Wednesday, May 22, 2013

(BN) Sanofi, Roll Global, Heineken, WWE: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Sanofi (SAN) won a U.S. appeals court ruling yesterday that revives a patent-infringement claim over generic versions of the allergy drug Allegra.

A trial judge erred in interpreting a patent on the drug that covers a process to make the active ingredient in the medicine, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said in an opinion posted on the court's website. The appeals court remanded the case for further proceedings based on the new understanding of what the patent covers.

In dispute is patent 5,750,703, which was issued in May 1998.

The case is Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Amino Chemicals Ltd., 11-1335, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court cases are Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, 2:04-cv-01077-GEB-MCA, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 2:04-cv-01078-GEB-MCA, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

CEA, BSA Line Up in Support of Patent-Ownership Disclosure Bill

The Consumer Electronics Association endorsed a measure that would require ownership data to be attached to U.S. patents.

The Arlington, Virginia-based trade group of consumer-products manufacturers said it approved the End of Anonymous Patents Act, which was introduced May 16 by U.S. Representative Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat.

The measure -- H.R. 2024 -- would require disclosure of any change of ownership to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office within 90 days of the change. The disclosure would include any party with the legal right to enforce the patent, as well as any parent company or controlling entity.

Any party that failed to disclose this information would have damages available only from the date at which this information is made public.

In a statement issued at the time he introduced the bill, Deutch said that so-called patent trolls "go to great lengths to conceal the relevant ownership and interests involved," adding that the ownership information would "bring much-needed transparency to our patent system."

The CEA said in its statement that patent trolls -- also known as "non-practicing entities" because they don't produce products or provide services covered by the patents --"penalize innovators and drive up prices for consumers."

The Business Software Alliance, a Washington-based trade group whose members include Intel Corp. (INTC), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC), also endorsed the proposed legislation. In its statement, the BSA said if enacted, the bill will "improve technology adoption and licensing by making it easier for potential users of patented inventions to identify and connect with patent holders so they can agree on terms."


Roll Global Unit Sells 'Cuties,' Will Shed 'Wonderful' Oranges

Billionaire Stewart Resnick's Roll Global's Paramount Citrus unit is divesting itself of the "Cuties" trademark used for mandarin oranges, the company said in a statement.

The brand will go to Sun Pacific, a 44-year-old producer grower based in Pasadena, California. Previously Sun Pacific and Paramount jointly owned the brand.

Paramount Citrus will partner with Fresno-based Fowler Packing to build a new brand for mandarins, according to the statement. They will be sold under the same "Wonderful" label used for pistachios, almonds and pomegranates, the company said. The Wonderful brands are part of Roll Global.

Next year Paramount Citrus will also being selling Texas red grapefruit under the "Wonderful" label,'' the company said.

The "cuties" name was the subject of a trademark suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles last year. Paramount sued Sun Pacific's Califia Farms unit, claiming its sale of juice under the "Cuties" trademark violated their licensing agreement. Paramount dismissed the case in April 2012.

That case was Paramount Citrus Packing Co. v. Califia Farms LP, 2:12-cv-02415-R-RZ, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Cancellation of Heineken's Russian 'Krusovice' Mark Barred

The Moscow Commercial Court refused to terminate trademark registration for Heineken NV (HEIA)'s "Krusovice" trademark, the Russian Legal Information Service reported.

Moscow-based AquaLife, a beverage company that is a parallel importer of the Krusovice beer -- which is brewed in the Czech Republic -- had sought the mark's cancellation so that it could use the name, according to RAPSI.

Russia's Supreme Commercial Court said in November than parallel imports are illegal, RAPSI reported.

AquaLife is also seeking termination of Diageo Plc (DGE)'s "Guinness" trademark in Russia after a Russian appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling barring AquaLife's parallel import of Guinness, according to RAPSI.


WWE 'Entrance-Music' Copyright Suit Stays in Texas, Court Says

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. must face copyright claims in Texas, a federal court ruled.

Composer James D. "Papa" Berg of Irving, Texas, sued the Stamford, Connecticut-based sports-entertainment company in federal court in Dallas in July. He claimed the company was making use of his music without authorization.

Berg composed a series of works used as entrance songs for wrestlers as they come into the arena. He said in his pleadings that he learned that WWE had improperly registered the works under the company's name, which diverted the royalty stream.

He claimed that the company was using this music without his permission on a round-the-clock cable channel, and as ring tones fans could buy.

WWE had sought to have the suit moved out of Texas, saying it didn't have enough of a presence in the state to justify trying the case there. U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle disagreed, saying in her May 15 order that WWE failed to show good reason why the case would be better tried in Connecticut.

She said that the company's wrestling-match programs are available in Texas, and that WWE products are offered for sale in the state, with the company knowingly benefited from Texas. She said that Texas "has a definite interest in insuring that one of its citizens be able to prosecute his claims at home."

Judge Boyle did reject some of Berg's claims, saying they were already covered by his copyright-infringement allegations.

