Becton Dickinson & Co. (NYSE:BDX) is still on the hook for the more than $352 million it owes Retractable Technologies (NYSE:RVP) in their war over safety syringe technology, but a federal judge ruled this week that BD can delay notifying end users about its false advertising for pre-filled syringes.
Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas issued his final ruling in the case yesterday, finding that "BD attempted to monopolize the safety syringe market" and "committed false advertising under the Lanham Act," according to court documents. Davis ordered the Franklin Lakes, N.J.-based medical device maker to pony up more than $352.2 million in damages, including more than $11.7 million in attorneys’ fees, plus pre- and post-judgment interest and costs, according to the documents.
Davis also ordered BD to disclose and correct the false advertising claims to employees, customers, distributors and group purchasing organizations by Feb. 14, but stayed his order for it to tell end users pending its appeal of the injunction to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the documents.
"The court recognizes that a partial stay places a hardship on RTI. It prevents end users from having a full and accurate view of retractable syringes. Nevertheless, this is the current status quo. Attempting to change the status quo at this point places an even greater hardship on BD: Forcing BD to send out mandatory disclosures to end users cannot be readily undone in the event BD receives appellate relief," Davis wrote. "On the other hand, RTI’s hardship is partially addressed by ordering BD to comply with the other portions of the injunction, and will be further addressed at the appropriate time if BD does not obtain appellate relief. Accordingly, maintaining the present circumstances with regards to the end users is the more equitable result."
BD was found to have made false claims in ads that its Integra, Safety-Lok, SafetyGlide and Eclipse safety syringes boast the "world’s sharpest needle" and about the amount of "waste space" RTI’s VanishPoint syringe. In September 2013 a jury found for RTI, awarding $113.5 million after finding that BD violated the Lanham Act’s false advertising proscription. BD later lost an initial bid to toss the case, after Davis ruled that infringement can constitute anti-competitive behavior. In October Davis declined BD’s bid to overturn the verdict.
RTI sued in 2007 on allegations that Becton’s Integra syringes infringed patents covering its competing VanishPoint devices. A federal appeals court decided in July 2011 to reverse an earlier jury finding that both the 1m and 3ml sizes of the BD syringe infringed the Retractable patent, ruling that only the smaller size trespassed on the intellectual property. That same court later denied Retractable’s bid for a re-hearing, setting the stage for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the high court refused to hear Retractable’s appeal, prompting the current lawsuit. In September Davis dismissed BD’s move to nix the trial, finding sufficient evidence "suggesting that [Becton’s] contracts have anti-competitive effects."
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