(This is a daily report on global news about patents, trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property topics. Adds Pfizer item in top section. To be sent this column daily, click SALT IPREPORT <GO>.)
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Kyocera Corp. sued Hanwha Q Cells Japan Co. for infringing a patent for solar panels.
Kyocera filed the lawsuit in Tokyo District Court July 10 after negotiations failed, the Kyoto-based company said in a statement. Kyocera said it patented the technology, which improves the efficiency of solar panels, in March 2012.
Germany’s Q-Cells was bought by Hanwha Group in late 2012 after becoming insolvent.
Hanwha officials in Tokyo weren’t immediately available to comment on the suit.
Pfizer to Keep 100 Workers Despite Lipitor Patent Expiration
Pfizer Inc., maker of Xanax and Viagra, is rescinding 100 job cuts at an Irish facility even though the drug the workers were making has gone off patent, the Irish Examiner reported.
Initially, Pfizer planned to lay off 130 people at its plant in Cork after the patent on its anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor expired, according to the Examiner.
A spokeswoman for the New York-based drugmaker told the newspaper that the company will continue to monitor demand for Lipitor and that post-patent markets can be highly competitive.
She said a significant amount of the manufacturing volume at the plant is dedicated to post-patent drugs, the Examiner reported.
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Dine Equity’s Applebee’s Unit Seeks ‘No Tech Tuesday’ Mark
Dine Equity Inc.’s Applebee’s unit applied to register “no tech Tuesday” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The trademark would be used for restaurant and bar services, including carry-out services, the Kansas City, Missouri-based casual-dining unit said in its application.
AdWeek reported that Applebee’s may be trying to curb customers’ use of mobile devices in its restaurants. At the same time, Applebee’s said in a December statement that it was installing 100,000 tablet devices at restaurant tables, through which customers can place orders and pay their checks, as well as play games and watch streaming video.
Full Sail Brewing Sues DUI-Defense Law Firm for Infringement
Full Sail Brewing Co., an Oregon-based craft brewery, sued a law firm that specializes in the defense of driving-while- intoxicated charges for trademark infringement.
The Sessions Law Firm LLC of Atlanta is accused of printing infringing advertising on paper bags used to hold a can or bottle of beer. According to the July 8 complaint filed in federal court in Portland, Oregon, the ads are an attempt to create a “direct and malicious” connection to Full Sail’s “Sessions” mark, with both printed on a shield-shaped logo.
The bag is distributed in many of the same market areas where the Full Sail product is sold, the brewer said.
The law firm did not respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit.
The case is B.C. Marketing Concepts v. Sessions Law Firm LLC, 14-cv-01087, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon (Portland).
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SoundCloud Music Service Said to Near Deals With Record Labels
The largest record labels are closing in on a deal for a stake in the digital-music service SoundCloud Ltd., in exchange for an agreement not to sue the startup for copyright violations, according to people with knowledge of the plans.
SoundCloud, a Berlin-based company with more than 250 million listeners a month, is negotiating with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group for licenses to continue playing songs from the biggest labels and avoid potential legal disputes, said people familiar with the talks. In return, SoundCloud is discussing giving each record label a roughly 3 percent to 5 percent stake, along with a percentage of future revenue, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Californian Gets 15 Years Prison for Stealing DuPont Secrets
Walter Liew, a California businessman who was the first person in the U.S. convicted by a jury of economic espionage, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing DuPont Co. trade secrets to help a Chinese company build a manufacturing plant.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, imposed the sentence July 10 after prosecutors sought a prison term of at least 17 years. He said Liew’s conduct was “a virtual white-collar crime spree” and “a loud message has to go out” to those who would sell U.S. trade secrets.
Liew’s case is part of a government crackdown on theft of U.S. technology by China. In May, the Obama administration dramatically escalated the battle, charging five Chinese military officials with trade-secret theft through cyber- espionage, casting the hacker attacks as a direct economic threat.
The case is U.S. v. Liew, 11-cr-00573, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
--With assistance from Adam Satariano in San Francisco and Karen Gullo in federal court in San Francisco.