The case is Papa Berg Inc. v. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE), 3:12-cv-02406-B, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

McCartney Concert Ticket Pre-Sales Trade Secret, City Claims

The city of Orlando, Florida, said the promoter of the May 18 concert featuring former Beatle Paul McCartney has insisted that information about buyers of pre-sale tickets at face-value prices is a trade secret, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The musician performed at a city-owned venue and Barbara Peterson, president of the state's First Amendment Foundation, told the Sentinel that this is enough reason to release the data.

An editorial writer for the newspaper argues that ticket pre-sales -- driven by concert promoters and the music industry -- puts the average consumer at a disadvantage, with as much as 80 percent of tickets for an event already sold before public sales are announced.

At a recent Taylor Swift concert at the facility, more than 80 percent of the tickets were pre-sold to members of the singer's fan club, season ticket-holders for the Orlando Magic, American Express cardholders, and media and VIPS, the newspaper reported.

(BN) Apple IPhone Loses Ground to Samsung in Consumer Survey

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL) (AAPL)'s iPhone lost ground to Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG)'s Motorola in an annual study measuring the satisfaction of consumers, following a sales slowdown for the pioneering smartphone.

While the device still had the top ranking among mobile-phone users, Samsung and Motorola have narrowed the gap, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which published its 2013 report today. The iPhone's rating fell 2.4 percent from a year earlier to a score of 81 from 83, while Samsung climbed 7 percent to 76 from 71. Motorola increased 5.5 percent to 77 from 73.

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IPhone sales increased 7 percent in the last quarter, the smallest gain since the phone was introduced in 2007. Samsung, meanwhile, has seen a surge in demand for its devices. The South Korean company captured a third of the global smartphone market in the first quarter -- almost double Apple's 18 percent -- according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Much of Samsung's success has come from its Galaxy S3, which debuted last May, according to ACSI. Samsung's 7 percent improvement "is the largest yet for any cell-phone manufacturer," the report said. Samsung is now rolling out the follow-up to that device, the Galaxy S4.

Shares Slip

Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple (AAPL) fell 0.7 percent to $439.66 at the close in New York. The stock has slumped 17 percent this year, compared with a 17 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, has seen its stock slip 2 percent to 1,492,000 won in the same period, while Google has climbed 28 percent.

Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, didn't return a message seeking comment.

In a ranking of wireless carriers, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) lost its top spot to Verizon Wireless, according to the ACSI survey. After years as the laggard among the top four wireless service providers, Sprint had grabbed the top spot in 2011 and 2012.

While Sprint maintained its 71 score from last year, Verizon Wireless gained 4.3 percent to lead all carriers with a score of 73.

ACSI was founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and is produced by ACSI LLC. For its reports, it surveys about 70,000 customers.

(BN) Seattle’s Best to Open Stores in Wal-Mart Parking Lots

(Bloomberg ) Seattle's Best Coffee, the chain owned by Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), tomorrow will open 10 new locations mostly in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) parking lots, in what will be the biggest one-day opening event ever for the coffee seller. 

Eight of the 10 stores in the Dallas area will be in Wal-Mart lots, Frank Sica, vice president and general manager of Seattle's Best, said in an interview. There's no indoor seating at the 523 square-feet (49 square meters) shops and customers order from their cars at the drive-thru or at a walk-up window, he said.

"Our customer is definitely on the go -- they're value conscious and they're in need of a better cup of coffee," Sica said. "We were very strategic in terms of where we placed our locations."

Starbucks, which has owned Seattle's Best since 2003, has been trying to boost U.S. sales by expanding beyond its traditional coffee cafes. The Seattle-based company is also opening new Teavana locations after acquiring the tea seller last year for about $626 million. Starbucks has said it would expand Seattle's Best and revive its retail presence with more locations.

Seattle's Best has "forged a very strong relationship with Wal-Mart," Sica said. He declined to discuss future expansion plans and specifics of the contract with the world's largest retailer, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The first of the smaller-sized shops opened in November in Seattle after the brewer closed about 475 Seattle's Best stores that were inside Borders Group Inc. locations following the bookseller's bankruptcy filing in 2011.

Dunkin' Donuts

Four more Seattle's Best drive-thru stores are slated to open in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year. The chain has about 75 locations, while Starbucks, the world's largest coffee-shop operator, has more than 11,100 shops in the U.S.

(BN) Intel CEO Krzanich Plans Faster Shift to Mobile Chips

(Bloomberg ) Intel Corp. (INTC)'s Brian Krzanich, who took over today as chief executive officer, said the world's largest computer chipmaker has the assets it needs to accelerate a push into mobile devices.

"We see that we've been a bit slow to move into that space," Krzanich said at the annual shareholder meeting at the company's headquarters in Santa Clara, California. "The base of assets that we have will allow us to grow in that area much faster moving forwards."

Krzanich, Intel's sixth chief executive, takes the helm as the company struggles to cut into Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM)'s lead in the $85.4 billion mobile-chip market. Industry-leading manufacturing and new products will enable the company to start making inroads in phones and tablets, he said.

Krzanich said he and newly promoted company President Renee James will try to make Intel more outward-looking in order to predict future trends in computing, Krzanich said.

