Google, Sprint, Smith & Nephew: Intellectual Property

December 21, 2011, 12:07 AM EST

by Victoria Slind-Flor

(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Updates with Apple item in patent section.)

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) — Google Inc., owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, was sued by British Telecommunications Plc for allegedly infringing six U.S. patents for mobile-device technology.

BT, based in London, is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages against Mountain View, California-based Google, according to a complaint filed Dec. 15 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“BT has invested heavily over the last 20 years,” generating “numerous patents,” and Google’s products including the Android operating system, maps, search, music and book services wrongly “incorporate BT’s patented technologies,” according to the complaint.

last year, BT sued U.S. cable company Cox Communications Inc. in the same court over four patents for transmitting data over cable networks. A trial in that case is tentatively scheduled for 2014, according to court papers.

“we believe these claims are groundless,” Jim Prosser, a Google spokesman, said in an e-mailed message. he said the company would defend against them.

the case is British Telecommunications Plc v. Google Inc., 11-CV-1249, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Sprint Sues Time Warner, Comcast over Digital Phone Technology

Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, accused Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast Corp. and two other cable-TV companies of infringing patents related to transmitting phone calls over digital lines.

Sprint filed separate lawsuits yesterday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, against Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cable one Inc. and Cox Communications Inc. Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint claims the companies are using technology it patented in the 1990s for transmission of voice data packets.

the companies “have realized the great value in this technology and have misappropriated it without Sprint’s permission,” Sprint said in each complaint.

the 12 patents include some that were asserted against Vonage Holdings Corp., which agreed to pay $80 million to license the technology after losing a 2007 trial.

Alex Dudley, a spokesman for new York-based Time Warner Cable, said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. John Demming, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast, also declined to comment.

Rima Calderon, a spokeswoman for Cable one parent Washington Post Co., said the Washington-based company doesn’t comment on litigation. Todd Smith, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Cox, declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

the cases are Sprint Communications Co. v. Time Warner Capt Inc., 11cv2686; Sprint v. Cable one Inc., 11cv2685; Sprint v. Comcast Cable Communications LLC, 11cv2684; and Sprint v. Cox Communications Inc., 11cv2683, all U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas (Kansas City).

Juniper Networks Sues Palo Alto Networks over U.S. Patents

Juniper Networks Inc. accused Palo Alto Networks Inc. in a lawsuit of infringing six U.S. patents for firewall technology used to protect communications networks from intrusion.

Juniper, based in Sunnyvale, California, is seeking a jury trial, unspecified damages and an order to stop misuse of its inventions, according to the complaint filed today in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“as a leading high-performance networking company, we will take every appropriate measure to defend and protect our innovation,” David Shane, a Juniper spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Palo Alto networks, based in Santa Clara, California, “was founded by several former high-level employees of Juniper to compete against Juniper,” lawyers for Juniper said in court papers.

“we don’t provide comment on these types of matters,” Mike Haro, a spokesman for Palo Alto Networks, said in a phone interview.

in a statement last week, Haro’s firm said it was named by industry researcher Gartner Inc. as a leader in the rapidly evolving field.

the case is Juniper Networks Inc. v. Palo Alto Networks Inc., 11-cv-1258, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Smith & Nephew $85 Million Verdict against Arthrex Removed

A U.S. judge threw out an $85 million verdict that Smith & Nephew Plc had won against Arthrex Inc. over patented technology for surgical anchors used in shoulder surgery.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman in Portland, Oregon, found that, under the correct interpretation of the patent, no reasonable jury could find that Arthrex infringed the Smith & Nephew patent, Arthrex said in a statement.

the devices are anchored to a bone to repair tears in the rotator cuff or in the labrum, a fibrous ring in the shoulder socket. the June trial was the third in the case, which began in 2004 against Naples, Florida-based Arthrex.

“while we are very pleased with the judge’s ruling, we are perplexed by S&N’s continued attempt to compete in the courtroom rather than the marketplace,” John W. Schmieding, Arthrex’s general counsel, said in the statement.

London-based Smith & Nephew, Europe’s biggest maker of artificial hips and knees, targeted the SutureTak and PushLock line of suture anchors made by closely held Arthrex.

“We’re disappointed in the court’s latest ruling,” said Joe Metzger, a spokesman for Smith & Nephew. “we are reviewing the decision and expect to appeal and request reinstatement of the jury’s verdict.”

the case is Smith & Nephew Inc. v. Arthrex Inc., 04cv29, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Portland).

Broadcom says Judge Ruled against Emulex on Infringement

Broadcom Corp., a developer of integrated circuits for high-speed data networks, said a federal judge ruled that Emulex Corp. infringed two of its patents.

the infringing products include semiconductors and four channel switches, Irvine, California-based Broadcom said in a statement yesterday.

an entry in the court docket in Santa Ana, California, said U.S. District Judge James Selna had denied Emulex’s motion for summary judgment.

“we are pleased with the court’s decision and to have prevailed in our case against Emulex,” Art Chong, Broadcom’s general counsel, said in the statement.

