology eBay uses to update bid and pricing information in the last hour of an auction as infringing its patents.

In the complaint filed in San Diego, Advanced Auctions alleges that eBay’s website shows the highest current bid and the time remaining in the auction for every active auction.  Before the final hour of the auction, the website does not automatically update this information.  It is up to the user to manually refresh the browser to get the most current time and bid information.

Once the last hour of the auction hits, the highest bid and time remaining in the auction is automatically updated by the website, which Advanced Auctions claims infringes its “Real Time Auction with End Game” patent.

Del Mar, California-based Advanced Auctions claimed it sent a cease and desist letter to eBay regarding its alleged patent infringement, but the company claims eBay never responded to the letter or ceased using the technology that Advance Suctions claims infringes on its patents.

According to the complaint, eBay’s 2012 annual report shows that 37 percent of the San Jose, California-based online auction house’s gross merchandise volume was handled through its online auctions.  Since those auctions use Advanced Auctions’ patented technology, the company claims, eBay is also contributing to direct infringement by its users.

Advanced Auctions alleged that since eBay has continued to use the automatic auction updating technology after it received notice of Advanced Auctions’ patent, eBay’s infringement is willful.

Advanced Auctions is asking the court for a judgment that eBay infringed its patents, an injunction preventing eBay from continuing to infringe its patent, an accounting of damages suffered by Advanced Auctions, treble damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

Judge John A. Houston of the Southern District of California in San Diego will hear the case.

February 11, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Neptune Technologies & Bioressources Inc. launched a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against several competing companies, claiming their krill oil products infringe on a patent the company holds for its products.

Neptune produces krill oil tablets for use as a dietary supplement.  The company receives krill from the Antarctic Ocean and uses its patented extraction process to pull the maximum amount of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from the krill.

The complaint claims that the krill-based products made and sold by Aker BioMarine AS, Avoca Inc., Enzymotec Ltd., Olympic Seafood AS and their related entities directly or indirectly infringe U.S. Patent Number 8,278,351, which protects the extraction process and formula for Neptune Krill Oil.

Neptune President and CEO Henri Harland released a statement that said, “The filing of the complaint is consistent with our philosophy that infringing competitors must be held accountable for their actions.  This approach will enhance our business position as the leader and the innovator in this market”

Harland went on to say, “When a company infringes our patents, without our permission or a license, we owe it to our shareholders and investors to protect the patents through every means available to us.”

The complaint requests an order preventing the companies from importing, marketing or selling their infringing krill-based products in the United States.  The ITC is expected to begin investigating the case this month and will take 15 to 18 months to complete the investigation.

Neptune filed the complaint just days after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allowed a second continuance on the ‘351 patent and another patent related to the extraction and production of krill oil for dietary supplements.  The continuation application consisted of a single claim related to products made using Antarctic krill oil and covers most products containing krill oil that are currently sold in the U.S.

Neptune claims it provided the USPTO with all prior art during the prosecution process.  However, Aker BioMarine has requested that the patents be reexamined.

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil are known for their benefits on brain and heart health and are have been proven to be effective on joint and women’s health.

January 30, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – The Federal Circuit ruled in favor of multi-specialty health care company Allergan, Inc., upholding the district court’s ruling that two generic-drug manufacturers would infringe the Irvine-based pharmaceutical company’s patent if the companies produced a generic form of the drug Lumigan.

The Third Circuit agreed with the trial court that after Barr Laboratories, Inc. and Sandoz, Inc.’s expert testimony was discredited during the trial, the companies failed to prove their claims that Allergan’s patent should not be valid due to obviousness and the fact that it was based on prior art.

Judge Evan Wallach wrote in the opinion released Monday, “the district court did not err in finding that common sense and logic were not sufficiently illuminating in this case to carry Barr and Sandoz’s burden of proving the obviousness.”

Monday’s decision is another win for Allergan against Israel-based Barr Laboratories and Germany-based Sandoz in their ongoing patent disputes and upholds the September 2011 ruling from U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson that stated the two generics makers would infringe Allergan’s patents if they began making the generic version of Lumigan.

Judge Robinson claimed that the two generics makers failed to prove that Allergan’s patents were invalid and went on to say that the defendants’ expert witness Dr. Ashim K. Mitra “was eviscerated on cross-examination.”

Allergan filed the lawsuit in May 2009 against Barr Laboratories, which was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. in 2008, after the company filed an abbreviated new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a generic form of Lumigan.  Allergan filed a similar suit against Novartis International AG subsidiary Sandoz shortly after.  The two cases were combined in April 2010.

Due to the ruling, Sandoz and Barr will have to wait until the Lumigan patent expires in August 2014 before the companies can submit their abbreviated new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get approval to sell a generic form of Lumigan in the United States.

The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent Number 5,688,819.  Lumigan is used to treat pressure that develops inside the eye in glaucoma patients and brings in more than $400 million in annual sales.

January 9, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – The deal Google struck with the Federal Trade Commission last week has received a lot of attention and many are hoping it will curtail the ongoing technology patent wars, which most agree have gotten out of control.

In the deal struck between the two entities, the FTC ruled that Google has not violated antitrust law, much to the disappointment of many of the company’s critics.  The decision came after a two-year investigation of the way Google handles licensing of its industry-standard patents to its competitors.  Google had to agree to allow its competitors access to its industry standard patents, something it had previously fought hard to prevent.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said during a press conference that the patent agreement could serve as a model for other patent disputes and it could reduce patent litigation, at least in the technology sector.

As Google and Apple, two of the largest players in the technology world, spent more money on acquiring and protecting their intellectual property last year than they did on research and development, anything that can decrease those costs may benefit the companies and their customers.

At the center of the deal between the FTC and Google is the technology giant’s purchase of Motorola Mobility, which Google bought in part for Motorola’s 17,000 tech patents.  Many of these patents are standard-essential patents, which Google is required to license to its competitors on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

The FTC’s investigation began when Motorola reneged on its agreement to license its patents according to FRAND terms.  When Google acquired Motorola, it continued to refuse licensing of industry-standard patents and began seeking injunctions to prohibit competitive products that contained its patented technology from entering the country.  Conduct like this may decrease competition and increase prices, which could hurt consumers.

Google senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond said, “We will seek to resolve standard-essential patent disputes through a neutral third-party before seeking injunctions.  This agreement establishes clear rules of the road for standard-essential patents going forward.”

Though the FTC’s deal with Google is not binding on any other company, it is speculated that other technology companies will use the terms of the agreement as a guide for the licensing of industry-standard patents.

December 14, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A jury in San Diego found that Apple Inc. and LG Electronics Inc. did not infringe patents for electronic devices including phones and computers owned by Multimedia Patent Trust, an Alcatel-Lucent SA subsidiary.  The verdict was issued Thursday after a trial that lasted more than two weeks in the Southern District of the United States District Court. The trial was presided over by U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff.

The Paris-based Multimedia Patent Trust filed the lawsuit in December 2010 and it asked the jurors to award $9.1 million in royalty damages from LG Electronics and $172.3 million in royalty damages from Apple.

The Plaintiff accused LG Electronics of infringing two of its patents and Apple of infringing three of its patents for video-compression technology, which aids in sending data via satellite and over the Internet and allows for increased media storage on DVDs and Blu-Ray disks. The patent trust claimed the patents were infringed by multiple devices including LG Electronics’ Chocolate Touch VX8575, Touch AX8575, Bliss, UX700, Mystique UN610, Samba LG8575, and Lotus Elite LX610 as well as Apple’s MacBook, iMac, iPhone, iPod, and iPad. The patent trust also claimed that at least 33 different companies have paid more than $190 million to license the patents in question and Apple and LG Electronics should have to pay the licensing fees as well.

Apple and LG Electronics argued that they had in fact compensated the Multimedia Patent Trust because they are members of an industry-wide patent pool. The companies also claimed that the trust was attempting to expand the scope of its expired patents to cover technology that it does not own.

Though Apple and LG Electronics have a verdict, the two-year patent war is far from over between the companies. The patent trust has already motioned for mistrial, sighting the behavior of Apple’s counsel during closing arguments as reason to retry the case. Apple received the ruling just hours after losing a separate, unrelated case against MobileMedia, a subsidiary of Sony, MPEG-LA and Nokia. In that case a Delaware jury found Apple had infringed three patents dealing with the operation of the phone’s camera and call handling.

December 12, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Apple and Google are reportedly working together to offer Eastman Kodak more than $500 million for its imaging patents, which are being sold as part of Kodak’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The two technology giants are bidding on an undisclosed amount of Kodak’s 1,100 patents related to capturing, manipulating and sharing digital images.  Kodak valued the patents at $2.21 billion to $2.57 billion in its court documents, claiming it has made more than $3 billion by licensing the patents to companies such as Samsung Electronics, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, LG Electronics and other technology companies.

Bidding entities disagreed with the figure Kodak assigned to its patents, as the first round of bids were reported to be in the $150 to $250 million range, likely because the value of the patents has been diluted due to Kodak’s excessive licensing.