That's more important as consumers, rather than corporations, take the leading role in determining which devices and technologies are successful, Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said in an interview following today's meeting.

"The lifecycle of those devices and the lifecycle of the leadership of the market is very short," he said. "The consumer is driving these very fast technology shifts."

Krzanich, a former factory manager, succeeds Paul Otellini, who retired. Intel has improved its execution in creating products for new markets and Krzanich, with his background in operations, is very focused on making sure that there are no slip ups, said Smith.

(BN) VMware Public Cloud Software Challenges Amazon, Microsoft

(Bloomberg ) VMware Inc. (VMW) is debuting a service that lets customers use the Web to access information and programs stored in its data centers, an effort to challenge Inc. (AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in cloud computing.

Early testers of the vCloud Hybrid Service include News Corp. (NWSA)'s Fox Broadcasting and the state of Michigan, VMware Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger in an interview. The product will be more widely available in the third quarter, he said.

VMware, the biggest provider of software that lets computers run multiple operating systems, is expanding in cloud-computing to bolster sales as U.S. customers trim technology spending. With the new product, VMware is entering the fastest-growing part of the cloud market, according to Gartner Inc., which estimates that sales of so-called infrastructure-as-a-service will surge by an average 38 percent annually to $30.6 billion by 2017 from $6.17 billion last year.

"Customers are asking for it -- clearly the whole public cloud service area has been growing and maturing," Gelsinger said. While he declined to provide pricing information, he said VMware's service will be more expensive than similar offerings from Amazon, the market leader, and Microsoft.

Gelsinger said VMware's new offering can command a premium because it lets users easily move applications between so-called private clouds, where software and services are run on customers' own machines, to public ones on VMware's servers.

Cloud Partners

Microsoft rolled out an infrastructure-as-a-service product last month along with a pledge to match Amazon's prices on certain offerings. While 71 percent of public-cloud customers said they use Amazon in a Forrester Research Inc. (FORR) survey, about 20 percent said they used Microsoft.

VMware will announce partnerships with Tibco Software Inc. (TIBX) as well as Pivotal -- a spinoff of VMware and its parent company EMC Corp. (EMC), according to Gelsinger. Those agreements will let customers run the applications they purchase from those companies in VMware's data centers, he said.

Microsoft will also allow vCloud Hybrid Service customers to use Microsoft's e-mail and database software running in the VMware cloud, Gelsinger said.

VMware is set to announce its new cloud product at an event today at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

(BN) Twitter Adopts Two-Step Authentication After Account Hack

(Bloomberg ) Twitter Inc. boosted security on its website, introducing two-step authentication that makes it harder for outsiders to gain access to accounts, a month after a false posting triggered a stock-market decline.

The new measure, available as an option starting today, requires users to input a code sent via text message to a mobile phone in order to log in, Jim O'Leary, a member of Twitter's product security team, said in a blog post.

Twitter, which has more than 200 million users, follows Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG), and Facebook Inc. (FB) in introducing two-step authentication, as people put more information online. The hack of an Associated Press account last month resulted in tweets about explosions at the White House that wiped out $136 billion in value from the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. That increased pressure on Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo to install safeguards for users as he prepares for an eventual initial public offering.

"Social sites are a big target of these hackers," said Barmak Meftah, chief executive officer of San Mateo, California-based computer-security company AlienVault Inc. "All the efforts around fortifying and securing these sites is obviously huge. It's great that Twitter is taking steps toward stopping this."

Twitter's new authentication feature has been in development since at least last month, according to a person familiar with the matter. The San Francisco-based company said it plans to introduce more security measures to prevent hacking.

AP Attack

"When you sign in to, there's a second check to make sure it's really you," O'Leary wrote. "Much of the server-side engineering work required to ship this feature has cleared the way for us to deliver more account security enhancements in the future."

In the AP hacking attack, the fabricated tweet was sent after unauthorized users gained access to the account, the news agency said. Common tactics that hackers use include spear phishing attacks, in which someone is duped into installing malicious code onto their computer or mobile device, and malware hidden on websites.

The AP restored its Twitter account after a security review. The false information from the AP account, which also said President Barack Obama had been injured, came after repeated attempts by hackers to gain access to AP reporters' passwords, the news agency said.

Corporate Information

In February, the Twitter account for Jeep was taken over. About that same time, the account for Burger King also was compromised. While those breaches were quickly remedied without any significant loss of sales, businesses can come under greater scrutiny after financial regulators approved the use of social media to release market-sensitive information.

That followed an investigation into Netflix Inc. (NFLX) Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. He had posted monthly viewership results on his Facebook page, rather than in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing or news release. Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk also fueled the debate in March, when he sent Twitter postings that moved the electric-car company's shares.

The SEC changed its guidance for companies distributing information April 2, allowing them to use social-media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to distribute announcements that can move markets.

"For a long period of time, banks were the main target, where hackers would embed a phishing link inside an e-mail," Meftah said. "Social sites are the new attack surface for these guys. If you can phish against Twitter, phish against Facebook - - the number of consumers that are going to be affected by it is massive."