Broadcom said it has asked the court to issue a permanent injunction that would prohibit the sale of the infringing products, the company said. the case was filed in November 2009.

Katherine Lane, a spokeswoman for Costa Mesa, California- based Emulex, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

the case is Emulex v. Broadcom, 09-01310, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division (Santa Ana).

Apple Wins Final U.S. Patent Ruling Banning Some HTC Phones

Apple Inc. won a final patent-infringement ruling that bans some HTC Corp. smartphones from the U.S., bolstering efforts to prove that devices running the Google Inc. Android system copy the iPhone.

the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ban would take effect April 19 and is subject to appeal by HTC and a review by President Barack Obama that may delay enforcement. the commission said in a notice yesterday that it found HTC’s Android phones infringed a patent related to data-detection technology, completing a review of a judge’s findings in July.

the ruling is the first definitive decision in the dozens of patent cases that began to proliferate in 2010 as smartphone makers battle over a market that Strategy Analytics Inc. said increased 44 percent last quarter from a year earlier to 117 million phones worldwide. Apple has been the most aggressive in its legal efforts, trying to slow the growth of Android devices, including those made by Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC.

HTC, the second-largest maker of Android phones, used its partnership with Google to help transform itself from a contract manufacturer founded in 1997 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, to the biggest U.S. smartphone seller in the third quarter. HTC generated about $5 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to a separate patent complaint it filed at the trade agency against Cupertino, California-based Apple. That’s more than half of HTC’s $9 billion (NT$275 billion) in global sales last year.

Among the HTC phones at risk of being blocked from the U.S. are the Nexus one, Touch Pro, Diamond, Tilt II, Dream, myTouch, Hero and Droid Eris, according to Apple’s original complaint.

Yesterday’s case is in the Matter of Certain Personal Data and Mobile Communications Devices and Related Software, 337-710, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.

Disney’s ‘Brave’ Application Raises Atlanta Braves’ Ire

the Atlanta Braves National League baseball team is opposing the Walt Disney Co.’s applications to register “Brave” as a trademark.

Disney will be releasing an animated film set in Scotland with a red-haired female heroine in June, according to a company website. the film will feature the voices of Julie Walters, Emma Thompson, Kelly McDonald, Craig Ferguson and Billy Connolly.

according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Disney seeks to register “Brave” for a variety of goods, including films, backpacks, furniture, glitter, bedding and clothing. all told, Disney filed 28 applications for either “Brave” or “Disney Pixar Brave.”

the baseball team objects to the applications, saying the public is likely to be confused, even though Disney uses the singular form of the word, and the team is known as the Braves.

according to the most recent filing with the patent office, the Braves have asked that proceedings be suspended until March, saying progress has been made toward the settlement of the dispute.

Golub says Wakefern Trademark Dispute on Verge of Settlement

A trademark dispute between the Golub Corp. and the Wakefern Food Corp. of Elizabeth, new Jersey, is on the verge of settlement, according to a Dec. 16 court filing.

Schenectady, new York-based Golub sued Wakefern in federal court in Albany, new York, Oct. 20, claiming Wakefern’s ShopRite grocery unit was infringing trademarks belonging to Golub’s Price Chopper unit. the dispute was related to ShopRite’s alleged purchase of keywords that would cause its name to pop up when people were searching for Price Chopper.

Robert E. Heslin of Albany’s Heslin Rothernberg Farkely & Mesiti PC represents Golub. he said in a letter to the court that the two supermarket chains are “currently engaged in negotiations to settle the underlying issues which gave rise to the current action.” he asked for a 60-day delay in the proceedings.

the case is Golub Corp. v. Wakefern Food Corp, 1:11-cv- 01254-NAM-DRH, U.S. District Court, Northern District of new York (Albany)

IPCom says Dusseldorf Court Doesn’t Stop Legal Threats to Shops

IPCom GmbH & Co. said a Dusseldorf court injunction last week doesn’t stop it from threatening retailers of HTC Corp. products with legal action.

“the legal substance of the cease and desist letters is unchanged,” Alistair Hammond, an outside spokesman for IPCom in Munich, Germany, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

HTC, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones that use Google Inc.’s Android operating system, said last week the court temporarily banned IPCom from threatening HTC retailers with legal action.

For more trademark news, click here.

Projekt Red Claims all Infringement Claims Are Legitimate

CD Projekt Red SA, a Polish distributor of computer games, said it’s 100 percent certain that all the people in Germany to whom it sent demand letters actually did pirate copies of its games, PC Gamer reported.

the Warsaw-based company told PC Gamer that it wouldn’t identify the precise method it is using to locate game pirates as this is a trade secret belonging to the company assisting in the investigation.

Projekt Red has sent demand letters to thousands of Germans, claiming they are playing a pirated version of the Witcher 2 game, according to PC Gamer.

the company sold more than a million legitimate copies of the game and said it is monitoring sites through which people use the Bit Torrent protocol to download copies without authorization, PC Gamer reported.

For more copyright news, click here.

–With the assistance of Phil Milford and Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, Susan Decker in Washington, Aoife White in Brussels, Don Jeffrey in new York. Editors: Mary Romano, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at .