Haemonetics Corp. (NYSE:HAE) is suing Fenwal Inc. again, over a component of a blood collection system Fenwal was found to have infringed early this year.
The case stems from an earlier patent infringement suit Braintree, Mass.-based Haemonetics filed against its Lake Geneva, Ill.-based competitor.
Haemonetics won that suit in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts in January, when a jury found that a separation cup in Fenwal’s Alyx blood collection system infringed one of Haemonetics’ patents. The jury awarded Haemonetics $15.7 million in damages for the infringement; Judge Nathaniel Gorton later ruled that Fenwal had to stop selling kits containing the separation cup by Dec. 1, 2010, pay Haemonetics a 10 percent royalty on net sales of the kit from Jan. 30 until the injunction takes effect and pay 5 percent pre-judgment interest on the damages.
But on Dec. 7, Fenwal announced that it would begin shipping Alyx kits containing a modified version of the separation cup, saying it “developed the modified chamber to help assure blood centers are not disrupted by an injunction on the original chamber.”
Haemonetics alleges that the new cup is designed to circumvent the infringement and said its new lawsuit is aimed at stopping “Fenwal Inc.’s continued patent infringement resulting from Fenwal’s just released red cell collection kits, using a modified separation chamber.”
Fenwal’s appeal of the original ruling is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where a decision is not expected before late next year, according to Haemonetics. In the meantime, Fenwal has yet to pay the damages from that lawsuit; the royalties it owes Haemonetics are accruing in an escrow account until the appeal is decided.
Fenwal said it plans to “vigorously defend itself” against the new lawsuit and will ask Gorton to “expedite the legal process” in the case, citing its earlier motion for a judgment of non-infringement on the modified separation component.
“In filing a second lawsuit now, Haemonetics has chosen to prolong the litigation,” Fenwal said in a press release. “Fenwal has openly informed Haemonetics of its redesign and introduction plans, including providing Haemonetics with drawings last April and production samples last September. In developing the modified Alyx separation chamber, Fenwal followed strict design control procedures in accordance with all U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulations and guidance.”
In addition to its appeal of the original patent infringement decision, Fenwal said it has also asked the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to reconsider the validity of that patent.