A medical device company formed by a group of surgeons to commercialize a surgical suturing device is taking its fight against its former patent lawyer to the federal appeals level, after a lower court dismissed the case.
Quickie LLC sued Greenberg Traurig LLC in 2007, accusing the firm and patent attorney Todd Sharinn of negligence and malpractice after Sharinn allegedly failed to notify Quickie of maintenance fees due on its patent for a suture terminator used during open heart surgery. Medtronic INc. (NYSE:MDT) licensed the device in 1998, eventually deciding not to pursue its development, according to court documents.
Quickie won a patent (PDF) for the device in 2000, prompting Sharinn to tell the company that he would let it know when maintenance fees "several months before they are due," according to the documents. When Medtronic began marketing a "virtually identical" device soon after that, Sharinn filed a patent infringement suit on Quickie’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for Southern New York.
While the lawsuit wore on, a one-year maintenance fee payment window opened in May 2003. Sharinn allegedly failed to forward notifications from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that the payment was due, according to the documents, and the payment window closed in May 2004.
That meant the expiration of Quickie’s patent (PDF), the dismissal of the Medtronic lawsuit and the end of negotiations with another medical device company to license the device, according to the original complaint.
The lawsuit claimed that the lapsed patent was worth about $10 million and sought damages and legal fees. After a jury found for the defendants, the case was dismissed May 26. Quickie appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit June 17.