Kodak is unwilling to sell its patents for that low of a figure as its $850 million loan offer, which it needs to pull out of bankruptcy, is contingent upon its patents selling for no less than $500 million.

In the first round of bidding, California-based companies Apple and Google were bidding against each other.  Apple is teaming up with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures while Google is working with RPX Corp. and Asian manufacturers of Google’s Android phones.

Though Apple and Google are major competitors in the smartphone market and have had patent disputes in the past, partnering to purchase the patents allows both companies to not only reduce the cost but also limit the likelihood of patent infringement claims in the future.

This will not be the first time Apple has teamed up with a major competitor to purchase patents.  Apple teamed up with Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, to buy 6,000 patents from Nortel Network’s Corp. for $4.5 billion.  The companies were able to out bid Google, who only offered $900 million.  Google and Apple refused to comment on the alleged bid, as each company said it would not comment on rumors.  New York-based company Kodak would not comment on the purchase either, due to a court ordered confidentiality agreement.

Once Kodak secures its exit financing, it plans to shrink the company and move its focus away from photography, as the company was unable to keep up with the switch to digital.  Instead, it plans to focus on commercial, packaging and functional printing services.

November 13, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – For the first time, a federal judge will determine what constitutes a reasonable royalty rate for patents that have become an industry standard.  The case, which begins Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, started when Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Motorola in November 2012 claiming that Motorola breached its contract to provide use of its patents at a reasonable rate.  The technology relates to online-video viewing and wireless usage.

Private companies that hold industry-standard patents may be required to license them under FRAND or “fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory” terms as part of joining international-standards groups.  Microsoft claims that Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google, demanded excessive royalties for the use of its industry-standard patented technologies.  Microsoft claims that Motorola required 2.25 percent of the sale price of every Xbox and Windows sale, which it claims would amount to Microsoft paying Motorola $4 billion annually.

Motorola disputes the $4 billion figure and claims that the 2.25 percent royalty rate was simply an opening figure for negotiations.  Judge Robart is expected to give an opinion about what constitutes a reasonable royalty fee for all industry-specific patents.  A jury trial, planned for the spring, will then compare the reasonable rate determined by Judge Robart with Motorola’s rate.

The decision will have an impact on other cases between the two companies in Washington, D.C. and in Germany.  Motorola is currently seeking an import ban on Xbox consoles from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), as they contain some of the industry-standard patents being disputed in the Seattle trial.  Motorola has already won an injunction from a German court that bans the sale of certain Windows and Xbox products in those countries.  Judge Robart has barred Motorola from enforcing the injunction until the Seattle case is settled.

Microsoft has already said that it will pay Motorola whatever the court decides is a reasonable royalty rate.  If Motorola agrees, the cases before the ITC and the injunction in Germany will likely go away.

 

October 29, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Uniloc Inc. filed a flurry of patent infringement lawsuits against 12 separate companies in Texas federal court on Friday, asserting its rights in a patent for administering license terms for software on a computer network.

The companies named as defendants in the complaints include Altair Engineering Inc., Altera Corp., Altium Inc., Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp., Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc., Mintab Inc., Originlab Corp., Parametric Technology Corp., SlickEdit Inc., SofTech inc., System Development Inc. and Waterloo Maple Inc.

All 12 companies are accused of infringing U.S. Patent Number 5,579,222, entitled “Distributed license administration system using a local policy server to communicate with a license server and control execution of computer programs.” The patent was issued in November 1996.

The defendants’ allegedly infringing behavior includes making, using and selling software that includes concurrent license administration functionality that permits the borrowing or “checking out” of licenses, according to the complaints.

Uniloc researches, develops, makes and licenses information security technology solutions, platforms and frameworks, including solutions for securing software applications and digital content. The company’s patented technologies enable software and content publishers to securely distribute and sell their high-value technology assets with minimum burden to their legitimate end users, according to the complaint.

Uniloc’s technology is used in a range of several different markets, including software and game security, identity management, intellectual property rights management and critical infrastructure security, it says.

The ’222 patent claims an improved system, working on a network with a plurality of digital computers at their own nodes in communication with each other over a data path, for administration of license terms of a software product. The system is arranged for tracking software product usage, associated with one of the computers acting as a license server.

The patented technology permits the license server to identify the current set of computer nodes that are using the software product at a given time, handle license data concerning conditions under which usage of the software product is permitted at any given node, and determine whether the conditions would still be satisfied if a given node is added. The software product may also include instructions to work with the license server to enforce the license terms.

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