Medical device giant Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) listed no fewer than a dozen legal battles in its latest financial report, notching some wins, some losses and some seemingly circuitous fights without end.
Will Guidant lawsuits end with a settlement?
The medical device giant revealed in its latest report that it’s finally in settlement discussions with the various parties involved in the litigation over its problematic Guidant subsidiary and certain of its implantable defibrillators.
BoSci said that, as of May 2013, a judge had ordered a stay in pending litigation deadlines as the company hashes out a potential settlement, signaling a possible light at the end of the tunnel for the company’s long-running Guidant troubles. BoSci has already paid $300 million to settle claims against Guidant Corp., a company it acquired in 2006 for $26 billion.
Prior to the merger, the soon-to-be subsidiary discovered design flaws in one of its implantable cardiac defibrillators but didn’t disclosed that flaw and similar problems with another device until 2005.
Those failures turned out to be costly for Guidant’s new parent, which in 2009 settled a case with the U.S. Justice Dept., agreeing to pay penalties of $296 million. Guidant also admitted to 2 misdemeanor counts of failing to supply certain information to U.S. regulators.
Battle over Guidezilla
BoSci is still locked in a wrestling match against Vascular Solutions (NSDQ:VASC), with each company suing the other over BoSci’s newly FDA-cleared Guidezilla catheter. Vascular in May 2013 sued BoSci, claiming Guidezilla infringes 3 U.S. patents and trying, unsuccessfully, to keep the product from reaching the market.
Vascular CEO Howard Root has promised to dig his heels in and fight over the technology, which he has previously called "one of the most blatant plagiarisms of a patented medical device that I have ever encountered." BoSci’s not about to back down either, filing a counterclaim of its own accusing Vascular’s Guideliner guide extension catheter of patent infringement.
Cordis just can’t win
The company in June 2013 notched a win against Wyeth and Cordis Corp., with a Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruling that BoSci’s Promus coronary stent system was clear of any infringement.
BoSci tallied another win against the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary in May 2013 when the same court upheld a previous court’s ruling, again clearing the Promus stent of infringement.
Still wrestling with Orbus
In the convoluted multi-nation battle with Orbus, BoSci notched a couple of wins when a Dutch court in July 2013 denied Orbus cross-border, preliminary injunctive relief over complaints about BoSci’s Promus Element stents.
In another Dutch litigation, Orbus in June was forced to cancel 1 of its 2 U.K. patents in dispute after a U.K. judge ruled that 1 patent was invalid and neither were infringed by BoSci’s Element stents.
BoSci and Orbus have been tangled up in stent patent lawsuits for years now, with recent months bringing a slew of highlights that included police involvement and the physical seizure of Boston Scientific’s devices from a facility in Germany. A German court in April granted an injunction against importing into that country versions of BoSci’s Promus Element, Promus Element Plus, Omega, Taxus Element, Synergy and Promus Premier devices.
The legal tussle with Orbus goes back at least 4 years to 2009 when Boston Scientific sued OrbusNeich Medical in Dutch courts on the grounds that OrbusNeich’s Genous stent infringed a private patent that Boston Scientific calls "the Keith patent." That complaint finally closed just last month when the Hague Court of Appeals found the Keith patent invalid, adding another tally to Orbus’ wins against BoSci.
BoSci is party to a hearing scheduled for August 23, 2013, related to a 6-year old complaint filed by Dr. Tassilo Bonzel, who accused certain company subsidiaries of violating German law with a 1995 licensing agreement over catheter patents.
Last month an Indiana court dismissed part of an ongoing lawsuit between BoSci and Mirowski Family Ventures LLC, squashing BoSci’s efforts to win declaratory judgment that it had paid all its royalties and met all contractual obligations of a licensing agreement with Mirowski. The companies are still hashing out that matter in a Maryland circuit court.