Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary Ethicon is going ahead with the launch of its Enseal X1 instrument, despite an ongoing dispute with its longtime rival in the surgical cutting and sealing market, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) subsidiary Covidien.
“Enseal X1 is the latest example of how Ethicon is advancing technology to give surgeons greater control, access, and accuracy during surgical procedures in an effort to improve outcomes for patients,” Ethicon chairman Michael del Prado said in prepared remarks.
“I really like the ergonomics, the weight of the instrument, the ease of closure, and also the ease of advancement of the blade to cut through thick tissue,” added Dr. James Kondrup of Binghamton, N.Y.’s Lourdes Hospital, a paid consultant. “This will allow my team and me to stay more focused on the patient and the procedure at hand. The Enseal X1 large jaw will be an excellent addition to our toolbox for performing open and vaginal hysterectomies.”
Late last year, Ethicon asked a federal judge in Massachusetts to find that the Enseal X1 doesn’t infringe a quintet of patents owned by Covidien that cover its competing Ligasure device.
The company claimed that Covidien refuses to acknowledge that its new Enseal X1 large-jaw tissue sealer specifically does not infringe on 5 patents, which it says is required under a 1999 settlement signed between the 2 groups, according to court documents.
“In light of Covidien’s previous patent litigation activities against Ethicon, including the harm suffered by Ethicon through the wrongly issued preliminary injunction, and in accordance with the mediation procedures of the 1999 settlement agreement, Ethicon sought confirmation from Covidien that its Enseal X1 device did not infringe any of Covidien’s patents before Ethicon was in the midst of a commercial launch,” Ethicon claimed in the lawsuit.
“This case is nothing more than an attempt by [Ethicon] to launch its product by using Covidien’s patented technology and take market share away from Covidien, following the lack of success of [Ethicon’s] previous Enseal devices,” Covidien argued in a Feb. 14 counterclaim. “[Ethicon] claims that it plans to introduce a redesigned version of the Enseal device, called the Enseal X1 large jaw. In so doing, [Ethicon] infringes Covidien’s patented technology, going as far as to promote the Enseal X1 as a replacement for Covidien’s leading Ligasure products.”
Covidien claimed that Ethicon contravened their 1999 pact by filing its lawsuit before launching the Enseal X1 device and by bailing out on mediation.
“At no point in time has [Ethicon], either at the mediation or thereafter, spoken to Covidien substantively to resolve the issues with the Covidien patents and the Enseal X1. Instead, within 1 hour following the conclusion of the mediation (during which [Ethicon] refused to even meet with Covidien to discuss the Covidien patents), [Ethicon] ran to this court to file this lawsuit. This is notwithstanding that Covidien explicitly told [Ethicon] that it had no intention of proceeding with a litigation less than 2 days prior to the mediation (which, notably, [Ethicon] omits from its complaint). [Ethicon] has refused to provide Covidien with any additional samples, documents or a generator to even allow Covidien to complete its review of the Enseal X1 device. [Ethicon] has prematurely filed this lawsuit, in contravention of the agreement, and leaves Covidien with no choice but to assert its patent rights and defend its leading market share position,” the company wrote in its counterclaim.