UPDATED June 6, 2014, with comment from Neovasc.
CardiAQ Valve Technologies accused former partner Neovasc Inc. of stealing trade secrets it went on to use in developing its Tiara transcatheter mitral valve implant, according to a lawsuit alleging that Neovasc broke a non-disclosure agreement and falsified its patent application for the Tiara TMVI device.
Neovasc approached CardiAQ Valve in June 2009 and offered to help it develop the TMVI device, according to the lawsuit. The companies signed a non-disclosure agreement and worked together on the replacement heart valve until February 2010, the lawsuit claims.
“Beginning in about mid-2009, Neovasc Inc. breached the NDA by, among other things, using CardiAQ’s confidential and proprietary technology in developing Neovasc Inc.’s Tiara product, by filing patent applications covering CardiAQ’s confidential and proprietary information, and by disclosing CardiAQ’s confidential and proprietary technology to Neovasc Tiara and to 3rd parties,” according to the lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts.
“Coming from a background in contract manufacturing myself, it is shocking that a trusted partner could take everything it had learned from us to create and advance its own internal TMVI program,” CardiAQ Valve co-founder, president & COO Brent Ratz said in prepared remarks. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will prove that the intimate and early exposure to CardiAQ’s confidential and ground-breaking know-how taught Neovasc what do to and what not to do and greatly accelerated their internal development efforts.”
“We recognize that transcatheter mitral valve implantation has become 1 of the most competitive spaces in medical devices and will remain that way for years to come,” added CEO Rob Michiels. “As pioneers in this new field, CardiAQ set the standard for TMVI positioning and anchoring and we will defend our intellectual property and trade secrets vigorously. While it is not our preference to create any distraction from our technical and clinical efforts, this blatant disregard by Neovasc for confidentiality and honorable business practice, as set forth in the complaint, has left us with no choice.”
In a statement emailed to MassDevice.com, Richmond, British Columbia-based Neovasc said it had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
“If CardiAQ does serve the complaint, Neovasc intends to vigorously defend itself. Based on its understanding of the unproven allegations, the Company believes the lawsuit to be groundless and without merit,” the company said in the statement.
In March, Neovasc announced a $22.5 million funding round, hard on the heels of the 1st-in-human use of the Tiara valve. Irvine, Calif.-based CardiAQ Valve closed its own, $37.3 million round in November 2012.