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This week in IP: FRAND victory for Unwired Planet, Teva charged in price-fixing investigation

Managing IP rounds up the latest patent, trademark and copyright news, including some stories you may have missed

Unwired Planet takes victory in long-awaited FRAND case

The UK Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling determining that courts in England and Wales are able to set a global fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rate when the licensor and licensee cannot agree on terms.

In a unanimous ruling, handed down via video link on Wednesday, August 26, the court upheld previous decisions from the England and Wales High Court (in 2017) and Court of Appeal (2018).

The ruling, which came almost one year after the Supreme Court heard the case, clarifies that in appropriate circumstances, courts in England and Wales have the power to require that a company, which intends to implement standard technology in the UK, enters into a worldwide portfolio licence of a patent owner’s standard essential patents (SEP).

The dispute began when Unwired Planet brought proceedings against Huawei accusing it of infringing several of its SEPs related to 3G and 4G standards. The case was subsequently jointed with proceedings brought by Conversant against Huawei and ZTE.

The general consensus from lawyers reacting to the news is that the Supreme Court has firmly established the UK’s place as an attractive forum for patentees with global SEP portfolios.

Other Managing IP stories from the week that you might like to read include.

DoJ charges Teva in antitrust investigation

The US Department of Justice has accused pharma company Teva of conspiring with competitors to raise the prices of generic drugs.

The charges, filed at the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, allege that the generics giant participated in three conspiracies from May 2013, until at least in or around, December 2015.

Teva, which denies the allegations, is the seventh drug-making company to be charged in the price-fixing investigation.

The first charge is related to Teva’s role in a conspiracy that also included drug companies Glenmark, Apotex, and unnamed co-conspirators. They are alleged to have agreed to increase prices for pravastatin and other generic drugs. Pravastatin is a commonly prescribed cholesterol medication that lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

In May, Apotex admitted to its role in this conspiracy and agreed to pay a $24.1 million penalty.  

The second charge accuses Teva of conspiring with Taro Pharmaceuticals to increase prices for drugs that treat arthritis, skin conditions, and blood clots.

The third relates to Teva's alleged role in a conspiracy with Sandoz and others to increase prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs including those used to treat brain cancer and cystic fibrosis.

In March this year, Sandoz admitted to the charged and paid almost $200 million in penalties.

Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the DoJ’s antitrust division, said: “Today’s charge reaffirms that no company is too big to be prosecuted for its role in conspiracies that led to substantially higher prices for generic drugs relied on by millions of Americans.”

Amazon patents drone to replace ski lifts

Skiers may soon be able to use their phones to summon a drone that will bring them to the top of a mountain, according to a patent filing by Amazon. 

These new drones could replace ski lifts and be able to find skiers with the help of location tracking devices. A retractable rope, which skiers would hold, would then pull them up the mountain.  

Amazon claims the idea will allow skiers to reach more remote locations and that skiers could use it to when going “off a designated run and for reaching fresh powder”.

The patent, applied for at the USPTO in 2016 and approved on August 18, also suggests that the tow handle on the drone could also be used to help water skiers.

In the meantime, enthusiastic skiers will have to continue using the ski lifts.

Corsearch and TrademarkNow combine

Trademark search company Corsearch has acquired Finnish legal tech company TrademarkNow, a move that Corsearch says will increase its global footprint and allow for more extensive trademark searches.

TrademarkNow, founded in Helsinki but based in New York, uses AI models to perform global trademark searches. According to Corsearch, the acquisition will enhance its end-to-end platform and “provide users with an integrated workflow that moves from the initial trademark screening to anti-counterfeiting investigations”.

Tobias Hartmann, chief executive at Corsearch, said: “Through its innovative use of machine learning, TrademarkNow reduces complexity and enhances user efficiency.

“In combination with Corsearch's global data sets and holistic approach to managing the trademark life cycle, this deal brings together the best talent in tech and trademarks.”

Mikael Kolehmainen, chief executive & co-founder of TrademarkNow, said: “Coming together with Corsearch will mean that together we can transform the work of trademark professionals by providing instantaneous data in a secure, structured, and easy-to-use way.”


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