Appeals court overturns Arthrex win over Smith & Nephew

January 17, 2013 by MassDevice staff

A lower court erred in nixing Smith & Nephew's $85 million win over Arthrex in a patent dispute, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided yesterday.

Smith & Nephew, Arthrex

The latest turn in a nearly decade-long legal battle between Smith & Nephew (FTSE:SN, NYSE:SNN) and Arthrex over surgical anchor patents swung Smith & Nephew's way yesterday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a lower court's ruling and sent the case back for reconsideration.

The British orthopedic medical device company first sued Arthrex in 2004 for patent infringement over anchors used in shoulder repair surgery. SNN won $20.5 million in a June 2008 ruling that Arthrex willfully infringed the patents. After the appeals court overturned that decision in November 2009, the case went back to trial with a new interpretation of the terms of the patent.

A jury granted SNN an $85 million win in June 2011, finding that Arthrex was guilty of patent infringement with its SutureTak, PushLock and Bio-PushLock shoulder repair anchors.

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But in December 2011, an Oregon judge ruled that Arthrex didn't infringe on SNN's surgical anchor patents, finding that "no reasonable jury could possibly find that Arthrex infringed in this case," including via indirect infringement.

Yesterday the Federal Circuit court overturned that decision, sending the case back to the U.S. District Court for Oregon so that Judge Michael Mosman can once again deliberate.