ConforMIS sues Acacia Research over disingenuous access to confidential docs

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Medical device maker ConforMIS filed a counter-suit against a patent holder and a patent management firm, claiming the pair used disingenuous means to acquire information in support of an infringement case against the company.

Massachusetts-based ConforMIS claimed that Acacia Research, acting on behalf of client and inventor Peter Bonutti, access the company’s online Surgeon Resource Center and other corporate portals in order to gather ammunition for a patent infringement lawsuit over knee arthroplasty methods.

Acacia Research engineering vice president Phillip Mitchell allegedly logged onto the ConforMIS websites and accessed confidential business documents just days before filing a lawsuit accusing ConforMIS and its iUni G2 Unicompartmental Knee Resurfacing System of patent infringement, ConforMIS claimed.

In May 2012 Mitchell allegedly accessed a ConforMIS site that required him to agree to certain terms of use, including that the information was not for use by any parties with competing interests, according to the complaint.

ConforMIS claimed that Mitchell logged in under the guise of an authorized entity and used information gathered there to encourage Bonutti and his holding company to file a patent infringement lawsuit.

The device maker contacted Mitchell on June 7, 2012, to revoke his log-in credentials and note the violation of the terms of use. One day later, Bonutti’s holding company assigned the arthroplasty patent to Acacia Research. The patent was handed down to subsidiary Advanced skeletal, which then handed it over to Bonutti Skeletal.

About 3 months later, Bonutti Skeletal filed a lawsuit against ConforMIS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, according to the complaint.

ConforMIS is asking a judge to deem the iUni knee device non-infringing on the Bonutti patent and to further nullify the patent entirely. The company would also like a judgment against Mitchell for breach of contract and misappropriation of confidential information over the allegedly violated terms of use for the company’s online portal.

ConforMIS is further calling for a judgment of unfair and deceptive trade practices by Acacia Research, according to legal documents.

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