Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and Abbott (NYSE:ABT) subsidiary St. Jude Medical must face lawsuits brought by the University of California alleging that their ablation catheters infringe a pair of patents covering atrial fibrillation treatments.
The university’s regents sued the companies last October (a similar suit was brought against AtriCure (NSDQ:ATRC) the next month, according to court documents), accusing the companies of violating patents covering the invention by UC-San Francisco professor Dr. Michael Lesh of a technique to isolate the pulmonary vein via catheter ablation.
Boston Scientific and St. Jude each filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the wide variety of products listed in the complaints contains many devices that don’t perform any of the allegedly infringing functions and others that are not FDA-approved for that use. (AtriCure did not file a motion to dismiss its case, according to the documents.)
That means, the companies argued, that “the complaint’s allegations of contributing to or actively inducing physicians’ use of their devices to perform the patented method are not plausible,” according to the documents.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the U.S. District Court for Northern California disagreed, ruling this week that the complaints don’t have enough information for her to determine whether there are non-infringing uses for the catheters.
“This is, at best, a matter to be established with an evidentiary record at summary judgment,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote in her decision on the Boston Scientific case. “To the extent that BSC asserts that some of its products are incapable of being used to perform the patented method as alleged, the truth of such assertion is not apparent from the face of the complaint. Indeed, much of BSC’s argument relies on matters outside the pleadings and more properly suited for a determination based upon a factual record.”
In St. Jude’s case, she wrote, “the parties provide conflicting interpretations and out-of-context arguments about the import of illustrations and statements in the SJM patient handbook attached as Exhibit 9. These conflicting interpretations serve only to demonstrate a dispute exists as to whether the identified products have other substantial, material uses, or only perform the patented method. These factual matters will need to be established through an evidentiary record after discovery, perhaps at summary judgment,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote.