The import of the two words “inequitable conduct” are well-known to patent owners. These words will cost Medtronic nearly $170 million in damages that the medical device company won earlier this year in an infringement trial against Boston Scientific. Judge T. John Ward found that a key Medtronic patent agent, James Crittenden, withheld relevant information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) when Medtronic sought two patents on catheters that could deliver drug-coated stents to cardiac patients. Among the omitted material was information on Medtronic’s own prior inventions.
Crittenden, who is not a lawyer, suffered a seizure in 1999 and claimed during sworn testimony that he has memory problems as a result. A jury initially awarded Medtronic $250 million after finding that Boston Scientific infringed three stent-related patents. While Boston Scientific has now been able to reduce that award down to $19 million, the company still plans to appeal the jury’s finding of infringement. Medtronic plans to appeal Judge Ward’s ruling on the damages issue. Boston Scientific argued that the information Crittenden withheld was not relevant, and that he did not intentionally deceive the PTO. But Judge Ward disagreed, stating in his order that: “Crittenden, at best, chose to remain deliberately ignorant as to the scope of the prior inventions.”
As reported by the Wall Street Journal notes, Boston Scientific and Medtronic are engaged in “a death match” over who will dominate the stent market. Boston Scientific is involved in at least 15 lawsuits. Medtronic’s new Endeavor stent, with quarterly sales of more than $80 million, is already being challenged in federal court in Delaware. All of this comes amid increasing doubts about the effectiveness of stents, according to the WSJ Health Blog. Also, a recent study found surgery worked better than stents for patients with especially dangerous artery blockages.
Source: The American Lawyer
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